Lucky for me, from a young age, I quickly picked up some (note: some but not all) of the subtle, yet powerful, nonverbal clues of the female gender.
I learned early that my mother had a built in “Mom look” that I would only ignore at grave risk to my own physical and mental health. As far back as I can remember, her glare could stop me in my tracks at 75 yards. I have not decided whether woman have the “Look” weapon as a genetic trait or it is passed down in some secret ceremony from mother to daughter. I vacillate over this decision. Maybe it’s both.
Throughout my youth I discovered a number of other secret communication types seemingly possessed by women. The problem with most of these nuanced communication methods in the female arsenal is: 1) They don’t train men in these types and 2) We guys have all the subtlety of a pie in the face.
The other day I was having lunch with friends. All the women were many years younger than me. Things and conversations were going splendidly until I mentioned AAA and how much I like their services. I asked one young lady whether she was a member of AAA. At that moment a chill came over the room, slightly less tooth surface could be seen in her tightened smile and her eyes changed from friendly to, “You’re dog meat you old codger.”
At this juncture the male of the species will do one of two things. The less aware will blindly plow on digging a hole they cannot crawl out of. The more astute will slow down and replay the tape of what just happened in an often vain attempt to climb out of the self-dug hole; or at least stop further digging. My instant replay said woman/man issue? No, I thought, many women love AAA. In a desperate attempt to salvage my lunch time, the thought crossed my mind “Age related????” I am old, she is young. Taking a chance I blurted out, “Are you thinking of AARP by chance?” Lady Luck was in my corner this was the issue. When I said AAA, my young friend thought, “Does this senile old coot think I am old enough for AARP?”
Whew! I escaped to blunder another day. I gave a silent thank you to my dead mother for her early lessons in advanced “Looks can kill” training.
To you mothers of young men out there, assuming you want your sons to have healthy female relationships, I implore you to instruct them in the secret art of female communications. Sisters, if you care for your brothers, join in the training. His survival in the societal jungle of female/male communications is depending on you both.
You males out there if you have not learned this communications lesson, find trusted women friends to teach you. Your road will be so much smoother.
Larry Slessler lives in Medford.
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