I understand women. It has been a long journey.
I was a Boy Scout, and as Robert Baden-Powell reminds us, “A scout is never taken by surprise. He knows exactly what to do when anything unexpected happens.”
I must admit, as an old scout, the unexpected caught me off guard last week.
I was sitting in an overstuffed chair in the library reading Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” An elderly farmer dressed in overalls and a corduroy coat walked in and sat down next to me.
He took off his coat and removed two items from his side pocket. He pulled out a tiny flask and a book, dusty and worn, titled, “How to Understand Women.”
We sat in silence for the longest time. He spoke first. “Do you understand women?” he asked.
I said, “Well, I don’t know.”
“You need to read this. It has taught me a lot about the fair sex,” he said. “Here, take a look,” as he handed me the book.
The book was dated 1948, which was the first red flag planted in my mind. I thought to myself this book might interest me from a historical standpoint since there has been a sea of change in society in 74 years.
“Would you like to know how to understand women?” he asked.
“Sure, that’s always a good thing to know,” I replied with a chuckle.
The man read a couple of pages in a voice soft and low so not to disturb the other patrons. He began with an idiom. He said it was important for the man to wear the pants in the family and to be the authority figure.
The next thing he said was an old joke, but I was unsure if he was joking by the look on his face. “My wife and I never go to bed mad,” he said. “I haven’t slept since October,” he added. I smiled. He didn’t.
The farmer asked if I was facing any issues with my wife. I told him I wasn’t but felt there is a potential difference of opinion looming soon.
“What’s the problem?” he asked.
I told him I had been saving for a down payment on a new car and my wife wanted to buy a few items for the new house we had just bought.
He told me that was a simple situation to resolve. According to his book, it speaks for all husbands.
The farmer told me the book told him what women really mean when they are upset.
“What do women mean when they say, seriously? They mean: You should probably rethink what you just said,” he said.
“When women say: What did you say?” It means, “I heard you clearly, but you might want to rephrase your statement,” he said.
“What do women actually mean by saying” ‘Go ahead.’” “They mean: Try me. I dare you,” he continued.
When women say “Wow.” “They are simply amazed that you could be so stupid,” he said.
He said when I got home, I needed to tell my wife I was going to take the money and put a down payment on the car, and she can forget about the items for the house.
I gave the man’s words a great deal of thought for a few days. Foolishly, I decided to take the man’s advice.
“Brenda, I am going to take the money and put a down payment on the car, and you can forget about the items for the house,” I said.
“Wow,” she said.
A few days later I was talking with Brad Sherwood who works at Home Depot. I told him the story about the man in the library and my conversation with Brenda.
“Wow!” he said, as he took my order for three commodes, a vanity, carpet and many other items on the list Brenda gave me.
Brad went on to say my story reminds him of a Mark Twain quote: “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns things you cannot learn any other way, and the lesson never grows dim or doubtful.”
“I would think you might want to stay away from strangers in a library bearing advice,” Brad said. “But at least you understand women.”
Pat Haley is a Clinton County native and former county commissioner and sheriff.