I’ve tuned my strings and rosined my bow, which should mean it’s time to practice. I know however, that it is time for the Dude to pose some deep existential question we must discuss right now. I barely make it through the first scale when I hear him clawing up the stairs on his elbows. When he’s finished, he collapses in the hallway outside my practice room door.
What will it be tonight, I wonder? The abandonment of scientific evidence by mainstream media outlets? Perhaps the feasibility of isolationism in a global economy? Or the perennial favorite, why do ESPN commentators rank Peyton Manning above Tom Brady?
None of the above.
“How do I talk to women?”
“Your lungs create air pressure which causes the vocal chords to vibrate, and then…” He gives me his best “Why do I ask you anything” eye roll. I’m still holding the violin, although I know it’s a lost cause. I don’t mind. I’m aware the sand is running out on my chick-in-the-nest hourglass.
“I mean beyond, hi, how are you, great party.” He gives a manly sigh. “Guys are easy to talk to. I make a sarcastic remark about Nick, Nick comes back with an even more sarcastic remark about me. Then I make another sarcastic remark, and…”
I stop him before this becomes the conversation that gets on everybody’s nerves, namely mine. “Ask questions.” I used to do this for a living. It’s amazing what people will spill when they believe you’re hanging on their every word. “Everyone’s favorite subject is themselves. Ask about her hobbies, her favorite classes, and her family. Ask follow up questions to get more detail. If she’s an equestrian, ask about her horse. If she plays an instrument, ask about composers.”
“But what if I’m not all that interested in her answer?”
“Do you think I’m all that interested in the history of debt?” My husband reads a lot of non-fiction. For the record, the history of debt is actually kind of interesting, Maybe not four days worth of interesting, but interesting. “If you’re truly interested in her, you’re interested in what she has to say.”
He’s not convinced.
“Trust me. A–I’m a woman. B–I’ve had enough successful relationships that I’ve had sex.”
“With Dad.” Like that disqualifies him somehow. I’m glad my husband isn’t in the house.
“Still, I’m a woman, and you talk to me all of the time.” Usually when I’m writing, practicing, or about to go to sleep, not that I’m being picky.
“It’s different. You’re like a guy. You can even talk about Tom Brady.”
“I’m like a human being.” I get all woman-power on his ass. We’ve had many discussions lately about feminism vs. humanism, Gamergate, and why I go batshit when someone says they don’t like feminists because they’re “shrill.”
“Women are people. We have thoughts and ideas to share. We don’t just talk about shoes and our emotions. Women care about politics, and current events, and yeah, even sports. We’re just like men, except with boobs.”
He cringes. “You had me until the men with boobs thing.”
“And it wouldn’t hurt to share your emotions from time to time.”
“I don’t have emotions.”
“If you didn’t have emotions, you wouldn’t have crawled up the stairs and flopped the doorway of my practice room to ask me this question. Look Dude, these things aren’t automatic. They take effort.”
Effort. It’s such a nasty word.
“I’ve always heard that relationships should be easy, that if they require a huge effort, something is fundamentally wrong.”
“I’ve always heard one shouldn’t quote relationship advice until they’ve actually been in a relationship, which, by the way, I have.”
I know that this particular conversation has reached diminishing marginal returns, and I have a gig the next day I need to prepare for, so I pull out the best conversation killer I know.
“There are a few things I could tell you about your Dad, Dude. Like this one time…”
He plugs his ears and runs down the stairs. “Lalalala. I can’t hear you!”
“…he read this amazing book on the history of debt.”
Photograph : Suessian Megaphone, by Michael © 2007 Creative Commons/Flickr