I've been in a deep funk for several weeks now, ever since I found
out from Time that I'm not always hitting on all my mental cylinders.
In the intellectual journey of life, I sometimes show up at the wrong
gate. My synapses don't always snap.
It was an article about gender differences and it said that males
go through hormonal cycles too, not monthly but annually. High
testosterone in the fall, low in the spring. That news doesn't bother
me. What bothers me is the news that as testosterone rises,
intelligence drops. The more male we become, the dumber we get.
"That's news?" my wife says. "Seems to me self evident, a
redundancy, a tautology. It's like saying the more mud you put in your
eye the less you see."
"Oh yeah?" I shoot right back at her. "The article also says males
are superior to females in spatial logic. We have an impeccable sense
of where we are because we had to spatially orient ourselves to the
mastodon hunting grounds while you girls tidied up the cave and wondered
which way was north."
That's when she brings up that little problem we had in
Marshalltown, Iowa, last October. We got lost. I was driving. It was
dark and I was taking a shortcut another guy told me about. Her
position was that we should stay on the road we already knew; my
position was where would we be if Columbus had done that instead of
discovering India? When the shortcut got really dark and narrow, her
position was that we should turn around and go back to the road we
already knew; my position was that all we had to do was follow the semi
in front of us because truck drivers always know where they're going.
This one was going home. He pulled up in front of a house on a
deadend street, took out his suitcase, and went inside. So we turned
around and tried to find our way back to the road we already knew. It
took a while and my wife made comments.
Now she calls that the Great Navigational Black Hole of
"Don't get too close to Marshalltown," she tells our sons, "or your
male spatial logic will get sucked into the Great Navigational Black
Then she laughs. She's easily amused.
But I feel better now that I've read the Time piece. Remember,
Marshalltown was in October. The high testosterone-low intelligence
season. Not my fault. Part of Nature's plan. Less than a month later
I read an AP story that said males should wait until spring to take
their SATs and I was feeling so wolfy I didn't get it. I had a strong
urge to hunt mastodon, so I did what seemed like the next best thing: I
broke up some concrete with my 16-pound sledge hammer and got a bad
backache. It felt good. November. Football season. Yee haw.
The Truth, Mainly
But I'm seeing things more clearly now; it's late February and the
testosterone is falling and I'm getting smarter. And here's what puts
me in a funk: election year politics. The spring primaries are as good
as it's going to get. Within the next two or three months the male
politicians will be as smart as they're going to be. And by the general
election in November, they'll be at their dumbest.
That explains Michael Dukakis sounding like a plausible candidate
in the 1988 spring primaries, then in the fall having his picture taken
pretending to drive a tank, his head rattling around inside an oversized
helmet, grinning like the town loony.
That explains George Bush being able to detect "voodoo" when he was
running against Reaganomics in the spring primaries of 1980, then in the
fall of 1988 chanting like a witch doctor: "Read my lips; no new
taxes. Read my lips; no new taxes."
But my wife tells me not to worry my pretty little head over the
fall election. It'll be painless, she says.
"By then," she tells me, patting me on the hand, "it'll
be that time of year and you won't understand what's going on anyway."
She says that half the population will be so testosterone-logged by
November that we'll be thinkingshe's not sure that's the right
wordhey, the Pledge of Allegiance really is a great campaign issue,
and golly, wouldn't it be neato-jet to invade somebody and bust up their
sidewalks with 16-pound sledge hammers?
She also says there's an alternative: run Barbara Bush against
Hillary Clinton and disinfranchise anyone who sets off the alarm in the
testosto-detector tunnels we'll make everyone walk through to get to the
voting booths. But where in this land, she asks with that flawed
spatial logic of hers, is there a party hack free enough of his glands
to see the wisdom of that?
Satterfield is a college professor and writes as a means of discovery.