When I first started working at Popular Woodworking magazine, we’d sometimes have summer interns help out, and they were almost always female and working on a staff that was (at the time) almost entirely male. We didn’t think anything of it, really. All magazines need people with writing and editing skills to research some weird narrow specialty.
And the interns didn’t think anything of the gender disparity, as far as I could tell. But the other people in our publishing company always asked our interns questions such as:
“What’s it like being down there with all that testosterone?”
Or, my favorite, “Don’t you ever get tired of all those men talking about sports?”
The truth of the matter is that there isn’t much sports talk in the office. In fact, some (female) employees used to run an NCAA bracket in our building. We woodworkers would play along, chip in a dollar each and fill out the brackets. Our picks were always, without fail, the worst of the bunch.
I’ve never gotten a taste for following college or pro sports, and I’m always surprised by how few woodworkers I meet seem to be rabid sports fans. One exception is Deneb Puchalski, who works for Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, teaches at Kelly Mehler’s school and is an excellent woodworker. One late night we were in a bar in Vegas (don’t ask) and started talking about sports and woodworking. I asked him why he liked sports.
He said he liked the math involved, the statistics and following the small details. There’s a little science, a little drama. He said he liked to see how those statistics created a bigger picture and you could see patterns.
But, I pointed out, I get the same stimulation from woodworking. I enjoy the math. I relish the small details of a project that I assemble into a bigger piece of finished furniture. There’s science (engineering and chemistry), and more than enough drama. And don’t get me started about the patterns.
I’ll never forget his response. Deneb took a swig of Fat Tire beer and grinned.
“Yeah, but can you drink a beer while woodworking?”
Score one for organized sporting events.