Saturday, March 24 , 2018, 3:44 pm | A Few Clouds 64º


She Said, Z Said: I’m More Competitive Than You Are

Life's never-ending battle for supremacy apparently accelerates in middle age

She: Who do you think is more competitive, you or Koss?

Z: I am sooo much more competitive than the boy. I totally kick his butt in competitiveness.

She: Which is typical, according to research by a team lead by Ulrich Mayr at the University of Oregon.

Z: I’m better than those scientists, too. I could definitely out-research those Oregon guys. Bring it.

She: They found that the most competitive cohort is men between the ages of 45 and 54.

Z: Them, too. I could take them all.

She: I think it’s kind of surprising. Doesn’t it seem like younger guys would be more competitive? You old guys are all done competing for mates, and it seems like your careers are pretty well set. How come it’s the middle-aged guys who are more competitive?

Z: I’m even more competitive than ... OK, I’m done with the I’m-more-competitive-than jokes. Unless there’s someone else out there who’s doing even more of them.

She: Maybe it’s because you can’t compete in sports any more. You’re transferring old competitive habits.

Z: I can absolutely still compete in sports. If I wanted to.

She: So what you’re saying is that middle-aged guys are more competitive because they’re more delusional? I don’t think that’s it.

Z: Maybe it is just habit. We haven’t let experience or actual competence overwhelm expectations quite yet, even as it becomes increasingly clear that we should. We believe — rightly so, I’m sure — that we’re still able to compete at everything.

She: An article about the study in Miller-McCune speculates that middle-aged guys are still competing for social dominance. That they still have to strive to be the alpha male at work or in the community.

Z: Feh. Now that just sounds exhausting. If you’re working hard to be the head of an organization, then you have to keep working hard to maintain that position, and take responsibility.

She: That doesn’t sound very competitive.

Z: Now you’re confusing competitive with ambitious. I absolutely assume I could run any organization or win any contest — I’ve just made the conscious decision not to expend my energy doing so.

She: Saving it all up to fall asleep in front of The Daily Show?

Z: Those naps don’t take themselves.

She: The other thing that was surprising in the study is that the same thing held true for women. Although they were found to be generally less competitive, the most competitive women fell into the same middle-aged age range.

Z: So is this you at your most competitive now?

She: I guess. There are no sports that I can beat you or Koss at anymore, and he passed me up in math in the fourth grade. I can still win at board games every once in a while, but even that’s a struggle.

Z: But a struggle that you enter seeking glory every time.

She: Naturally. And need I remind you that I can, however, beat both of you upside down and crossways in a busyness contest.

Z: This is where you claim the competitive edge?

She: How many things did you cross off your to-do list today? I’m on No. 25.

Z: To-do list?

She: There’s no way either one of you could ever beat me in a laundry folding contest, a grocery shopping contest or even a cooking contest.

Z: I’m sure I could, if I wanted to.

She: I’ll take that bet.

Z: However, you must realize that no matter what age I am, there is absolutely no competition for me in the war between competitiveness and laziness. I am aggressively, top-shelf, world-class, gold-medal lazy. Nobody can beat me there.

She: I’m well aware of that fact — and I married you anyway.

Z: Yes, dear.

— Share your competitive challenges with She and Z by emailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). And follow them on Twitter: @lesliedinaberg. Click here for previous She Said, Z Said columns.

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