Monday, January 1, 2018

The Man Plan -- (A Satire)

The Man Plan    reposted  from 1-12-15

The men who lead our church youth group have an easy-going leadership style. They don’t get caught up in minutiae.  They stay flexible and just go with the flow.  

Guys plan with a laid-back attitude and I watch with awe.    Maybe it’s a gender thing that is uniform in church leaderships worldwide? 

Men don’t sweat the small stuff.  While women spend months on details like  “the  table centerpiece,” the guys live,“Let it Go,” long before it was a song.

In our house, the cool and calm planning attitude of man gets twisted by the whirlwind that is woman,  and when it does, the blustery moments usually result in tornadoes.

Like last night.  My husband tries to balance his natural man-planning with mine, the wifely PCD’r (planning compulsively disordered) .  It was our weekly-annual planning meeting, and as usual, I took the lead.  

“There is a youth activity planned; Let me have our son explain it to you,” I say.

The son shuffles in and mumbles, “It’s our turn to be in charge of the Wednesday activity.” 

“Really,” the husband looks shocked, “Already?  Are you sure?” 

His response surprises me.  I expect the male to have a, “be cool fool, we got this,” attitude.  He must be channeling his femistique.symbols-004The guy knows that the boys and girls take turns overseeing the planning—and that means somehow his time and space  has warped six months and that rift has created a deep-down fissure that could prove treacherous.

I interject coolly, “It doesn’t matter.”   I figure if he’s switching up genders, I will too.

“No,”  he recovers, “It does matter.  It’s important to follow the calendared plan.”

Still,  I can tell the unfamiliar underpinnings are chafing.
“Well,”   I replied, “You are right, and if there were such a thing as a plan...” 

The importance of a plan!   I have learned this from my study of a compilation of leadership books that could be titled, “The Mindset and Element of the Seven Habits of  Leadership Skills”.   Every one of those leader-building books insist that ‘The End Will Begin’ only if it’s calendared. 

So I persist,  “…let me give you an imagined scenario of how the man-planning process would go.” And I began relating the story as I have watched it played out over my decades of experience in youth activity planning. 

And to enhance the experience,  I will perform this in a duo of male voices as I did for him:  
(First, in the bass of a radio announcer,)  "A day in the life of a male youth leader.  The alarm rings and the hand reaches for the cell phone and the eyeballs squint at the day's calendar. Brainwaves begin  to roll in."

( The vocal pitch changes to treble,)

 “Hmmm, wonder who’s in charge of the activity tomorrow night?” as the man scans his smart phone.   “Whose week is it anyway?”

(Changing back to the Elvis voice.)  "And a distant memory from a planning meeting begins to struggle up  from the depths and belches a vague recall."
 (Back to the Sinatra voice,) “Seems like I heard the older group’s got it.  I heard they were planning something that sounded like fun.” 

(Bass,) "And the relief endorphins kick in."

(Tenor,) “Wow, great.  Wonder if they need help? I’ll text them tomorrow."  

(Bass,) "But then just as he’s rolling over, his calendar pings."

(Tenor,) “Oh, but I have that late meeting at work tomorrow.  I’m sure they will let me know if they need anything.  Yeah, they have my number.” 

Now, I’ve been using my voice skills, and my psychic man-channeling that’s been honed through thirty-some years of close marital contact, so as I wind down and slam the imaginary smart-flip phone shut, (because no one has ever effectively demonstrated the end of anything without a satisfactorily slam of something,)  I look at the man and his cub and say, “And that’s how it will go.”

“So honey,” I conclude in my normal voice, “I think that if you plan it, all will be okay.” 

My husband, the consummate critic of my acting skills, quirks a questioning eyebrow and says, “Maybe we just better be sure.” 

“Hey,” I counter the criticism , ‘ I cleared this activity months ago with the young women leader.” 

“Yeah, still…” his dubious mind balks at my unfamiliar faux-male casual attitude and he hesitates, proving his ignorance of  the critical component of church calendaring,  'estrogen.'   He turns to the budding planner, my son, the micro-male and says, “Who can you call?” 

“Well,”  I stifle the response that resounds in my head, “that would be the young woman leader.”     

I’m more than a little shocked that flipping out the female card hasn’t trumped and my mind races ahead to what deeper issue he may have that I haven’t already mentally considered and resolved. 

“Honey,” my husband, the long-term analyst-for-a-living rebukes, “I just don’t want to have to do this again in a month, if it’s not our turn.” 

And there we have it;  the real crux.  My mind leaps to a resolution and the drama drag queen begs to emerge.

“Oh, I get it.  Let me allay your concerns.  Let’s visualize next month, and imagine the thoughts of one of the other young men leaders,”  and with a throat clearing,  I drop back into my man-channeling persona. 

 “Announcing a day in the life of a typical man.  Brainwaves begin  to roll in,” booms me.

My tenor, “’Hmmm, wonder who’s in charge of the activity tomorrow night?’ flipping open that magical smart/flip phone.   ‘What week is it anyway?’  

"And a distant memory belches a vague recall."

“I remember that great activity from last month and the guys planned it… so it must be the girls.”  

"And with that, all youth-activity-centered-thought ceases and the mind shifts to other world-related problems."

"The next month arrives and again youth-activity-centered thought belches," 

 “Hmmm, wonder who’s in charge tomorrow night?  Is it my week?  Ah, I recall that great activity … but it wasn’t last month as that was the girls, so it might be us...” 

"And the man pushes the button and says, 'SIRI, Text  the other male leader.'"


Back in my own voice at home, in the kitchen, the husband watches enrapt with a slight smile on his face and I know I’ve entertained.  

Then I wrap it up, “And every other month from then on,  that ‘great’ activity will be remembered and remarked upon.”

And the coup-de-gras--the last word?   I got it.    

"You may not have to ‘plan’ again for six more months.”   

And that's it, the brilliance of The Man Plan.

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