American Culture

I don't understand women. And I could use some help.

by JS O’Brien

Last night, I had a small disagreement with my wife.  See, I want to take this potential client and his spouse out for dinner, and I’d like to have her along because she could charm a buzzard off a bucket of chitlins and I couldn’t sell stain remover to Sweeney Todd.  Understandably, I suppose, she’s tired of being the only person on our side of the table with a personality and thinks she can find something more amusing to do.  In desperation, I persisted until, batting her Bambi-with-a-switchblade eyes, she dropped this bombshell:”Why don’t you get Lana to go with you?”

Now, to understand the implications of this, you have to know a bit about me and a bit about Lana.  I’ll start with me.

I am a charter member of the very exclusive Society of Unattractive Men (SUM) founded by CPA Poindexter Schnitzelfarber in the back room of Deloitte, Haskins, and Sells’ Poughkeepsie office in March of 1970.  Though far from a “man” at the time, I was heartily embraced because I greatly exceeded SUM’s minimal membership requirements.  SUM got me through my middle and high school years, helping me build my ugly-man defenses against the assault of female revulsion.  For instance, SUM has found that statistical analysis of one’s social impact tends to immerse one in the numbers, leaving little time to contemplate the implications.  Looking back over my notes, for instance, I find that the mean high-school female startle response occurred only on the first five visual impressions, and that the mode female was able to control her trembling with a mere eight more looks at me.

I must thank the brothers Grimm for The Frog Prince and Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve for Beauty and the Beast for, surely, had these not been my wife’s favorite fairy tales growing up, I would still be a virgin.

Now, about Lana.

In 1990, I moved the family to Chicago for a new and better job.  I moved first, staying in an executive halfway house in Evanston until I could find a suitable home for us.  Lana had been the VP of Human Resources for an old client of mine in Houston, and had recently moved to the Chicago suburb of Palatine.  So, since I knew exactly nada about Chicagoland, I gave her a call to see if she would like to help with the house hunt.

She said she would.

I showed up at her house and after the inevitable knee-buckle (she hadn’t seen me in a while) and a couple of valium, we drove all over the Northwest suburbs looking for a house for the family.

Now, we all know at least one Lana.  She has the typical jet raven hair, wide, tyrian eyes, glowing, translucent skin, flaming red lipstick, and a bone structure Michelangelo couldn’t have reproduced on his best day.   She has to have her clothes specially made because off-the-rack stuff doesn’t fit Barbie proportions.  If she walked into a Hollywood casting party for desperate young starlets, she would stop the room.

So, Lana and I found a real estate agent who took us around to look at everything available in one of the NW towns and, at one point, the realtor says, “What do you think?” about a brick split-level near a train station.  To my infinite surprise, Lana wraps her arms around my arm, squeezes, snuggles up against me, and says, “I just don’t know.  What do you think, dear?”  Since this was only the second human female that ever touched me (my mother doesn’t count because of her Playtex fetish), I answered something like “Mmm frmmmph umphurm esheeesh.”  But, it seemed to satisfy the realtor, and we went on to look at more houses with the realtor thinking we were man and wife, mainly because Lana was doing her best June Cleaver (if a bit more clingy and huggy) to my Porky Pig.

Well, I figured it wasn’t a big deal to put the realtor on, since Lana and I weren’t likely to find the right house … but we did.  And, of course, when I brought the real wife to see the right house, and introduced her to the realtor as “my wife,” the realtor (may she rot in Hell) said, “but I thought …” before she caught herself.  Naturally, my wife went to DefCon 4, snapped her head around, and barked, “You thought what?,” which led to my explanation, an embarrassed and (God curse her) pitying look on the realtor’s face, and a ruinous florist bill for the next freakin’ year.

But, here’s the thing.  I didn’t get it then, and I still don’t get it.  If I had caught Lana on her most depressed and vulnerable day and smeared my body with Godiva’s finest, I’d have gotten about as far as Michael Vick at a PETA convention.  And it’s not just Lana, OK?  I mean, where are all these barely nubile succubi wearing tear-away panties each and every day just in the off chance that they might meet a balding, graying, paunching, and utterly irresistible older man who might, with much begging and wheedling, agree to quicken their eggs?  Where?  My wife seems to know about them.  Can you please point them out to me?  I’d really like a chance to probe this phenomenon.

It’s not that my wife is jealous, exactly.  On some level, she knows that females compete for prizes, and that no one has ever used my name and “prize” in the same sentence.  Or paragraph.  Or chapter.  Maybe she just likes pretending that she married a man who’s attractive to women.  Maybe she just likes watching me twist slowly in the wind.

I could really use some advice, here.  What the hell is really going on?  How do I get this Lana albatross off my freakin’ neck?

Mostly, what can anyone tell me about women, and the particular situation, that will help me to get it?

28 replies »

  1. All I can tell you is beware the day she no longer cares about “Lana.”

    But why doesn’t she want to assist you with hosting a client? Doesn’t that benefit the family?

  2. Wish I could help you, but I can’t. I’m a card carrying member of MWACAW (Males Who Are Clueless About Women), Redlands chapter.

  3. I feel your pain. I too have a ‘Lana’ who has been perhaps my closest friend for two decades. It ain’t easy…

  4. Have your wife make friends with Lana. Right now she’s a mystery woman who might or might not have wanted to break up her happy home.

    What the hell, who knows, it might work. If Lana is honorable.

  5. JS,

    “Bambi-with-a-switchblade eyes …”

    Because of that line, and many others, it may be weeks before I stop laughing … or crying. I’m not sure which.

    Thanks for a wonderful read.

  6. If you are desiring a good read that may answer a few questions, Try “Red Queen” by Matt Ridley. Long and short is that the genders look at vastly different things. Yay, psychology.

  7. I take it your wife is an avid non-reader of Scholars & Rogues?

    Blog? What blog? I don’t blog.

  8. Women love for reasons unfathomable to men. Accept that your wife, for her own reasons loves your sad, but many times hilariously funny butt. Lana, likes you, and may act like she would be your wife, but would dump your butt like the hot potato that you say you resemble in an instant if your wife wasn’t married to you. And listen to Russ Wellen about the day she’s no longer concerned about Lana.

  9. Sorry, but you blew it. We never forget. Be glad you’re not under turf in the back yard with a brick in your head. 🙂

    BTW, whether another woman really would want you or not is irrelevant. Your wife wanted you so don’t denigrate her choice (bad as it may be). Be thankful she had pity on you.

    I have a husband that apparently is wanted by other women but I am completely trusting of him. We made the “death pact” before we married (i.e., i’ll see you in the ground before i see you in divorce court). It’s worked wonders for 18 years as of 2/24/08.

    Good luck. Learn to live with the Lana quips every once in a while and make appropriate offers of sacrifice whenever they resurface.

  10. First things first: “Valium” is a proper noun. Show some respect for the little blue pill, man.

  11. We made the “death pact” before we married (i.e., i’ll see you in the ground before i see you in divorce court).

    Oh God.

  12. I am reminded of Star Trek and J-L’s advice to Data ” I would be happy to spend all the time it takes to give you my every insight I have ever had about women…… If I ever get one I will let you know”

    For myself I treat all women as “Lana” with “there but for fortune, things would be wild etc” while being completely gallant and “Safe”, knowing full well that if I ever tried to act on any of it I would be smashed into the next universe.

    When they feel “Safe” they will often respond as Lana did, particularly as most men are never “safe” especially for the likes of her. Include her and perhaps her latest boyfriend in a get together and then arrange for the women to be able to talk alone.

    And never underestimate Jessica Rabbit when asked what she sees in Roger.

  13. Oh God.

    I probably should’ve elaborated a little on the “death pact” (it’s a joke that we take rather seriously).

    My husband and I both have fond chldhood memories of divorce, i.e., it was the worst thing either one of us had to endure during our childhoods (I know, we’re lucky, relatively speaking). And we’re still dealing with it as adults. Having two sets of parents on each side that pretty much f***ed each other over 15 years prior to our own wedding made us approach the marriage vows and contract much differently than most of our contemporaries. His parents married right out of high school, mine married right after college. We waited until our mid twenties, and until 30’s for children, much the wiser of the pitfalls of both.

    And I’m completely serious – the Lana incident will never go away because your wife obviously does love you. Enjoy!

  14. Thanks, Anonymous (comment 7), for telling us about “The Red Queen.” I looked it up on Amazon and might take it out of the library.

  15. You dishonored your wife and your marriage. What is so difficult to understand about that?

  16. Demeter is either very funny or very frightening.

    It’s winter, Persephone is still in Hades. She’ll cheer up soon.

  17. This post has been gnawing at me. JSO, you got suckered by the smokescreen your wife threw up (no disrespect intended to your spouse). And there’s a hint that you know it. See what I italicized below.

    Understandably, I suppose, she’s tired of being the only person on our side of the table with a personality and thinks she can find something more amusing to do.

    As you’ve described it, you have a high-powered business to which you bring just about everything except maybe sufficient charm to woo clients. In other words, the issue is not you’re wife’s jealously of you, it’s her resentment or refusal to pitch in.

    Forget about Lana and challenge your wife for not doing her part to win an important contract. After all, it’s for the family.

  18. Forget about Lana and challenge your wife for not doing her part to win an important contract.

    Careful, JS. Russ is trying to get you killed.

  19. Russ:

    Actually, I think it’s just hilarious. Thanks man. Look, I did overstate just a little here in the interest of … well … I was trying to be funny. I should stop trying to do that and focus on something I’m good at.

    When I figure out what that is, I’ll do it.

    My wife really does pitch in. It’s just that, this particular time, she was busy and, though I have about as much charm as a pet rock, I do sometimes manage on my own. And she did bring up Lana. And Lana was, oh, 15 or 16 years ago.

    But I appreciate your thinking about this Russ, I really do. But it’s not serious.

    Thanks again.

  20. To clarify a bit. First, JS has a LOT more personality and charm than he’s letting on. Second, his post was funny. VERY funny.