At age forty Punch Roundstep wasn't sure he had any more understanding of women than he did at twenty.
"Women is sure hard to understand," he said to his friend White Oxley.
White took a draw off his long neck, taking time to watch a Packers' receiver get clobbered before responding. "Well, I don't think it's so important to understand 'em as much as it is just to like 'em."
"Why'zat?" Punch asked.
White considered the question for a few seconds, long enough to observe the Packers' QB get crunched under six hundred pounds of Cowboy beef. "I expect it's mainly to ensure the continuation of the species like anything else," he said.
"Well, I like Jo Lynn; tell her so all the time."
"That's good," White said absently, his eyes still on the TV. "But you need to compliment 'em sometimes, too.
"Yeah, but that don't always seem to work."
"Don't work how?"
"Night before last we was getting ready to go out and she comes out wearing this tight red dress."
The reverential sound in Punch's voice drew White's attention away from the Monday night ballgame. "Red dress?" he asked.
"Yeah, and she asks me did I think it made her look fat. Well, she was so dang gorgeous I just grabbed her up and said, 'Darlin', I love a woman with a big butt.'"
White leaned back into the sofa and took another slow drink of beer. "You told her that, did ya?" he asked with a sad grin.
"What, you think that was wrong?"
"I ain't sure your answer was wrong; mebbe just ill-advised. Y'see, that's a trick question women like to pull on us to see if we're paying attention to 'em. There ain't no right answer. And they'll keep asking you that question until you tell them what they don't want to hear. But they ain't looking for honesty. Your best hope in a situation like that is to try to change the subject…or leave the room."
Punch furrowed his brow and shook his head. "See, that's what I mean. I don't understand why they'd do that."
"It's a mystery, awright," White said, turning his attention back to the more comprehensible world of football, hoping his answer would end this bottomless and pointless discussion on women his befuddled friend had started.
However, Punch persisted. "But I meant what I said to her. When she come into the room in that red dress, she was so dang pretty it brought tears to my eyes. I was payin' attention to her. Now she won't even talk to me...or nothing'."
White sighed resignedly and pressed the mute button on the remote. He wouldn't be able to concentrate on the game until he got the boy straightened out on this matter.
"Son, the damage is awready did. There just ain't no going back with women, or forgettin' neither. All you can hope to do at this point is try to cover up the mess you made with presents. Your women will forgive a lot, if you give 'em presents. The more, the more better."
"Awready been trying that," Punch said.
"'At's good," White said, nodding with encouragement. "What did you start with? Flowers? Candy? Jewelry?"
"Naw, better," Punch said. "I got her a new vacuum cleaner."
"Yeah, gave it to her this evening. Didn't seem to make much difference, though. So tomorrow, I'm going to take her out to get a new washer and dryer."
White picked up the TV remote and switched off the power. He stood to go get himself another beer. "This is going to take longer than I thought," he muttered.
You can read more about Punch and White in my novel Legends of Tsalagee.
My name is Phil Truman and I write novels.