My parents love to braai, but lost touch with their tradition for several years until last weekend, when dad, Bruce, capitulated to blushing summer sunsets and bought a portable barbecue.
Mom, Terry, was both hungry and nostalgic. As women do, she shared the milestone with me via SMS: “Here we sit outside on this perfect evening about to light our new braai! I just feel like laughing! Brings back so many memories!”
What most people who know them now know, thanks to Facebook, this wasn’t a simple scenario. The braai was purchased unassembled; it couldn’t build itself. And, as my parents do, the happy event became a springboard for deep and meaningful debate.
“I think women know something men don’t – that they’re smarter,” Bruce said.
“I’m a pretty decent handyman, with an array of tools and machinery second to none. Yet, yesterday my wife quietly pointed out where I was going wrong in my frustrated attempts to assemble a simple barbecue, just purchased.
“There were several things I didn’t notice, one of which was: ‘You’ve got it upside down.’ This proves beyond all doubt that women are smarter than men.”
It takes a great man to admit a great truth. And neither mom nor I would argue against it: often, we forget how big the feminine noggin is – eons of suppression and patriarchy saw to that. But sometimes a solitary, brave voice speaks up to state the obvious.
Of course, truth, like beauty, is strangely subjective. But you can find anything to fit your argument on Google these days – it’s better than January sales racks.
I found a million links confirming that after exhaustive studies, scientists conclude that women are smarter than men. One research project rates women’s brains as better because there’s more activity in their “CEO” section – the prefrontal cortex responsible for myriad functions, including organisation, planning and impulse control.
I won’t lie to you, though. There are as many links to research papers detailing superior male intelligence or, at the very least, equality in gender cleverness.
So perhaps the only answer is to set aside science. Anecdotal evidence trumps theory, anyway. And wherever I’ve gone, there’s always at least one woman who’s smarter than anybody in the room.
In primary school, the smartest kid in class was a girl. At varsity, I knew a woman named Helen who not only knew more than our English professor, but made Renaissance poetry sound sexy. She was smart enough to know that only being smart doesn’t guarantee Friday date nights.
One day it won’t matter; but for now, it bears reminding that we’re babes with brains. My parents had a braai – and mom is still smarter, he says.
“When trying to light the firelighters with a gas lighter, my wife said: ‘ Don’t release the trigger, hold it in.’ This species of humanity is quite extraordinary. Next incarnation I know which sex I’ll choose.”