Help! I've Got a Single-Task Mind in a Multitasking World
"Men can't multitask," women sneer. "Leave that to us."
Wait minute. I can barely task and now I'm supposed to multitask?
We started to cut ourselves some slack. We admitted we can't have a high-powered career; raise brilliant, athletic but modest kids; keep a spotless, but inviting home; be intellectual companion, nursemaid and lover to our husbands and make biscuits from scratch. Now suddenly we not only have to do it all, we have to do it all at once.
Maybe women's brains evolved differently. Early Woman had to balance a squirming baby while scanning the bushes for ripe berries and yelling, "Grod, put your sister down this instant or you're not getting that saber tooth tattoo for your initiation ceremony," and scooping up little Dorv before he crawled into the primeval poison ivy.
Early Man, on the other hand, tended toward tasks that require a single focus, like bringing a mastodon down with a well-aimed slingshot.
Most folks accepted this division of labor until the New Woman turned up in the late 19th century. The proto-feminist didn't try to do it all. She said, "I'm not hanging around the farm until Mama and Papa marry me off. I can make it on my own -- okay, with four roommates -- in New York City. I don't have to be a washerwoman or a nanny. I can take on a man's job, like typewriting or bookkeeping. I'm in no hurry to marry. I might just take a lover. If I can track down that gal who claims she knows how to get birth control."
Fast forward to 1970 when the liberated woman declared, "I don't need to think about marriage yet. I've got the Pill and my career. I can be a policem-um-officer, firem-fighter, doctor, lawyer or Native American tribal representative."
Then came the delusional '90s. We thought we could make a bazillion dollars with an Internet company, have our two-year-old playing Chopin and speaking Swahili and still manage to have buns of steel.
Then reality set in. For about two minutes.
Now when a man claims he can multitask, some woman will jump up and declare, "I'll see your talking on the cell phone while shaving and navigating the interstate, and I'll raise you. I call the office while applying make-up, refereeing three Cub Scouts in the back seat and dodging skateboarders on Oak Street."
Arrgh! That makes my blood boil! I --I'm going to choke on this spicy chicken wrap. I'll just set it down gently, turn off the radio, stop keying in this essay and -- just drive.