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Marriage Wars: Clean vs ‘cleanish’ for men and women
Nov 12, 2011 | 890 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DAWN BRANDVOLD: There is a reason that sanitizing hand gel doesn’t come in manly fragrances. Your typical man has an apathetic relationship with germs. Mostly, he figures what you can’t see, won’t hurt you. Men and germs are the original “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Ask most men about their public restroom habits and it will be a pretty simple explanation. Ask a woman and you will get a description that defies most gymnastic routines. First of all, we never touch directly. This includes using elbows to open doors, shirt sleeves on latches, and a high kick worthy of the Karate Kid to flush with our foot.

On a recent trip, the men at the table sat in awe and puzzlement as the women (from all parts of the country) described our public restroom antics. Every husband at the table looked at their wife with incredulous disbelief and said, “You do WHAT?”

Watch men and women on public transportation. Men are blithely hanging on to any strap or pole available with their bare hands while women pull down their jacket sleeve to make a glove. Same goes for shopping carts. After years of pushing drooling babies in carts, there is no way I’m touching the handle without wiping it down first. I know what germs are lurking.

I hate to admit that all of my precautions don’t make me any healthier. We both catch the same number of colds and neither of us of had the flu in years. It’s all for peace of mind.

Men live by the “clean enough” motto. I refer to them as their own ethnic group – The Cleanish. Things aren’t completely sanitary nor disgustingly filthy – Cleanish is good enough for them.

MARK GRAY: Men are not apathetic about germs and the need for cleanliness. Unlike many women, however, we don’t believe health arises solely from a home that smells like Lysol.

Men are merely rational about germs. We realize that leaving the house in the morning is inherently dangerous – since it entails breathing – and the air is full of germs. Therefore, we don’t think it is necessary to pull out a Clorox Wipe every single time we push an elevator button, clutch a steering wheel or attach a paper clip. Likewise, it is not uncommon to find women who refuse to use public restrooms, whereas men view this as intrinsically painful. Bladders are not designed to expand simply because we don’t know the genealogy of every person who has entered a public bathroom.

I do agree that men populate the Cleanish Clan. Men don’t observe clutter in the same way that women do. Letters, papers, post-it notes on the kitchen counter are seen by women as inconsequential garbage; to men, these papers are important additions to the “to do” list after the male fulfills his daily role as hunter-gatherer. A magazine left open on a sofa is not apocalyptic, and a glass left in the kitchen sink is not an affront to public sanitation.

Men set priorities; it is not a priority that every speck of dust be collected daily from the living room carpet. We don’t want a home that looks like a bombed-out World War II structure and we don’t want insects to become long-term renters either. But at the same time, we don’t expect our house to be confused with the Model Home in a new housing development.

As a Cleanish guy, I like the lived-in look.



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