A RECENT REPORT on National Public Radio suggests that men may soon be obsolete because the "Y" chromosome, which carries all the male characteristics, is slowly disappearing.
The good news for men is that certain species of male turtles don't have "Y" chromosomes, either, and they are getting on just fine, if you can get past the fact that no one can tell the difference between male and female turtles.
It seems that retail confirms this science. Jewelers report that more women are purchasing their own diamond rings rather than waiting for some guy to propose. The diamonds these women purchase are called "right-hand rings."
None of this is news to the millions of married women who, again this holiday season, did all the shopping, baking and decorating. Men, like their "Y" chromosomes, shrink to invisibility when it is time to address all those cards. They seem to think that tying the tree to the roof of the van is all that is required of them at this insanely busy time of year.
And most women have given up tearing the jewelry store ad from the newspaper and leaving it beside the remote. If we want gems, we can buy them ourselves with money from our own paychecks. Besides, jewelry is like protestations of love: it isn't the same if you have to ask for it.
All of this raises the question: With frozen sperm and buy-your-own-bling, what do we need men for anyway?
And by "men," I mean any male over the age of 25. Desperate Housewives has apparently made the case that males younger than that are still in demand, the occasional mysterious plumber notwithstanding. If I am Joe Husband out there in TV land, I am doing all my own yard work, if you get my meaning.
I am sure there are men on bar stools somewhere telling each other that women are more trouble than they are worth. And while I know we can be a lot of work, let me just say that it is not our sex chromosome that has shriveled from 1,000 genes to something like 80, and I have a little black dress to prove it.
I view those genes as metaphor for household tasks. In any given week, I have a thousand things to do while my husband has a list of only about 80, and that number is shrinking fast.
Pretty soon, his "Y" chromosome "To Do" list will be down to just drink coffee and read newspaper, at which point, I presume, he will pull his head inside his hard shell every time I try to talk to him about my feelings.
All of this is by way of saying that I didn't get any diamonds for Christmas.
I didn't ask for any, of course, because, if I had, my husband would have said that he'd rather generate his own gift ideas. He usually says this while following me around the house with a pen and a junk mail envelope and asking me for gift ideas he can relay to the kids.
"Slippers," I said this year. "Size 9."
Just to make sure my gift would still be a surprise, he asked me if I like the moccasin style or the big fluffy style, and if I like them lined with flannel or with fleece. I asked him if he wanted me to tear a slipper ad out of the newspaper and leave it by the remote, and he got very offended and said he could certainly handle the purchase of slippers by himself.
So you can see why I didn't ask for diamonds.
Diamonds at this stage in married life are like a long-term contract renewal. The question a diamond symbolizes has gone from "Will you marry me?" to "Will you stay married to me?" And I am not sure I am willing to re-up for as long as a $5,000 diamond wedding band implies, considering this hasty exit by the "Y" chromosome.
I figure that, one day, I will come home from work to find that the kids have acquired a pet turtle.