I was talking to my wife on the phone when the woman walked in.
“Wow!” I exclaimed. “Chris changed her hair. She looks great!”
Ugh! How could I have been so stupid! I noticed something.
Noticing something about another woman while talking to my wife also was an error in judgment.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“No, no, this is good,” she said. “Let’s work with this. What did she change?”
“The part. She used to part it down the middle.”
I thought for a moment.
“No, wait. Maybe the part switched sides. Did she have a part? It’s something to do with her hair, though. I’m pretty sure about that.”
My wife sighed.
“Keep trying, sweetheart,” she said. “You may become observant yet.”
It’s a problem for us guys. Our women keep expecting us to notice things, then get frustrated because we don’t. At least she tells me later when she’s been frustrated, but I don’t see how I was supposed to notice that.
“So what,” I asked, “do you ladies wish we’d notice?”
“Wives wish their husbands noticed what was for dinner and gave some feedback on how it was,” she said.
“Wives wish their husbands could see dust, and would do something about it,” she said.
“Wives wish their husbands knew the birthdays of their children, how old they were and what grades their children are in. Bonus points for knowing who a child’s teacher is,” she said.
I hadn’t noticed any food disappearing out of the fridge lately, but I thought it might be safer just to ask outright: “Do we have any kids?”
She hung up.
It’s not that guys are completely obtuse, as some of my female friends have suggested. We just notice different things. Important things.
As Sherlock Holmes famously told Watson, “You see, but you do not observe.” In Watson’s case, he daily trod the stairs at their shared flat at 221B Baker Street but never noticed how many steps there were. Seventeen.
(Notice, Holmes’ exercise in observation was directly related to crime fighting techniques and had nothing to do with noticing if someone had lost four pounds on a special diet or that the kitchen sink leaked and needed fixed.)
Observation is how we know to pitch a batter on the inside because we see that he hits balls on the outside of the plate very well. And it has nothing to do with the way he parted his hair.
If our significant others are counting on us to observe that the car needs gas or that the milk’s low or that our socks are in the middle of the living room floor and shouldn’t be, we won’t. We do not clutter our minds with unnecessary details for fear it will push out something vital, like the specs on the 7.1 Surround Sound home theater system we need or LeBron’s shot percentage against Kobe compared to the rest of the league.
So you can observe how embarrassed I was that I noticed that Chris had parted her hair differently.
“No, the part’s the same,” she said. “I straightened my hair. It’s always been curly. I used to have highlights, too.”
Aha! So I didn’t accidentally notice something! Manhood preserved! Phew!
I’d still like to know if we have any kids, though.