Jon de Vos: Stalking mastodons in Fraser
Some people blame certain quirks in our society upon the archeological mantra claiming that “men hunt and women gather.” The cliche conjures up a prehistoric scene where every day at dawn the caveman puts on his loincloth and heads off for a tough day chasing mammoths. The cavewoman gets up a little later, tidies up the den and then heads out for a day of wild wheat-plucking.
New discoveries have put this traditional view into question. It seems cavemen may have always been lazy slugs, hanging out on stone recliners and thinking up ways to invent beer, only rising briefly and infrequently at the prodding of some woman who wanted pterodactyl ribs at 3 a.m.
Women have more to do than is good for them. Take my wife for instance. She’s very busy. She’s so busy that she makes lists of all the things she needs to do to make sure she stays busy. This is so alien to my thinking that I sometimes look behind things to see if I’m on a movie stage.
It gets worse. If she’s too exuberant in her list-making and packs it impossibly full, she gets nervous if some things remain undone. At least, that’s how I see it from the comfort of my stone recliner as I hunt for a better TV program than the one I’m currently watching.
She claimed it would help me if I made lists, too. So, to please her, I made them at night, numbering and itemizing everything I did that day. Next I would take out a big red crayon and carefully draw a big fat line through each of them. Then I would fold the list in two and drop it into the wastebasket. Shortly thereafter I would turn out the light, embracing the bliss of slumber after a full and rewarding day.
I indulged her the first time she made a list for me, admiring her gumption. But over time, she’s become reckless, extravagant and downright self-indulgent. Undone things haunt me like a bad credit score, leftovers of her vision of my unfinished world.
One day I decided to turn the other cheek and handed her a list of things that I would like to see happen around the house. It was a revealing moment; I learned a lot about angry gatherers that day. More than I wanted to know.
I just happen to view the world more incrementally than she does. To me, “Watch Bonanza rerun” is a perfectly good entry on anybody’s list, well worthy of crossing off. She claims she thinks more productively than that, scowling at me until I become uncomfortable and get off the couch.
Lists endure like clay tablets. My wife maintains a catalog of my undone lists going back to the early 2000s. She cherishes them like heirlooms. She brings them out when her friends come by. They grow silent, and their eyes follow me as I walk through the room.
She gauges my progress, holding off to see if I’ll try to sprint for the finish if there’s not too much left to do. Just as I’m rounding third and diving for the couch, a strong right arm snakes out of left field and adds, “Paint the bathroom.” She adds things when I’m not looking. My life is one of those weird Tibetan riddles; how does a man finish a list with no end?
A caveman at that.
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