A cute picture of Mr. Know-it-all

Mr. Know - It - All

Installment 1

Dear Mr. Know-it-all,
Why can my husband remember so much useless sports trivia, but not the dress I wore yesterday. He doesn't pay any attention to me anymore. I swear, he knows Willie Mays' 1957 batting average but can't remember our anniversary. Doesn't he love me?
Amy Ruckus, Kansas City

efore you convince yourself that your husband ignores you and doesn't love you anymore, let me explain a little about men and memory. First off, most men don't care too much about clothes. Next time you're mad at him for not remembering what you wore, ask him what he wore. Chances are that he won't remember. And if you want further consolation, try this test. Watch "Baywatch" with him some evening, and then the next morning over breakfast ask him what color bathing suit Pamela whatever-this-month (even Mr. Know-it-all can't keep track) was wearing. I bet he doesn't remember, and you can bet he was paying close attention to her.Now, about memory, recent studies have shown that there are three types of memory: (1) there is memory for physical skills, like how to knit or play tennis, (2) there is memory for personal experience, like what you wore yesterday, and (3) there is memory for facts, like what year the Battle of Waterloo took place (1815). (There are also specialized memories for faces, sounds, and the like but in the interest of brevity I'm omitting them from this discussion.) In my experience, men tend to be better at remembering facts, and women experience. This in part explains why men tend to be such statistical nuts when it comes to sports.
So you see, dear Amy, your husband is just a typical guy and not ignoring you. Well, in all honesty, he could be, but you'd need to provide more telling evidence, like he no longer even says "can't you be quiet, I'm trying to watch the game".

NOTE: Any place I've claimed a gender difference, these are trends and tendencies, not absolutes, and I make no claim, either implied or explicit, about which is better or more important.

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Dear Mr. Know-it-all,
Why are so many of Hollywood's leading men short? Tom Cruise, Michael J. Fox, Dustin Hoffmann, and William Holden are examples. And why isn't this true for woman too? Is there some sort of double standard?
Beverly Dalbo, Brownsville Texas

he reason so many leading men are short is simple - women. For good or bad, women do the selecting of who they date and men must make a display to attract their attention. This can be seen throughout the Animal Kingdom where too the male has to work at getting dates (song birds sing, rams butt heads, etc.) It's no different for people. For larger, athletic men the method often chosen is sports. The tall guys play basketball, the guys with no necks play football, the guys who can run forever play soccer, out of shape middle aged men play softball, you get the idea. What are smaller, non-athletic men to do? Well, the less attractive ones become nerds and romance computers and nerdettes (in that order). Good looking ones go into acting because it provides the exposure needed to meet many prospective mates. There are a few exceptions to this, of course, since some tall men (e.g. Tom Selleck) take up acting, or some athletes (e.g. Ed Marinaro) do go into acting, but they don't do as well since they don't have the same drive as their counterparts who have no other way to attract women. The constant influx of models tends to provide plenty of tall woman, so the height of actresses tends to be more normal, or if anything, taller than average.

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Dear Mr. Know-it-all,
My wife and I have been having an argument that is threatening to end our marriage and we need your help in settling it. She says that men can be replaced by a turkey baster, and I ask her who will fight their wars? Then she just laughs (a distinctly unpleasant laugh). So, who's right?
Dan Collision, Ottumwa Iowa

hile I try not to get involved in domestic disputes, I felt I must help as your remark about the laugh makes me believe she has told this story to her friends and they all agree with her that you are a big goofball. So I will tell you, you're both wrong. Men can't be replaced with just a turkey baster; a hot water bottle is also required (in season). I can understand you two overlooking this as we are just now getting cooler weather and all summer long your mere presence in bed has been making her too hot (and not the good kind of hot, either). And the thing that's actually kept us from being replaced, since turkey basters and hot water bottles are cheap and plentiful, is an automated system to take out the trash. When this system is cheap and plentiful, then mankind will become womankind. For the nostalgic woman, it will store the odor from the trash and then spray this fragrance at random intervals in the house while saying "Ah, that's better", "Don't light a match", "Like roses", or "I wouldn't go in there if I were you".
As to your remark about fighting wars, physical combat would be obsolete without any men. Instead, each country would make catty remarks about the other country behind its back, until from embarrassment one country would surrender and the victor would take some of the remarks back (how much would be part of the peace settlement) and the loser would take them all back. So Dan, I hope I've done my part for domestic tranquillity.

PS You'll know women have been replaced when you see chisels and gasoline sold in the cleaning products aisle at K-Mart.

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That concludes the innaugural installment of Mr. Know-it-all. If you have any questions you would like to ask him, please email him at MrKnowitall@bigbrain.org and mention that you want to see the answer published in The Murphy NexusTM.

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This page last updated 6 May 1998

Contents copyright Kevin Murphy 1998. All rights reserved.