Who Wears The Pants? A Quick, Easy Test**

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET
  • Louise Sloan Author of "Knock Yourself Up" and founder of, a website for single parents.

I went out of town last weekend and came home, bone tired, to two dead mice. Well, two murdered mice--thank you, electronic traps! The baby had croup, was feverish, and barking like a seal, the 40-pound suitcase was waiting for me at the bottom of three flights of stairs, and here I had two freshly murdered mice to dispose of. Well, one of them, anyway. The other one had that not-so-fresh smell.

And I thought to myself, in a whining tone of voice, I never get to be the freaking girl anymore! What's worse, since I knocked myself up, I don't even get to rage against the cad who dumped me and left me with a heavy suitcase, a sick baby, and mouse-disposal duty. It's what my mom in her Southern drawl would call an S.I.W.-- self-inflicted wound.

As is the mouse infestation itself, which I doubtless wouldn't have if I didn't insist on living in New York City. Or at least I'd be infested with nice, shy, country mice who run and hide and with whom I could peacefully coexist, not the hoodlum mice we have here who swagger out from under the sofa in broad daylight and threaten: "Give me some damn food, woman, or I bite the kid!"

So I sulkily summoned up a level of butchness far beyond that which I possess in nature, acting all efficient, detached, and matter-of-fact as I dumped the mice into a plastic grocery bag and then sealed them in zip-loc, ignoring my inner femme who was hopping up and down, waving both hands like they were on fire and screaming, Ew! Ew! Ew! Ew! Ew! in an embarrassing falsetto.

And I thought wistfully about the joys of two-person pest disposal, and the foolproof comparative machismo test it entails. I call it the "Eek, a Spider!" principal. The test is easy: All you need is two people and a pest, preferably a mouse or spider, but a cockroach will do. Just sit back and see who screams like a girl.

Like many people, I'm guessing, I swing both ways, depending on who I'm with and their butchness level. If the person with me yells, "Eek, a spider!" I'll get all calm and protective and say something to the effect of, "Let me get that for you, Little Lady," in a voice an octave lower than normal, as I fearlessly whisk the spider away in a paper towel.

But if I'm with someone who clearly outranks me in the butchness category, I'll do the little freaked-out girl dance, hopping from foot to foot, shrieking, "Eek, a spider! Get it! Get it! Get it!" my voice about two octaves higher.

It's like the reality-show version of the classic Saturday Night Live skit, "Quien Es Mas Macho?" The beauty of this is that not only do you get an accurate read on the comparative butchness of the contenders, but everybody wins. If you're the macho one, you get to sublimate your freakout in service of being the big butch Knight in Shining Armor. And if you're the one shouting "Eek," well, you don't have to get the spider. You're being taken care of.

So, tell me, people-- anyone else notice this phenomenon and have a name for it?
How do YOU score on the "Eek, a Spider!" test? Do you swing both ways, like me, or do you pick a role and stick with it, regardless of who else is in the room?

**Spider Not Included.


Mouse Traps