You know how book author John Gray thinks "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus," right? And you're probably also aware of the whole "he said but she heard" phenomenon.
Now, I fancy myself rather fluent in both "Man Speak" and "Girl Talk," so I'd like to offer a few friendly pointers on how to cordially converse with members of the opposite sex. Think of me as a United Nations interpreter - only for the average Joe and Josephine.
People, I'm here to help. I want to offer my assistance in attempting to bridge the humungous communications gap between men and women, boys and girls, guys and gals. Think of it as the Patty Principle of Communiqu, also known as "Clear Chat."
Rule No. 1: Never, Never, Ever, Ever, NEVER Ask a Woman if She's Gained Weight.
Boys, I am slowly, clearly speaking to you (predominantly) on this one. There is not ever a right time to ask a lady a question such as: "Have you packed on a few pounds?"
You know, atmospheric composition and solar output are often listed as two main culprits causing the onset of an ice age, but I think it's more plausible that - in nearly each case - some male life form asks some female life form if she's, you know, adding to her form. She tells two friends and they tell two friends and before you know it, the silent freeze between all males and females on a planet kicks in and brrrrrrr!
It is never, ever, ever acceptable to ask an able-bodied adult woman in good health if she has put on weight. (Note: Any variation thereof of the question including statements containing phrases like "scale slayer" or "seatbelt buster" are also off limits; "pot belly" is also a no-no.)
Conversely, of course, asking someone if they've shed a few pounds - even when it's blatant they indeed have not - is globally sanctioned and almost always sets off mild, pleasant weather patterns.
Take it from my girlfriend "Shirley" who lives in Hubbard. Shirley is a lovely, trim gal who walks, like, 45 miles every two hours or so (seven days a week) in an effort to keep her frame slim. Just yesterday, her father-in-law asked if she was putting weight on.
Shirley's husband's dad now resides in the very chilly frozen tundra as far as Shirley is concerned.
Rule No. 2: Do Not, Under Any Circumstances, Ask a Gentleman If He Can Still "Bench Press 200 Pounds."
Now, one for the ladies. Please note that the four words following "still" in the above sentence can be swapped out with virtually any action a man easily performed in his 20s but which may pose risk of serious physical harm if attempted in his mid-to-late-40s or beyond.
"Ooh, I found this one out the hard way," said my pal Donna Tyler of Mineral Ridge. "Once, I asked my husband Doug if he could still run a mile in under seven minutes, like he did when we were first dating back in the early 1990s," she recounted for me.
"Uh, oh. I bet that didn't end well," I thought out loud.
The answer is no, Doug can't run a sub-seven anymore. It does, however, take paramedics considerably less than seven minutes to get to Donna's house from their home base when they hear a middle-aged man has collapsed in his driveway, by the way.
Perhaps there's a reason we middle-aged folks need a DD (designated driver) in the word middle - to get us from point A to point B without tachycardia?
Rule No. 3: Always Put the Toilet Seat Down, Both Lids, Every Time.
Wait, wait. I'm getting ahead of myself to the diplomacy department - my mistake.
Oh well, that concludes our brief lesson for today, boys and girls.
But remember, whenever you're in doubt, consider the old Chinese proverb that it's better remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.