Rob Taylor: A passing remark reveals a wide gender gap
December 10, 2007
Overheard in the hallway at work last week:”Nice top. That color is perfect.” Our company’s June Cleaver was at it again, praising a coworker’s blouse.
In her six years of employment in Granby, she has complimented every employee at least twice a month. Self esteem at the office is at an all-time high.
Alias aside, June’s legal name is Kayci Green. She is one of the few Grand Lake residents that obey the posted speed limit on Highway 34 during her daily commute. A self-proclaimed “reformed speeder” from Golden, she is one of the first employees to work every morning and one of the last to leave.
Not only has she never missed a day of work due to illness, but she also had a perfect elementary and high school attendance record.
Kayci’s perfection has roused her co-workers’ suspicions.
Is she human? Could she be Grand County’s first alien?
She stopped me in the hallway several weeks ago and told me that I had nice pants. As a man, I had no idea how to respond ” the pants were ordinary pinstripe polyester navy. In my mind, the “sweet pants” were plain vanilla. It was an odd encounter.
Generally speaking, men have an apparel code of silence, unless it is bizarre – like the guy who tucks sweaters inside his pants. If we don’t have time to punish the infraction by taping the offender to the flagpole or giving him a wedgie, we will address the issue with verbal abuse. For example, “Is the circus in town?” is a man-to-man warning, indicating a disturbance in the men’s clothing world. If not rectified immediately, the guilty will pay in pounds of flesh.
On rare occasions, acknowledgement might be given to a buddy who is all spiffed up. Men say: “Who died?”, “You got a prom date?” or “Job interview today?” Translation: “you look sharp”. Note: The “who died” remark is also appropriate when entering a restroom with a foul odor.
Yes, men are brutal about clothing ” especially to each other. So, it is probably a good thing that the fashion police among us are women. Such is the way of nature. But even the best in the business err now and then – like Kayci and her “nice pants” comment.
What really strikes a nerve is when a woman says that a man is wearing a “cute, little outfit.” This remark is dynamically offensive. First of all, “cute” is a word that describes kittens or toddlers, certainly not grown men. Second – nothing about a man is “little” – especially when he looks himself in the mirror. And, most importantly, men never wear outfits. Never. The term “outfit” stirs up images of onesies ” one-piece infant attire that snaps at the crotch for easy access to dirty diapers.
I don’t mean to pile on about this, but it would be negligent if I did not add that men do not wear “tops.” In fact, ladies, we would prefer if you would just lose that word altogether, since – technically – it refers to the upper portion of an outfit.
So, how do you compliment a finely attired man? One of the above “guy remarks” would suffice or – if you must – you can say something like, “My, that’s a powerful ensemble.” Such praise is in keeping with a man’s machismo.
I don’t have a bad word to say about Kayci – neither does anyone else for that matter. She is the kind of person (or friendly alien) you would create – if you could – to make the world (and Grand County) a better place. However, I am keeping vigil for signs of humanity ” when she might start dishing out compliments for people with nice
” Questions? Comments? Suggestions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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