A woman I was having a relationship with called me one day and told me she wasn’t sure if she was mad at me or not. Tap dancing in mine fields or me trying to talk a woman out of being mad has similar results, so I knew from the opening salvo I had already angered the woman, or in an effort to defuse the situation, I would anger the woman, and the end result would be the same. Had I been a little quicker on my feet I would have hung up the phone, ordered flowers, drove to her house, and apologized profusely, even though I had no damn clue as to what was wrong, or why. Furthermore, I should have promised never to do it again, and even if I had no idea what it might have been, maybe I could have vamped my way through it.
I thought that last bit was funny myself.
As I tried desperately to bail out the Titanic, and put the fire in Hell out, she explained to me that I had done something that might, maybe, not certainly, possibly, could have upset her, and did I realize why this action might, maybe, not certainly, possibly, could have upset her? I heard the Final Jeopardy Theme in my head, and sought inner counsel from the voices.
Voice One: You must not admit you knew you could have made her angry because it would make you seem callous.
Voice Two: Admit you are clueless and seek to placate her by asking her what you could have done to make things better.
Voice Three: Just say the word “yes” and see if she might interpret it as the answer she is looking for.
Voice Four: Dude, that chick on television right now, man, is she smoking hot or what? Those can’t be real. Wow, you think she’s posed for Playboy or….”
I thought it might be safe to tell her that I had no idea something that I had done might make her mad at me. That makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, if you tell someone, “I didn’t know I had done something that was wrong”, isn’t that better than saying that you knew what you were doing was wrong? I mean, if you don’t know it was wrong how can you be blamed for the results of your actions, right? HA! What really set this woman off was I had no idea what really set her off and worse yet, did not realize that was all so totally wrong. Later that night when we sat down and talked about it, I did finally realize that arguing my position was paramount to talking her into breaking up with me. I retreated, recanted, and reformed, but still never truly understood her point.
I have the odd feeling I will regret that admission.
Honestly, the last time I truly understood what a woman was mad about was in September of 1977, when I dropped a Hog Nosed Snake down the front of Deanna Mathers’ blouse. Deanna, all eighty pounds of her, and at least a significant proportion of that mass was contained in the front of her blouse, was perfectly clear as to what had made her mad, and my interaction with her in the following very long moments were decisively instructive. That was also the last time I put a snake on a human being. Ever. The snake, alas! It was a victim of circumstance, but like those times when I have felt as if I were caught up in a whirlwind of emotion, hormones, and anger, it was executed without a trial, and honestly, had it not involved a dead snake, my favorite Grateful Dead tee-shirt being clawed off of my body, the loss of a pint of blood, and the embarrassment of being nearly killed by a girl in front of the entire High School, I would have reminded Deanna that I helped her get over her fear of snakes. Yeah, I know, that last sentence went on for a while, but it did say what I wanted it to say, I think.
My inability to discern the mood of a woman has worked hard against me, even in the very best of times. I once spent a large amount of money on a living breathing very pretty plant, and had it delivered to the woman of my affection, who I had been dating for a few months. I then arrived at her apartment, and offered to take her to her favorite Chinese restaurant. While we were there I noticed she was not in the great mood I had thought she would be in. She kept staring at me, and tapping her index finger on the table, much like the tail of a cat when the cat has been vexed to the point that it is about to release the blood pressure in someone’s hand. I conferred with the voices…
Voice one: Dude! It was the wrong kind of plant!
Voice two: You took a shower didn’t you?
Voice three: Just smile and nod until she gets over it.
Voice four: Damn, that waitress had to be poured into those black pants! Man, those can’t be real…stop looking at the waitress dude, your girlfriend is already pissed.
Okay, I decided to approach the subject head on. I asked her what was wrong, and of course, without batting an eye, or me on my head, she said, “Nothing”. Nothing is that thing that is wrong when something is wrong but you, as a man, are supposed to guess. The reason you are supposed to guess is you’re supposed to care enough about why she is mad to pursue a real answer. I discovered this at the very moment I decided to accept the answer of “nothing” as the truth, and went blissfully on my way trying not to stare at the waitress. What I got in return is my girlfriend walking out of the restaurant, in a huff.
The docket of crimes read as such, once she was speaking to me again; if I bought a plant for her it was a sure sign I had done something wrong, and was going to break it to her during dinner, which was wrong. Even had I not done anything wrong, I had used delivered flowers as a means to beg forgiveness as to taint the very existence of such with the cloud of wrongdoing so it was my fault anyway, even if I had not done anything at all wrong. Worse, by taking her out to her favorite restaurant, I was more or less setting the stage for some confession I ought to have done in private. This ruined both flowers and dinner. Then I had the temerity to accept the answer of “nothing” when clearly I had caused some misunderstanding.
I have come to the conclusion, as far as women are concerned, I am reincarnated from a Black Lab Puppy, who thinks all the guests at the wedding, who are all dressed in white, would love paw prints all over their clothes. I do very little right, do much out of sheer ignorance, ought to be batted with a rolled up newspaper, and as soon as I grow up, most of this will pass.