Tuesday, November 2, 2021

What every young man needs to know about women, Part III

"Who put the bur under your saddle?" Fred asked his grandson, Owen.

Owen had been as prickly as a pine cone and even dropped the F-bomb in the garage.

Fred called him on it, reminding him that an accidental slip when you skinned your knuckles was understandable but casually throwing them around was not.

That caused a tense moment. Owen had grown six inches in the last few months and was now taller than Fred. Owen said "And what are you going to DO about it old-man?" in a direct challenge to Fred.

Fred did not take that well.

In Owen's eyes, Fred morphed into an old-tomcat and seemed to instantly triple in size.

Fred's voice cracked like a high-powered rifle. "Git your ass outa my garage."

Owen's bravado collapsed. He backed off.

That is when Fred asked him "Who put the bur under your saddle?"

The tough-guy veneer melted off Owen's face and reveled abject misery.

"Mary Jean broke up with me" was all he could choke out.

"How long you two been together?" Fred asked.

"Six months" Owen said.

"That is a darned good run, for a first girl-friend" Fred comforted his grandson.

"What happened?" Fred asked.

"Nuthin'" Owen said. "I mean, I don't know what happened."

"Tell me what happened" Fred commanded his grandson.


"We were sitting in the truck and Mary Jean told me she loved me. Next thing I knew she was crying and told me we had to break up" Owen said simply.

Fred frowned. Something did not add up.

"That's all?" Fred said.

"Pretty much" Owen said.

"What did you say after Mary Jean said she loved you?" Fred asked.

"Well, I said I liked her too" Owen said.


"Ummm. Why didn't you tell her you loved her, too?" Fred asked.

Owen looked uncomfortable. "Love is a big deal, Granpop! Marriage. Kids. Till-death-do-yea-part. I ain't there, yet."

Fred mulled that over in his mind a bit.

"I am proud of you for respecting the word. Lots of guys will say they love a girl just to get 'certain privileges'. I am glad you didn't do that."

Owen's blushing face told Fred that he knew exactly what those 'certain privileges' entailed.

"You love your ma, dontchya? You love Granma, dontchya? But you don't plan on marrying them."

"You could have told Mary Jean you loved her and she would have figured out it wasn't a marriage proposal" Fred said.

That tack crashed on the beaches. "Nope. I just can't" Owen declared.

Well, this was proving to be a tougher nut to crack that Fred expected.

After a bit, Fred asked "Do you remember your fifth-grade basketball coach?"

"You mean Mr Marriott?" Owen said.

"Yeah, him."

"Remember the game against Portland St. Pat that your team lost because the other team's guard stole the ball from you ten times?"

Owen bristled. "It was only seven times."

Fred shook his head. The exact number was not the point.

"What did Mr. Marriott have you do in practice for the whole next week?"

"He had me dribble the basketball" Owen said.

"Yep. He set up an obstacle course of folding chairs and you had to weave your way through them. I remember that" Fred filled in.

"What did he have you do different?" Fred asked.

Owen had to think back. "He had me keep the ball closer to my body. He had me keep the ball a lot lower and switch sides so my body was between the closest chair and the ball."

"He also told me to not stop dribbling until I got to where I was going and to know what I was going to do BEFORE I got there."

"Did it work?" Fred asked. Bottom lines count.

"Yeah, we crushed St Pat's the next time we played them" Owen said. It was the first time Fred saw Owen smile that day.

"If you wanna get Mary Jean back, you gotta tell her how you feel. She is a smart girl. She will figure out that you love her as much as a seventeen-year-old-boy can" Fred said.

"But my boyz will laugh at me!" Owen objected.

Ahhh! Another piece of the puzzle fell into place.

Fred pierced Owen with a steely look.

"Your 'boyz' are the chairs. What you say to Mary Jean is private. You protect what you tell her and what she says to you. She will know if what you are telling her is for her or to impress your 'boyz'."

"However much you are comfortable telling Mary Jean how you feel, you need to do it three times as more. Just like dribbling...keeping the ball low meant you had your hand on it three times as often, you had three times as many chances to control it and adjust direction...right?"

"But...I can't think of that many things to say..." Owen objected.

"Thats the problem" Fred exclaimed. "I am not talking about thinkin' and thoughts, I am talking about feelings."

"Lemme ask you, what do you feel when you get into your truck and you can still smell her perfume?" Fred asked.

Owen smiled. "It makes me happy."

"That is all you have to tell her. You don't have to tell her why it makes you happy or anything else" Fred said.

"That's all?" Owen asked, confused.

"Yup. Quick dribbles, close to the floor."

"But it has to come from your heart."

"How do you feel about Mary Jean breaking up with you?" Fred asked.

"It is tearing me to pieces!" Owen said.

"Tell her that" Fred said.

"What did I teach you to do when you screw up?" Fred asked.

"You taught me to own it. You taught me to apologize to the person it hurt" Owen said.

"Do you think you hurt Mary Jean?" Fred asked.

"She was crying" Owen said. His face fell.

"Looking at your face I can see that it hurt you to see her sad. Tell her that, too. Tell her that as bad as it hurt you, you were even sadder to see that your bone-headedness hurt her."

"Now you git outta here and don't come back until after you and Mary Jean talked this out. Git!"

Fred watched as Owen dashed out to his truck.

He didn't expect to see him for a while. He figured Owen would have other things on his mind. Happy things.


  1. I teach my kids and scouts that profanity is linguistic laziness.

    1. Indeed. Profanity is the verbal crutch of the inarticulate mother******.

    2. One of our neighbors used to be a tanker.

      He told Kubota that he had not earned the right to use coarse language until after he had changed a tank-tread under incoming fire.

  2. George Washington quote was on the wall in FFA. I like this little vignette about being a man. It's like finishing school. Good stuff.


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