The Truth Is In The Genes

By Bill Kirk

I can't quite put my finger on it. But it seems to me there are some fundamental differences between men and women when it comes to garage sales.

Women are meticulous with their preparations. They instinctively gauge the market, then carefully arrange everything outside, pricing each piece individually or by the bin. They might even bake cookies as an enticement or additional sale item. For women, the "sale zone" is somewhat more broadly defined than it is for a man. It includes almost anything within view of the driveway.

If a man were to set up a garage sale (did I actually say that?), he would simply establish a perimeter by stringing up some yellow "Crime Scene--Do Not Cross" tape across the garage entrance. Anything behind the crime scene tape is considered off limits.

Just to be sure, men might take a few additional precautions-you know, like setting up a loud speaker in the driveway to play the theme from "Patton" while he sits out front in a rocker, with a baseball bat in one hand and a spit cup in the other. OK. So, some men would probably be doing that on a Saturday morning anyway.

As for venturing forth to look at other garage sales, males have perfected the art of high-speed, drive-by reconnaissance. They wouldn't even think about stopping unless they find themselves in a strange neighborhood, alone in their car and surrounded by a roving band of unruly women already out on the garage sale circuit.

Only as a last resort, a man might try claiming he was lost and was just stopping to ask for directions. But, wait! What am I thinking? It's impossible to predict what might happen if a man's only choice was to admit that he is either shopping or lost. Either way, such a confession would be likely to permanently shift the interplanetary balance of cosmic energy.

The responsibility for maintaining intergalactic equilibrium alone should be enough to keep men away from garage sales. However, to ensure his own survival, on rare occasions a man may need to make the ultimate sacrifice to a spouse in desperate need of a driver. If by some fluke, a man does spot something interesting from the driver's seat, he should carefully weigh the risk of slowing down for a closer look, against the possibility that his wife might jump out, thereby forcing him to come to a complete stop.

Without exception, his visual scan must, therefore, yield clear evidence of something truly extraordinary-maybe a vintage portable cement mixer complete with ten sacks of cement or the artistry of a six-foot red and gold lava lamp in the shape of Venus di Milo. I'm talking collectibles here!

It's not that men have other agendas or that they don't wish to bond with their spouses. After all, what could be more fun than looking through rows of platform shoes, old unopened cosmetics and mismatched kitchenware-I mean, besides doing toilets?

However, for his own protection, a man's ears are naturally calibrated to detect the mere whisper of the words "garage" and "sale" used in the same sentence, particularly if they are spoken by his significant other. For example, when he hears, "Honey, have you seen the garage sale ads?" his early warning system is programmed for immediate preemptive action.

Making no obvious or sudden moves, he must be ready to deftly camouflage or hide the garage sale section of the newspaper before his spouse can get to it. The bottom of the guinea pig cage is an almost undetectable spot, particularly if he has trained the guinea pig well. He's also got to be ready with some convincing commentary to throw off the scent.

"No, darlin'; ain't seen 'em. Besides, I've been plannin' fer weeks to take care of those toilets for ya-I'll get to 'em right after the 49er game."

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