are men more prone to inertia than women?

My husband broke his little toe a month ago. It would seem. On my daughter’s shin. (I don’t get it either.)

For a month, he has been hobbling around and literally tearing up every time one of us bumps his foot.

“Maybe you should put some shoes on,” I say.

“It hurts when I have shoes on,” he responds.

This is when I say that he should go see a doctor because it’s probably broken.

“I know,” he says.

And then he does not go.

This reminds the drama major in me of Samuel Beckett’s absurdist masterpiece Waiting for Godot, in which two men wait for someone to arrive (who never does) and then decide they should stop waiting and leave (but do not). Here’s the big finish:

ESTRAGON:Well, shall we go?

VLADIMIR:Yes, let’s go.

They do not move.


I never fully appreciated this play’s greatness as a single woman. Now I think Beckett captured the very essence of a man’s existence: talking a lot about something, I mean a LOT, but not doing anything about it.

And they start young. We were cleaning out our minivan last weekend (six inches of rain will eventually make you that desperate). I climbed into the third row, where I never venture, and found Seamus’s booster seat armrests covered in a sticky brown goo of dubious provenance.

MOMMY: Boys! It’s disgusting back here!

CONNOR: I know! It’s so gross!

MOMMY: Seamus! How can you sit in this seat?

Seamus shrugs.

SEAMUS: I don’t weally think about it. As long as I don’t wook down.

Men will go to great lengths to avoid dealing with the unpleasant. I read somewhere about a guy who, rather than changing the toilet paper roll in his bathroom, would go for the extra roll under the toilet paper cozy. His wife only discovered his perfidy when the cozy sort of collapsed for lack of toilet tissue support from beneath. “Is he seriously that lazy?” this man’s wife mused. Yes ma’am.

My closing argument: a male friend of mine, during his off-campus college days, lived in a house full of guys. Their kitchen became so funky and disgusting to behold that after winter break, they NAILED PLYWOOD OVER THE DOOR. They chose not having a kitchen for the rest of the year over cleaning it.

And so I have come to believe that the male propensity for inertia is much greater than the female. I’m currently seeking a major university grant to study this topic more fully. (That will be a lot easier to achieve than getting my husband to the doctor for his month-old broken toe.)

Do you have any empirical evidence of your own to contribute, about the relative inertia of the men in your life?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

sarah September 9, 2011 at 4:47 pm

i get what you’re saying, but there’s really no point in going to the doctor for a broken toe.  all they can do is x-ray it, say, “yep, looks broken,” and send you home.


Anonymous September 9, 2011 at 7:57 pm

True. I had a broken finger and that was pretty much it. But maybe it could be taped. or set properly. Or maybe knowing that it was broken would give my husband the nudge he needs to let it heal. Ah who knows.


Anonymous September 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Thanks for this post – I am now thinking about then the men in my life in a different way.  Originally, I thought they just weren’t that bothered by stuff (like dirty kitchens or goo on their booster seat).  I kind of thought that was an admirable way of thinking, seeing as I am always striving for some sort of perfection.  But now I see they are not so much zen as inert!  He he.  


Anonymous September 9, 2011 at 7:56 pm

It’s definitely admirable to not seek perfection. When it gets to the point where you’d rather not HAVE a stove or running water than actually clean it, I think something lazier is at work.


Co_herrin September 9, 2011 at 6:17 pm

My husband is a clean freak by nature, but only about certain things (he’ll do the dishes, wash the floors and do the laundry). Other things, I think he just doesn’t see, or maybe his brain can’t fathom doing THAT. For example, I don’t think he has ever, not once, changed the toilet paper roll in 10 years of us being together. He will go get a new roll, and he will set it on top of the old roll. Also, we keep our toothpaste in a little drawer that you pull out of a stand-up cabinet. He never ever ever closes the drawer after he uses the toothpaste. I am 7 months pregnant and often go to the bathroom half asleep at 2:00 a.m. Every single time, I hit my head on the open toothpaste drawer.


Anonymous September 9, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Sing it, sister. I should have done a whole blog post just on the toilet paper roll. Maggie isn’t old enough to have the hang of it yet, and the three men under this roof stoutly refuse to change it. 


Meredith Lopez September 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Do I have empirical evidence? I’m married, right? So there you go.

My husband’s knee has been bothering him since high school. That’s nearly 15 years now! Has he seen a doctor about it? Nope. Why not? Who knows?


Anonymous September 9, 2011 at 7:54 pm

I read somewhere recently that married men live longer, and they think it’s because they have wives who may eventually convince them to actually seek medical attention. Once in a while.


Isabelle September 10, 2011 at 2:59 pm

My boyfriend his mail. Nor does he throw it out.

A friend was getting rid of a toast-r-oven, rightly so. Boyfriend took it. The door didn’t close fully unless he wedged the broiler pan under the handle. But then he had to brace it with the cutting board. He had this thing for years rather than buy a new one. 


Anonymous September 13, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Oh toilet paper….

When my boyfriend changes the toilet paper, he insists on recycling the toilet paper tube. But instead of putting the tube in the recycling bin, he will just leave it on the bathroom counter. I’M the one who has to recycle it. every. single. time.
He also “forgets” to alert me when he has used the last roll. So, I go to change it – and surprise! no toilet paper! Kleenex for this lady.

Aside from the toilet paper, this post mostly reminds me of two bosses I once had. All talk, always promising clients things that we’ve never done, could never do, or have no capable way of doing, and then expecting me to action it. They just assumed whatever came out of their mouths, we would be forced to scramble and get done. Needless to say, many clients were lost that way. 


Good Day Regular People September 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Oh my god you mean my husband is just being normal?

Gaah..I feel so guilty for thinking he is the laziest man on the planet.


Erin September 13, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Oh you know I do, doll. Anything medical results in a complete standstill, the only inch he yields is to ask me to ‘Google his symptoms.’ Apparently, his illness robbed his ability to type words into a search bar. 

I don’t think this is true, but I once heard that a donkey will starve to death if you put two bales of hay in front of it because it can’t decide which to eat from.  

I married a donkey. 


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