This World of Hurt
Copyright © 2016 Jeff Hurt
First Shakespir Edition
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Table of Contents
Conversations on a One-way Street
Let me give you a quick explanation of the structural breakdown regarding my children, how they are grouped, and the corresponding nicknames that accompany those groups. Together there are 7 of them, and their groups are as: “The Oldest”—because she’s the oldest, “The Boy”—because he’s the only boy, “The Middles”—because they are in the middle, “The Littles”—you guessed it, because they’re younger than the Middles, and “The Baby”—this should be evident.
The other night I was part of a conversation, which took place between my wife, the Middles, and myself. The conversation was a fairly typical one that takes place between teenage girls and their parents all across the nation at the end of a long hard day: part personally informative, part gossip and conjecture, and part motivational and inspirational.
Admittedly, I was doing a bit of writing during this conversation, but I was keeping up with the exchanged dialogue, and I even chimed in when I had something worthwhile to contribute. In fact, I had just raised a question, posing it to my wife while she opened the door to the refrigerator. Then, all the sudden, something happened: a long pause occurred, and then it got weird.
Have you ever been following directions to some destination in an unfamiliar city? And let’s say the final part of these instructions was to make a right turn onto a one-way street—how about we use Washington Ave? Cities love to name streets for presidents. So, you make a right turn onto Washington Ave, and you don’t stray from this one-way street. You think you’re getting pretty close to your destination, and you look up at the street sign to discover you are now traveling down Kennedy PKWY. It is a terribly disturbing recollection, correct? This is what had just taken place in our conversation.
I had asked a question, yet we were no longer engaged in the same conversation we were just microseconds before. My wife’s response had absolutely nothing to do with the question I had asked. To make me even more confused, the Middles seemed to move right along without missing a beat.
I immediately brought this to the attention of the group, because I am a man after all. I’m not afraid of anything. … Apart from arithmetic, that is.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “That didn’t have anything to do with what I asked.”
“Yes it did,” my wife said. “Don’t you remember the conversation we were having in the car on Saturday?”
A conversation from the car on Saturday had just completed itself in the kitchen on Monday. Fortunately, I did, in fact, remember the conversation from Saturday; however, I have no idea how the current night’s preceding discussion tied into it whatsoever. So, naturally, I said so. Because I am a man, and we just don’t give a lot of thought about things like this before we say them.
“That conversation doesn’t have anything to do with the question I asked,” I said.
“Yes it does,” my wife said, and then proceeded to explain to me why.
Then it got bad for me. My manly memory could indeed recall there was a conversation on Saturday, and I could recall what it was about—mostly. My wife, on the other hand, was able to remember each detail of the conversation. She pointed out: In subsection 9, paragraph 14, 3rd bullet point down in the conversation, such and such did this thing, and led to so and so needing to do this other thing, and what happened next tied my question into the night’s conversation perfectly.
As she explained, I watched the Middles nodding their heads in sequential affirmation, and I knew I had no dog in this hunt.
You would think after all these years surrounded by my little ladies I would have a better operational understanding. I do not.
All I can say is I will do my best to take better notes on the conversations I am allowed to be a part of. And next time I will hopefully have a better conversational map. For now, I will just have to try to do my best at navigating through This World of Hurt.
It cost how much?
My wife’s grandmother loves to host family gatherings. Periodically she will prepare large meals, and family members come from all over to simply partake of good food and great company. This is great for my family in that we happen to live just a short walk from all of the festivities. Despite this fact, my wife and I are almost always late to these events. It was during the preparation to attend one of these events I made a most alarming discovery.
People who know me on a personal level would attest to the fact I have more than one obsessive-compulsive tendency. I like labels to face the same direction, I prefer things arranged in categories and in order from greatest to smallest, I hate for my food to touch, I eat one thing at a time and I’m not an overt fan of odd numbers just to name of few of these little eccentricities.
On the other side of the coin, my office space is a train wreck of paperwork to anyone other than myself, and I often appear to be a little more than scatter-brained in more than one aspect of my life. For that matter, if it weren’t for doing certain things in a repetitive fashion, I would lose most of my personal items. I am aware of this flaw, and as a result, I have developed myself into a creature of habit to cope with my forgetfulness. Otherwise, I wouldn’t even be able to keep up with the contents of my pockets once the pockets are emptied. My wife has developed similar routines for things like her make-up bag.
Mascara, eyeliner, base, blush, lipstick, eyebrow pencil, deodorant, toothbrush all have a specific place. They are each used in the same way and in the same order every day. I am unclear as to what the order is—and truthfully I don’t really care—but I am aware there seems to be a level of efficiency within this order. I also know when it comes to this beautification ritual, my wife has a few dashes of Asperger Syndrome mixed in. Do NOT mess with the order of things.
So, the family begins preparing to head over to the Grandmother’s house—we call her Ree by the way—and join the rest of my wife’s family for food and socializing. About 10 minutes after my wife told everyone to get ready, I was ready. My son was ready about 4 minutes after. It took him a little longer; he has hair. Around 6 minutes later, during the final sequence of my wife’s procedures she realizes: the next item is missing… Dun, Dun, Duuunnn!
There is a sudden explosion of vocal prowess as my wife assumes the persona of the Great and Powerful Oz. And when I say this I don’t mean the “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” feverishly pulling levers and turning cranks. I am talking about the full on bellowing voiced, floating head apparition beset by spurting jets of flame.
“Who took my deodorant?” came the voice of OZ. And the usual stream of accusations ensued.
The eldest daughter is always the first to be blamed when something of mom’s goes missing, and more often than not, she is the culprit, but as the middles have grown into teenagers, it’s not such a cut and dry blame game anymore.
The scene unfolded as usual. Everyone is blamed. Everyone denies it. They always deny it. Especially when they can’t remember where they put the item they took. But they also say they never eat or drink in their room or take items from the house, yet we seem to find all the missing cups and bowls lined up along dressers, and we often drive around in a car full of spoons. Nevertheless, they all deny the deodorant theft. They all blame each other
“She took it!”
“No, I didn’t, it was her!”
“Nuh uh, it was probably, so and so. She always takes other people’s things.”
“It wasn’t me! Mom probably just lost it, and she’s blaming us!”
The boy looks at me. I look at him. We both shrug.
“It doesn’t matter who took it,” proclaims OZ, “No one gets to eat until my deodorant is found!”
It seems as though the rules have changed. Now we have to head up an investigation, or we don’t get any food. What’s next? Fireballs at my straw-filled friend? Threatening my miniature K-9? I don’t know about anyone else at this point, but I’m hungry.
Where do I begin? The oldest daughter’s dresser? In one of the youngest’s many bags or purses. Perhaps one of the two middle girl’s beds. Both of them seem to actually sleep in the bed with all of their most prized possessions.
But then I think: hold the phone. Someone has taken the deodorant, and that someone knows they have taken it. I can wait this out. I look over at the boy, and I can see he is thinking the same thing. We stand up and move quietly to our respective rooms.
I can’t say what he was doing in his room, as I was not present, but I can tell you how I had handled the situation. I was laying prone on the edge of the bed attempting to remain aware of the progress of the ensuing investigation while focusing on the interior functions of my body. I was willing my heart to slow its beat, keeping my breathing deep and steady, clearing my mind of thought, hoping to coax my body into some sort of deep, Zen-like state of consciousness in order to stave off the persistent hunger pains.
The investigation dragged on. The verbal finger pointing continued. Deny, deny, deny. My brain was working on some Cliff Notes version of Chongg Ran while my stomach was acting like a three-year-old whose crayons got taken away.
I was growing hungry, and it was jacking up my inner peace.
The girls were searching the house like a forensic team and arguing like senators. The house was shaking and banging, and full of indecipherable squawking and sniping. It sounded like a room full of construction workers and seagulls.
I had to do something before I starved to death, and raking the imaginary karesansui wasn’t working anyway. I got up and went off to see the wizard.
“Come on baby, it’s just deodorant. Let’s go eat.”
“Not just any deodorant. It’s clinical strength, and it’s thirteen dollars a stick.”
I had no response.
Surely, surely this cannot be correct. She must have simply overlooked the decimal placement. A dollar thirty sounds much more reasonable. After all, I have seen her deodorant stick next to mine on a few occasions. In my mind’s eye, I can recall her stick is perhaps slightly less wide and about half as tall. Mine cost around two fifty. So a buck thirty sounds about right.
I asked for clarification. She repeated and confirmed that thirteen dollars was indeed the price.
She applies this deodorant on a daily basis. Not weekly. Thirteen bucks for a half a stick of deodorant. For that price, you should be able to swipe it under your arm Monday morning and should be sweat free until Saturday afternoon. I am reeling at this new knowledge.
I try to justify this expense in my head. After all, it is “clinical” strength. That seems suggestive of some kind of intense laboratory work, pointy heads in lab coats, grants and special funding, animal testing, things like that. Maybe there is some kind of medical prescription process that has to be met, and if so, perhaps our insurance covers the majority of this additional cost… No, this is a ridiculous thought process. You wipe it under your pits!
I had to leave. I went to find my brother-in-law. I was certain he would agree at the ludicrous price of thirteen-dollar under arm wipe. And in fact, he did, but he was able to bring some previously unrecognized logical parallels into the mix. He asked two questions, and two responses later, the world became right again.
“Would you pay 150 bucks for a torque wrench?”
“If it was Snap On, sure.”
“Would it make you mad if somebody borrowed it without bringing it back?”
“Sure it would.”
“Well, there you go.”
Finally, somebody that can bring a little sense and clarity to This World of Hurt.
Through a series of events I recently ended up spending the night in Charleston, South Carolina, a city that in many ways reminds me of my old stomping grounds, New Orleans, except it’s cleaner, and surrounded by beaches. The food isn’t as good, and the music scene is not even close to comparable, but at least you don’t have to carry your money in your shoe to fool any would-be mugger lurking around each dimly lit corner of the Crescent City. Don’t worry, I still love you Big Easy.
What I discovered in Charleston is I’m glad I don’t have to depend on my footwear to protect my finances. The shoes I brought along with me would have done their job splendidly on the filth covered streets of the French Quarter, but were less than desirable when it came to beach sand.
Bare in mind this trip to Charleston was an unscheduled detour on our trip. My wife, who had made a business trip to Portland, Oregon, earlier in the year, had mentioned if we were to detour slightly and head to Charleston, she could have traveled coast to coast this year. Without giving my footwear a second thought, I said that would be a great idea, so while heading south toward Columbia, I just kind of real subtle like, turned the wheel to the left and drove to Charleston.
After arriving, I had removed my shoes for a nice walk on the beach with my wife, and upon returning to the car I soon remembered something easily forgotten when living in an aired climate such as West Texas: beach sand is not easily removed from the skin, especially moist feet. Damn. I didn’t pack my sandals. Which I am not a fan of by the way, and not just “my” sandals, but any sandals. To me sandals are like the Eiffel Tower of foot ware; they may be very well made and very safe, but when you look at them they just appear to be incomplete. But like I said, I didn’t pack my sandals, so moot point right?
Well like them or not, I looked in some of the local beach shops for a pair of sandals and decided I will just have to pass on spending fifty plus dollars on a pair of incomplete shoes. This high price of unfinished footwear led me to the purchase of an item I have not had on my feet since I was six: the “flip-flop”.
I see people in all walks of life, all over the country, in all types of both urban and rural settings with flip-flops upon their feet. In fact, I was discussing my experience with a gentleman I met down the hotel’s pool area named Lee, who told me that he, on occasion, even rides his Harley wearing flip-flops. My question to all of you people who seem to get around with the seeming ease of mobility with soles of your shoes being held in place by nothing more than a string between your toes is: How in the hell do you do it?
For crying out loud, I could hardly get from one block to the next, and I am not too proud to admit it took a conscious effort to accomplish this. First, let me say I do not like the sensation of anything being between my toes. I don’t do toe socks, toe rings, and there is no way I am even going to attempt to try on a pair of the new five finger shoes that have become so popular; not gonna happen. But a few years ago I couldn’t stand for my food to touch. I fact I would prefer it to come on individual plates, but hey, now I can eat fajitas no problem. Baby steps, right? So, I strap these things between my toes and of I go.
I don’t take two steps before my brain realizes something is going seriously wrong. I would guess the communication between my brain and the rest of my body is going something like this:
Ok everyone, we’re trying out some new shoes, so let’s get him up to speed and then we’ll switch over to autopilot.
Understood we are ready for walking procedures.
There seems to be something stuck between us, but it is causing no real discomfort.
That is part of the new shoes; it should be okay. Are we ok to launch?
A few steps later.
Feet! What the hell is going on down there?
Toes are curling, sir.
The footwear is not attached! Repeat, the footwear is NOT attached! We are curling in an attempt to grip the shoe.
Understood, good work. Arms! For crying out loud slow your pace before you put him over on his face.
Sorry, sir. Slowing.
Heart! Lungs! Relax down there. We had some minor issues with the new shoes, but the toes are compensating.
Heart and Lungs in unison
We perceived danger! Are you absolutely sure additional oxygen flow is not required?
Affirmative Heart and Lungs, there is NO danger. Stand down. I repeat, stand down.
Power is back up, sir. Balance is re-engaging.
Running at 94 percent, sir.
We’re holding our own, sir.
Good work. Keep it up.
And this is how the rest of my day went. Me attempting to maneuver around the streets of an unfamiliar city, while a portion of my brain is devoted to making sure my shoes stay on my feet. Thankfully I learned quickly I should remove the flip-flop while driving before I became a danger to everyone else and not just myself. Driving barefoot is equally uncomfortable, but I believe that is a story all unto itself.
For now, let me just say driving barefoot is intentionally making something you have done a million times suddenly uncomfortable by removing clothing. Driving barefoot would be similar to grocery shopping in a speedo.
I managed to survive day one of wearing one of the most dangerous garments ever created by man, and I look forward taking them off at the end of day two. And so do my toes, which have to spend yet another day gripping the soles of an incomplete shoe to ensure it remains in place. For them, it’s just one more day in This World of Hurt.
It is somewhat debated among scholars—at least the ones who study such things—when the earliest forms of writing occurred. It seems that when the scientific community believes they have discovered the beginning, an earlier form is uncovered. Of course, all forms of writing seems to be predated by the use of numbers and pictures. However, all of this is irrelevant for that to which I elude. My point is, as soon as mankind began to write, there also was a need formulate ways to keep the writing from being easily discoverable. It would seem as though man began to write on Monday, and began to formulate cryptography on Saturday.
Secret codes have been utilized in every society, on every continent, in wartime, and in peacetime for as long as we have been using written communication to exchange thought. Mankind has been a clever bunch.
However, there is a form of cryptography that predates them all and has seemed to go practically unobserved by even the most well studied and devoted scholars. Interestingly enough, roughly half of our world population is so well versed in this obscure form of communication it is truly like a second language, passed down from generation to generation through intuition and observation. The other half of the population is so ignorant to this form of communication, that in most cases, the attempt to decipher the true nature of the hidden encryption can cause short term—and on rare occasions irreversible—madness. This extraordinarily complex form of communication has been a long-time fascination of mine. I have studied it for decades now, and despite years of intense observation and mental documentation, I am only marginally closer to understanding how it truly works. No, that’s not accurate; I have no clue at all how it works, only that it does indeed exist. I have, however, at least given it a name. I call it Chicktography.
Chicktography is the encrypted form of communication women use—perhaps unconsciously—imbedded within all dialogue. The complexities of chicktography are vast, and these complexities are compounded by the fact there is absolutely no consistency whatsoever. It would also seem all members of the female gender seem to have some form of biological decryption device that allows them to communicate with each other unimpeded and with a lack of confusion as to the meaning to that in which they speak. The male gender is not equipped with this decoding device. Nor is there any written key I am aware of. Additionally, I have discovered through years of trial and error that just because a woman is speaking, it does not mean they are using code. Conversely, when she is speaking it does not mean she isn’t.
For instance, I am notorious for being a night owl. I do some of my best writing at night. But I also read, or research some topic of interest, perhaps play the occasional video game or maybe watch some movie my wife won’t let me watch while the children are awake. My reason for staying awake is irrelevant. The point is: my wife will ask a seemingly simple question… Or is it? I will hear her draw back the covers and slip into bed.
She will ask, “Babe, are you coming to bed?”
And there you go. “Crap!” says my male brain, “what does that mean?”
I begin to analyze the tone, inflections, speed of the sentence and anything else I can think of. Did she pause slightly after the endearment, babe? How did she use the word? Was it soft and delicate? A motherly tone, soft and gentle, calming or persuasive.
Like a request in itself, “Babe, I love you so much. I need you to do something for me.”
Did it come out more like a bark? Like the tone, she would use to scold the cat for climbing onto the counter. Perhaps there was a softening of the consonants in the word bed, opening up the possibility for a completely different interpretation of the meaning. Crap! Crap!
What is she really asking me here? Is she looking out for me, reminding me I have an early morning, and it would be in my best interest to power down and get some much-needed rest? Is she saying she would really like to make love to her husband, provided he isn’t too daft to figure it out? Perhaps she is telling me the cotton fabric is cooler than normal, and some additional body heat would be appreciated. Maybe it’s just a precursor sentence that actually requires an answer in order to ask a follow-up question.
Such as, “Babe, are you coming to bed?”
“Not yet. “Well, I forgot to turn off the light. Could you turn it off for me?”
Or, “Babe, are you coming to bed?”
“Yes, I’m about to brush my teeth.”
“Okay, could you bring my phone when you come? I need to set my alarm.”
Or maybe she’s just curious to know whether she is going to wake up to read a new blog post. She always gets to read them before you do. Seems only fair since she is the one who has to put up with me day in and day out.
At this point, I’m beginning to think I have over analyzed this whole situation. So I just roll the dice, power down the computer, or whatever it is, and go to bed. I slip into bed, and my wife says, “You didn’t have to stop writing, I just needed you to bring me my phone so I could set my alarm.” Or worse, I stay awake until the early hours completing my writing, finishing the movie, or what have you, only to find her grouchy the next morning because I so clearly misread the perfectly obvious hints she was dropping about the fact she was really in the mood.
Stupid decoder ring.
I have often been just simply biting the bullet and just asking if chicktography is being used in the communication. “That wall just seems so empty,” she will say.
My response will be, “Baby, is that girl code for you wanting me to hang a picture, or move a mirror or something.”
If anyone out there has a code key for chicktography, or an improved decoder ring, or special glasses that will let me read between lines, or for that matter some device to let me know when these lines that need to be read between are present, I will pay top dollar. After all, chicktography is the native tongue here in This World of Hurt.
Who needs a GPS?
There will be many families hitting the highways during the upcoming holiday seasons, and mine will be among them. I consider myself to be an adequate driver, somewhere around average, but I have, unquestionably, one of the worst senses of direction of any person alive. My internal compass malfunctioned shortly after childbirth and has yet to be repaired. So, don’t follow me, I only drive around in expanding circles until I recognize a place I’ve been lost in before.
However, I understand directions and have developed good skills with a map and a compass, and I will admit I often rely on GPS, and frequently use OnStar. My wife, on the other hand, is the only person I know who will tell the computer generated OnStar voice they are wrong. Her problem has never been knowing the way to get to where we’re going. Her problem is deciding on where we’re going.
For instance: Like most men, I really don’t care where we eat. So, the old Abbot and Costello routine plays out every time we face hunger.
“Where do you want to eat?”
“I don’t know. Where do you want to eat?”
“I don’t know. What do you feel like eating?”
“ I don’t know. What do you feel like eating?”
That is, of course, unless I’m really hungry, and then I will make a much quick decision. And then, of course, my wife tries to talk me out of that decision by asking me if I want to eat at just about every restaurant we pass along the way.
And it goes like this:
“Where do you want to eat?”
“Taco Bell. Quick. Tasty. Cheap.”
“It’s the other way. You’ll have to turn around.”
I turn around.
“There’s Wendy’s… How about KFC? We could go to that sandwich shop.”
So, basically, our road trips consist of a pilot with no sense of direction and a navigator with issues in decision-making. Now, take them, and lock them in a car for 10 hours with 5 girls.
It goes like this:
“Sounds like our exit’s coming up.”
“OnStar is wrong. It’s the next one, I’m pretty sure.”
“Dad, tell her to stop using me as a pillow.”
“Mom, she took my thing.”
“That’s because she took my thing.”
“Her feet stink.”
“She’s touching me.”
“She’s breathing my air.”
“I have to go to the bathroom.”
Now couple all of that with the fact, although my wife knows exactly how to get there, she has a total inability how to tell me how to get there, at least not with any consistency.
She chooses a different method of direction giving every time. Sometimes she will give me cardinal directions, which are excellent if the sun is up—It’s not like I carry a compass in my pocket. But she tends to reserve this one for nighttime driving, usually when she is giving me directions via telephone. So, there I am driving around in circles with the phone to my ear and my head out the window looking for the North Star.
Other times she will call out the directions in simple commands: Right. Left. Straight. This is my preferred method, provided of course she is paying attention to where I’m going.
Otherwise, she will look up from a recently sent text message and say, “You should have turned left back there.”
She often incorporates the point method. I don’t like this one because I never see it coming, and even once I have been made aware of the method chosen, the finger pointing system requires a level of observation and multitasking I do not possess.
She now has a newly developed and implemented verbal system I am calling IVANS (Indistinct Verbal Ambiguous Navigation System). Until this new system came online, I had no idea that-a-way was an official direction.
So, wherever you may be traveling to this season, when you see the Suburban with the Texas plates, the one full of girls, with a lone man at the helm and the good looking blond in the seat next to him, looking at her phone and pointing in no particular direction, slip in behind us. We will be diving in expanding circles until I find the North Star. Then we will be taking a right, a left, and a sharp turn that-a-way before pulling into the driveway of This World of Hurt.
The Human Walkie Talkie
A bit more than a year ago my wife and I celebrated the birth of our sixth daughter. Surrounded by so many women, one can imagine how I am pulled in a number of different directions. Or another—and probably more accurate—way to say it is: I get bossed around a lot. However, after a few months with the new baby, I realized something: My wife was no longer giving me any directions at all. Or at least not when the baby was around.
Nowadays my wife provides me with suggestions of what I need to do in soft, gentle tones, embedded within conversations between herself and the baby. The baby’s’ name is Everleigh by the way. We call her “E”. She is going to grow up thinking her name is Missy, since she seems to hear, “What are you doing Miss E?” so often, especially since she is now walking. But I digress.
The point is: Now I have to listen closely to what my wife is saying to E in order to discern what instructions my wife is laying out for me. For instance, before the baby was born, and the family was preparing to head out to some destination, my wife might say to me, “why don’t you start loading the car so we can get out of here and hit the road?”
However, now those instructions are beautifully woven into the peaceful inflections my wife uses to speak, not to me, but to the child. She will look at the baby and softly speak, “We will be able to go, just as soon as daddy gets the car ready.”
And there you go. I am expected to “overhear” this conversation, and immediately jump into action, loading the car with no further instruction. And this is not limited to vehicular preparations; virtually any job duty imaginable may be delegated to me in this fashion.
“Would you like daddy to feed you dinner so mommy can do a little work?” “Daddy is going to give you a bath in just a little bit.”
This one is tricky because she uses the phrase “a little bit”. She says, “a little bit”, but she means, “Right now”.
“Why don’t you see if daddy will change your diaper?” This last one also conveys a sense of urgency. This sentence could be boiled down to just two nouns: Daddy & Diaper.
My child has become a human walkie-talkie. A covert message delivery system designed to trip up the male of the species in order to prove the much-debated saying men do not listen? Well, of course, we men understand it’s simply rude to eavesdrop on other peoples’ conversations, yet once the babies come along we must learn this skill. We must become more than husbands, more than fathers, we must become international super spies, able to decode the encrypted messages exchanged from spouse to offspring so we may maintain a state of readiness.
And to answer the question on the mind of so many first time fathers out there: No, this does not work in the opposite direction. This will be a one-way form of communication.
If you soothingly tell your child, “I bet mommy is going to dress you in the cutest outfit,” she will move about her day as if you had said nothing at all. It is quite impossible to speak in a soft voice and be heard over the commotion of thoughts taking place in the mind of your wife. The female brain multitasks, every second of every day, while men have a difficult enough time feeding ourselves while watching the game.
Learn to listen, my friends, to whomever your wife may be saying it to, especially the human walkie-talkie. Breaker-Breaker 1-9, listen up good buddy. James Bond only succeeded with the ladies, because he was wearing his secret decoder ring. At least that’s how I see it, living in This World of Hurt.
I once wrote an article I called Chicktography. It was basically discussing the secret code women use to communicate, even though they have no idea they’re doing it. While I won’t go into the intricacies of the code—to which I am largely ignorant to anyway—I will tell you I have recently discovered an adaptation of the code. Something new. Something that has probably been going on for generations and only recently discovered. Like gravity, or even lightning. I am the Isaac Newton and Ben Franklin of female communication obscurities.
Although I will admit my discoveries are less like watching the graceful descent of an apple gravitationally pulled from the tree, and more like the moronic flailing of a man slipping on a banana peel, my discovery is no less remarkable. Nor does it have a hip name like gravity, or electricity, it is no less genius. I call my discovery: Tweensies.
Tweensies are important pieces of information tucked in between completely unimportant and equally unrelated informational dialogues. This happens quite often in female communication, and because the female brain is capable of conveying, recording, filtering, and categorizing multiple lines of dialogue at one time, and a man’s is not, we never even notice. It would be like auditory subliminal messages if we were paying attention.
This happens when your wife, girlfriend, daughter, or whatever has a conversation that goes something like this: You’ll never guess what happened today. I had to swing by the store after work to get milk because you forgot to put the carton back in the fridge last night, and well, I ran into Jenny. You remember Jenny, she’s the one who used to date Mark in school before he cheated on her with Cindy. Cindy the one who got fired from the convenience store for stealing Kit-Kats, not the one who used to run around with my brother.
Anyway, I almost didn’t recognize her because she cut all of that long blonde hair and dyed it this really dark red—although it kind of looks purple. Well, she was asking me if I had heard about what was going on with the PTA, and I knew, but I didn’t want her to know I knew. By the way, don’t forget the girls have a slumber party this weekend. So she started to tell me the low-down on the real reason Kathy is filing a grievance with the school board.
Did you see what happened there? A Tweensie. Important information I needed to be aware of slipped right in the middle of something I was totally zoning out of. Men, you may want to go back and read that again. You’re about to have a houseful of little girls completely destroying your weekend plans for quiet time. Later you will be reminded you were told of this information, but you will deny hearing it. And that’s because you didn’t. Right about the time she started to sound like Charlie Brown’s parents, she hit you with an informational tweensie. And you were watching squirrels instead of listening about the slumber party.
So there you have it, my friends, my observations on interpersonal communications, discovered slipped right between the lines of This Word of Hurt.
Size, Shape, and Matter
My wife has been really into this new social network, [Pinterest. _]For those of you who are unfamiliar with this site, I will try to explain. Imagine a giant bulletin board where people everywhere, in all walks of life, can “pin” photographs of things that “interest” them—thus the name…clever, those social network creators. People can view your bulletin board and you can view theirs. Then simply click on a photo to learn more information on that particular topic. I’m not much of a social network person myself, but even I can find some interest in _Pinterest.
OK, back to what I was saying. My wife was checking out [_Pinterest _]this morning and one of the pictures that peaked her interest was of three women, with three different body types, posing in identical, black undergarments. The related story was: When polled over their preference, more men found the size 14 attractive opposed to the size 8 or the 12. This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard in my life. I don’t find ludicrousness in the statistic itself—after all, those can be manipulated—where I find it, is the purpose of the poll.
Ladies, I have some questions for you: Why is it you seem to be in a perpetual state of attempting to validate it’s OK to be a size 14? And why do you always try to get men to choose one size over another? After all, when[_ I_] look at the picture, I see three very attractive women, and I would bet dollars to doughnuts a majority of the men polled felt the same way. Women! Stop trying to fit into the “cookie cutter” images of what popular society says a woman should look like. You see, the problem with cookie cutters is all the dough that is left over. Ladies, if God didn’t want all the dough to be used in the cookie, he wouldn’t have made it all in the first place. Besides, the Lord loves a wondrous variety.
Men come in all shapes. Why shouldn’t women? We are simply talking molecular affinity here, for indeed beauty does lie in the eyes of the beholder. Most men are a lot like the waters of the Gulf Coast: you have to do some searching before finding an area that’s not shallow. It is true, the recognition of what any particular man may find aesthetically pleasing is what may initially attract them to you, but it is the content of your heart, mind, and soul that will make them want to stay.
We are not that complicated. You see us as complicated because our simplicity is baffling to the complex mind of the female. We are not so simple that beauty is defined as one or the other. We desire you because you are women, because you are soft to the touch and smell good, but we fall in love with who you are: the confidence you have in yourself—and in us, your laughter, your ideals, and you have the ability love with all of your heart.
Let me suggest something to the women of the world. Become the woman you always wanted to be, and stop trying to fit the design of what our superficial society thinks about your shape. Men will want you because we are genetically disposed to want you. The question is, ladies, which is more important: to be desired by men or to be found by the one man who desires no other.
Men are just simple, and women are simply beautiful. At least, that’s how I see it in This World of Hurt.
What good is a contingency plan if you ain’t planning on using it?
For those who may not know of my unusual work history, I have a variety of professions, which all tie together perfectly. Careers such as: Musician, disk jockey, fore-shank boner, forest firefighter, cafeteria director, and termite inspector. Some have helped me become a better writer. Others help me to be a better father and husband. None have done more to prepare me for living with all of my girls than my career as a forest firefighter.
I understand how you would not at first glance draw even the most remote parallels to the firefighter and the father of six daughters. However, the job description and duties are much more similar than you might expect.
For instance: As a firefighter, I never knew when I would get the call, to some remote destination to work on fire suppression for who knows how long. Forest fires don’t often go out as quickly as your typical house fire, and if it were easy to get to they wouldn’t need 4-wheel drives, guys with parachutes, and helicopters.
Therefore, when I went to work, I may be home that same evening, but I was prepared to not return for weeks at a time. I needed to remain, at all times, in a state of readiness. Just like being the father of girls. And as one can imagine, much of my life is a series of contingency plans.
So, on some random day, when everyone is getting ready to go to the event we’ve been talking about for the last two weeks—when I say “we,” I really mean “they”—I just grab my gear, because I came to work packed and ready for duty.
I get almost no coherent, linear briefing along the way. Every detail is segmented, sometimes by syllables, and distributed in pieces scattered amongst random strings of motherly advice, outright behavioral corrections, crying, laughter, giggles, and gossip.
They never cease to be amazed when we arrive, I have no idea where we are, or for what reason, we are there.
At what stage of life does our ability to communicate begin to deteriorate? Is it when we become teenagers and have 87 different ways to use the word “dude,” or start making up words like: Totes, cra-cra, the fuzz, or geez? Is it earlier? When do we become so lost in our own language that we can no longer properly use it?
Perhaps we just become limited in the way we communicate. Take me for instance. Pretty good writer. But am I able to tell the difference between when one of the girls wants me to give advice and when they want me to “just listen”? Not so much.
My wife is similar. She is able to communicate to me how much trouble I’m in within the contents of a single look. Impressive. But have her navigate while you attempt to operate a motor vehicle. … Well, let’s just say you may see parts of Shreveport Louisiana you did not know were there.
The point is: Either we lose it along the way, or it focuses on only a handful of ways we are able to effectively communicate. Either way, we often have to work at the transference of thoughts, feelings, and ideals. Not so when we are very young.
My youngest, not even 2-years old yet, but an effective communicator. The other night I was finishing up some work and got to the dinner table late. Naturally, everyone else had finished their meal before I did.
It had been a busy night and we ordered pizza. I like to eat my pizza, leaving the crusts. I call the crusts “the bones,” and I save the bones for last. I will sometimes dip them in a garlic or marinara sauce. But the baby was done. She looked at me and said “finished,” one of the words in her ever-growing vocabulary she can speak quite clearly. She now wanted down from the table.
I informed her she would have to wait a few minutes, as I was not yet finished with my pizza. One piece, the slice in my hand, remained.
The baby looked at me, studying the situation. Her eyes moved from me to the delicious, half-eaten slice of pizza in my hand, to the two bones on my plate. Back to the slice. Back to me. To the bones. To me.
She then reached out and took the bones off my plate, threw them on the floor where the dog promptly ate the morsels. She then looked at me smiling. She raised her arms and said, “up”.
She analyzed the environment and how the participants reacted within that environment. She deduced the simplest, logical course of action, and then acted on her deduction. Through her actions, this tiny person had changed the environment, altering the circumstances of a situation in a way where everything that needed to be communicated could be done so by using a single word: “Up.”
One vowel, one consonant, enough said. Sometimes, action is the best way to be heard. Especially when you’re the tiniest person in This World of Hurt.
Books, Shoes, Life and Death
There are a couple of things my wife truly loves. One, she loves to read books. She’s always in search of a well-told story and she enjoys many different kinds of literature. However, she will always eventually circle back to the tried and true romance novels. She will buy a new one—usually a six or seven dollar paperback—read it intently, transporting it from room to room, occasionally bursting out in laughter, all leading up to the inevitable waterworks.
What is it with crying?
This seems kind of unreal to me, but when a female cries, she may be neither sad, nor be in any kind of pain. In fact, I have discovered the full gambit of human emotion could at any time be expressed through tears. So when a woman cries, she could be sad… or overjoyed, or angry, or stressed out, or completely indifferent and upset about the fact they feel completely indifferent, or it could be there is just currently too much information running through her head to be processed at one time. All you can do is ask her what’s wrong, and chances are she will respond between sniffles by saying, “nothing”. If that wasn’t strange enough, they will seek out forms of entertainment such as television, cinema, and books that will evoke this very particular response. Girls are weird.
Anyway, the second thing my wife truly loves are shoes; specifically high heels—around five to six inches—and I have to say I dig the whole “love of heels” thing. After all, high-heeled shoes are sexy; are they not?
I mean how often do you hear some guy say, “Hey, did anyone see the gorgeous bombshell in the flats?”
I don’t love it so much when we go on any kind of road trip, mainly because of the amount of shoes brought along. But you never know what you’re going to do on vacation, and—of course—any outfit that may be worn for any particular outing or event is going to have to start with the perfect pair of shoes. Needless to say, however, whenever we travel, at least one suitcase is going to be full of various makes and models of elevated footwear.
Now, as it happened one sunny afternoon, I arrived home with a carload of my young ladies. The teenager and mom had not left school yet when I followed the younger kids through the front door of our home. I was forced to remain just inside the entryway as the children had formed a human roadblock, keeping me from proceeding to the living room. I instructed them to keep moving, reminding them my hands were full, and gently tried to nudge them from behind. But, it was if they either didn’t hear me, or were incapable of moving at all. Then, as they stood there frozen, whatever items they were carrying suddenly dropped to the floor, their limbs, paralyzed with shock. I continued—for a moment longer—with my orders to keep a forward motion when I saw for myself what had petrified my children.
There, in the center of the living room floor, was a pair of my wife’s, sienna colored, open-toed, heels. The shoes were covered—as well as much of the rest of the floor—with what appeared to be confetti. Tiny pieces of paper lay strewn about the room, some of which seemed to have markings on them. I noticed a few larger pieces, and then a few more; it seemed as though to be a trail. I followed this trail of increasingly sized paper, all the while, cocking my head this way and that until I realized with a great measure of alarm just what those markings represented: words, sentences… paragraphs.
This scenario temporarily gave me pause as my mind worked out the possibilities, followed by the terror of the potential outcome of my internal investigation. I instantly turned back to the shoes in the middle of the floor—having not remembered seeing them there when I left for work that morning—for a closer examination. My fears became reality as I inspected the shoes, finding thousands of tiny holes and missing pieces of leather. Oh know, I thought, the dog! You see we are the owners of a young two-year-old Border collie. A dog, mind you, which I firmly said, “No” to, and one my wife brought home the following afternoon anyway. However, she is a beautiful animal, smart, good with the kids, and was my favorite price… free. Even though I wasn’t thrilled about this new addition to the family at the time, I have grown to love my dog, and could not imagine my life without her. That’s right I said her. Why should that come as a shock at all by this point? It’s just one more girl.
I knew the children and I had to work fast in order to save the life of the K-9. We had to thoroughly clean the crime scene, as well as make sure the room itself was free of any of our personal items that did not belong in the living area. My wife has unusually sensitive olfactory senses; so, it would also help to spray the room with the cinnamon and apple spray. Her favorite.
I instructed the children of what needed to be done, to which they agreed immediately—after all they were also concerned about the life of the family pet—and we began to work with furious efficiency. It was about this time when the dog arrived, having come from her hiding place in the teenager’s room—the one furthest from the front door—and cautiously returned to the scene of the crime.
“Duchess Archiline Hurt,” I scolded. “Are you out of your mind? You ate mom’s book and a pair of heels. Holy crap! She’s going to kill you!”
Her face was solemn as she looked up at me with her golden eyes and in my head I heard her soft British accent reply, “I know and I am truly sorry. I just get so nervous when I’m alone in the house… But in my defense, I only ate the first three chapters of the book; they were not as delicious as the shoes.”
We continued with due diligence, and by the time my wife walked through the door, the cleanup operation was successfully completed.
“Mmmm, it smells good in here,” she said upon entering, and then swiveling her head about continued with a gasp, “and it’s so clean!”
I took her by the hands and looked lovingly into her eyes. “Baby,” I said, “There is something I have to tell you.”
To which, with a mother’s precognition, she immediately said, or rather, yelled, “THE DOG ATE MY SHOES DIDN’T SHE?”
I sat her down and explained the series of events that had just taken place. Fortunately, for the dog, my wife had already finished the first three chapters of the book, and the shoes were not her favorite pair. So, much to our relief, she agreed to spare the life of the dog.
Now, I told you this story to help illustrate a truth I have just recently discovered. Even though we live way out in the country, we prefer Duchess to be an inside dog. This is in part because being a border collie she instinctively attempts to herd any animal she sees, and my brother-in-law’s horses do not wish to be herded, and partly because she always seems to return covered in all sorts of nasty material, and of course, smell like a dog. This does not sit well with my wife’s sensitivity to smells and I am in turn delegated to bathe the dog.
In those cases in which Duchess has made a successful escape from the house, I have noticed she will not return to me when I call for her. I will call her name, she will turn in recognition, and I will see momentary contemplation of decisions in her body language just seconds before she sprints away in the other direction. Now, how can this be? She minds me with unquestioning loyalty inside the house. It will literally take but a snap of my fingers to bring her to my side from any room in the house, but only inside the house, never outside. She will come to my children and she will more often than not come to my wife. My father-in-law frequently takes her with him riding around the countryside and reports that she helps him herd the cattle and returns to him with no problems… but not so with me.
As I pondered this, the answer hit me like a shovel to the face of an unwitting burglar, the baths. Yes, that is it. The dog now believes I am calling her, not to bring her in for food or shelter, but for the dreaded scrubbing of a lifetime.
This is a member of the family I feed, water, show love, and ritualistically scratch those hard to reach places like the base of the ears. I take her out—sometimes in the middle of the night—when she has to go, sneak the occasional delicious treat to when no one is looking, and at least on one occasion, have saved her life, and yet—because of my wife’s nasal issues—she listens to me no more than anyone else in the family. It would seem as though, my wife and her overactive sense of smell, have managed to put a significant strain on my relationship with my dog.
I have come to the conclusion there will be no resolve to this situation, as I am frequently reminded by the youngest of the 10-year-olds, “A happy wife leads to a happy life.” I gather I will just have to take it one day—and one bath—at a time living in This World of Hurt.
Area 51… Or Maybe Just My Bathroom
Every home in America contends with laundry. A home with six permanent and two part-time residents generates quite a bit of it. When five of the six permanent residents are girls, two of whom are teenagers, the home tends to generate the average American family’s weekly laundry allotment in about sixteen hours. For those of you who may not be familiar with teenage girl wardrobe selection protocols, please allow me to give you a brief summary of the manual.
Actually, the previous statement was a lie. I cannot tell you what is contained within the pages of this manual, as I have never seen it. It is a strictly guarded secret in the female realm, much like their special language.
The language where the wife speaks the words, “I am so thirsty,” which could be translated into “Honey, I would like you to bring me something to drink,” or perhaps, “I am so tired of summer. I can’t wait for fall time,” or “Does anybody know where I sat down my glass of water?” or it could mean, “I am so thirsty”.
Who knows? Not me. All I know is when my wife speaks in this way, there is a 70% chance I will interpret here meaning incorrectly.
Why? Because I have never seen this manual containing this language, rules, interpretations, addendums, or in this case, dismissed wardrobe selection protocols, that’s why. And even if I did stumble across one, it would take a special decoder ring in order to actually read what was printed on the pages inside. Therefore all I can do is give you my assumptions based on observations I have witnessed over the last several years.
In the world of the teenage girl, the mere consideration of wearing an outfit for the day deems the outfit mentally soiled, thus requiring a laundering service. Basically, thinking about wearing something makes it dirty. And apparently, prepubescent girls have a condensed but similar manual.
In the elementary version of this textbook, there is a different set of clothing protocols. While there seems to be nothing specifically about wardrobe considerations, there is some kind of parameter that states the dirty clothes hamper is a perfectly acceptable overflow container when the dresser drawer is full. At least this is my assumption as I can think of no other reason I would find layers of neatly folded clothing beneath piles of dirty ones.
And this constitutes only a small portion of the laundry we create. These are the clothes not worn. The remaining articles of clothing, the ones actually worn, those requiring soap and water, take up a considerable portion of one of the rooms in our house.
A couple of years ago we built onto our home in order to accommodate the growing size of our family. One of the things we did was to build on a bathroom large enough to install a washer, dryer, and hot water heater. With a double sink, toilet, and bathtub, as you can imagine, this bathroom could easily equal a small bedroom in many homes.
Not long ago, after skipping a few days of laundry due to extra time spent working at the newspaper office, I stepped into the back bathroom to catch up on some household chores. I was concerned, if not shocked, perhaps even momentarily terrified at what I saw.
The clothing lay strewn about the floor in a most curious fashion. There were shirts, inside out, hair ties cinching the fabric to better fit the form of the slender body that no longer remained inside. I saw pants alongside the shirts, inside out, underwear still attached; in some cases, socks peeking from inside the cuffs of the legs as if some mysterious force sucked the body from within the garments. Empty shoes, boots, and sandals tossed about the floor, a floor I could no longer see. This was either the epicenter of one of the worst laundering accidents experienced by mankind, or this was the scene of a massive alien abduction.
In the end, I figured if the aliens had them, they better hope they had one heck of a laundry facility aboard their interstellar craft because they had abducted an entire squad of laundry generators. I smiled, alone with the thoughts of just how foolish this “superior” species had been to abduct my crew. I set about my task of triaging the scene by color, which was promptly ignored when the girls made returned home, apparently not abducted by aliens after all.
So, for now, I will just continue to buy the industrial size detergent box, keep looking to the stars for potential UFOs, and make sure the Maytag Man is on speed dial, because the quest for whiter whites is an uphill battle in This World of Hurt.
Some days start in in such a way that makes you consider whether or not you would like to pursue the day or return to bed. Every day is different, yet they all have varying degrees of similarities. In each home across the world, these daily rituals exist. Different, of course, from one home to the next. Some rituals present in one household will be completely void in another. Despite my desire to be a somewhat unpredictable person, the truth is: I am a creature of habit. And the habit that controls each of my mornings, 365 days a year—I am sure I’m not alone in this—is my devotion, or should I say addiction, to coffee.
This morning began like the all of the preceding days. After a few attempts, my wife successfully woke me. I am not a rise and shine kind of guy. I would say I don’t like mornings, but this isn’t quite an accurate statement.
A simpler way of stating it would be to say I’m just not an overt fan of waking up. Whether in the morning, or perhaps just an afternoon nap, I don’t like having to return from my unconscious state. But either way, coffee makes it all better.
Normally my wife gets up quite early, as she has rituals of her own, and she persists in repeatedly waking me from my slumber until I finally climb from our bed, stumbling to the kitchen in my quest for my old friend Joe. However, my wife has the week off and has no need to rise from bed at the same hour as myself.
Therefore, with the exception of my wife informing me it is time to get up, I am largely left to my own discipline to get out of bed. You might think it’s unfair that my pregnant wife has to wake me up in the morning on her week off, but it is the assumption, which is unfair.
I would be more than happy to set my own alarm to wake myself, but my wife won’t allow it. Understand that an alarm powerful enough to truly wake me would also generate a noise so loud it could, in fact, wake a good portion of the western side of the county. My wife would never allow such an infernal contraption to break her slumber.
The alarm I would require would go off like an air raid siren. My wife’s alarm sounds very much like a set of muted wind chimes. My alarm clicks on screaming, “ALERT, ALERT. INCOMING FIRE. ALL PERSONNEL, GET TO YOUR STATIONS!”
My wife’s alarm goes off in a gentle whisper, “Psst. I must apologize for this, but it is indeed time to awake.”
How she manages to wake up so easily to such subtleties is truly mind boggling to me. But despite the fact she has the week off, she sets her wind chimes and wakes me up each morning. After that, I’m of my own.
And that’s just what happened this morning; just like all the other mornings. And after an attempt or two, I climbed out of our bed, and I shuffled to the kitchen, depressed the power button on the coffee pot, and as I headed to the bathroom to take care of other morning necessities, I could hear the water beginning to reach its optimum temperature of around 200 degrees. Perfect.
A few moments later my bladder empty, teeth clean, pits deodorized and bald pate moisturized to a shine, I returned to the kitchen to fill my cup. The window above my sink looks out to the western sky. It’s nice in the mornings.
No harsh morning sun baking the pre-dawn kitchen, and equally true in the evenings as the gorgeous West Texas sunset casts the room ablaze in a wash of rich colors, which can only come from a particular place at a particular time. Unique, every time, and the only time of day you could call West Texas absolutely spectacular. As it is an absolute truth we have some of the most stunning sunsets in the world. My coffee pot sets along the counter on the adjacent wall to the right of the sink.
As I approach the coffee pot, what do you suppose I saw there in the three foot of space between the sink and the coffee pot? Clean dishes dried overnight and waiting to be put away? Neatly folded stack of dishtowels? A cutting board somehow overlooked, remnants of fresh baked bread scattered along the score marks left by countless slices from a perfectly sharpened knife-edge?
No, I didn’t. What I saw was my coffee decanter, heavily tarnished by weeks of use; rinsed daily, but rarely washed.
Most coffee decanters are somewhat aggravating to me because the manufacturers of the things haven’t seemed to grasp the fact if they would increase the size of the spout, even by fractions, there would be less spillage during a rapid pour.
I know right now you are probably saying to yourself, “Well Jeff, if you would just take a little more time, and pour evenly you wouldn’t spill a drop.”
I see your point, but when it comes to coffee, I say, “Screw patience.” And it should make no difference, as the mouth of the decanter should simply be wider. I mean, for goodness sakes, have we learned nothing from Mickey’s? However, in this particular situation, the problem wasn’t the size of the spout, the problem was the decanter was resting on the counter between the sink and the coffee pot.
My sleepy mind registered the decanter on the counter, purely recognition, similar to the way your brain would recognize the face of a roommate as you passed them in a hallway on your way to the morning shower. An eternity of microseconds later my brain flooded with a surge of adrenaline as I suddenly became aware the counter between the sink and the coffee pot is not where the decanter should be located. My head whirled to the right, hoping against hope I wouldn’t see what I knew deep down that I would see. And see it I did.
A steady caramel colored ribbon of precious personality stabilizing nectar flowed from the filter basket into a widening pool. A pool now directed by gravity across the countertop, around the base of the decanter, across the thin strip of wood between the rim of the steel sink and the edge of the counter. The weight of the liquid no longer held back by the surface tension sent droplets in some places, short streams in others, cascading down the front of the cabinet doors to the hard floor where it began collecting in pools once more.
My only consolation was that no one was awake to hear the less than prestigious choice of vernacular I had chosen to relieve the frustration at my oversight. Nevertheless, I did manage to repeat the choice word several times as I waded through the pools of coffee at my feet.
Somewhere in the midst of the wiping, and the sopping, the ringing and the rinsing, I managed to get a good deal of water into my wife’s rubber dishwashing gloves. I’m sure I’ll have to answer for that later. Wish I had a kid around to blame it on. But a saturated towel and five minutes later, the counter and floor were once again clean, and the coffee pot restarted.
Ten minutes after, I was sitting at the table with my old friend Joe, who was doing his part of reconstructing the framework of my mind to be more amiable. Not the worst morning I have ever had, not by a long shot, but not the greatest of beginnings. Just another questionable morning in This World of Hurt.
About the Author
Jeff is the editor of the , a weekly countywide newspaper in western Texas and is a member of the Texas Press Association. He is also the father of seven children and husband to the world’s most supportive wife. To expand his writing skills, he returned to college at the age of 39, and received his BFA in creative writing two and a half years later. In addition to covering a spectrum of news articles and humor column, This World of Hurt, Jeff also is an active freelance writer working with a wide range of clients. You can read his fiction work in e-publications such as Heater Magazine and websites like everydayfiction.com. See more of his work at .
THIS WORLD OF HURT is a collection of humor columns by journalist, Jeff Hurt as he reflects on balancing his busy career with the dramatic, funny, and endearing world, of a father, his wife, a son, and six daughters. In stories like Conversations on a One-way street, Jeff uses witty anecdotes and the simplicity of male reasoning to explain the complexities of the female mind. Read the sidesplitting, Who Need a GPS? as Jeff gets lost, receiving driving directions such as—thataway. And in Dangerous Fashion, discover how in his world, not even a vacation is without its perils, and belly laugh with Jeff’s insightful observations, and comical coping mechanisms, while dealing with relationships, parenting, and society. Join Jeff as he presents a series of true stories about the chaotic, confusing—but always hilarious—situations he finds himself in living in a house dominated by women.