Who knew navigating heavy traffic meant being in the right hemisphere?

image Welcome to this week’s edition of Post Traumatic Sunday, which are all posts involving my ex-wife. None of them have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. Though none of these posts will be mean-spirited or vindictive, it’s easy to recognize I was someone coping with an unhappy marriage through humor. Eight years later, I am happily re-married (ridiculously so) and inspired to write — and laugh — for the right reasons.

Finally, we can all laugh together…

* * * * * *

It’s a well-known fact that men and women think differently. This is because of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. While women tend to rely on the more creative, right hemisphere of the brain, which is responsible for verbal skills and abstract thoughts, men favor the more technical left side of the brain, which is mainly reserved for thoughts of sports and beer.

This is why a man can deduce Anna Kournikova’s exact measurements during a tennis match and, based on her perceived weight, determine exactly how many beers it would take before she would be intoxicated enough to make brief eye contact with him at a singles bar.

The difference between how men and women think has never been more evident than it was during our family road trip to California. From the start, my wife insisted on being the navigator, even though, technically, navigation is a left-brain activity. I brought this to her attention, and, using her superior right-brain communication skills, my wife explained that, technically, I have the directional sense of a wind sock and would therefore remain behind the wheel and away from the Road Atlas at all times.

Admittedly, she was right about this point. When it comes to finding my way on the open road — or even on roads closed to thru traffic — nothing short of a full escort by compass-wielding Boy Scouts can keep me from getting lost. Several years ago while under hypnosis, I discovered that I was a Canada Goose in another life — a life that was tragically cut short after flying north my very first winter.

Because of this revelation, I didn’t argue about the driving arrangements.

At least not until we got to San Francisco.

You see, it was at that point that my left-brain processing skills discovered an interesting mathematical equation that goes as follows:

The time that is required for my wife to chart a course through heavy traffic is directly proportional to the number of lanes I have to cross in order to reach the appropriate exit.

Positioned in the far left lane within eight lanes of heavy traffic, it takes my wife approximately six minutes to deduce that we should’ve taken the exit we passed five minutes ago.

That’s because, in most cases, she is too busy shoving her feet through the floorboards and repeating the Rosary to worry about reading a stupid map that, in her words, “Was probably drawn-up by some left-brained, beer-swilling, sex-crazed male with NO SENSE OF DIRECTION ANYWAY!”

Even though this announcement was made at the peak of rush hour traffic in the heart of San Francisco, it still illustrates the difference between how men and women think; In that same instant, MY thoughts were focused solely on traffic flow, and how, based on speed fluctuations and random lane changes, we could eventually catch up to the car whose driver I thought looked suspiciously like Anna Kournikova.

In spite of these differences, we did find common ground once we left the interstate and went on foot into downtown. That’s because the bond of marriage won’t allow us to admit when both of us are completely lost.

But hey, if nothing else, at least we were in the right hemisphere.

Then again, maybe it was the left..?

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

36 thoughts on “Who knew navigating heavy traffic meant being in the right hemisphere?”

  1. The image you chose is from Northern Virginia, or as I like to call it, the Roach Motel State (or ‘Commonwealth’ if you want to split hairs). You can drive in there, but you can’t get out, no matter how healthy your marriage is.

    Due to neverending construction, the exits change daily and even in late evening, when you’re cruising along at 35 mph, the lane you’re in can suddenly become an impromptu temporary exit lane, taking you off the highway into some confusing suburb where left turns and U-turns are against the law.

    The last time I was there, I ended up bargaining with an officer of the law that if he would just kindly show me a legal exit strategy, I would put away my useless maps and would never again cross state (ok, commonwealth) lines.

    It’s been about 3 years. I have GPS now. I still haven’t been back. I don’t think my relationship with my own ego is strong enough.

    1. I had no idea the image I chose was so appropriate. I love your roach motel analogy, by the way. I’m sure that police officer is still telling your story!

  2. That used to be one of my most favorite intersections too! (note: maximum sarcarsm here) As a long-haul trucker, I haunted 95 for a living from Maine to Florida. And if you were headed to San Fran, Ned, and that is you and your wife in that little car in the picture? – You are in much worse shape than you can imagine. Perhaps you should stop and ask for directions? Bwhahahaha!

      1. About that, Ned… have you noticed that all but one of the comments so far focus on the road and not on your central thesis? Most of us, who have been in a relationship or even talked to a woman once, will cringe at your opening sentence: “It’s a well-known fact that men and women think differently.” My Mom is an ardent feminist and I was trained from an early age to NEVER use that sentence. It will inevitably result in what I call a Star Trek response: “Raise the shields! Arm photon torpedoes! Phaser banks charged and ready!” At this point, running away fast is the only survivable tactic.

        Personally (and I will deny this to the death if you ever rat me out) I know you are right – and I must operate under that assumption to even make any sense of a relationship – but it can never, never, never be put into words. May the force be with you!

  3. Marriage is a lot of work even in the best of circumstance–the whole Mars and Venus thing. It’s great that time and distance allow you to be able to put things in this perspective. looking forward to hearing about more of your mis-adventures with the ex:)

    1. You’re absolutely right, Dadicus. I do have to say, though, that it makes a big difference when you’re at least coming from the same solar system. I’ve now been remarried for almost six years (Aug. 8), and although there is a certain amount of Mars-Venus from time to time, it always ends up with just being happy being together on Earth.

      Thanks for reading, Dadicus 😉

  4. Being married to a man who cannot find his way out of a paper bag if both ends were open means that I am always the navigator even on the little trips. He has gotten a little better with old age and can even find his way to the building supply store in the next town. However, trips of more than 30 km away from home require my services. The only problem with that is that he THINKS he knows where to go and sometimes when I tell him to turn left he will go right. His reasoning is that well this could be a more scenic route, and don’t forget that three lefts will eventually equal a right.

    1. Hahaha! I can’t argue with his rationale, but at least I knew when to just be quiet and drive. Fortunately for me, the wonderful woman to whom I’m now married sees missed turns the same as I do: just more time together 😉

  5. My wife and I are okay with the whole directions business, but our marriage came to the test driving cross-country when she wanted to detour away from our daily destination because, you know, Ray’s Reptile World.

  6. And this is just one of the many reasons I love you. You and I have the same sense of direction. And the same tolerance level for jackasses who can’t read a map.

    1. It’s ironic that those of us without a sense of direction are the most qualified to tell the map-wielding jackasses where to go…

      Nothing but love for you too, Molly 😉

  7. Just a question…Have you guys up there in the big US of A, not heard of GPS? And you can even pick your voice, which ironically comes default as female… Weird.

  8. You sound like my hubby – turn him around once & he’s totally lost. He relies on me very heavily for navigation. No matter how many times we drove to a small town four hours from our little home in the bush, he would always ask how to I get to —-? Or do I need to turn left here? I am a typical female & not mathematically inclined whatsoever, but somehow I can plan enough ahead to give directions like “We will need to take an exit on the right in 5 miles, maybe you should start getting over now.” Now we have GPS, thank goodness! But I am still an excellent navigator – I think it was all the road rallies in which I participated as a youth.

    1. GPS or not, I’m sure he appreciates your directions. I try to convince myself that the reason I’m not great at navigation is because I have so many important thoughts on my mind. Like where Arby’s is.

  9. I guess it’s a cliche, but a relationship or marriage is easily tested by driving together. If couples were allowed to fly jetliners together, there’d be a hell of a lot more crashes;)…Still, reading about it eight years later is very fun!
    Btw. your book has safely arrived. In the Netherlands. It’ll be waiting for me this May when I go there:S

    1. LOL! As much fun as I poke at this situation, I have to say my current wife and I have fun wherever we go — driving or otherwise. You’d be safe on one of our flights. We’d be lost the whole time, but we would only crash by running out of fuel.

      Btw, I’m glad to hear the book was finally released from customs and has arrived safely! I hope you’ll consider sending a photo from the Netherlands for the HATSOL Surveillance Team archives. Assuming Google Earth hasn’t already taken a satellite photo.

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