The Banks County News
January 31, 2001
Two halves don't make a whole
There's a theory going around that men and women are different.
At first, I thought it was just a rumor. But then I heard about
some important scientific evidence to back up the claim.
As I understand it, the reason men and women are different is
that they use their brains in different ways. In fact, researchers
claim that while men use only one side of their brain, women
use both sides. And therein lies the explanation for all the
gender discord for all the ages: women have twice the brain power
Initially, I was offended by both the scientific finding and
the implication. Although there is no way to measure it, I have
been operating under the assumption that I was working at full
brain power for over 40 years.
And now someone has come along and decided that, instead, I'm
a half-load short of a full bale. I've been operating at distinct
disadvantage and no one even bothered to tell me. That's not
Even worse, the obvious implication of running at half-speed
is that women, who are running at full throttle, are superior
in all matters. What used to be just an assumption is now a scientific
The idea bothered me for a long, long time. I lay awake at night
trying to find some way out of this obvious and tragic disparity
in brain loads. If I only had half a brain, I'd have to stay
up twice as long and work twice as hard just to keep up with
But that's impossible. Not only am I married, but I have three
daughters. Based on that, I'd have to stay up four times as long
just to carry on an intelligent conversation with my family.
It can't be done.
In the midst of my worrying, though, I had a brainstorm. (OK,
half a brainstorm.) It occurred to me that if I was operating
on only one side of my brain, then that meant that I'm totally
absolved of a full one-half of all my actions.
It hit me like a bolt of lightning. It's what all men have wanted
all their lives- a license to do stupid things without the responsibility
for having done them. Science is suddenly a wonderful thing.
Now, instead of apologizing to my wife for some completely atrocious
and selfish act of insensitivity on my part, I don't have to
say, "I'm sorry, what could I have been thinking?"
Instead, now I can say, "Thinking? Why no, I wasn't thinking
at all." And because I have only half a brain, it's the
perfect, ironclad defense. I can't be blamed for my behavior
because I have a documented 50 percent brain deficiency. From
now on, I can get away with murder.
As you can well imagine, my wife is a little suspicious of this
whole business. "I think that the researchers who came up
with this study were just a bunch of stupid men," she speculated.
I didn't have the heart, or the brain, to tell her she was only
Phillip Bond Sartain is a Gainesville attorney.
January 31, 2001
My, my, my! It's nice to know so many of you read the opinion
page. Such a response to Rochelle Beckstine's column!
When I first read it, I thought, "Whoa, doggies! There's
going to be stir over this." Sure enough, all these letters
I can't personally tell others what to do - teach your kids about
guns or not; teach them to hunt or not. That's something for
each parent to decide.
Dad taught us to shoot at an early age. I may have been 7 or
8 the first time I held a gun. It was a single-shot bolt-action
.410. I remember how heavy it felt. What it was like to look
down the barrel and sight the bull's-eye of the target.
We'd go to a range once in a while, but mostly we shot at a target
he set up for us against the old barn. I enjoyed shooting. Enjoyed
the time with my Dad. It was the one time when I wasn't treated
like an ("eeeewwwww") girl. With two older brothers,
it was hard not to grow up a tomboy.
I was never allowed to shoot alone, and didn't. But, this one
day, my oldest brother had left his new BB pistol out. Hmmmmmm...
It was one of those double temptations. First, I was messing
with something of his; a strictly forbidden act risking bodily
harm. And second, a chance to shoot by myself.
"Hey, it was just a BB gun," I thought. "Can't
That is, unless my brother caught me. Well, I loaded a few BBs
and looked for something to shoot at. The target I chose, which
to this day I will never understand why, was a starling perched
about 30 feet away.
I took aim and fired. The bird fell. It hit the ground. It didn't
move. Neither did I. My feet were concrete. My arms were paralyzed.
My stomach, a knot. I couldn't breath. My heart, my heart...It
was as as if I had shot myself.
I looked up at the blue sky and thought, "God's gonna get
me for this." I expected to be struck by lightning or the
earth open beneath my feet and swallow me. The way I felt, I
wish it had.
In a foggy daze of tears, I found myself standing over the poor
bird. I picked it up. It lay limp, still, and warm in the palm
of my hand. The feeling I had was indescribable. Beyond grief,
beyond shame. I knew how ignorant, how foolish I had been. How
I had failed to heed Dad's first rule: Don't shoot at anything
without honorable purpose.
Excuses started pouring into my mind. I didn't really think I
would hit it. It was just a starling. No one knows you did it.
But, someone did know what I had done. Me. And no excuse could
take away the pain and guilt that overcame me.
When I came of age to go hunting with Dad, I declined. I couldn't
take another helpless life, ever. It was a long time before I
could even pick up a gun.
Over the years, I heard friends talk about similar experiences.
How they, too, had been affected to their soul at their first
"kill." What it meant and how it felt to take a life.
I wondered if it was some sort of rite of passage that many kids
encounter on the road to maturity. For most, that one instant
in time made a life decision against hunting, against killing.
I still enjoy a little target practice now and again with my
single-shot bolt-action .410. And I'm glad I learned the proper
use of and respect for firearms. Especially up here in the "wilds"
where danger can lie a step away. I have a friend who is grateful
for my ability. One shot saved her from the nasty bite of a timber
Life's journey can take many twists that have many lessons...
important, perhaps even unbecoming, lessons to be learned, and
at the time the objectives may not be clear. Inevitably, there
will come a time in life when honorable purpose will call upon
just such knowledge.
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.