It is a truth universally acknowledged, that any man in possession of an automobile is unable to ask for directions. Don’t ask me why this is so – it’s simply one of those traits ascribed to men that are somehow bred in the bone; the implication being, of course, that it’s not that men are unwilling to ask for directions; rather, it’s a male biological impossibility. Like farting quietly. But whether it’s biological imperative or sheer bull-headedness, you men hate this failing of yours being brought up. Well, boo hoo. Time to man up and admit that most of the time you haven’t a clue where you are going.

Don’t be scared – asking for directions is a bit like muff-diving: it may feel slightly awkward the first time you try it, but you’ll soon get the hang of things, and wonder why you resisted for so long. I do understand that there is an element of shame involved in asking for directions, though. You may even feel like you’re violating some deeply-entrenched code of manhood, and it doesn’t help that your partner is sitting in the passenger seat, documenting your fall from grace so she can tell all her friends.

Well snap out of it: she isn’t your problem. In fact, she should be your inspiration. Women have been doing things they’re not especially thrilled about for centuries, just to keep the peace. Do you honestly believe that every woman you’ve met is only pretending not to like anal sex? Oh, come on! Don’t you think if God had intended us to relish being taken up the arse, he would have tossed an extra clit somewhere up there?

But as usual, here I go again, showing what a soft spot I have for you guys. Just for you, I have created a special program to guide you towards asking for directions, whilst still maintaining your dignity, and a degree of anonymity. Think of me as your sponsor in my own version of the Twelve Step program. And guess what? My program only has four steps, so you’ll get brilliant results in a third of the time it takes those rummies.

Step One: Admit that your journey has become unmanageable

The first step to asking for directions when you are driving is recognizing that you are lost. Sounds easy, but this can be the most difficult step for guys: your masculine ego combined with a disproportionate dose of optimism can skew your judgment. Luckily, I have devised a quick and easy guide to help you.

Firstly, print out (or copy onto a card and laminate) the following, and keep it on your person at all times, or even stick it on your dashboard:

Next, use these examples as sure signs that you are, indeed, truly lost:

  • If the quaint little church with the stone wall and the steeple and the sign in front proclaiming ‘God knows where you are right now!’ looks a lot like the quaint little church with the stone wall and the steeple and the same sign that you passed thirty minutes ago…
  • If the smug woman in the satnav tells you to make a U-turn at the first opportunity, then instructs you to make another two U-turns within the next five minutes…
  • If the invitation said ‘The Ceremony will commence at noon, followed by a Luncheon in the garden,” and it is 3pm…
  • If the 18 hole golf course with breathtaking views of the mountains looks like a Westfield shopping plaza with multi-storey car park…you are lost.

Now, take the card out of your pocket or off the dash, and read it aloud.

Makes you feel clean, doesn’t it?

Step Two: Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself

So, you have admitted you’re lost. Well done! Give yourself a pat on the back – you deserve a medal – but don’t feel too pleased with yourself just yet. The next step towards asking for directions is to take a good, long, hard look at yourself, and see it all written down. It might not be pleasant – who can honestly put up their hand and say that they are perfect? – but if you want a hope in hell of ever reaching your destination before the Earth heats up to boiling point and kills us all, it has to be done.

Pull over to the side of the road. For this step, you will need a clipboard or other good surface to write on, a sheet of paper, ruled and divided into two columns, and a pencil or pen.

At the top of Column one, write ‘Good’, and at the top of Column two, write ‘Bad’.

Hand the paper and pencil to your partner and ask her to write down all your character traits in the appropriate columns. Do not peek, do not rush her, and for goodness sake avoid the temptation to contribute ideas. Throwing in your own suggestions merely demonstrates two character traits – controlling and insecure – neither of which is going to help beef up your ‘Good’ column.

When your partner has finished assassinating – I mean assessing – your character, ask her to return the paper.

  • Spend some time absorbing the full horror of her inventory, letting it really sink in.
  • Marvel at the discrepancy between the lengths of the two columns.
  • Resolve to be a better man in the future.

Step Three: Humbly ask another person for directions

Now you know and accept yourself as the irredeemably flawed man you really are. What a gift, to finally see yourself in all your feckless glory! You are now free to unshackle yourself from the chains of male expectation. You’re ready to ask for directions!

Here’s a little flowchart to show you how it works:

* Note: In the interests of preserving at least a flimsy charade of your masculinity in the presence of your partner, do not commence your request for directions with: “I’m lost; can you help me?” This will surely be taken as an invitation to your interlocutor to prank you with false information. Phrase your inquiry as if you almost know where you are and are merely seeking confirmation: “Hey mate; I seem to remember that Queensland is just a bit further up this way, yeah?”

Step Four: Practice these principles in all your affairs

You did it! You asked for directions! You may think the hard work is all over now, but in truth, it’s just begun. If you’re not vigilant you could easily slip back into your old ways and before you know it you’re right back where you started. Don’t let that happen to you. Practice your newfound skill in all areas of your life and see how magically things improve. Here are some situations when you should definitely ask for directions:

Going down on a new partner

Unless your tongue is battery-operated and has multiple settings, you can’t possibly expect to be able to please every woman. We’re all built differently; what works well on one girl could make another girl feel like you’ve taken to her with a cheese grater. Ask her what she likes, get her to show you how she pleasures herself. If she’s shy, get down there, start slow and check in every once in a while, (‘does this feel good?’) to make sure she’s enjoying it. Don’t badger her, though; don’t keep asking her every step of the way – you don’t want her to feel like she’s at the dentist. Instead of verbal confirmation, be on the lookout for non-verbal signs that you’re on the right track. These could include the following:

• She starts making unmistakable undulations

• She starts panting like a sixteen-year-old Staffy climbing the stairs

• You feel your hair being torn out in clumps – don’t yell!

• You suddenly realise she is levitating above the bed, a weird golden light pulsating through her body. (Note: if you manage to induce this phenomenon, do not be alarmed. Just email me your contact details.)

Meeting her parents for the first time

Meeting the family is a big deal and it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Find out if there’s anything unusual about them you should be aware of. For example, does her dad work in ‘waste management’, yet they live in Point Piper/Toorak/ Monaco?

Assuming you meet them:

• If her dad likes you, does he ask you confidentially if you need to have anyone ‘clipped’?

• If he doesn’t like you, does he ask you if you would like to go out on his boat? With his friends Guido and Carmine?

If either of these things happens … you’re on your own because I don’t know who the heck you are and I’ve never met you in my life.

So, there you have it: you are a new man; one who knows how to ask for directions without feeling emasculated. Soon you will be confidently asking for assistance in all manner of situations, feeling less stressed and basking in the admiration of your partner. The only thing you won’t be able to do is to assemble IKEA furniture without screaming at least once: ‘But what the fuck do they mean?!’ Don’t feel bad: no-one knows.

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Posted by Sophie Reed

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