The art of mansplaining microwave popcorn

“Here, let me show you how to make popcorn!” And without further ado, Ricardo forcefully grabbed my packet of microwave popcorn out of my hands.

Ricardo is one of my colleagues. He’s 28, makes a decent salary as a university educated young professional and has always lived at home with his parents. Every day he brings a homemade, three course meal, lovingly packed by his mother to eat during his lunch hour. A few months ago his mother was away on holiday and he complained that he was running out of clean clothes. “Ricardo, you do have a washing machine, don’t you?” we asked. “Oh yes but I’m not sure how it works and I’m scared that I might flood the house,” he answered without a trace of sarcasm in his voice.

For better or worse I moved out and started living on my own when Ricardo was still in middle school. I mastered microwave popcorn during my first week at university. The secret is to time just two minutes and 50 seconds using a microwave at room temperature. Three whole minutes and you’ll burn them. If the microwave has just been used you’ll burn them.

And so, as we were standing in the middle of the office kitchen, Ricardo snatched the packet of popcorn out of my hands, placed it in a hot microwave that someone had just finished using and set the timer to three whole minutes as per the packet’s instructions. “No,” I told him, “mate, I’ve been making microwave popcorn before you were allowed to walk to school on your own. I know exactly how I like my popcorn.” He wasn’t having any of my protests. “NO! Really, I can show you how to make them!” he insisted in a weirdly determined manner. I sighed. It would be interesting to see where our popcorn stand off might lead us.

“When it’s ready you have to be careful when you take it out or you might get burned with the steam,” Ricardo mansplained helpfully. “Fascinating, you mean the bag traps the steam in and it helps pop the kernels?” I retorted. Sadly the sarcasm was lost in him.

I  know that mansplaining is a thing wherever you go in the world, but I was not expecting mummy-boy to mansplain anything about adulting to someone who has been washing her own laundry for 15 years, especially not microwave popcorn. I mean, what is the polite answer to that in an office setting? Under normal circumstances I’d tell him to sod off and ask him if he was sure that he could use a microwave unattended, but I’m already known as the weird foreigner in the office and I’m learning to choose my battles.

I have already mentioned that a lot of the locals live at home until they are in their late twenties and it really blows my mind how so many young adults are unable to function as grown ups in many settings. He can’t do his own laundry, he can’t cook his own lunch and clearly he can’t make microwave popcorn.

I could have made an issue out of it. I could have adultsplained to him why he was being a muppet. I could have womansplained to him why mansplaining idiotic stuff to women is not ok, but sometimes one gets tired of fighting sexist microaggressions every day.

So in the end I did the only thing I could. “Great,” I said walking away from the office kitchen, “you stay here and watch them, remember that when the microwave goes ‘beep!’ it means that it’s finished. When they are done just bring them to my desk please, can find the bowls on your own?”

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