The holidays are a time of happiness and cheer. But for most, it is also a time of conflict and setbacks.
Everything from getting lost on the way to Aunt Myrtle’s house to attempting to put together a new gift can lead to short tempers and frustrated family members — especially if there’s a difference of anatomy involved.
What is it about men that they simply cannot accept assistance of any sort?
In my family, the women love to share helpful hints and tips, often asking for second-opinions and guidance on the simplest of decisions, yet the men refuse to admit they need help even when they so obviously do.
Take cooking for instance. During the holidays, women often spend hours in the kitchen perfecting Grandma’s infamous pie recipe or bonding with their children over a dish that comes together only through their combined effort.
Women see a recipe as a carefully planned road map that must be followed meticulously in order to get that perfectly flaky crust.
On the other hand, the men of the house are busy in the next room “putting together” the gifts that were so eagerly opened a few hours earlier.
The women are able to create an entire feast in the time it takes the men of the house to only partially assemble the new television set, Hot Wheels toy or Barbie dream house. Why the discrepancy, you may ask.
One word: directions.
For men, using directions is the equivalent of entering a gay bar, wearing a tight V-neck or waxing their eyebrows.
Essentially they would be admitting they are not real men — that they cannot, in fact, do it all without help, guidance or provocation. Fulfilling the inherently male-provider role, boys are trained to believe they must be able to fix anything and do everything.
Every glance at the directions or helpful pointer from another observer only serves to belittle the man’s confidence and make him feel significantly less like a man should: strong and capable of tackling any foe, human and machine alike.
I, meanwhile, sit by and usually do one of two things while watching the men in my life blunder their way through driving directions and inane set-ups.
I either mock his unfruitful efforts, amused by his plight or take to anger and frustration when the task remains incomplete because the man will not simply ask for help and thus admit defeat.
Now perhaps there is a time and place where men’s egos are respectable — and possibly even superior to women’s generally self-deprecating outlook — but trying to find your way to a new place or putting together an expensive new present is not the time.
Men’s all-or-nothing approach not only leads to wasted time and shortened tempers but also happens to have fewer happy outcomes.
Which is why, in the epic battle that ensues at the mere mention of the word directions, it is the ladies’ approach that usually ends on top.
Men, and bull-headed women as well, need to realize that admitting you might not always know how to do everything perfectly shows more guts than blindly following your own resolve.
It might mean arriving at the same outcome hours earlier, and with a much more pleased wife, girlfriend or mother. In the end patience, tranquility and willingness to accept guidance are three essential characteristics of the most disciplined warriors.
So men, I say asking for directions makes you more a man than ever, at least in the eyes of every mother, grandmother, sister or girlfriend.
Rachel Sayers is a freshman studying journalism and a columnist for The Post. Don’t agree with her? Send an email to email@example.com.