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Better Men, Better Homes
By Aaron Johnston June 16, 2004

Remember the Six Million Dollar Man? That guy could do anything: run fast, pick up heavy objects, look good in a polyester jogging suit. He was amazing.

But these weren't his natural abilities. The guy was a cyborg. Scientists had equipped him with a nuclear-powered arm and a bionic eye.

I can't imagine how much a procedure like that must've cost, but I'm sure it was expensive.

Why do I mention it? Well, I think my wife may be a cyborg. I know, I'm still not used to the idea myself. But lately she's developed all these superhuman abilities, and I can't think of any other explanation.

For example, suddenly she knows how to whip up this incredible Asian cuisine. And suddenly she knows how to change the oil in the car. And can ripen tomatoes. And put me in a death grip and call it self-defense.

Every month it's something new.

She claims her new-found powers come from attending Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment, but I'm doubtful. Nobody can learn to make a pie this good in only an hour and a half. Impossible. Someone must have put a chip in her brain.

I can just imagine what the metal detectors will do the next time we're at the airport.

BEEP! BEEP!

"I'm sorry, ma'am," the guard will say. "Would you mind removing any and all metal objects from your pockets?"

"It's going to go off no matter what," I explain. "She has a bionic pie-making hand now."

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment is so well organized and so well executed that she's learning all of these life-enriching skills the old fashioned way.

If that's the case, then Relief Society activities -- which I've never attended obviously -- are much different than Elders Quorum activities. You see, we men only know how to do two things: show up to help someone move and then break something.

I suppose we could have our own Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment, but the activities would have to be slightly different.

I suggested this very idea to my brother-in-law. He attends a singles ward.

"Why don't men have Enrichment Night?" I asked.

"We do in our ward," he said. "We call it Men-richment."

This fascinated me. Now here's a quorum that's got it together. When I asked what they did during these activities, he simply said "Halo."

Halo is a video game. It's one of those pick-up-a-gun-and-shoot-someone games. They play it on Xbox. Apparently one can hook multiple Xbox systems together and play one giant multi-player game. At the last activity they had sixteen guys playing at once, all trying desperately to blow the others' heads off.

These are very well attended, I learned. Everybody comes out to play Halo.

"What are you doing next month?" I ask.

He looks at me like I'm stupid. "Halo."

"Right on!" I say.

OK, I don't play video games. I'm awful at them. My brain doesn't work that fast.

But if my quorum organized this activity, I would most certainly attend. I'd be the first guy shot, yes, but there's something appealing about looking for your home-teaching companion on an orbiting space station and then, once you find him, pumping his spacesuit full of lead.

My wife, however, would not approve.

"If I'm going to babysit and hold down the fort," she'd say, "this activity better be productive. It better help either our home or our family or you." And she's right. A men-only Enrichment Night should be just as enriching as the women's activities are.

The question is: What instruction do men need?

The easy answer is: Everything. We men are so unenriched in so many categories that any lesson would be a helpful one. Perhaps it's better to ask: What instruction, when given to men, would be of greatest benefit and blessing to their homes, their families, and themselves?

And we're talking about practical skills here. We get the doctrine during the priesthood session of General Conference. What we need is hands-on training.

Keep in mind that we men would be teaching each other. We have to pull from our own strengths.

In my house I have two jobs that I'm good at. I take out the trash and I give the kid a bath. I do other things, of course, but these are my specialties.

If I was ever called upon to give a garbage-duty class, for example, I could do so with confidence.

"Don't use the twisty ties included in the garbage-bag box," I'd say. "They'll only slip off on your way to the big garbage cans outside."

All the men nod.

"Instead, tie the garbage bag off using a criss-cross granny knot. Like so."

The men "ooh" and "ahh" as I demonstrate.

"When you finally put it outside," I continue, "make sure the lid is secure. If a stray dog gets in there, you'll find trash all over your yard come morning. And trust me, you'll be the one picking it up."

A friend of mine makes popcorn for his family. That's his specialty. When popcorn needs to be made, the kids turn to him.

"OK, men," he'd say. "This is a popcorn popper. The kernels go in here. Then you plug it in."

It would be a short class, so on second thought, maybe it would be better if the women taught the classes. They have the real skills. Let's put them in front of the chalkboard. We might actually learn something that way.

I've learned, for example, that there is a right and wrong way to fold clothes. My wife taught me the right way. She even showed me how to fold fitted sheets, which I was convinced were impossible to fold.

If all the men knew how to do this -- and I'm assuming that they don't -- all of our homes would be better for it. I can picture it now. A wife comes home, finds the clothes folded properly, and BOOM! passes out from shock.

It would be a beautiful thing.

Or consider this: I discovered recently that a friend of mine doesn't change diapers. His wife does them all. In all their six years of marriage he has never touched a single diaper.

This is a travesty.

"But I don't know how," is his defense.

Well we can change that. We'll organize an official Elder's Quorum Enrichment and then we'll teach him and every other unskilled man how to do it properly.

We'd have to convince him that changing diapers isn't all that bad, of course. He can't be forced. But once we show him what a manly thing it is to change diapers and what sissy he is for not doing so, he'll likely jump on the bandwagon.

Can you imagine the look on his wife's face when he finally volunteers, no, insists upon changing the baby's diaper? A doctor would have to surgically shrink her eyes back down to normal size.

And there are countless other skills. I'd love to hear your ideas. What do we husbands and fathers need? What skills should we develop? If you could have all of us learn a skill, what would it be?

Send me your responses. Let's share. With a little collaboration and a lot of elbow grease we can give that Six Million Dollar Man a good run for his money.

Copyright © 2004 by Aaron Johnston

 
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