If there was one bit of random knowledge that got permanently
lodged in my craw during college, it was this: When a number of
women live together, after a while, they end up on the same
menstrual cycle. I don't know why I still remember it, years later.
Maybe because at the time, women were a complete and utter mystery
to me. This theory didn't decode their mystery. It just added to
it. One more thing for me to not understand.
Turns out, the theory is called the McClintock Effect, named
after the woman who discovered it. It's fallen a bit out of favor,
according to the three minutes of research I did on menstrual
synchrony. Why, you might logically ask, is a father of three young
boys doing any research for any number of minutes about menstrual
Because I have, through field studies, uncovered the MacMurray
Effect. Named after Fred MacMurray, venerable, pipe-smoking sitcom
father of three sons, the effect is this: If three or more boys
live in one place together for an extended period of time their
moods and tantrums will inevitably synchronize.
The MacMurray Effect is the only rational explanation I have for
this March. Like I said, I have three boys. The oldest just turned
5. I call it living in the eye of a tornado of happy
chaos. I've little to no right to expect calm or
quiet. Lately, the three of them have been more than happy to
dash my limited expectations to the ground.
The 5-year old has suddenly become hair-trigger sensitive. If
his questions are not answered immediately, there could be a break
down on the horizon. Feelings are hurt easily. My middle is about 2
1/2 and pretty go-with-the-flow, finding humor where he should be
too young to find it. But suddenly, things aren't that funny. Take
picking out pajamas. You'd think this would be a fairly easy,
mindless task. But he's demanding more outfit changes than Taylor
Swift. And my youngest? He's six months old; we'd been calling him
the miracle baby. I think he was sleeping through the night
about three weeks in. But now he's waking up every three hours,
crying for food. I may ditch bottles entirely, fit him for a pair
of dentures and transition him to steaks.
The MacMurray Effect has had little immediate application, save
for being a salve on my own jangled nerves. But I could see use for
it for everything from home design -- corralled living spaces, each
running off an individual ventilation system to ensure no mood
contamination -- to pajama design, where fabric reacts to the
wearer's mood to create an entirely new sleeping outfit every
I await my truck full of money, internet. Just be quiet when you
back it up to my house. That beep beep beep just might be enough to
set off World War III.
Alan has three sons and he writes about fatherhood (read: exploits his children), trying to turn boys into good men and his hatred for Caillou at alwaysjacked.com. His writing has also appeared at Families in the Loop, The Good Men Project, ThirtyMag and Pregnancy Magazine.
See more of Alan's stories here.
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