As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in our ability to remake the world, but rather in our ability to remake ourselves — Gandhi
There are certain things that go on in every household.
As you drive down the street and look at all the houses in your neighborhood, the voyeur in all of us kicks in and makes you wonder what goes on inside of it. Don’t try and say that you’ve never thought about it, because you have. It’s human nature. Why else do paparazzi or reality shows exist? We like to watch, and we are curious voyeurs in dire need of someone willing to show us their exhibitionism by not drawing their drapes or closing their windows when they decide to raise their voice.
I used to play this game when I was a despondent door-to-door salesman when I was just out of college, because quite frankly, what else is there to do to justify how low you’ve started on the corporate ladder than to mentally create a picture of someone else’s personal life in the few steps you take before knocking on their door?
I guess it wasn’t really a game, it was more just imagining how people at each house were living: like what they were having for dinner, if they were watching old “Different Strokes” reruns or the nightly news, or if they held secret devil worship meetings with their poker buddies in the basement on Thursday nights.
I didn’t know, but these are the types of things that you had to think about when walking up to 200 different homes a day. Do they have a dog, and more importantly, do they have this dog on a leash or enclosed in a fence? Are they door slammers, or are they the type of people that are so lonely, they will never let you leave without showing you their photo albums? What is the quickest escape route in case aforementioned dog is neither caged nor leashed?
There were a few things that I learned while being a door-to-door salesman and none of them had to do with actually selling anything. It was a crash course in people though, and though one could probably guess that the most common phrase I heard was “get the hell off my property you scumbag”, I also noticed many trends in how married people get along.
Surprisingly enough, one of the things that I heard echoing throughout people’s homes in the few moments before the door was slammed in my face the most, went something like this:
She: “For chrissakes John, how many times have I told you put down the toilet seat?!”
He: “Honey, not now, there is some salesman at the door.” (To me) “Are you a Jehovah’s Witness or a salesman, cause either way, we don’t want anything you are offering, so beat it.”
She: “I work too damn hard cleaning this house all day and being with the kids to have to fall into the toilet every time…”(door slams in my face).
I found myself swearing that when I did settle down that I would never have that conversation. That I wouldn’t treat door-to-door salesman with contempt, berate Jehovah’s Witnesses or hurl curse words over the phone at telemarketers. In my mind it was to be a idealistic world in which me and my family lived in a world where a man would not be judged by his decision to raise or lower the toilet seat, but by, yes, the quality of his character.
Then I knocked on the neighbors’ door and proceeded to watch it shut in my face.
Forgive me for being a dreamer. In hindsight, I realize that dreams were about the only good thing I had going for me.
Fast forward almost a decade and the ideals that I dreamed of, were simply that. I forget the toilet seat thing all the time (and my accuracy apparently is way off too), and as I’m sure most women will attest too, I am just another man that has taken years to evolve. After evolving from the apparent knuckle dragging embarrassment of a bachelor that my wife fell in love with, to the slightly above Cro-Magnon but far from ideal man that actually knows and will separate dishtowels from bath towels, I now get why men take up golf.
It’s not the game, it’s the escape to a sort of “man camp” where they drink beers, hassle the beer cart girl and complain about their wives.
The idea of “man camp” is something that my wife and I were chatting about recently. Her take is that all of us “standers” need to be put into some sort of training to negate our desires to fart in public, decorate the house in beer lights and unframed posters, and generally be unclean.
I think women are always trying to correct us men of our untidy ways because perhaps they realize that we can’t be left to our own devices as the simple creatures that we are. If it were up to men, the color schemes in the dining room wouldn’t matter. What would matter is just that there is a table to eat on. We wouldn’t care if the bedspread matches the drapes, or if the accented color on the throw pillow brings out a stripe on the curtain that makes the paint on the wall a bit more vibrant. We just care if the bed is comfortable.
Then again, I’d rather spend an afternoon going through Bed Bath and Beyond or the Home Depot than live in squalor off of the dollar menu at McDonalds or whatever other disgusting meal I could prepare for myself in 9 minutes or less when I was a bachelor in an apartment that was probably better described as “quaintly filthy or mildly gross”. (If you need a visual, recall your bathroom in your bachelor pad … jeez.)
Men, on some level do appreciate the cleanliness and even can embrace criticizing our obvious shortcomings if women do it in a certain way.
Perhaps someday, we will put the toilet seat down on a regular basis, but to be honest, it might just be easier to remember to have a look first. In the words of every woman that ever had this argument, “it only takes a second.”
Remember, nobody’s perfect, especially not men who are trying to evolve.
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