The last laugh

No laughing matter

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Raising the subject of women in a column with the title ‘The Last Laugh’ is exceedingly dangerous.

The myriad of women in my life from my wife, mother-in-law, daughter, daughters-in-law, cousins, colleagues and friends, would very likely take exception to even the slightest hint that I might be making fun of them or their ilk.

I would therefore appeal to the august editor of Leadership, who has enormous powers and is very charming and amendable to sensible suggestions, to consider re-naming this column, just for this issue. A slap-up lunch is included. 

May I suggest the name changes from 'The Last Laugh' to 'This Is Absolutely No Laughing Matter' in order to protect me from severe gender-based damage.

So, in all sincerity now, let me put pen to paper or rather finger to keyboard, in celebration of women. This is not funny. This is serious.

Many, many years ago when I stood in the front pew of the Catholic cathedral in Pietermaritzburg waiting for my bride to make her entrance, my older brother tapped me on the shoulder which wasn’t easy for him because he was at least five rows back.

Anyway, he whispered pretty much at the top of his voice because he is an absolute bastard for always trying to steal the limelight, that he wished to give me some last minute matrimonial advice.

I cringed at what this might be. Would it have something to do with condoms perhaps? Now that would be ironic, given that he has nine children. Would it be about how to borrow money from my soon to be father-in-law? I knew it would not be sage advice because he had never been know to do sage in any shape or form.

He would most certainly be saying something that would have the entire cathedral chortling with suppressed laughter.

But, he surprised me. I had to pinch myself to make sure I was not dreaming. My brother actually giving me some sensible advice? I had died and gone to heaven, which at the time was highly appropriate because I was already in church.

What he said was: “Always agree with your mother-in-law.” That’s it. That was all. I nearly wet myself with relief.

I trust that so far you are not finding anything funny. This is not funny. This is serious. Anyway, I pondered his words and found them to be more profound that I ever imagined.

What he meant was that most men were naturally inclined to argue with their mothers-in-law and that arguing with mothers-in-law being futile, would mean a complete waste of many hours, days or even weeks, nay months and years, of one’s life.

Simply agree with her

So, just agree with the woman and move on. Interestingly enough, I have in my career in the world of marketing always used this maxim whenever I have had to tutor, mentor or train people in the art of customer service. It became my customer service rallying cry.

I trust that so far you will agree that I have not in least bit denigrated any woman? And why should I? I love women. So much so that for the past five decades I have taken one to bed with me every night.

I can, without any shadow of doubt, recommend women to any man. They are wonderful people. They beat the hell out of water-bottles on a winter’s night. That is not funny. That is factual.

Even William Shakespeare was particularly careful whenever he wrote about women:

Let still woman take

An elder than herself: so wears she to him,

So sways she level in her husband’s heart,

For, boy, however we do praise ourselves,

Our fancies are more giddy and unfirm,

More longing, wavering, sooner to be lost

and warn,

Than women’s are.

See what I mean? I have no idea about what the heck the Bard was actually trying to say but for centuries it has been taken as a compliment by most women, especially those who only read Hello magazine.

Having been married for many years and the father of four children, three of whom having produced two children each and occasionally having a spat with their spouses, I believe I am entitled to a modest opinion about how women should be treated.

The first and most important thing for all young men to remember when their hormones kick in, is that when a woman asks for your opinion they do not really want your opinion they just want to hear their opinion repeated in a deeper voice.

The second thing to remember is that whenever you feel that you might have the upper hand in an argument with a woman, before you open your mouth and come out with that killer response, shut up and just give her a hug. So, its all very simple: always agree with your mother-in- law; don’t even think about it; and hug.

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