Apparently I have been living without the regular company of females for a bit too long (it has been six weeks now, and counting). This point was driven home last night, when I invited a small group of friends over for supper, two adults and two kids, all female. The supper part of the evening was a success by all accounts. I fixed spaghetti, using my last two jars of Newman’s Own organic marinara, which I had squirreled away after a trip to the US a while back (we can’t get that fine stuff in Canada). As I always do when using even the best store-bought spaghetti sauce, I doctored it liberally with oregano, Italian sausage, parsley, garlic, tomatoes, onions, and so on, ending up with a fairly close approximation of scratch-made sauce. It garnered the expected polite oohs and aahs from the adult contingent, but the two young critics who are typically a bit on the picky side went back for second and third helpings, so apparently they were not put off in the least by my saucy short cut.
On the other hand, there were some distinct “guy touches” to the meal: napkins made from folded paper towels (not even a name brand, but the cheesy store-brand-solid-white-single-ply-99-cents-a-roll variety); a tiny bit of grated parmesan in a tiny soy sauce dish at each place setting, thanks to my having forgotten to buy any of the classic cheese when shopping for the ingredients, the sort of mistake I make at least once in each shopping experience, because I know there is no need to make a list beforehand; dessert (homemade brownies and ice cream) was served on mismatched plastic dishes and recycled Tupperware containers, as I had inadvertently run out of regular plates, a result of my having neglected to run the dishwasher before my guests arrived. And so on.
But probably the most telling “guy thing” of all was the state of the bathroom. It was (and is) pretty clean, I’d say, at least as guys’ bathrooms go, but there were a couple of glaring omissions: first off, those tiny finger towels that adorn the powder rooms of girls and women the world over were nowhere to be found. What to do when finished washing one’s hands, then? What I do, of course, is dry them unceremoniously on my bath towel, but I can totally understand why someone else might opt not to do that. In the event, I think what must have happened is that the person or persons in question simply used toilet tissue to dry their hands, as the roll that had been new earlier in the day was basically finished by the end of the evening.
Even that was not the most grievous “guy” error, however; that honor would have to go to the toilet seat itself, which has remained resolutely in the “up” position since Saki left in mid-October. I have been taken to task on this issue more than once, with little defense to offer; the only time I managed to score a point on the opposing team was when I was given the opportunity to carp at my then-girlfriend for leaving the seat of our shared car in a position much farther forward than my typical seating position, so much so that upon entry I found myself contorted into a pose usually reserved for Eastern European gymnasts, altogether unable to reach the seat lever to ameliorate the situation.
So, in a few days I will leave for Tokyo, where once again I will be in the regular company of members of the fairer sex. Virtually all of my friends in Japan are women, and I try to be on my best behavior at all times, a male goodwill ambassador from the Wicked West: no big booty jokes; no carping about their driving; no raised eyebrows about the sometimes wacky Japanese fashion sense. In contravention of Japanese custom, if there is only one available seat on the subway, I will always offer it to my female companion (unlike one guy I saw who plopped down while his pregnant wife stood!). I will be endlessly polite and complimentary. But more than anything else, the one thing I will always do, without fail, is leave the toilet seat in the down position when I am finished in the bathroom. To paraphrase Neil Armstrong: It is one small step for a man, one large leap for womankind.