by Mike McHugh
Sometimes I wonder how married couples are able to communicate. I say this because; depending on whether you are the wife or the husband, words can have completely different meanings. For instance, to a man, the word “savings” means putting a few hundred dollars away in a bank account. To a woman, however, “savings” means spending the same amount of money on an outfit that’s been marked down twenty percent.
Nowhere is the language barrier between husbands and wives more vast than when it comes to the subject of time. It’s that way in my marriage, at least. For the first several years, whenever we’d prepare to go out for an evening, I could not figure out exactly when she would be ready to leave based on the words she used. “It won’t take me long,” she would often say. I failed to realize that she was using the word “long” in a biblical sense, as in the 969-year life span of Methuselah. He reportedly died several days before the Great Flood, eventually running out of patience waiting for his wife to pick out something to wear on the ark.
I have since learned how to properly gauge my wife’s statements so that I can interpret them with some semblance of accuracy. I now know that when she says, “it won’t take me long,” it actually means that I have time to catch an entire baseball game on TV, including extra innings if it goes to that.
Likewise, “I’m almost ready,” means that I have ample opportunity to give the truck a wax job and vacuum the interior before we hit the highway.
“I’ll be ready in five minutes,” is similar in duration to “I’m almost ready,” the difference being that the former phrase is more definitive. What you must understand, however, is that these five minutes do not include the time-outs. Marriage is much like a basketball game in this way. And wives will typically save their time-outs until just before it’s time to go somewhere, making those last few minutes just like the ones in a game on TV that goes down the wire, where there are more beer and truck commercials than action on the court.
When she says, “I’m walking out the door,” it means that she is heading in the general direction of the door, with detours to find her keys and cell phone, and sometimes a trip back into the bedroom to swap out her earrings because they clash with the color of her eye shadow.
By the time we are finally in the car, I generally have, at best, about ten minutes to make it on time to our destination, which would be at least a half-hour’s drive in decent traffic. Of course, I am fully expected to make this time up along the way—something Jimmy Johnson would have trouble doing. This is despite the fact that we also have to drop off the dry cleaning and pick up a desert at the supermarket. Lord, help me if I also need to get gas. Even Jimmy’s pit crew wouldn’t be able to bail me out on that one.
I believe this is why, when you schedule a party to start at, say, eight, people don’t start arriving until at least eight-thirty.
And I don’t know about you, but now that we’re into hurricane season, I try to get my wife started moving for a possible evacuation right around when a storm approaches Cuba.