The Missing GPS Gene


The women in my family are spatially challenged, as in, which way is south? West ? North? East? I remembered that the northwest corner of the basement was supposed to be the safest place in case of a tornado, but I had no idea which corner that would be.

Now that I live near the Pacific Ocean, it’s a little easier to figure out which way is west. If I am getting my feet wet, I am going due west. If I am heading toward Las Trampas Ridge, I am also going west. Also, if the sun is in my eyes at sunset, going west. Sun in eyes in the a.m. facing east.

Aside from that, I don’t know how to get myself out of a building. Yes, I just came in, took the elevator, turned three corners, and entered an office. Now it’s a mystery how to get out. When it comes to reversing directions, I am dyslexic.

My ex-husband laughed and laughed when I moved to San Diego to join him in holy matrimony, and I could see the Target store from the freeway but couldn’t figure out the frontage roads to get to it. So much for, “Honey, I’ve got your back.”

It didn’t help that he always wanted to drive. Now that I am driving myself, it is more likely to get burned into my long-term memory than it was as a riding passenger.

But I digress.

My mom claims she is great at directions, but when you’ve got the whole city memorized because you’ve lived there for 88 years, it’s not really the same as having a GPS in your brain. I asked her to read a map once while I was driving her in Sacramento, and she freaked out and couldn’t help me.

Men don’t seem to have this problem. They can figure out which way is north by holding up a wet finger and determining that the wind is blowing from the east at 12 miles per hour. Then they turn and point to the north.  Not really, but almost. They can feel the lay of the land and get you to that Target or out of that doctor’s office and back to the elevator.

I have a theory as to why this is so. Evolution required men to develop a GPS gene for their brains so they could find their way to their women folk with the dead Mastodon. The women folk stayed home, kept the fires burning, the babies fed, and the berry baskets filled. There was less of a need for a woman’s brain to develop the GPS gene. If a female got lost in the berry bushes, she could shout out, “Hey, girlfriend, how do I get back home?”

“This way!” the clatch of cave women would say. “Bring those berries for us to smear on our leftover saber tooth sandwiches!”

I do not apologize for using my car’s GPS. Yes, I drove to the winery, and I should be able to reverse the directions in my head and get myself home. But heck, the GPS is paid for, it’s right here, and so what if the woman’s voice is slightly annoying, especially when she gives me attitude when recalculating?  I know she will help me get home in a more or less direct fashion, and I won’t have to worry.

A guy friend told me last week his girlfriend does the same thing, using her GPS to get herself home.

That GPS lady is really just another member of the directionally-challenged sisterhood, helping me find my way out of the thicket and back to the cave.

Recalculating . . .

Thank you, oh snarky one.

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