It was early evening and I was just about to step into the shower when I heard the phone ring. I waited to hear the wife’s response before carrying on. “It’s Rick !” she shouted up the stairs. “Ummm yeah, gimme a minute” I replied. (Rick is the old guy across the street I meet with every morning in his garage for an hour or so’s BS session).
By the time I got dressed again and descended the stairs, the phone call was over. I knew it would be. I also knew what he wanted. The wife told me he’d called to say he had an early appointment the following morning. That meant he wouldn’t be there for our daily morning get together. That’s all he said … as far as the wife could hear. I heard a whole lot more without even touching the phone.
Without a word, I began to don my boots and coat. The wife asked “Are you going over ?” “Uh – huh” I responded. “But I told him you were in the shower” she explained. “Yeah, that’s alright” I answered. “How do you know he’ll be in the garage?” she asked. “He will be” I assured her. “Well, maybe you should call and make sure first ?” she suggested. I smiled weakly, heaved a sigh, removed my boots, picked-up the phone, and hit the button. The conversation went just like this :
HIM – Undefinable grunt
ME – “Heay, what’s up?” I could hear the garage heater fan running in the background.
HIM – “Oh yeah … Willy just called and asked if I could give him a lift back from the garage tomorrow morning around 8 oclock so I thought I’d letcha know I won’t be out here.
ME – “Oh, OK”.
HIM – “Yeah … I was thinking … a shot of Brandy would be appropriate about this time a-day”.
ME – “Works for me, I’ll be right over”.
HIM – Undefinable grunt (he never says hello or goodbye, he just makes that undefinable grunt).
The bottom line ? I didn’t need to make the call. We both knew exactly what we were talking about, without even talking about it. Women think they have some kind of mystical connection with each other. Or funnier still, they think they have some kind of superior understanding of “man-speak” (which is ironic since most the time, we don’t even need to speak).
Perhaps it’s a carry-over from the primordial jungles where we found silent communications resulted in a more successful hunt. Or maybe, it goes even deeper into our psychies. A basic instinct we’re endowed with before drawing our first breath. From virile young hunters in the prime of life through wearing, middle aged trackers, to worn-out old seasoned sages. Any mixture or number of us can stand in silence, sizing-up prey, knowing exactly what each other is thinking, without making a sound.
As opposed to the campfire discussion between the ladies : “Well that leopard skin skirt just isn’t working for you chicky. Not with those thighs anyway. And ostrich leather moccassins with a hippo handbag ? Seriously ? P-l-l-l-l-ease, just climb right back up into the tree you fell out of honey”.
‘Course, while I’ve never felt the need to critique the diameter of another guy’s ankles with the guys I’m standing with, be assured … we’re all passing judgement on your … ankles. Them big and buxom, or long and lanky, or tight, firm, and perky … ankles … yeah. AND, we all know which part of your ankles each of us is looking at, without exchanging a word. We just know. We can do that.
Sure, when we’re young and full of foolishness. When we think we’re the best thing that ever happened to feminine Humanity, we’ll snarl and snap at each other on the battlefield (or the playground). But one of the few ways in which humans differ from the rest of the animals on this rock, is how we handle old age. Old beasts just wander off to their ultimate fate, but we have a better plan.
There are guys who still spout the old, flawed philosophy of “only the strong survive”. These are guys, doomed to “just wander off to their ultimate fate” with the rest of the worn-out beasts. Now we know that even the beasts are smarter than that (in a long term way). Survival of the fittest, has nothing to do with it. Survival of the most adaptable is how it really works (admittedly, as a species, not as an individual response). Old guys have an even better philosophy.
We look upon each other as allies, without a word. Without a formal armistice signing. Without fanfare and pomp. A seemingly meaningless glance, a particular twist of the head, a minor stretch of the arms. We all know the dead-pan, distant gaze of an old guy shopping with the wife.
I stand in a Pier One junkshop as the wife intimately studies some worthless piece of crap produced in a far off land where they have every right to hate us because we’ll study some worthless piece of crap from their country, and consider spending good money on it. I assume the pose, and send out the signal. Within seconds, my signal is received and I find myself face-to-face with another “bored beyond comprehension” old guy. Face-to-face could be anywhere between 5 and 50 feet apart, but we both know and acknowledge THE LOOK. The look that asks “Are you armed ? If so, please shoot me”.
But this is Canada, and we don’t carry guns, so neither of us can do anything to help the other. We just lower our eyes to sign-off, turn to the side, and continue wandering aimlessly amongst the grossly over-priced junk imported from lands afar, because they couldn’t sell that junk in their own country so they send it to ours ’cause, we got … wives.
So, as “the girls” plan an afternoon cup of tea in a lovely little cafe, I suggest they drop me off at Home on the way, as I know I have an afternoon appointment. “How do you know that ?” they ask. I know that because as we left the garage this morning, Rick said “I’m gonna leave the lower wattage heater on for a little while today” I tell them. The girls exchange perplexed glances, shrug their shoulders, and agree to drop me off. As they drive away and I start across the street, I know the garage will be warm and inviting, comfortable and free of “cute or sweet little things” from far off lands.
There won’t be any sparkling, animated conversation as there will be at the cafe … ’cause there doesn’t need to be any. We can do that.