“Please.... You should know better than to talk to a father” The annoyed mother scolded after I tried and failed to get information on a school event from her poor clueless husband.
I married a very smart man—he is a brilliant designer, wonderful father, great cook, great sense of humor and he has many other talents I will not go into for fear these heartless suburban women might try to steal him away from me...BUT regardless of these beautiful traits and superb skills—the man is dope.
But, really, it is not just my man--ALL men are dopey. It is the condition of being a man. A lot of women feel they put on this act of being dopey...but really—NO. Men just are dopey and there is no point beating yourself up about it, or for that matter, your husband.
As Ms. PR will tell you—Men” Need Constant Direction” and yet they fight it. They argue and they moan that you are nagging them, but god forbid if you don’t give them direction it is your fault for not telling them that:
The child IS going into kindergarten next week...YES--the “graduation” from preschool a few months ago was a clue that I thought I did not have to elucidate on and NO—we cannot postpone the first day so you can take off work to take photos.
Yes—Christmas is tomorrow and NO—I did not get your family presents.
Well...YES you do need your passport to go to Paris and NO—I cannot get it for you.
My husband and I have had many conversations like this because I lack the skills of a long married woman. Just like grandmothers know how to quiet a screeching baby with nothing more than a soft sound and gentle rock—being married is a skill that requires practice, patience and honing.
Ms. PR uses a lot of different techniques to give her husband direction, mostly involving flattering (while I am there) but I am sure she escalates it to all out niceness and perhaps even sexual favors once I am gone. Regardless—whatever she is doing—she is doing it well. The man happily listens to instructions that most often start with “Darling...I am sure you are already aware, but the child will be attending kindergarten for the first time tomorrow—perhaps we could drop her off together...in the morning...once you shave and dress like an adult” Thus giving him the benefit of the doubt (regardless of the deer in the headlight look on his face) that he is aware, but she is just filling him in to make small-talk.
Of course, Ms. PR is a special case and her years of training in PR have given her an ability to remain calm whereas I sink into unhelpful sarcasms at the first quizzical look on his face when he hears about his mother’s birthday party....at our house OR our wedding anniversary... But I have been trying. My technique, for those who are severely limited by a mean streak of humor, is e-mail. There is no need to maintain a straight-face while writing an e-mail and you can re-read the note a few times to check for any hints of derision.