Women as simple as nuclear physics

August 24, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND

At the airport, it used to be that friends and family would congregate at the gate for one last goodbye before a traveler jetted off into the blue.

But that's no longer allowed. So now they have a little area cordoned off in front of the security checkpoint where everyone waves farewell. It's a pretty good arrangement, if the last memory you want to have is that of your loved one being frisked.

Every five minutes or so, a security officer would haul back a tub filled with dangerous substances, such as women's face caulk and bottled water, and dump them into a waste bin.

I know of a hiker recently who had his energy gel (a two-inch, sealed foil packet of concentrated carbs) confiscated, but was allowed to get on the plane with his tent, which included a half-dozen 12-inch metal tent stakes.


But that's beside the point, because the reason we were at the airport was to see off young Alexa as she headed into the world for her first big adventure, a nine-month foreign-exchange tour in Argentina, generously sponsored by the Hagerstown Rotary.

Now the house is remarkably quiet and, frankly, feels as if it is missing something. Yesterday, I drove to the mall three times, just out of force of habit. And last night, Andrea left all the lights on downstairs, an uncharacteristic action filled with psychological implications.

It was a rough week for the Travel Agent in High Heels as she grappled with the temporary loss of her only child. As the stress built and tensions rose between Alexa's hyper-lackadaisicalism and Andrea's hyper-organizationalism, she would go from "I can't wait to get her tuchus on the plane and be done with her" to "boo-hoo" and back in the course of bare minutes.

I spent most of the time in the batcave, since dealing with turmoil is not a particular strength of mine.

From my point of view, women would be a lot better off if they would select one sentiment and stick with it, rather than picking and choosing from the entire emotional salad bar.

Men are accused of not having feelings, but the real shortcoming in the female eye is that we do not have a satisfactory arsenal of them. If we feel one way about something, that's pretty much it. The feeling may be more or less intense from time to time, but basically we remain consistent.

A woman will follow an emotion around for a while, trying to find out what it likes to eat or something, and then try on another and another and another for size, like they were pairs of shoes.

Poor me, I was always one mood swing behind the curve. All I wanted to do was be a supportive husband and try to add validity to whatever Andrea was going through. But I made a failure of it.

Figuring she must be getting sad about the nearing departure date, I would say something along the lines of, "It sure is going to be lonely around here for a while," to which she would snap, "No it's not, she's not doing anything to get ready and I've had it."

OK, I figured, I can do that.

So next time 'round I chimed in with "Only 36 hours until freedom" and was rewarded with a full-frontal blast of "How can you SAY that? She's going to be LEAVING us."

"But you just said..."

"That's what I said, that's not what I mean."

"I see."

I didn't, of course. I felt as if I were standing in the middle of a NASCAR track with emotions hurtling at me at 200 mph. She would be sharp with Alexa in her room, and then be tearful in ours - and then imploring that "I can't let Alexa see me this way."

"Why not? You don't have to not care, that's what I'm here for."

Well, that wasn't the right thing to say either. But, by this time, the ensuing insult and abuse didn't much faze me, since I was kind of steeled against the inevitable.

I'm pretty tone deaf in cases such as this, so I don't know if Alexa ever picked up on the fact that Andrea was trying to appear hard in her (Alexa's) presence because she (Andrea) was afraid that she (Alexa) would get upset if she (Alexa) saw that she (Andrea) was upset about her (Alexa's) leaving, and she (Andrea) was just trying to protect her (Alexa) from fear.

If you are a guy reading this, you have no idea what I just wrote. Don't feel bad, neither do I. If you are a woman, though, I suspect you are probably nodding vigorously and saying "exactly."

Guys don't get it? No we don't, and I for one am tired of apologizing for it. All I know is that just two days in, I already miss driving Alexa to the mall.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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