Tell a FriendLeigh AnneLeigh Anne Jasheway ~ Queen of Stress

Damsel in Distress

Before he left for work this morning, my spouse asked me to drop by the auto supply store and pick up a new headlight for the car. I gave him "the look," the one that says "Who do you think I am, your mother/your servant/your personal shopper?"

"But if YOU go," he reasoned, "Theyíll install it for free!"

He had a point. Because, in situations like this, women have a distinct advantage over men -- we can play the "damsel in distress" card. All we have to do is stand there looking helpless and guys will jump to our assistance. Itís genetic. And without dragons to slay or knights to joust, demonstrating their mechanical superiority is one of the few ways guys have left to prove they are "A Man." So, in the end, both genders benefit Ė we get stuff fixed for free and they get a testosterone rush.

I personally donít enjoy playing damsel in distress. I consider myself an empowered, intelligent woman, capable of doing anything I set my mind to. I just rarely set my mind to working on the car. And, no, itís not because itís all dirty and greasy under the hood. I canít believe youíd be guilty of such stereotypical thinking. Itís because, well, itís all dirty and greasy under the hood.

Yep, sometimes a girlís gotta do what a girlís gotta do. Even if it is play damsel in distress. Before you try it, though, here are some pointers. First, dress the part. If you show up in dirty jeans and a Harley Davidson jacket, your chances of convincing anyone that youíre completely baffled by anything automotive are as slim as your chances of being chosen to play the lead in Harrison Fordís next movie. (Believe me, if I thought dirty jeans and a Harley jacket would do the trick, Iíd have tried it years ago!). You donít want to go the other extreme either --- a formal gown and gloves is a little over the top.

You should also choose a specific damsel in distress strategy. There are four:

(1) The Grovel and Whine Technique: "Iím just so stupid when it comes to cars. I never was good at math either. Could you please help me so I donít screw this up? " If you donít regularly grovel, you may want to practice several times in front of a mirror until you sound believable. Try to avoid snarling.

(2) The Incompetent Partner Defense: "My (choose one: husband/spouse/life partner/guy I live with/person whose underwear is nowhere near the hamper) is not very good at mechanical things. Last time he tried to install a fan belt, he used the wrong size and it we shot clear across the freeway!" This approach works fine if you show up at the auto supply store alone. But, if your h/s/lp/gilw/pwuinnth is in earshot, you may have to get rid of spiders by yourself for a few weeks.

(3) The You Are A Stud Approach: This goes something like, "Youíre so big and strong. Just look at those fabulous forearms. Why I bet you could install this without even breaking a sweat on any of your many bulging muscles." Then you should lick your lips and toss your hair, or is that vice-versa? Itís been so long since Iíve flirted, I canít remember.

(4) The I Bet You Could Teach Me How Technique: This is my usual approach. You make your purchase, letís say the headlight, then ask a guy to show you how to install it. While he does so, you stand there watching intently as if you might actually attempt this yourself next time. Occasionally say things like "Oh, so you have to push that little deally there while pulling up on the plastic thingamajig. Hey, that doesnít look so hard." If you really want to play this role believably, take notes.

Of course YOU would never resort to these demeaning, stereotypical games. YOU will go to the closest garage and spend $35 to have a $7 light bulb installed. And the poor guys back at the auto supply store will have no choice but to drive really fast on the way home, barely missing several bicyclists and a pedestrian, to prove their manhood.
Let it be on your head!

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