Published Sunday, October 07, 2012

Breaking the stereotype

Stereotypes bug me.

They do nothing but pigeonhole entire groups of people simply by their race, nationality, religion and yes, hair color. Trying to say everyone in a certain class fits specific traits isn’t right. We miss out on the individual.

We are more than our stereotype, and I proved that recently in spades, thank you very much.

For the past week or so, the Little Black Dress was off in Missouri attending a big national Christian Counseling and Life Coaching seminar. She was, as we like to say around here, working on developing her purpose in life. Joining her was the Mother of the SONS of Lightning, buddies of our own SONS of Thunder.

Cue the stereotype of the Helpless Male - that would be me - trying to handle my own Mongolian horde, rather, SONS. How can this poor, helpless man handle all the household duties: doing the laundry and correctly being able to keep white things white and red things red; cooking something edible that does not involve a microwave; getting them to school on time; getting homework done; taking and picking up for soccer and karate practice; not only looking at but actually turning on the vacuum; and still put in a full day at the office?

Oh, and requiring at least one bath during the week.

Simple really. One just refuses to bow to the stereotype. One does what one needs to do. And as an aside, the functionality and usefulness of the cattle prod is way underrated. That, and the phrase, “no electronics of any sort until ...”

We had Lobster ravioli one night. We smoked two Boston Butts all day on another and had a campout/sleepover with the SONS of Lightning and their dad. We made a massive bonfire and watched movies and had a Mountain Man breakfast out of a Dutch oven one weekend morning. Okay, so we did break down and follow the stereotype and have pizza the last night to celebrate our male bonding. But no, we did not eat said pizza over the sink.

We survived. And the house stands.

That latter fact was highlighted during a text message when The Dress asked how everyone was doing. And I texted back that the house was still standing and we’d only been to the ER once, okay, twice.

Wait for it ... wait ... The phone rings within three seconds. “What do you mean the house is still standing?” are the first words. Not “dear, how are you.” Why am I not surprised.

But this tale has another side. The Dress is quite sufficient with cars, I mean, for a female. (See, a stereotype). She can check the oil level, the coolant and other fluids. And she is quite adept at noticing when all the danger lights start flashing on the dashboard, the ones that pretty much imply you’d better change the oil/check engine/check brakes pronto. And she will actually drive to the nearest service station and get whatever problem looked at. This is contrary to the usual stereotype who will notify their significant other that some big warning light has been flashing - for the last two weeks.

But I apparently failed in one husbandry job. She calls one day while on her trip to tell me one tire was really low. And I pause for a moment because she’s 800 miles away and really, what am I going to do? But I cheerfully point out there’s a tire gauge in the door storage and to just check. And there’s a pause on her end. Apparently she has never used a tire gauge.

And she points out her dad always took care of that type of thing for her. And I’m not saying there was a tone, or a hint of “why aren’t you taking care of me like my dad did” in there at all.

But she is resourceful. She hits a tire store the next day and as is her character, quickly becomes friends with Cliff and Jeremy, two of the employees of said tire store. And they show her how to use the tire gauge. And this being The Dress, of course she was wearing a black leather skirt at the time. Cliff and Jeremy will be telling their grandkids about that one.

And so we both broke the stereotype. We have choices in life. We can let ourselves be stereotyped and pigeonholed and just stay there. Or, we can determine that no one, or no thing, will define us; that it’s up to us to find our own purpose in life, and then, go do it, regardless of our “stereotype.”


John A. Winters is a staff writer for The Newnan Times-Herald. His personal blog is at . You can reach him at .

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