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Men Are Lost Boys on the Object-Locating Front

October 20, 2000|JIM SHEA | HARTFORD COURANT

Men are not good at locating stuff.

Oh, sure, you give us three boats and some hocked jewelry, and we'll find you the New World; just don't ask us to discover the ship's can opener.

It's genetic.

Somewhere along the developmental highway, some chromosome banged a left when it should have hooked a right, leaving us with this blind spot.

To really see the defect in action, stand back sometime and watch a man interface with the refrigerator.

What you will note is that the man is completely incapable of establishing contact with whatever he is looking for, despite the fact it is almost always less than 9 inches dead ahead.

About the only time this shortcoming will not come into play is if a member of the hops family is involved. When beer becomes the focus, men possess an uncanny ability to spot a lone bottle on a bottom shelf from 200 feet away--in the dark.

Another thing men can instantly pick out in the refrigerator is a television remote, although I'm not sure this is an especially useful skill.

Outside of the old fridge, men also have significant problems reuniting with car keys, laundry, eyeglasses, tickets, receipts, cuff link (we can always find one), the checkbook and children. (They were just here an hour ago.)

Given the biology, it would seem logical to assume that bum genetics are also responsible for the man's universal inability to track down the right tool at the right time.

But such is not the case.

When it comes to tools, especially those employed during the course of routine home handymanship, an entirely different component--an Area 51 factor, if you will--comes into play.

*

Certainly, genes gone astray cannot possibly explain the following:

Men own hundreds of Phillips-head screwdrivers. Men own hundreds of Phillips-head screwdrivers for two reasons:

Because men let neighbors borrow them.

Because any time men go looking for a Phillips-head screwdriver, all men can find are flat-head screwdrivers. So every time men need a Phillips-head screwdriver, men either have to borrow one from a neighbor (fat chance) or go out and buy a new one.

For these same reasons, it should be noted, men also own hundreds of flat-head screwdrivers.

Tape is among the myriad of other household items subject to the same phenomenon.

If, for example, a man is looking for electrical tape, he will happen upon enough Scotch, duct, surgical and masking tape to circumnavigate Marlon Brando.

What he will not find, however, is any electrical tape--until, that is, he arrives at the hardware store.

Given the strides being made in the area of genetic engineering, there is probably good reason to believe that in the near future the male can't-find-it gene will be isolated and fixed.

But I'm not so sure. I mean, what happens if the repair job calls for a Phillips-head?

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