As much as I love my family, sometimes living with six males (seven if you count the dog) can be overwhelming. Recently I found myself struggling with the ever-increasing desire to scratch and spit in public--always a sure sign that I need a little more estrogen in my life. Thankfully, I was able to get back in touch with my feminine side by taking a four day weekend to go visit a close friend. We hadn't seen each other in over two years, and her husband was out of town, so it was the perfect time to reconnect. We shopped, ate out, talked incessantly and watched movies where no one got blown up or shot. In short, it was the perfect chick weekend.
That Sunday I visited our home church in Alabama, where people seem surprised that I would take off on my own without the rest of the family. In truth, my guys accepted that I wanted to get away, but they didn't really understand either. So today I will attempt to explain exactly what I needed to take a break from.
1. The smell. Guys have a scent all their own. If they're not actively sweating, they have a musky male odor that can be endearing when taken in small doses. Multiply it times seven and it gets a little overpowering. Add to that the odor of their sweaty clothes and old sneakers and you know why even Febreeze is not strong enough for my house. Consider the fact that I often drive home from church with guys who have played basketball after the service. No matter what the outside temperature, they generate enough sweaty steam to fog up my windshield. Every. Time.
2. The competition. Hey, I'm a bit competitive myself, so I understand a little healthy competition. But in the life of guys, everything is a competition. And my guys are in it to win. When applied to sports, I understand the mindset. I do have a problem, though, applying competition to bodily functions. Our house tends to be quite musical in the morning, and my boys take it as a challenge to best each other in the amount/volume/odor of flatulence they can produce. It doesn't seem to matter that there's no market for that sort of thing in life, nor that the ability to win this sort of competition is not admired outside of a guys' dorm. Nor does it seem to matter that I'm constantly reminding them that they don't live in a guys' dorm.
Sometimes I think I do.
3. Mostly I needed a break from the male mindset. Guys are not tactful by nature, and quite often they blurt out whatever thought crosses their minds. For instance, I've lost almost 60 pounds. My guys have been complimentary and encouraging. Sort of. In their own way. Some examples--
--I announced my most recent weight loss, and the boys all complimented me enthusiastically. Wanting to go that extra mile with the encouragement, one of them commented, "I knew you were losing weight. Your arms aren't nearly as big as they used to be."
--We went through a drive through and I asked my 11 year old to hand me my wallet. When I finished the transaction, I turned to him and found him staring at my driver's license. He had the same look a person gets on their face when they're passing a traffic accident and they simply can't look away. (I can't blame him. Driver's license pictures are supposed to be ugly, but I went the extra mile with mine. Obviously, I was 60 pounds heavier. My face was flushed and I was wearing a bright orange/red top. I gave a great impression of a squashed tomato.)
"Driver's license photos are supposed to look bad," I told him.
"Can you have it retaken?" He still couldn't look away.
"Not until it expires." I decided to go ahead and let him get out what he had to say. "It looks pretty bad, doesn't it?"
"No," he lied, struggling to tear his gaze away. "Except for the chin. And the cheeks." Pause. "And the hair ..."
--My husband has been extremely complimentary and encouraging on the weight loss. And mostly in a very good way. But even he occasionally can't hide the male thought patterns that come crashing through. Every once in a while he'll ask me for the current number of pounds lost. I'll proudly tell him and then congratulations start all over again. I'm still losing, but the loss has slowed some. Recently he asked me and the number of pounds lost was the same number it had been the last time he asked. Seeing his surprise, I hurried on to explain that weight loss isn't measured in pounds alone, but also in inches. Rather than detailing the specific inches lost from hips, thighs, waist, etc., I simply told him I'd lost 46 inches so far.
When there was no sound, I glanced up to see a horrified look on Indiana's face. "46 inches?" He repeated. "Where?"
I was insulted. Hadn't he been telling me all along that he could tell I'd been losing? Where did he think the inches came from? I told him I'd lost from hips, thighs, waist, etc.
"Oh." I could see some male-type thoughts tumbling through his mind. "Wow." Pause. "That's almost four feet." Seeing the look on my face, it was his turn to be surprised. "What?" he asked. "Isn't that good?"
Forty-six inches sounds good. Four feet sounds like I had a dwarf growing out of my hip. Apparently only a female would understand that you don't convert measurements when discussing weight loss.
And that, dear readers, is why I needed a break. I needed to smell some perfume and shop for girly items for a while. I needed someone who didn't have to discuss pounds or feet(!) to know that I'd lost weight. Instead we simply chattered about sizes and giggled that I had to go down another size in skirts to find one that fit.
Sometimes females just need to get away from the dwarf growing out of their side. Either that, or they'll find themselves joining in on the competition.