The blonde has been having a bit of a rough time of it physically this summer. Nothing serious, but a number of little things that keep knocking stuffing out of her. So she's been sleeping in on the weekends, trying to catch up on her rest and it’s been falling to me to drive out to our CSA farm to pick up the roots and tubers, leaves and grasses that are the staples of our weekly share.
I don’t mind and I'm not complaining. It’s a pleasant enough chore. But I do mind the way the other members make it clear they don’t welcome my company. Well, not all the other members. Just the core subset.
I should be used to this. I’ve been dealing with it since the boys were little. There are places and situations that moms claim as their domain and men are not welcome unless they're with a mom and relegated to holding packages or minding the kids while the mom takes care of the important business. Anywhere or in any situation where mothers run the show---playgrounds, supermarkets, shoe stores, doctors’ waiting rooms, the spaces outside schools where parents wait to pick up their kids---men without women, even dads with kids in tow, are greeted with cold indifference if not outright hostility.
This is true of every cohort. Farm moms, Soccer moms, hippie moms, whole earth moms, New Age moms, doctors’ wives’ moms, Yuppie Moms, self-proclaimed feminist moms.
At the farm, it’s routine for me to be elbowed aside as I’m reaching for our allotted bunch of carrots or to have to jump back when I’m about to weigh this week's share of kale to make room for a mother determined to dump her tomatoes on the scale ahead of me. I’m sure that in some cases it’s a maternal sense of entitlement, but most of the time I swear they don’t even see me.
I’m usually pretty skeptical about evolutionary explanations for contemporary human behavior, but it’s easy to imagine how this might have come about. Long, long ago, while the men were off doing whatever it was the men did and the women were combing the bushes and understory for nuts and berries, and incidentally inventing agriculture in the process, the appearance of a solitary male stranger on the scene almost certainly meant trouble.
Women learned to defend themselves and the children by tribe-ing up.
And that’s what you still do. Tribe-up to drive off us interlopers.
Ok, you say, what about men? Men are very good at tribe-ing up themselves.
I admit that tribe-ing up is what it looks like. But what it really is is we’re trying to keep ourselves amused while waiting for you to get done with the shopping.
This has been going on for millennia. For ages, men sat on rocks at the far edges of the savannah where they were out of the women’s way, reading the newspapers and keeping half an eye out for sabertooth tigers, bored out of their skulls, until one day a giant black monolith descended from the sky, Also sprach Zarathrustra blared from an unseen source in the heavens, and the men were enlightened.
One of the men said:
“This is boring! Let’s do something!”
“What do you want to do?”
“Why don’t we go hunt a mastodon?”
“Are you out of your mind?”
“Got a better suggestion?”
“We could grab a beer.”
“We need to invent beer.”
“We can do that.”
“Good. Let’s hunt a mastodon. then go invent beer.”
“Can we watch the game while we drink the beer?”
“If we invent sports first.”
“It’s a plan. Stan.”
“What happens if the women notice we’re gone?”
“They won’t. Don’t worry.”
That night, in one of the first instances of great minds all thinking alike, the woman in the village, each on her own, invented the couch.