“Do these pants make my butt look fat?”
The words every husband dreads hearing. Laurie and I are walking down King Street; it’s a nice evening until she asks that. The million dollar question. The question to which there is no winning answer. To say “yes” will bring on a world of trouble, starting with hurt surprise, followed by retaliatory accusations and ending in inconsolable, sullen sobs. To say “no” would bring about a very similar response, but with disbelief and suspicion added in.
So I say nothing. It is very important that I say nothing. My mouth is a steel trap.
“Rob, I asked you a question. Do these pants make my butt look fat?” Say nothing. I must say nothing. I have disabled the connection between my brain and my tongue. I am thinking of baseball. I am silently humming “The Girl from Ipanema”. My jaw is wired shut, my lips are held fast by one of those clamps on a jumper cable. I say nothing. I say nothing. The word is welling up; my answer is boiling in my throat and frothing behind my teeth. I say nothing. I must, I must, I must say nothing.
Laurie is distracted by the shop window beside her. Her face lights up as she turns back to me and asks, “Don’t cupcakes sound good right now?”
The levee breaks and the flood comes rushing out, “Yes! Yes, dear God, Laurie yes, in answer to your question: Yes! Without a doubt, yes!”
“Jeez, Rob, you’re awfully wound up,” she says.
I say nothing as a deep sense of relief washes over me.