It’s Saturday. There’s too much snow to go for a walk in the woods. The driveway is all plowed. There’s no snow in the immediate weather forecast.
What to do, what to do?
So I did what Real Men do when there’s nothing to do – I called another Real Man.
“Hey,” I said in greeting him (“Hey” is how Real Men greet one another. No fancy stuff, no using words like “hello” or “how are you” or “how’s it going.” Real Men really don’t care how it’s going, or how you are, and “hello?” Well, “hello” is just too fancy).
So, “Hey,” that’s how We do it, followed by, since it is Saturday, “What are you up to? I heard the fish are biting over on Area Lake.”
Succinct. To the point. Time is wasting, get to it.
He replied: “We’re going to a wine tasting, won’t be back until late tomorrow.”
He followed that by a slightly embarrassed chuckle, a muffled laugh that in fact could have been a sob in disguise. Meaning, She was listening.
I wanted to ask “You’re what?” but I didn’t have the heart to do it. I knew what “what” was. “What” meant he and his wife were going to a wine tasting.
The other day, My True Love looked at me and innocently asked: “How do men bond?” Innocently, my foot.
I wanted to reply: “Do you mean Real Men?” But I didn’t. In fact, I was instantly in the grip of a fight-or-flight adrenaline rush, because no woman who asks a question like that wants a simple answer. No. No way. They want a half-hour conversation exploring galaxies where no man has gone before, a conversation with torturous bends and turns, a rap session with painful conversational pauses caused by me not knowing what to say, because one wrong reply in a session like this could turn a half-hour into days or even weeks of revisiting this nightmare.
What to say, in reply to her, then, could become a sentence to life in a relationship prison. Forever.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I had lots of things to say, that wasn’t the point. As you no doubt know by now, I always have something to say. It’s just, at this point, I didn’t know the right thing to say. I wanted to say something cute, shallow. But I didn’t. I’ve learned. Slowly, true.
“Maybe,” I slowly replied to her question, “we bond while we’re fishing?” (Yes, I put it out there as a question, thinking I could get her approval before I completely blew it.)
She seemed OK with that, because she replied: “Well, what do you talk about while you’re waiting in that fish house for the fish to bite?”
Aw, man, this was going to require another reply, another opportunity to shoot my foot off. Likely, replying that we talk about the price of soybeans in Brazil, or how expensive groceries are, or how Whatshisname ran his riding mower into the pond, well, that wasn’t, you know, heartfelt enough.
And so, knowing there was no winning this, I said: “We talk about how fun it would be to go to the next big wine tasting event.”
Then I replied to my friend: “See you there.”