When sexes collide at the bookstore

Father and son tackle the big questions while inspecting the bestseller shelf.

Published December 12, 2005 12:30PM (EST)

While waging the war on Christmas by doing some nonspecific holiday shopping this weekend, I found myself standing in a crowded bookstore next to a kid who looked to be about 7 and an older man I presumed to be his father. The two of them were standing in front of a display rack of the store's beastselling volumes.

"What's that cartoon?" asked the boy, pointing to the colorful illustrated cover of a book on a higher shelf.

"Are ... Men ... Necessary," the man read slowly.

There was a pause.

"Well, what do you think about that?" asked the man.

"What?" said the boy.

"What do you think of that question?" said the man. "Do you think men are necessary?"

There was a longer pause. And then with a huff of 7-year-old exasperation, the boy said, "I don't know. Look, Alexander!" and dove for a copy of "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day."

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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