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Oops!

We have plenty of time, darlin’.”

He knew she’d always be there.

What he didn’t know was that he wouldn’t.

You never know what tomorrow will bring — perhaps not even itself.

Tell her now.

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Huh!?

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What the f… ?

Stealthily, his naked belly button peered around the pillar just ahead of my front grill; his t-shirt no longer made any pretense at covering the pasty mass that bulged beneath its hem. Good Lord, his face – sagging, grey, and unshaven, reddened eyes buried in their sockets – was the last one I wanted to see this morning. Frankly, I never wanted to see it … ever again.

Do I park and listen as he continues his tearful pleas, begging for another chance to make the rest of my life as miserable as he has the past decade and a half? Do I back out of my space, race home and bolt the doors, thus avoiding him altogether? Or do I back up, then put my car into gear and gun it, mowing his ass down and putting us both out of his misery?

Oh, such temptation. The toes of my right foot twitched excitedly as they begged me to let them into the game. However, now that I’d escaped that incarceration formerly known as our marriage, I had absolutely no desire to replace him with a mammaried cellmate. I opted to let him spit out as much as he could between my parking spot and the office door.

Please, can we talk about this?” (snurfle)

I didn’t know you really wanted me to get a job. You never said you meant it. But if that’s what you want, I’ll do it — right now. I’ll start looking today.” (snurfle … sob)

You never told me you were unhappy.” (snurfle … sob … snot-wipe).

Guys, really? Much has been made about your delusion that we never say what we mean. Yeah, you jokingly commiserate, slapping each other on the back and laughing into your Bud Lights. However, somewhat closer to the truth is that you never actually listen to what we say. We’re not fooled when you preface “grab me another beer, dear” with “uh-huh.”  We’re onto the fact that “whatever you want” loosely translates as “I’m not listening and I don’t want you to know I’m not listening, because if you know I’m not listening, I know you’ll cut me off again.”  We’re very well aware that your estrogen deficiency renders you totally incapable of multitasking to the level required to watch the game, operate the remote, play with the dog, scratch your crotch, guzzle, belch, fart — and listen to what we’re saying — all at the same time.

Thus, your failure to listen becomes – in your comic book — our failure to communicate.

Well, today you hit the lottery. In my ongoing quest to make you better men, I’m going to give you a quick guide to understanding exactly what we’re saying so you’ll never again be caught — confused and blubbering — on the dispensing end of “but I thought she was happy.”

First — a couple of preliminaries. Pick up the remote. Oh, sorry; of course, you’re already holding it. Next press that big red button — the one marked ‘power.’ Yes, I’m well aware that the television will go off. Come on – you’re a big boy; you can do this. There, that wasn’t as painful as you thought, was it? Now go hit the head … and while you’re in there look in the medicine cabinet and pull out the Q-tips. Do you know what they’re for? Good! Use them. Okay, we’re almost ready. I want you to sit down (no — drop the cell, dude) and concentrate. Imagine her face and focus on the words as they leave her lips. I’m going to translate some of the things we say more often. You’ll pick this up really quickly — it’s so simple even a man can do it. I promise.

When she says: “Not tonight, I have a headache,” what she means is not tonight, she has a headache. This is your cue to offer her a couple of aspirin and hold her. Yes, we know you think you have a miracle cure. You might want to keep that prescription to yourself for now. Once she’s fallen asleep knowing how much you care, you and your little miracle cure can roll over and heal thyself — without her.

When she says: “I need you to help more around the house,” what she means is she needs you to help more around the house. Oh come on, lifting your feet while she vacuums? You can do better than that. Yes, I know you’ve worked hard all day; but so has she. By showing her that you recognize her as your partner and that you’re willing to do your share to help your home run more smoothly, not only do you show her how much you care, you accumulate get-out-of-the-dog-house-free credits and you decrease the likelihood that she’ll be exhausted when the three of you hit the sack. Clearly a win-win-win – everyone’s happy.

When she says: “I want us to spend more time together,” what she means is she wants you to spend more time together. Be careful; this one is a little tricky. When she says ‘us’ she’s not referring to a threesome with your enthusiastic little friend. I know; he’s your best buddy and you include him in everything you do, but trust me on this. If you spend more time talking to her, being loving and affectionate and doing the things she loves, she’ll be more inclined to invite your little companion to join the two of you every now and then.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here? It really doesn’t take much. Simply listen to her. Don’t judge, criticize or try to fix anything. Just truly hear what she’s saying to you.

I guarantee that if you’ll put forth only a little bit of effort, some other poor schmuck will be sitting on your stool crying to the bartender that he didn’t have a clue.

Meanwhile, you – and your teeny tiny teammate – will be thanking me all the way to your end zone dance.

You’re very welcome.

Okay, you can stop kissing my feet now … I know how grateful you are … Please, that’s enough … Just go forth and listen, grasshopper. Make me proud.

Liar! Liar?

“Liars! Men are all such liars!”

Two margaritas ago, one of my dearest friends sobbed into the phone so unintelligibly I’d barely recognized her voice. Now tears, mascara and everything her sleeve didn’t catch as it flowed from her nose diluted the alcohol in her near-empty glass. Of course, this is not the first time I’ve heard this song.  And it won’t be the last. Her approach to men is that they’re best changed frequently — much like tampons — to avoid toxic shock.  The problem arises — as it did this time — when she fails to flush one before he flushes her.

As I shoved more chips and guacamole at her to help absorb the next round – and to shut her up, as she was making quite a spectacle of herself – I thought about what she’d said.  Yes, men do seem to have a tendency to say whatever it takes to get them where we know they want to be.  And sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between reality and the truth as men define it. But how much of the problem is masculine prevarication as opposed to feminine failure to listen? For often when it comes to men, we see and hear only what we want. And what we don’t, we pretend not to. Like stubborn, pig-tailed five year-olds we close our eyes, stick our fingers in our ears, sing “Lalalala lalalala – I can’t hear you!” and ignore the little hints reality drops us.

You pull into the toll booth on your way to dinner one evening. As you open the glove box to get his pass for him, a lacy red surprise – one that doesn’t belong to you – falls to the floor. According to him, he played Albin in his very conservative law firm’s holiday production of La Cage Aux Folles.  They were a part of his costume. He was bringing them home as a souvenir for you.

 Lalalala lalalala – I can’t hear you!

You’re feeling practically weightless after an incredible – almost orgasmic – cocoa fiber body scrub and hot stone massage. At the front desk you’re barely lucid as the receptionist informs you that your card has been … declined? In one long, excited breath hubby tells you his best friend’s trophy mistress was kidnapped and her captors were threatening to sell her into slavery and he and his friend didn’t have enough money to pay the ransom (yes, it was very high, but that’s because she was still a virgin — saving it, you know …), so he had to clean out your account to come up with enough money to meet their demands.  He was just trying to help a buddy.

 Lalalala lalalala – I can’t hear you!

You’re at the end of the day from hell, thank goodness! First there was the big argument the two of you had as you dashed off to work – one of many you seem to have far too often lately – and it was downhill from there. All you want to do now is drag your exhausted butt home, make up with your honey – like you always do – and forget the day ever happened. Your heels make an eerily suspicious echo as you step inside and flip the light switch – and there’s nothing in the house … but you. Oh, and a note: “This morning it wasn’t you; it was me. Realized what a jack-ass I was. Sorry. Need to cleanse my soul.  Joined a monastery. Took a vow of poverty. Didn’t want to destroy anything by cutting it in half, so donated your half too.  Knew you’d understand and want to help. You’re such a saint. That’s why I love you, dear.”

 Lalalala lalalala – I can’t hear you!

As I stand here at my pulpit blathering – well, actually I’m seated comfortably at my computer typing – I am embarrassingly humbled as I confess that I too once suffered feminine selective hearing disorder.

I was dating a man I thought was “the one.”  We were best friends and my heart’s hope was that our relationship would continue to grow and we’d eventually promote each other to partnerhood. However, as time progressed, his daily hope-you’re-having-a-great-day check-ins became his weekly oh-you’re-still-around chores. A simple dinner date required clearance from his adult children. And while his mouth still said the words, his effort all but disappeared. Despite the white flag my head waved high above us, my heart insisted we hang in there.

 Lalalala lalalala – I can’t her you!  

Then during one of our semi-fortnightly base touchings, I suggested we set a date for a trip we’d discussed the week earlier.

“Uh, what trip? [awkward silent pause followed by flash of sudden recollection] Oh …” And he hastily rattled off his itinerary for every weekend of the foreseeable future, from which I was obviously — and disappointingly — missing.  Yes, the signs had all been there. I’d long ago been exiled to the periphery of his life – not important, not a priority and for every weekend of the foreseeable future, not even an option.  I’d made the usual excuses to myself to rationalize my desire to stay. But not until that moment did I pull my fingers out of my ears and allow my heart to finally hear what he was so clearly saying.  There was no room at his table for me — nor would there be.  Finally, I accepted that the time had come to give up, let go and move on.  Had he lied?  Absolutely not.  Had I chosen not to hear him? Lalalala lalalala ...

As I poured my friend into her apartment, I continued to ponder her drunken declaration. Are all men liars? I’d say probably no more so than politicians or used car salesmen.  Men are hawkers. They are wired to convince you to buy.  But it’s up to you to realize that words are but a very small part of the message.  Talk is cheap and it’s easy. Just as you would certainly look at that politician’s record or open up the hood and take a peek inside that rolling death trap, stop singing and listen. Realize that men are not as verbally evolved as we are. In the desperate hard-sell of their little bills of goods, they often communicate less effectively than they could. Listen to their words, but hear their actions.

Oy, what an evening! Hmmm … cocoa fiber body scrub and a hot stone massage, huh? Oh yeah.  Maybe I’ll add a cucumber facial and a paraffin mani-pedi.  Tonight I’ve certainly earned it.