Mark Twain once said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
Here is a statistic just released from the people who make Rhino propane tanks, and it’s just in time for July 4 weekend. By the way, I read it in the lower left-hand corner of the front page of USA Today, so you know it has to be true. Brace yourself. Here it is:
“69.3 percent of men prefer gas grills over charcoal grills. But only 66 percent of women do.”
What could possibly account for this vast taste variance of 3.3 percent between men and women? I have always accepted the statistical difference between the sexes when it came to libido, spending habits and consumption of dark choco-late. Those disparities were understandable, even obvious on their face — especially the chocolate one. But the 3.3 percent gap in the appreciation of gas vs. charcoal grills is just not explainable.
The folks at the International Genome study probably never took the time to see if there was, indeed, an actual chromosome to explain this discrepancy. They found one for selfishness, social ability, even promiscuity, but not a blessed second has been spent on charcoal vs. gas grills. You laugh (I hope), but this is your tax dollars squandered by the government, your money up in smoke — especially if you prefer charcoal.
It is times like this that I lament the death of Einstein. Oh, the hours he wasted with electrons and gravity, time and space … it all seems so trivial, relatively speaking.
I decided to do a survey on my own block just to see if the results meshed with the typical American neighborhood. I knocked on the first door. “Hi, Mark, I’m just taking a little survey. Do you prefer a charcoal grill or a gas grill?”
“I prefer gas, but Cathy likes coals. I’d rather not go on the record with this, though. Our kids are still in school and we belong to a very conservative church. That’s the kind of stuff we’d like to keep in the family. Would you like to know about our sex lives or how much in debt we are?”
I tried one more house. “Norman, I just dropped over to find out whether it makes any difference to you whether you cook with gas or charcoal.”
“It meant a lot to the first Mrs. Collingwood. That’s why there’s a second Mrs. Collingwood.”
I want to thank the Rhino people for opening my eyes to this cultural divide. One last note from the people at Rhino, an important fact to keep in mind as the holiday approaches: 36 percent of grillers don’t know they’re out of propane gas until they‘re actually out of propane gas.
The way you will know this at a July 4 barbecue is when the host or hostess yells: “Steaks are on the table. Hope everyone likes rare.”
I don’t have a funny ending to this column. But it doesn’t matter. Statistics show that only 68 percent of men even get that far and 65 percent of women. I’m about as popular as a bag of charcoal.