"Hah!" I say to my wife. I'm re-reading the May 16 issue of the
Journal-Star to make sure I haven't missed anything before I throw it
away. "Hah! Hah! And eureka!"
"A plethora of exclamations," she says, yawning as she finishes
one crossword puzzle and picks up another. "I suppose you're going to
"It's what I always thought!" I say, looking up from the
five-week-old "Science Briefs" column. "And once again, science has
finally verified it."
"What's it say?" she says. "That unwashed dishes are easier to
clean if they sit on the kitchen counter for three days? That cars don't
run really well until there's only a half gallon of gas left in the tank?
That there's nothing goofy about reading five-week-old newspapers?"
"Read this," I say, holding the "Science Briefs" column between
her nose and her crossword puzzle. "The one called 'Lions lack mane, have
"Scientists have discovered," she reads aloud, "that a type of
male lion not only lacks the distinctive mane associated with a lion's
masculinity, but also is the only known male that has large groups of
females all to itself."
"What'd I tell you, huh?" I say. "Huh? Huh? What'd I tell you?"
She gives me a look that tells me to settle down. I settle down.
She keeps readingabout a study of five prides of lions in Kenya,
each pride led by a single male lion which "had no mane or just little
tufts of hair on the head or neck." And each pride had an average of 7.4
"The last sentence of the third paragraph!" I say. "Read that
She reads that typical lion prides are led by "two to four males."
"OK," I say, trying to keep my voice calm. "Let's do the math.
Typical lion pride has two to four maleswith manesand 7.4 females.
That's a ratio of between 1.8 and 3.7 females for each maned male. But these
prides led by lions without manes have 7.4 females to one male. Now what
does that tell us?"
"That unmaned males are messier than maned males?" she says.
"Because it takes at least twice as many females to pick up after them?
You knowstinky socks, used dental floss, toenail clippings."
"You missed the point," I say. "Has have nothing to do with
stinky socks, used dental floss, toenail clippings. Read the next
"The researcher," she reads, "speculated the lions may have
unusually high levels of testosterone."
"Yes!" I say. "And that would explain why they can keep 7.4
females happy. Get it? Huh? Get it?"
"This is a boy thing, isn't it?" she says. "You're excited
because this is a boy thing."
"Well, it's about testosterone," I say, "and that's a boy thing.
I can't help that, can I? But here's the point: What correlates with
high testosterone here?"
The Truth, Mainly
"Forgetfulness?" she says. "You knowlike your forgetting to put
out the garbage on the only morning the garbage gets picked up. They need
7.4 females instead of just 1.8 to 3.7 following them around reminding
them to take the garbage out. Of course, they'd be easier to follow
because they'd leave a trail of stinky socks, used dental floss, and
"What garbage?" I say. "You still don't get it. Read the last
"Testosterone," she reads, "is thought to cause inhibition in hair
growth and balding on the scalp in genetically disposed human males and
"See?" I say. "See? See?"
"What's a stump-tailed macaque?" she says, opening her dictionary.
"Doesn't matter," I say. "Let me spell it out for you. We're
talking about those magnificent lions without manes, who have just little
tufts of hair on the head or neck. The absence of hair correlates with
their vast virility. And, by logical extension, it's about the vast
virility of balding human malesand the nobility of their choosing to be
She rolls her eyes, snorts, and points to her open dictionary.
"Balding human males and stump-tailed macaques," she says. "Says
here they're short-tailed Old World monkeys with tufted eyebrows."
"But this isn't about monkeys," I say, playing my trump card in a
crescendo of irrefutable logic. "This is about me and that long-haired,
muscle-bound geek you always stare at. You knowWhatsisname."
"Fabio?" she says. "This is about you and Fabio?"
"It's what I've always thought," I say, seductively grooming the
big bald spot between my two little tufts of hair. "He's got a mane, so
he's about half full of testosterone. I don't have a mane, so, my spicy
little enchilada, I'm full of it clear up to my tufted eyebrows."
"Another line, Sugar Lump," she says, "that I wouldn't touch with
a ten-foot pole."
"Hah?" I say. "Hah?"
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail