|Living in a man's world|
By Chris McKendry
Page 2 columnist
It was just a simple invitation to a "girls' lunch" from Kristen, my friend at ESPN.com, that got me thinking.
So, the day arrives for my "girls' lunch," and I'm set to leave the newsroom. Trey Wingo asks where I'm going. He's miffed when I tell him. "What does that mean? Kenny and I can't come? Girls only?" With each question, he gets louder, until he's talking to me in his "TV voice."
That's when it hit me. What am I doing? Have I ever actually done a "girls' lunch" in my life?
I realized that, at some point, what others might consider a man's world had effectively become my world, too. You see, to me, ESPN represents the boiler room of the American male psyche. It's a place where athletes and coaches roam free and chat with fans. TVs are on every desk ... and tuned only to sports. ESPN pays me to spend hours a day on ESPN.com and read newspapers, though only the sports sections.
I am Donnie Brasco! I am an outsider so in the "know" that my loyalties have gotten confused.
After growing up with three brothers and no sisters, being part of the female minority at ESPN has never fazed me, and what the majority (men) talks about -- and does -- has occasionally amused me. Or, dare I say, enlightened me. Well ... it's made me think.
Here's some of what I know simply because I work with men.
1. Men will eat the food right off your plate.
Trey eats my chips all the time. Sometimes I catch him. Sometimes I don't care because chips are not that important to me.
But protecting my dessert is something else. And it's something I've been trained to do. When I was young and mom would bring treats (i.e., Oreo cookies) home from the grocery store, I would take a handful, wrap them up and hide them in my sock drawer away from my sibling scavengers. That way I could be sure they'd still be there when I wanted them.
Nowadays, I take my daily sugar rush from the cafeteria candy counter back to my desk and nibble on it throughout the afternoon. Experience, my friends.
Believing that men cannot remember birthdays and anniversaries just helps to perpetuate a convenient stereotype. Memorization is not a skill they're lacking. But playing dumb might be a choice they make.
I know men who were born in the 1970s who can remember the most meaningless statistics from the 1960s. And not just numbers, but words and lyrics and entire movie scenes. For example, Mark Malone, Trey and Mark Schlereth think quoting "Blazing Saddles" and laughing for 10 minutes counts as a conversation.
And here's proof that it's not just jocks who have the down time to watch a lot of movies: Page 2's List from Monday, which chronicled the best quotes from sports movies, was e-mailed more than 500 times in its first day.
3. Most men have no idea who all the kids in the pictures on the refrigerator are.
Early one December on the set, we were talking about the month-by-month update letters that accompany Christmas cards these days, and my producer said, "Forget that. Who the hell are all the kids on my fridge?" Makes me laugh to this day.
4. Working dads miss their kids as much as working moms.
Kid withdraw is especially true for dads who work odd hours. The holiday season tends to bring on this epidemic. I watch as dads miss games, dance recitals, parents' nights at school -- and then, on top of that, have to work Thanksgiving and/or Christmas.
Dads feel guilty about this. A sportscaster's job is to entertain and inform viewers when they're home! Doesn't make much sense for us to do our job when the viewers are doing their jobs, right?
I am proud to say that dads go at it as hard as moms adjusting schedules, trading shows and, when all else fails, praying for a rain check.
5. There are no style points in golf, but there is interpretive scoring.
I've learned that regardless what they say they shoot, just take their scores, add a few strokes -- and likely a mulligan per nine holes -- and you'll likely be closer to the truth. And to think that I was intimidated at first just listening to the guys talk about their games.
6. Men like glossy magazines ... women's glossy magazines.
Our make-up artists are authorities on the matter. They keep a stack of every fashion, trend and pretty-picture magazine you can imagine. Apparently, most anchors are guilty of reading them while waiting for "our turn in the chair."
Obviously, sometimes the guys are just looking at the models. Others times, they will hold up a page and say, "Chris, would women really wear this?"
With the exception of Mike Greenberg, who volunteers that InStyle is by far his favorite, the guys insist they don't read the magazines, they look at them. Semantics.
So, fellas, if you do this at home, relax. The guy's guys of America indulge at the office!
7. When together in a group, men are child-like concerning bodily functions.
Men also announce to each other -- and anyone else within hearing distance -- when they're going to use the bathroom.
This is odd. Why tell each other? Just go! We don't need to know!
8. Even faithful men will argue Gwyneth Paltrow vs. Jennifer Aniston.
Everybody looked at me with the Troy Aikman face (to steal a phrase from The Sports Guy).
Ultimately, I realized that it doesn't matter. It's more an argument about type. I took a few steps back, and the debate finally concluded with, "Jennifer looks like she'd drink beer." (That was a good thing.)
As I tell the guys, "Oh, the things I know ... and remember."
And I promise to share more someday when the time is right.
As you can guess, none of the above was discussed at the "girls' lunch" -- not that we sat around quoting lines from "Dirty Dancing" or "Pretty in Pink," either.
Overall, it was fun. But judging by the ladies' faces when I started eating off their plates, I might not be asked back. Whatever. I mean, after all, I did ask, "You gonna eat dat?"
SportsCenter anchor Chris McKendry is a regular columnist for Page 2.