Tuesday, April 1, 2014
I’ve been alive for more than half a century. You’d think that’s long enough for menfolk to make sense, but no.
At my annual physical recently, the doctor said, “You should live well into your eighties.” I wanted to ask him if I’d understand men before I die, but I didn’t because he’s… well, a man.
As my grandmother once proclaimed from her front porch rocker: “Men! Can’t live with ‘em—“
“And can’t live without ‘em,” I chimed in.
She gave me the stink-eye and spit into her snuff cup. “Naw. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t gut ‘em and toss ‘em in the river. It’s against the law.” She spit again and rocked faster.
I have loved and been loved by my dad, two brothers and my husband Widdle. All that love is wonderful, but not one wisp of understanding is in the mix. I believe this may be because no two men are alike.
My father, who I adored, sometimes looked at me like I had green fangs. I remember asking him to buy me a new hairbrush, with which to beat my adolescent hair into submission. He pulled a 29-cent plastic comb from his pocket and said, “Here, use this.”
“That won’t work with a blow dryer,” I said.
“What’s a blow dryer?” he asked.
“You hold it in your hand and it blows hot air on your hair,” I said.
“Just ride with the window down,” he said, and gave me the stink-eye.
Take my brother T-Bob and Widdle. Both men, but nothing alike. Consider these two recent phone conversations.
Widdle’s mother was hospitalized for some tests. Being a devoted son, he sat vigil at her bedside. I called him several times for updates. A typical exchange:
Me: “How’s your mom?”
Widdle: “She’s not doing too hot.”
Me: “Which is why she’s in a hospital bed. Are the test results back?”
Widdle: “It’s her kidneys.”
Me: “What about her kidneys?!?!”
Widdle: “They’re not doing too hot.”
Me: “Honey, what does the doctor say?”
Widdle: “He says she’s not doing—“
At which point I began to wail and smash the phone against my skull.
Compare this to yesterday’s chat with T-Bob. He announced that he is binge-watching the five seasons of “Breaking Bad” on Netflix.
T-Bob: “Do you know anything about the show?”
Me: “Well, I never watched it but I know a little—“
T: “OK, Walter White is a chemistry teacher in New Mexico and his students are disrespectful snots and he also works at a car wash to make ends meet. One day a student comes in, and Walter has to clean out his car and the student starts taking pictures with his phone and Walter is totally humiliated. Also, he has lung cancer. Anyway, he quits the car wash but he wants to provide for his family after his death, and it turns out he can cook the purest meth known to man. He joins up with a former student and they get involved with two double-crossing bad guys. And they’re cooking meth in an RV and Walter knows the bad guys are killers, so he holds his breath, fires up a toxic cloud of fumes and jumps out of the RV. Then he holds the door shut with all his strength, and the bad guys are suffocating inside, so they start SHOOTING THROUGH THE DOOR and—“
Me: “Wow, that’s an action-packed season!”
T: “Huh? That’s half of the first episode.”
ME: “Oh my G—I mean, keep going. Take your time, brother.”
And I didn’t give him the stink-eye.
Julie R. Smith, who’s a lot like her brother, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.