by Marjolaine Tremblay
“Oh. So, like, right?”
“That depends… Which way are you facing?”
“I’m facing that Italian place with the cute string-lit patio—the one with the orange chairs. It’s just to the right of that blue building with the red awnings”
“That’s 200 metres too far northeast. You need to turn around and walk back southwest.”
“Oh, okay. So, like, left?”
Eventually, I found the café that I was meeting my dad at, but it took two more phone calls and the charitable shepherding of multiple passersby.
He might as well give me directions in Swahili. I almost wish he would start—at least that would eliminate any obligation to feign understanding.
I would love to say that this scenario is an embarrassing anomaly in a life otherwise free of directional gaffs. The truth is, this happens all the time—to me, to my mom, to your mom, to women all around the world, everyday. We have no fucking idea which way is north, south, east, or west.
It didn’t have to be this way. Pointing fingers is tacky, but there is an obvious culprit, and calling him out definitely complies with the journalistic maxim of punching up to which I am so religiously adherent.
Way, way up.
When God was developing the blueprints for Adam, he decided that it would be important for men to have a serviceable sense of cardinal direction. Because materials and engineering genius are apparently unbounded at Eden Laboratories™, he installed one of those wicked gyroscopic compasses that took Apple four iPhones to perfect. The result: a hairy, bipedal compass, unfailingly cognizant of its relation to Earth’s polar axis.
For whatever reason, Eve was not so lucky. Now, some 7,000 years later, we are all paying the price. Perhaps this inequity is divine compensation for wet dreams and conscription. Maybe God felt bad about making men so woefully incapable of buying pants that fit.
Whatever the case may be, there’s a geospatial gender gap which ceaselessly resurfaces but is seldom discussed.
It’s time to break the silence.
Gents, give it up. Giving us cardinal directions is pointless. It may seem like you’re being explicit, precise, and helpful, but in reality, your efforts are as futile as cramming toothpaste back in the tube.
Stick to lefts and rights (the orientation kind, not the Chris Brown kind), and make use of notable landmarks, e.g. the Italian place with the cute string-lit patio.
Or, more preferably, just pick us up. Nobody’s advocating for a wholesale return to the paternalism and chaperonage of the 1960s, but the front door pickup is definitely a social norm worth resurrecting. And, it certainly reduces noise in the abidingly jumbled signal between Venus and Mars.