At a recent meeting of the NoRSMen (North Road Supportive Men -- a benevolent society dedicated to the appreciation of cheap beer, El Stinko cigars, and a fuller understanding of communication between the sexes) we had a return visitor. Dweezil Mahoneigh, Knucks Mahoneigh's second cousin's son from Kansas, was on a return trip, and decided to spend an evening with us in B.B.'s garage.
Dweezil was, indeed, named in honor of Frank Zappa's son. His parents were the ultimate fans of Zappa, right up until their hearing failed entirely. When we'd last seen Dweezil, he was gainfully employed in a slaughterhouse, anxiously awaiting his promotion to knocker-man, and even more anxiously awaiting his wedding to his lovely fianc, Betty-Lou.
"Well, hello Dweezil!" B.B. greeted the young man as he stepped into the meeting hall. "How's married life been treating you?"
Dweezil shook his head, "I guess cousin Knucks didn't tell you. Me an' Betty-Lou didn't get hitched."
A general mumbling of "Sorry to hear that's," and "Oh, too bad's" was taking place among the membership when our honorary NoRSMen member from Cooper Landing, Sal Monroe, got straight to the point. "Well, why in tarnation not? You were all fired up last fall. B.B., give that boy a beer! Looks like he needs one. OK now, spit it out, boy."
"Oh, we just had words, and Betty-Lou decided it might be best if we went our separate ways for awhile."
"Separate ways? For awhile? Sounds like she dumped you."
Knucks stepped forward to defend his young, shirttail relative, but Dweezil was not the least put off.
"Truth be told, I messed up. She was trying on clothes for our honeymoon, when she asked if a pair of pants made her butt look fat."
The gasps came so fast and furious, a barometric pressure anomaly was recorded at the Anchorage Airport weather station.
"Oh geez, Dweezil," I moaned, "please tell me you didn't say yes."
"Not exactly. What I said was, 'Hon, in them pants your butt looks like two pigs fightin' in a gunny sack.'"
In the pregnant silence that followed, the crackling of our El Stinkos' fine man-made fillers rang out like gunshots. The silence was finally broken when Sal gave out a long, low whistle.
"But I meant it in a good way," Dweezil argued. "I tried to explain that, but it wasn't any use. She just kept shouting, 'It's OVER!' again and again, until she threw her engagement ring at me. Darn near put my eye out!"
After a round of well wishes for a better future ensued, Dweezil continued. "Oh, I'm sure she'll cool off eventually. And if she don't, well, her cousin is a cute little heifer. But the thing I'm most worried about is sayin' something stupid again. Got any advice?"
"My boy," B.B. said as he slapped Dweezil on the back, "you are looking at almost 80 years of collected marital wisdom; a little more, if you throw in Sal's brief marital fray.
"Yup," Sal said nodding his head, "six months of bliss."
"I don't think we can give you full credit there, Sal," I said, "since you were gone for five of those six months."
"Well then, I'll tell you what: that can be the boy's first piece of advice. Dribble ..."
"Dweezil," I corrected.
"Whatever. Boy, don't never say, 'I'll be right back' when you leave to go fishin', if it's gonna be more'n a few weeks. Most women are of limited patience."
"Another thing," Knucks offered, "is don't say anything if your significant other picks out a movie, and it's a dud -- or worse yet, a chick-flick. I'm still paying for saying something to the effect, 'Well, there's two hours of my life I'll never get back. Next time let me pick the movie.'"
"That was bad," B.B. observed, "but sometimes the problem isn't saying something, it's saying nothing. When Donna and me were dating, I used to fall asleep during the movies. When I said, 'That's 'cause being with you is relaxing,' she took it to mean I thought she was boring. That one took awhile to straighten out. I still wash down a couple of No-Doz with a shot of espresso before we go to the movies."
"Another thing," Sal offered, "don't never tell a woman she's wasting too much meat when she's cleaning clams. Well, at least not 'til the bucket's empty."
"That goes for most things," Knucks added, "don't criticize an honest effort. I told Stacy she couldn't split wood worth a hoot one time. Let's just say I get plenty of exercise in the winter."
"That especially goes for a new wife's cooking," B.B. added. "It's OK to compare your wife's cooking to your mother's but only when it's a favorable comparison. I remember once, I made the comment to Donna, 'My mom used to make this when I was a kid ... I didn't like it then, either.' Strictest diet I've ever been on.
"Hey, not just negative comments can get you in trouble, even offers to help out in a situation can heat up the water," I said. "I saw Mrs. Poynor struggling up the hill when she was mowing the yard once. I commented on how hard she was working, and suggested we get her a self-propelled mower. Not well received."
Dweezil looked around the room and shook his head. "I want to thank you guys. I feel much more hopeful."
"Not a problem at all," I said magnanimously, "glad we could help."
"Yeah," Dweezil said as he snubbed out his El Stinko and stood up, "if you guys can pull off bone-headed stunts like that and stay married, I'm thinking I've done my worst already. I gotta go make phone call."
A.E. Poynor lives in Kenai.
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