Copyright 1998 W. Bruce Cameron
Certain devious, sneaky people -- and by this I mean, of course, my wife -- have a way getting me to agree to something before I understand what we're even talking about. This happened just last weekend, when I was intent on channel-flipping between a suspenseful log hurling match and a Miss Bulging Bosoms contest. Thus intellectually diverted, I was unprepared for any challenging conversational gambits.
"I think," my wife said, "that you and your son should do more things together. You need to get him more involved in your interests."
I squinted at her. "He's too young to drink beer," I pointed out.
"I mean something you can do together as father and son. Something that he can LEARN from."
Right there I should have caught on that there was something evil afoot, because my wife's previous philosophical position was that I was too stupid to teach anybody anything. "Oh. Well, send him in; I don't think he's ever seen log hurling before." I took one last, lingering look at Miss Bulging South Dakota before firmly switching to the contest of wits and athleticism about which I'd be teaching my son.
"I was thinking of some sort of ACTIVITY," she persisted.
I winced. "Please don't use that kind of language in front of me."
"You did say you've gained a few pounds."
See what I mean? Her conversations are like an evil manifestation of Chaos Theory. "Muscle weighs more than fat," I reminded her.
"What muscle? You don't do anything to gain muscle!"
I pointed defensively to the screen. "You think this is easy?" In log-hurling action, a burly man was demonstrating Birth of a Hernia.
"Could you please turn off the television for a minute?"
"But it's the Regional Finals!" I protested.
With a decisive snap, she clicked off the TV. In our house, the wife has the power of commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and I have the power of a cub scout troop from New Philadelphia, Ohio.
"Like this!" she announced, flourishing a newspaper at me.
I'm perplexed. "Al Gore Attempts Facial Expression?" I quoted, reading the headline.
"No. Look." And then I spied what was really behind this whole conversation. "Dog House Kits -- Half Off," read the ad.
"What? Why would the dog need another house? What's the matter with this one?"
"The dog has been shedding hair all over the place, and I want her out."
"Can't we just put her on Rogaine or something?"
"That's not funny."
"Why the heck would the dog be shedding fur now, anyway? It's winter, for gosh sakes," I demanded.
"The vet says this type of dog sheds its summer coat. It sheds twice a year."
"Well then why don't we just get another vet?" I suggested reasonably.
"Would you please just go to the store and buy this kit? You know your son would love to help you put it together."
I took the ad and frowned. "Is it inflatable?"
"Of course not."
I tried to imagine how our marriage had deteriorated to the point where we could have a dialogue like this. "Look, you don't want me using power tools. Remember last time? We had to buy a new dining room table."
"You don't have to use any power tools; the wood is already cut for you. All you have to do is hammer it together."
I heaved the kind of sigh that only a man can heave when his woman says something really, really dumb. "Honey, I'm sure it is far more complicated than that. I'll probably have to use a router, run a plumb line, and arc weld across the I-beams." There, that ought to intimidate her. "Plus, I have nowhere near enough beer for a project like this."
"This is not open for discussion."
"Then why are we discussing it?" I shot back. Big score for my side, but the problem was, I'd been attempting to use highly logical debating skills and she was a verbal pinball machine. If men were in charge of conversations, they would go like this:
Alas, men are not in charge of conversations, or of anything, for that matter. Which is why I now have a pre-cut dog house kit sitting in my garage where my car should be. According to the instructions, assembly takes "an average of four and a half hours." Four and a half hours! Even if I run out there during every single half time, I still won't have the thing done this weekend. Besides, I'm above average, which means it will probably take me twice as long! Meanwhile, my worthless, balding dog wanders around dripping fur, ensuring that the issue will remain on my wife's hot list. In fact, just the other night she told me that if I don't hurry up and build it, I'M going to wind up living in it too.
See what I mean? How am I supposed to have a logical conversation with someone who says stuff like THAT?
Copyright W. Bruce Cameron 1998
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