“Are you going out with the guys tonight?” Eve inquired.
“There are no other guys!” Adam snapped back.
My wife and I replayed our busy workweeks while drinking coffee and killing time at the airport before a flight. When my turn came up, I shared my casual breakfast with four buddies from morning basketball at the YMCA. My wife perked up and wanted to know more, exposing her surprise upon discovering that I participated in what seemed to be, on the surface, an intimate mealtime male bonding experience. She peppered me with questions. I immediately deduced that this conversation would last beyond my normal tolerance for sharing.
“What are the dynamics of your breakfast group?” she inquired.
I paused. She must be speaking ancient Chinese. She noticed the confusion stretching from my eyelids to chin. She repeated herself.
“The dynamics? You know, of the guys at breakfast?” she explained.
I felt the contents of my stomach liquefy and race through my colon. Then I tried to comprehend why she thought this group of men would possess “dynamics.” I cautiously scripted my next sentence before speaking. I recognized the here and now as one of “those” moments when even the wrong preposition or conjunction could banish me to our living room couch for a week.
“It was just five guys. We all have prostates and we play basketball.”
I’m not quite sure how she moved the couch into the garage by herself, but I’m guessing it involved the same mysterious skills used to construct the Egyptian pyramids.
Why did I react to her conversational salvo with such a short, somewhat pungent response? I honestly thought she was kidding. Doesn’t everyone know that guys never develop “dynamics” or support systems? We have power-tool borrowing systems, but no other types of systems. We also don’t have confidants, social networks or vaginas. We simply exist.
To reach the pinnacle of Mt. Husband Hood, and to claim the trophy reserved for the nation’s best, you must learn from your mistakes. You must acknowledge that we, as men, are morons. And when you finally come to grips with that fact, you’ll rise to stardom and turn adversity into success.
Since that catastrophic airport discussion, I rebounded and hit a few game-winning marriage jump shots.
“I did breakfast yesterday with the guys from the fitness center,” I volunteered (if she doesn’t have to pry a conversation out of you, then plan on a night of bedroom gymnastics). “Nice bunch. One’s an architect, another owns his own marketing agency, one’s a retired principal and the fourth is a younger guy who looks up to the rest of us. We might go to an NBA basketball game sometime.”
Smooth, easy dialogue. Low difficulty. Like playing Duke University in football.
If you didn’t recognize that last short paragraph as a trapdoor, then you’ve got a major problem. Of course dialogue is difficult. It’s damn difficult. It’s triple damn difficult. That’s why only one man gets chosen each annum as Husband of the Year. If it was easy, you’d simply fill out your contestant application, mail it in and wait for UPS to deliver your congratulatory letter and engraved paperweight.
(next week: I continue this post with a few practical tips for ending conversations with your spouse)