The single greatest mystery to ever confound man is this: What do women want?
The answer is ...
Actually, I haven't a clue. The best I can do is loan you the quarter I flip.
It is a scientific fact that men's and women's brains are wired differently, as proven in such scholarly tomes using words like ''Venus,'' ''Mars,'' ''spaghetti'' and ''waffles'' in the titles.
Personally, I conduct my own research in laboratory conditions. I don't mean to. It's a mysterious adventure that just happens.
Let's examine one aspect of this puzzle - talking a thing to death.
The other day, my wife revisited a topic I thought we'd already worn to the thinness of tissue paper run through a cheese grater.
Finally, in exasperation, I bellowed, ''So what do you want me to do?''
If the faucet leaks, fix it. If the words keep leaking, tell me how to fix it so it will stop.
Instead, my wife looked at me with the same astonishment Mom used to when I asked, ''Why can't I run through mud puddles in my church shoes?''
''I want you to listen, of course.''
I'd missed the obvious because I was oblivious. But in fairness, how does that even make sense?
My dad taught me early on that if there's a problem, "Shut up and fix it. If it can't be fixed, shut up and live with it. Mostly, shut up.''
It's what most guys do. Mostly. Women have told me that we're prone to bouts of whining when we have the sniffles or a toe ache or something critical like that, but they're wrong.
We are not ''whining.'' We are stating the problem clearly and concisely with as many facts as possible, then repeating so that that the person fixing it (my exasperated wife) doesn't fix the wrong thing. We're being helpful. You're welcome.
The difference is a cold can be helped. But a situation neither you nor I can change no matter how much you tell me you don't like it - what's the point?
Women seem convinced that when we guys get together, we perch around a table with delicate cups of tea and diagnose each other's innermost thoughts and heart-tuggiest feelings.
It's not that I don't have thoughts and feelings. I do. I keep two of the one and one of the other in a shoe box under my bed.
I used to bring them out occasionally to impress girls. Now that I'm married, I hardly ever peek into the box. If a need arises for either a thought or a feeling, my wife supplies them for me.
One day my college buddy, Brian, and I sat on the couch watching a baseball game. ''Got any thoughts or feelings?'' I asked during a commercial.
''Guess so,'' he said.
''Yeah,'' I said.
We sat in silence until the game came back on. Then we really opened up our hearts: ''You call that a strike?'' and ''No, no, don't swing at that!'' and ''Home run! I love you!''
No, I'm kidding. We'd never holler ''I love you,'' except, possibly, during the World Series. But probably not even then.
It did occur to me briefly to ask Brian if he knew how I could tell what women wanted. But it's a problem that can't be fixed. So I shut up.
What's life without a little mystery and adventure?
----- Explain a few things to Mr. Oblivious at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.