Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Men's mouth-watering love of shiny things explained

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I have come to the conclusion guys have a lot in common with crows.

It's not that we are harbingers of doom, although that may be true of certain guys. I'm talking to you, Justin Bieber and Rob Ford.

It's more that, like crows, we just can't resist collecting shiny objects.

I am a typical guy in that regard. A few years back, for example, I bought my wife what I believed in my heart was the perfect Christmas gift -- a skintight silver-sequin dress that was so shiny your retinas would burst into flames if you looked at it without wearing sunglasses.

My wife, however, was immune to the hypnotic appeal of this shiny frock. After unwrapping the dress, she scrunched up her face the way you would if your puppy had just had an accident on the living room carpet.

She squeezed into the shiny dress once, shimmied into our den, executed a death-defying spin, then scowled and sniffed: "I look like a (bad word) disco ball!"

It was the one and only time my wife has risked our lives by venturing into the sea of mall-shoppers on Boxing Day to return an unwanted gift.

Unable to learn from my mistakes, last Christmas I gave my wife another present I believed any woman in her right mind would die to possess -- a pair of metallic silver high heels with a mirror gloss finish.

I have seen lots of shiny things in my life, but I had never seen anything as remotely shiny as these silvery stilettos, which had heels the length and sharpness of Olympic javelins. When you looked directly at these incandescent shoes, you saw your own moony face staring back at you from their gleaming surface.

Out of politeness, my wife tried them on and, after nearly sustaining a crippling pelvic injury while tottering shakily around the living room, banished the shiny shoes back to the store from whence they came.

Today's sociological point, however, is my intense crow-like attraction to shiny objects pales when compared with that of a shining star named Attila Bassett, who is a guy and the owner of a nightclub in Victoria, B.C.

According to a news story I just read in the Victoria Times Colonist, Bassett bought himself a $200,000 Ferrari F430 Spider, then, because the car just wasn't shiny enough for a guy like him, spent another $13,000 to have the sports car (why not?) wrapped from top to bottom in mirror-like chrome.

"I am head over heels happy with the results," he chirped to the Times Colonist. "I like to step outside the box. I know it isn't for everyone, but if you spend your life worried about how everybody thinks, you will never live your dream."

Yes, whereas my car has shiny chrome door handles, every (bad word) inch of Bassett's Ferrari is covered in a blinding chrome finish. I have stared with unvarnished envy at photos of this vehicle, which looks like the world's largest Hot Wheel, one of those shiny metallic toy cars that drove guys like me wild with desire in the '60s.

What's even more exciting is a team of Belgian scientists -- in a shining example of scientific coincidence -- have just figured out why guys of my gender are genetically obsessed with shiny things.

According to a story in Britain's Daily Mail I read and partially understood, this team of scientists -- we will assume they are mostly guy scientists -- discovered shiny things remind us of our inbuilt desire for water.

You will think I am making this up, but I am not. These scientists conducted a series of experiments, including one wherein they divided 126 volunteers into three groups: One group ate a bunch of crackers without any water; another ate the crackers but also drank some water; the third group did neither.

When the test participants were asked to rate eight photographs -- half of which were on glossy paper and half on matte (non-shiny) paper -- all three groups preferred the glossy photos, but the groups that had eaten the crackers rated them as much more attractive.

The more crackers they ate and the thirstier they got, the more they liked the glossy pictures, which led one of the scientists to reach the following conclusion:

"It is humbling to acknowledge that despite our sophistication and progress as a species, we are still drawn to things that serve our innate needs -- in this case, the need for water."

So there you go, guys who love shiny things. It all comes down to our primal need for water. I know some of you think the whole thing is crackers and, scientifically speaking, hard to swallow.

Call me a typical guy, but I can't help thinking it's really something to crow about.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 27, 2014 0

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