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Don’t Answer That

By Roger Clark

October, 2019

Lawyers learn never to ask a question unless they already know the answer. Husbands learn just as quickly not to answer, unless they already know the question on. Interrogators often hit pay dirt, not from what they ask, but what people volunteer. Particularly in marriage, I’ve learned the best response is often no answer at all.

Wives have steel trap memories. They can remember in vivid detail not only what we said, five years ago, but what we were wearing. Their uncanny recall is as much a gift to them as it is a curse to us. So here from my battered file of forgotten favorites are these pearls of wisdom.

Does this dress make me look fat? This is the momenta smart dude will suddenly wave at a friend, even if said friend is in another state. If there are employees in the store, seek them out for praise, even if they’re shooting worried glances towards the fitting room.

Have you stopped beating the children? If ripping off clothes and running down the aisle isn’t your strong suit, it might be a good time to intently study price tags or nutrition labels. And remember, just because a can is marked ‘low fat’ doesn’t mean it isn’t heavy enough to render you unconscious.

Do you always drive like that? Men in particular do not hear these words as constructive criticism, but rather, as admonishment forchildish behavior. This will often result in a testy, and yes, even juvenile response, thereby affirming she’s illegally married to a four -year-old. Better, it seems to me, that I would keep my mouth shut and look stupid, then to open it and remove all doubt.

Are you really going to wear that? For years, I wore western wear, and for years I’ve heard this question on. Then I was struck by lightning, or maybe I married Susan. Either way, my wardrobe was changed in a flash. Now I look like we belong to the club, and there aren’t even dues to pay.

She knows not only about fabrics, colors, care, and storage, my wife recognizes egg on a shirt, not just my face. That gal can tell,even on the rack, what will tuck in, fall out, wrinkle fast, and dry slow. As a bonus, there are no more questions about how much cattleI own.

When will you be home? As an Over-The-Road driver in the heavy haul bidness, this is one of the toughest questions I get. She does need to know, and trusts me to be honest, but neither of us knows how many things get in the way. I have to stop at all weigh stations, break off for rush hour, park before dark, and pay cash for the donuts.

What’s this expense on the bank statement for? I try to be careful, but sometimes I forget what I paid for that entree salad, floral bouquet, or extra six-pack of bottled water. As for the pastry receipt stuffed under the jump seat, I’m pleading the 5th Amendment.

Why.. is a question uttered out loud by wimmen almost as often as it crosses their mind. Why did you do that? Why would you wave a finger, take that bite, drive so fast, or show up early? Why were you looking, why were you staring, why do you care, and whywould you leave?

If I answer, my wife assures me, I’ll get a reward. The right to remain silent, however, should never be taken lightly, especially with a bakery so close to the county courthouse.