Thoughtful talks remain elusive [UPDATED]Published 9:37am Wednesday, January 30, 2013 Updated 11:39am Wednesday, January 30, 2013
My True Love looked at me over the supper table and said: “Do you know, we’ve been together almost four years?” She had a look on her face, you know, the kind of look that means you should say something equally meaningful back to her.
I had nothing. Well, that’s not strictly true, I had stuff. I could have said, well, the fish weren’t biting very well today but I think it was because of the wind.” I could have said, as a bit of self defense, thinking that good deeds might pave my way into her heart, have you noticed I hung that new curtain rod up downstairs? I could have said, don’t forget, it’s almost time for you to change the oil in your car.
Three hundred and sixty-five million years ago, one of my ancestors crawled out of the ocean and learned to survive on land. Granted, scientists admit there is a plus-or-minus error here of a few million years, but nonetheless, I’ve come a long way.
Not far enough. Given what I replied to her in the next few seconds, which didn’t seem fair compared to the millions of years my ancestors had, I might find myself much the worse for wear. Survival of the fittest got me to this point in time, but the end of the line must come along sometime, maybe this was it.
I looked at her. I needed time. Even if I only had a minute. In one minute I can Google the gas to oil mixture of my boat’s outboard motor, discover the difference between beet sugar and cane, and find out why Mother Teresa is a shoo-in for sainthood. In one glorious minute, I could Google how a man should talk to a woman and fix it.
In one minute, I could find, for example that women communicate with nonverbal signs and questions. Oh. Okay. I looked at her and fired a question back at her: Really, has it been four years?
She squinted, crossed her legs, blinked her eyes, folded her hands in front of her—all nonverbal equivalents of a wrestling move called a half-Nelson– then said: “Why? Does it seem longer than that?” Uh, oh. Wrong answer. Women, according to Google, argue with questions. My question was arguing with her question. That seemed interesting.
So I said, did my question make your question unhappy? She blinked again, which was nonverbal language for “are you nuts?”
No, I wanted to say, I’ve been around the block for millions of years, I must have something going for myself. But I didn’t. Although most men might not realize that a conflict was brewing, I did. How to head it off, that was what I didn’t know.
So I said, my voice dripping with affection: Four years. (Not as a question, I’m learning quickly here.) She began to relax, until I added: Maybe cave people were happier together because they couldn’t talk, did she ever think about stuff like that?
Apparently she did, and as she opened her mouth to speak, I realized it was time to head this off, where ever it was going. Men? In times like these, use flattery, so I said: Boy, things have really improved since women got the vote, right?
Okay, so far as flattery goes. I guess that one overwhelmed her. She left.
Another successful conversation.