I’m always reluctant to call something a “woman thing.” People are basically individuals, and I have a pretty good idea that gender drives very little in life compared to one’s environment, culture, and a host of other things not connected with our danglies. My wife, Diana, is an individual. I don’t know if she does “woman things,” but I know she does “Diana things.” These things are not unique to her, but after over 30 years of marriage I know them like I know my own feet. But to pretend I understand women in general would be pure foolishness. Men, I understand completely. We aren’t complicated. One “Diana thing” is her annoying habit of initiating or continuing conversations with me when I am in another room or in a completely different part of the house.
Now, I do my part. If we are talking, and I need to leave the room, I follow proper man protocol:
1. I walk toward the door (so she can clearly see that I wish to be somewhere else).
2. I stop and stare at her blankly until she finishes her current sentence.
3. I assume because she has stopped talking for three seconds that the conversation is over.
4. I continue on to wherever I was initially headed.
Sometimes I only get about three steps before I hear her talking again. Other times I am already an entire story above or below her in the house when I catch the sound of her voice gabbing away as if I was still right in front of her. In such cases I have two choices:
1. Turn around and go see what the hell she’s blathering on about, or
2. pretend I didn’t hear her and slip out the nearest exit, then come back in another door later.
“Didn’t you hear me talking to you?”
“No, I was outside flanging the water inductorator on the sprinkler system.”
Unless I am carrying something heavy, though, I almost always select option one, just in case she is asking something important such as, “Is it okay to run these turkey bones through the garbage disposal?” or “Hey, how about a nooner?” At times we’ve been physically separated in the house for hours, and out of nowhere she will ask me a question or tell me to do something, so that I have to stop what I’m doing and go find out what she wants.
Last night, Diana was up in the kitchen, and I was down in the basement hooking up our new printer. I needed to concentrate because it’s not easy to put things together or hook them up when you willfully disregard the instruction manuals (because you know better than the people who made the product how that product should be set up). Again, this is proper man protocol and has nothing to do with the usually large amounts of extra parts I have left over after one of these projects. So, I am just figuring out that the reason the ink cartridges aren’t going in is because there is an “ink cartridge cradle” that goes in first that I haven’t bothered to unpack yet, when I hear:
“David, blah blah blah blah blah…”
I know I should have gone with one of the aforementioned usual options, but for some reason I decided it would be a good idea to give her a taste of her own medicine. So, with my back to the stairs and my head in the printer, I replied in a semi-loud monotone:
“BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, YOU ARE TALKING TO ME AND I CAN’T HEAR YOU BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH YOU THINK JUST BECAUSE I WAS A LINGUIST THAT I SHOULD HAVE SOME SORT OF PRETERNATURAL HEARING THE REALITY IS I HAVE TINNITUS SO LOUD THAT THE NEIGHBORS COMPLAIN ABOUT THE NOISE AND IT JUST HAPPENS TO BE ON THE SAME FREQUENCY AS THE WHINE I HEAR RIGHT NOW COMING OUT OF YOUR PIE HO…….ooolyyyy shit…”
It was about that time that I noticed I could see my breath in vapor-form like in that movie The Sixth Sense and could feel the temperature in the room had dropped about twenty degrees. Since I don’t believe in ghosts, I knew (as only men can know these things) that Diana was standing right behind me. I turned around slowly to see her: hand on hip and tapping her foot (I swear – she was tapping her foot), about ready to burst.
“Look here, Mr. Snappy Turtle. All I was asking was if you’d rather have green beans or corn with supper.”
Now I had years’ worth of valid arguments ready to hand; the primary being, “Then why, for the love of all that’s holy, didn’t you come to the basement door and ask? Because then I would have heard you, and, you would have heard my answer.”
But, I didn’t say anything because I couldn’t get past the picture of her standing there, one hand on her hip and the other wagging a finger at me, calling me Mr. Snappy Turtle. This caused me to make my usual fatal mistake of bursting into outright laughter.
“I am NOT Snappy Turtle.”
“You ARE Snappy Turtle. I was just trying to find out what you wanted with your supper, and you’re down here mean-mouthing me.”
Well, that (in combination with her pouty bottom lip) broke me.
“You’re right. I am Snappy Turtle. I’m sorry. I love you. I would like corn, please.”
“Well, you’re getting green beans. You should have answered when I asked you instead of mouthing off.”
Then she marched back upstairs, and I finished installing the printer until supper was ready. And even though I knew I was eating “angry green beans,” I could still taste the love.