Hubby rule 1: Keep your mouth shut

By Jason Offutt

Much like magpies, my young children like to bring me shiny things. And, since I’m the one who makes repairs around the house (mostly with my fingers crossed), these shiny things are usually assorted screws, washers, nuts and bolts.
“Did you see the present the Girl brought you,” my wife asked one day after school, holding up a butterfly screw.
“Yes, I did,” I said. Then, turning to the preschool-aged Girl, “Thank you, pumpkin.”
She smiled and said, “You’re welcome.” Our children bring many things into our lives, two of them being good manners and headaches. Today was Good Manners Day. Score.
“What do you do with it?” my wife asked, twisting the butterfly screw in her fingers.
It was a reasonable question; it’s not like people see butterfly screws every day, so I answered it in a way a guy would explain something to a guy. I didn’t mean to, when it comes to machine parts my head just works this way.
She shrugged. So I tried again, answering in the kind of way that caused her to stand with hands on hips tapping her foot.
Note to self: When describing anything mechanical to the wife, “just stand there and look pretty,” doesn’t go over quite as well as you’d think it would.
“Excuse me?” she said – not asked, said.
Note to self two: It’s also probably not a good idea to call the wife, “the wife.”
“Uh, well, it’s called a butterfly screw because it looks like it has wings,” I stuttered.
At this point, you might think, “hey, Offutt. It sounds like you’re afraid of your wife.” Come on, guys. I’m a full-grown, well-educated man, so of course I’m afraid of my wife.
It’s no secret that men and women are far different than what our parts show on the outside. If we didn’t look so much alike, I’d think we were different species.
For example, my children. My wife and I didn’t set out to raise the Boy and the Girl as stereotypes. As babies, the Boy didn’t wear Soldier of Fortune onesies, and the girl didn’t get a Disney princess pacifier. But the Boy grew to like guns, and the Girl is hardly without her tiara – even when she’s running around naked.
When it comes to males and females, there are stereotypes for a reason. That’s why Hollywood continues to make chick flicks and Rambo movies (yes, there’s another one in the works). It’s why McDonald’s Restaurant has “boys” and “girls” toys for Happy Meals. It’s why there are no purses in the men’s section of department stores, and why we think sitcom characters are funny – they’re us.
Given that, you think my wife would give me some slack when I say something stupid.
Later as my wife stood in the living room I (slowly) approached her and told her she looked nice.
“Why?” she asked. “Because I’m just standing here looking pretty?”
Note to self three: Just shut up already.

Jason’s latest book, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at

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