“Dream as if you’ll live forever.
Live as if you’ll die today.”
— James Dean
I’ve noticed something. Men are different than women. Bow. Smile wanly. Bow some more. Accept roses. Wave. Thank you. I now will stand on stage at Oslo, Norway and accept my Nobel Prize for being a Brain Scientist.
Women possess boundless qualities and if not achieving sainthood they certainly flirt with it. But we men spend our lives wading in dark, unfamiliar waters of womanhood, churning with little wiggly nuances, riptides and bitey creatures from the deep. There are days I feel one gender is from the chromium-based atmosphere of the planet Rigel N-13 in a galaxy yet-to-be-discovered and the other gender is from Earth.
Being firmly entwined in a loving, nurturing, supporting and ever-growing relationship with my Viking goddess beauty queen, I’ll never cop to which gender lives on Earth and which gender paints their face, tries to appear taller than they actually are and has cooties and I’m not talking about Anabaptists.
I am loved exceptionally well by a tall, sexy, debilitatingly beautiful Teutonic blonde who is so sexy she’s Three-tonic. She’s funny, affectionate, kind, considerate and, most fortunately for me, chronically near-sighted. Bonus, she’s one hotsy-totsy curvy woman. I love her. Something’s been bothering her.
I know because for the past week, I’ve asked: “Is something bothering you?” and she, like the opera protagonist Camille says, “No.” Maybe not today, but soon, a low-pressure front will merge with a high-pressure gradient and create a planet-ending storm.
The other evening, we’re out to dinner. Being a woman, she has The Gift. With impeccable timing, she waits until my mouth is full so I can spit out 12 pounds of salad after she quietly accuses: “So. Who’s Theresa?”
Why did that make me panic?
All guys have been there. For one fleeting moment in our mangy dog lives, we’re innocent. Life’s a warm swim. Then, your softer counterpart lets slip a seemingly innocuous Spanish Inquisition query light years beyond Left Field.
I stopped chewing. Every guy in the restaurant stopped chewing. It’s like that silence right before a million wildebeest stampede at the watering hole.
My show-stopping girlfriend dabs her mouth. There’s a neutral, bureaucratic chill to her voice, like she’s a cop laconically going over notes before asking: “We found a dead body in the trunk of your car. Don’t insult our intelligence.” She slides a yellow legal pad across the table. “Write it out. You’ll feel better. John.” She cups my hand with hers. “You can leave prison still a young man. C’mon, pal. Play ball. Who’s ‘Theresa?’”
I’m breathing through my mouth.
And what did I do with Theresa’s corpse?
My mind races, like a Rol-o-Dex on steroids. Or — for the benefit of new demographic of younger, gender oppressed Internet-friendly males in a relationship — like an iPhone on mocha latte half-half with 16 hits of espresso.
DO I know a Theresa?
There’s my long-missing half-sister, Teresa, without the “H.” I think she’s dead. There’s Mother Teresa. Likewise, dead and sans “H.” There’s Casa Teresa, the home for pregnant unwed mothers 18 and older in Orange County, California. I hide the panic. Did my eyes dilate? Sweet merciful saints. WHY do I know that? Calm down, damn you, you’re a comedy writer. You’re supposed to know stuff like that. I make a mental note to never, ever scream “Casa Teresa!!” in my sleep. My leggy partner chews slowly, in feigned, Oh-No.-I’m-Not-Peeved-At-You-Sweetheart way only women and serial killers can pull off.
“No, John,” she says, tossing her hair out of her face and laughing ice cubes. “Theresa. With an ‘H.’ An ‘H,’ John. Like the ‘H’ — in ‘Ho.’”
J’accuse. She didn’t mean 33 percent of Santa’s chuckle.
I know they don’t have dramatic radio mystery bass “Boom-boom-boom” organ music piped into the Soup Plantation. But I heard it anyway. A waiter sped by, mouthing, with a Spanish accent: “¡Que muerta! Be careful how you answer, amigo...”
“Honey...” My hand cuts the air with small rolling gestures. “I don’t know a THHHH-ree-sa,” I sputter, like Sylvester the Cat. “I don’t know a Four-ree-sa, a Five-ree-sa or a Reesa’s Peanut Butter Cup, for that matter.”
I smile. I blink.
Crickets blow ice clouds into their tiny hands. Unless you’re starring in a James Bond movie, never attempt humor while a woman is interrogating you.
A long moment passes. She’s the stern principal. In our booth, I’m feeling my trousers shrink into little boy shorts and my feet no longer reach the floor.
“OK. Fine. What.” I finally ask, too tired to insert a question mark.
We stare at one another for five minutes. Her posture is erect, superior, confident, as if she is about to deliver the case-solving evidence at the 58th minute of “Law & Order.”
“So,” she says, the “Puny Earth Male” silent but implied, “You’re telling me you do not know a woman named Theresa...”
I stare forlornly at sprawling buffet. My chili. My baked potato. My corn bread. Colder than Mother MacBeth. We could just as well be holding this Women’s Deduction Clinic about the lovely and talented Michelle Obama.
“John. Do you know OF Michelle Obama?”
“Do you and Michelle Obama occupy the same continental land mass?”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
“Therefore, it is this court’s findings that, three oughts-are-ought, carry-the-one, you KNOW— like in a woman taken in adultery Biblical sense — Michelle Obama. Ladies of the jury. I submit my boyfriend had sex with the First Lady and ask...” lowers her head for dramatic intensity “...for the Death Penalty.”
Gavel bangs. Defendant Guilty. Women cheer. Guy Court is over.
My cell phone rings.
Dear Comrade Boston:
While it is not normally within the realm of the Oval Office to stick its ever-expanding nose into the private lives of citizens, I couldn’t help but notice that you mentioned my wife in one of your infantile fantasies.
Let me say this unto you now: That was very, very, very stupid of you in a stupid-stupid sort of way and by golly rief, I’m going to do everything within my power to make sure you’re the only guy in America without health coverage. And then I’m going to send over Nancy Pelosi with her goo-goo-googly eyes and have her crush you with her ample thighs, the rhyme unintentional.
President of These United States.
P.S. My handlers have informed me that possibly, I may yet again have framed my consideration of a choice of words in a direction along the compass toward an incorrect horizon. Although, if it’s any consolation, John, sometimes, at night, and I’m mad at her? I call the missus ‘Ma-bama’ while she’s sleeping. Get real close to her face and mouth the word. Hey listen. Me, Hugo Chavez, that flea-bitten goat-boinking mufti who runs Iran whose name escapes me, the Tea Party, Asia and the growing unemployed are getting together later to have a beer and apologize to one another. Six work for you? And sorry about the length of this text message. As president, I just have a really big cell phone screen the size of a plywood sheet and get carried away.
Being a Republican and passive aggressive, I punch in: “6:20’s better” and turn back to my sweetie.
“Let me level with you. MY species —” I overtly gesture, Indian style, “— to YOUR species. I — am a guy.”
She’s disinterested already.
“Honey. I think about things like: ‘Hey. I wonder what the beet crop will be like this year?’ Or: ‘Why in the heck would the entire Green Bay Packers get suspended four games for taking diet pills? Isn’t it in their best interest as NFL players to stay big as the budget?’”
“I don’t know. Honey.”
When woman banishes the word, ‘Honey’ alone, to the end of a sentence, it does not mean, ‘Honey.’ It means, ‘Asshole.’
I tilt my head. I look at her reassuringly. I have no idea what I just said. I’m certainly not inferring that, with women, like with dogs, it’s the tone of your voice that counts, along with slightly tilting your head to the left while raising a paw. She folds her arms, as if considering if she can ever trust me again.
“I had a dream,” she finally confesses.
I did not blurt out in the crowded restaurant: “Oh HOLY MARTIN LUTHER KING cripes I HAD A DREAM and EGYPTIAN midgets without their underwear IS THIS WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT?!?!”
I’m a 21st century guy.
I inhale a jagged breath through my nostrils.
Psycho-anthropologists speak of faraway rainforest shamans who recognize no differentiation from the sleeping state and real world. Apparently, ditto with women. My appetite’s gone but my sweetheart digs heartily into her dinner. The story unfolded. In my beloved’s dream, she was building a house. Me, The Mr. Man, was not helping. I was with the M.D.T.
That would stand for Mystery Dream Tramp. In this episode, it’s the MDP is Theresa.
And that, ladies and gentlemen was the whole damn dream.
I didn’t even get the benefit of any tawdry and steamy details.
“So I take it in your dream that Theresa didn’t even scream: ‘It’s the rapture! I’m cross-eyed for life! John, you’re the entire Chatsworth porn industry and a six-pack of Dr. Pepper!”
Not even looking at me now, my date chewed and shook her head. No. The dream only lasted four seconds. “And Theresa was homely. And a brunette.” She seemed to take some great moral victory over the hair color.
In her dream, my honey “just knew (squint, pursed lips) I was up to something.”
And that was it. I’ve been in semi-trouble for a week. Semi, because she makes it all better by smiling at me.
If I had a disturbing dream about the president, I wouldn’t throw a drink in his face or sock him. And perhaps the only time in print I’ll use the phrase, “Bless Barack Obama’s heart,” I’m sure if the commander-in-chief had a disturbing dream about me, he wouldn’t give the cold shoulder until he unveiled himself on MSNBC as the antichrist. In fact, if either one of us were to have a dream about the other, we would have the manly resolve to jolly well not mention it.
You know why?
Because we’re guys
From Planet Earth, gosh darn it.
Or at least it’s ours until Michelle and my sweetheart from the chromium-based atmosphere of Rigel R-13 waltz back into the room, squinting at the two of us over some imaginary thing we did to them in a moment of private REM repose.