Rubbing your tummy and patting your head.

Here’s Sunday’s Sunday Times column. Enjoy.


My hairdresser is running a competition right now where you can win a flat iron that plugs into the cigarette lighter in your car. This is a true story. I assume the point of it is so that you can style your hair while you crash.

Now while I’m pleased that the person who wins this competition will not be using the cigarette lighter in her car to light cigarettes, I do have a few other issues with this concept, which seems to take multi-tasking to a whole new level.

Just to clarify, for those of you who may not be up with the lingo, a flat iron is a tong-type appliance that women and Justin Bieber use to scare their hair straight. Think of a cross between a hair dryer and a pants press and you’ve got it.

It’s a commonly held belief that men can’t multitask while women can. If you’re desperate for a little peace and quiet, ask a guy a question while he’s watching TV or playing a video game. I asked one of the guys I work with his opinion on the matter, and he said he thought the fact that men don’t multi-task too well goes back to cavemen days when they were hunter gatherers. His theory is that if they wanted to actually catch anything they had to be incredibly focused. Stop to ponder what to make for supper while you’re hunting a springbok, and one thing’s for sure, you certainly won’t be making Springbok.

It’s different for women, we’re much more easily distracted, ooh look at that, my pencil needs sharpening. Perhaps it’s because women always have so much to do, that being able to multi-task is part of our own survival instinct. While we’re not hunter gatherers, we are nurture carerers, and so if you don’t get busy and do the washing up, braid the pony’s mane, polish the tin of polish, do the school lift and chop the firewood, then it simply won’t get done. It’s a skill we’ve had to evolve, like those fish on the Discovery Channel that developed lungs.

One of my sisters once had her car completely written off. Fortunately she wasn’t in it at the time. It was parked on the side of the road outside her boyfriend’s house. The lady who drove straight into it said she crashed because she was running late for work and she was trying to dry her hair by sticking her head out the window and combing it, while driving at high speeds through the streets of Camps Bay. Genius plan, lady.

Perhaps just because we can multi-task, doesn’t mean we should. What’s next? Bake a cake while you do sit-ups? Paint your toenails while you open a tin of tuna? Alphabetise your CD collection while you darn socks? I know we live in hectic times and there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, but this is bordering on the ridiculous.

And it’s not even like flat ironing your hair is such a simple task. You need both hands. One to hold the tongs and the other to hold your cell phone, which you are no doubt using to sms your life coach while you drive, holding the steering wheel with who knows what.

If flat ironing your hair while you drive isn’t illegal now, watch this space. That legislation has to be coming soon. The guy in charge of drafting the law just has to finish what he’s busy doing now, first, then he’ll get right on it.

PS: Should you be interested my hairdresser is the very wonderful Andrew at Scar, and here’s a link to the competition on their facebook page. I think you have to ‘like’ it and then say on the page why you want it, in order to win. G’luck.

One response to “Rubbing your tummy and patting your head.”

  1. Alwill says:

    I can multi task a bit more than the average guy, but then again I’m gay so it probably doesn’t count.

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