Our pantry is a mess. I'll admit it. My mom helped me organize it over a year ago when she came to help out when Gulliver was born. And it was wonderful when it was clean and organized. And I've cleaned and organized it myself a few times. But right now it has deteriorated into a giant, unorganized mess, most likely filled with food we will never, ever actually eat.
So tonight, Murray decided he'd like to make us some tea. He admits to being an herbal tea man. He likes chamomile honey tea.
He was searching the pantry for tea. It's been a while since we've had tea. And he couldn't find the tea. So I got up to help.
As I stood in front of the pantry, I decided to explain to him the finding process, hoping that perhaps he could learn something. I said, "Want to know a trick? Sometimes I just look up through the bottoms of the shelves, because if what I'm looking for is on a shelf, I can see it from the bottom!" I said this, and lo and behold, I located the tea in less than 10 seconds. It was not, in fact, on the bottom of a shelf. But in putting myself at that odd angle, I was able to see it at the very back of a shelf, sitting atop a pile of other miscellaneous food boxes.
And then I asked Murray a very important question: Why is it that women are better at finding things than men are? At least this didn't come from an accusatory standpoint, since I was identifying this as a failing of an entire sex and not just him. Here is a not very faithful, but generally true transcript of our conversation:
Me: Why is this a problem for men? And I know it's all of you. Because we women talk about it. And because even when I was a kid, my mom would ask my brothers to find something in the pantry, and they couldn't find it, so she'd send ME, and I'd always find it, no problem. So why is this a problem for you? Because you want to know what we women think? We all think that the problem is laziness, and that we are enabling you because then we step in and find the thing.
Murray: No, that's not it, because I can honestly say that I really didn't want you to have to get up and find it yourself. I feel like I understand men enough to say that it's a situation where women are just naturally better in this area, maybe because of evolution. It's like, in the old hunter-gatherer days, men would go and hunt for the food and bring it back to the cave. And it was up to the women to put it somewhere. So the men's obligation at that point was no longer to think about the food or what they brought back, and they were reliant on the women to remember that stuff.
Okay, I can't remember any of the details of the middle part of the conversation, so I'll skip to the end...
Me: So let me tell you what is going through my mind when I'm looking for something. I have in my mind an image of what the tea box looks like. I think, "Tea box! Tea box!" and I look everywhere for that shape and that box. I know what the tea box looks like, so everything registers "not tea box not tea box not tea box" until I find the tea box!
Murray: Ah ha! That's interesting because that is NOT what goes through my mind. See, when I'm looking for it, I'm thinking, "the 'tea box'!" Not "the tea box!"
Me: [Blank stare.]
Murray: So what I see in my mind is that specific tea box, even down to the fact that it's honey chamomile. So when I'm searching for it, I'm looking for that particular tea box. What it sounds like what you're doing is searching for a broad idea of a tea box, and even getting down to the shape. So that kindof made me think, maybe there's something there!!
I'm still not so sure I get it. The tea box? The "tea box"? Are you kidding me?
What are your thoughts? (And please remember to be kind to the hunters.)