Last week, I wrote about questions. Those were questions from the kids. If you haven’t read it, take a few minutes and read the post below this one. As the father of three daughters, it is always interesting when you get questions from them, and even more so when one of them is “what is a boy’s pee pee called?” We have always heard that the mind works in mysterious ways, and in the world of parenting, there has never been a truer statement when it comes to the minds of kids.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the questions, and I love the fact that they ask questions. We have tried to instill in them that it is ok to ask us anything because both Mama and I know the day will come where they don’t ask us shit because they don’t want to hear our opinion. So, I will take what I can get now, and even when they hit me with one out of the blue, I will scramble for an answer anyway I can. No doubt as they get older, the questions get a little tougher, but you just figure it as you go. But enough about the kids’ questions.
Today’s post is about the daily questions that you get from your significant other. You know the ones. Simple questions really. It’s just the answers that are hard. Not to mention, the tone in which you answer the question is MORE important than the actual answer. “That” tone can sometimes determine where the entire conversation goes. We all do it. Answer the question in the “wrong” tone, and the decibel level goes up. A conversation can quickly turn into a discussion and into an argument with a simple inflection in voice. Sometimes, it’s by design, other times it hits you like an unsuspecting right cross on the kisser.
Adding even more fuel to the fire, how about when you answer a question WITH A QUESTION? That is standard practice here in the ocean of estrogen. We don’t even mean to do it, but we are guilty of it all the time. For example, I might get the question on Saturday night, at the end of my work week, a busy Saturday of college football in the sportsbook, the kids week of school, homework, softball, picking up and dropping off, and who knows what else. It’s usually a whirlwind by then, and by most Saturday nights, I feel like a wrung out towel. In between head bobs with Sportscenter on the TV, it comes innocently enough and in what I like to refer to as “the pleasant phone voice.”
“What do you have planned for tomorrow?” Seven words. A simple question. Really should be a simple answer. But, alas, there is a pause. First reaction, no shit, is a little panic. I think quickly. Did I forget something tomorrow? Or worse, what does SHE have planned for ME tomorrow? Is there something that I don’t know about? I can go a couple of ways with this one.
Try honesty. Something along the lines of “I have nothing planned other than watching football all day. I don’t think I am even going to get dressed. I am just going to check my fantasy team lineup in the morning, then watch all the games. Probably just make myself a sandwich and watch the games. Definitely have no intention of leaving the house, just going to relax and watch some football.” BULLSHIT! My spider sense is tingling, and my brain tells my mouth to shut the hell up.
Instead, I go with what I like to call “the reporter approach.” Ask a follow up question to get the real story. This usually results in a conversation and a search for the truth. I know I am not the only one using this approach, and most times, it is quite effective.
I respond, “Why? What is on the agenda tomorrow?”
“Nothing really. I was just wondering.” More spider sense tingling. The door is open, I just have to make sure I don’t knock it off the hinges. I mean, she knows it’s football season, and she knows it’s Sunday tomorrow, and the NFL has been playing football on Sundays for 80 years. I tread cautiously.
“I was planning on watching football. Why, what do you have planned?” At this point, I am ready for anything. Bring it, I got this. My brain is overloaded. Could it be a hair appointment? A mani/pedi? The kids have practice, and I have baby duty? A kids birthday party that I didn’t know about? You want to go shopping? You want to go out for breakfast or lunch? You want to watch football too? At this point, I am resigned to the fact that something is going on, and I will hope to catch a few minutes of highlights in between who knows what.
Here are a couple of other hard-hitting questions that we pose to each other, like Nike says, EVERY DAMN DAY. Please feel free to add your own in the comments section:
— How do I look?
This answer is all about tone and speed. Say it too fast, you don’t mean it. Hell, sometimes you get accused of not even looking. Use a high pitch or a monotone, and it usually results in a wardrobe/makeup/hairstyle/footwear change. Then, you get a followup or repeat question, and if not answered correctly, it can even result in a change back to the original state, a “oh, the hell with it” stomp away, or, at worst, a complete cancellation of intended plans.
— What do you want to eat?
A daily debate up in this joint. If we involve the kids, it is usually a complete cluster you know what. Without fail, the nine year old blurts out “Ci Ci’s” every time. That is the pizza buffet place with the ridiculously good desserts. She could eat pizza and brownies every day. After she gets shot down, the eleven year old will go “Panda”, short for Panda Express, the Chinese fast food place. Orange chicken and fried rice for a month straight for her. At this point, I chime in with “sushi”, only because I know NOBODY wants it. I get my turn out of the way with a quick dismissal from all, and we end up eating what or wherever Mama wants anyways. As most of the men can attest to, we can find pretty much anything to eat anywhere we go at any time. So, my simple rule is let Mama pick, just tell me when and where.
— Are you hungry?
Regardless of the situation, the answer is always “yes.” Whether I just ate a five course meal at Morton’s or I am on a hunger strike, the answer is “yes.” If there is a follow up, the answer is a form of “whatever.” What are you in the mood for? Whatever. Where do you want to go? Wherever. When do you want to go? Whenever. Sticking with the theme above, tell me when and where, and whatever is on the menu, that is what I am eating.
— How was work?
This one can go one of two ways. The standard is the brief “good” or “uneventful.” That means nothing exciting happened. You can get cute with this and come with “another day, another dollar” or maybe “well, it’s over” or something to convey that you have nothing. Here in Las Vegas though, with Mama working the overnight shift at the pharmacy or me at the casino in the race and sports book, you definitely may get a story or two. Like the night Mama says “a woman shit her pants in the waiting area tonight. She goes to the bathroom, but not before sending me to the clothes aisle to grab her a pair of sweatpants to change into.” You just never know what you are going to get with this question.
I will leave you with one of my favorites.
— Do you want to drive?
Whenever we venture out from the ocean of estrogen together, it is usually in the minivan. My car is the last vestibule of manhood and MY space that I have, and it’s too tight to go anywhere as a clan. Plus, nobody likes what I listen to on the radio, the seats are too tight, there isn’t enough room, etc, etc. In the house, I have lost the desk, the family room, for sure the bathroom, and other than my side of the bed, the bedroom as well. I have a seat at the dinner table and that is pretty much it.
The minivan is the same way. The only thing I have is a key. And, most of the time, I don’t even want to use it. So, as we head out the door and the question comes, I just walk to the passenger side of the car by instinct. It’s a trick question anyways. Do I want to drive? Sometimes, yes, sometimes, no. But the real question should be “Do I want to hear you TELL me how to drive??” HELL NO. It’s like having a human GPS. You all know exactly what I am talking about.
Slow down. Speed up. Turn here. Park over there. Do we have to listen to this? Where are you going? Why are you going this way? You know we are not in your car, right? You know the kids are in the car, right? Unless she is buried in her phone on Facebook, it’s a human version of GPS without an off switch. My solution is simple, and for all the fellas out there, I highly recommend it.
“Nope, I’m good. You can drive.” Then, GIVE her the key, sit in the passenger seat, hit the air brake with your foot or grab the ‘oh shit’ bar as necessary, and take a lot of deep breaths until you get to your destination. Trust me, it’s like having your own personal driver, and the ride is way more pleasant for everybody.
Again, please share your questions in the comments section. Have a great weekend.