Hallie Lord: “What’s wrong with you?”

Dear Readers,

Today, I am very grateful to Hallie Lord, who wrote today’s post.  I would also like to point out the importance of proper punctuation in the title above.  To clarify further:  as far as I know, there is nothing wrong with Hallie Lord, other than the fact that she is pregnant and it is HOT.

Enjoy Hallie’s piece, check out her lovely and funny blog, Betty Beguiles, and stay tuned tomorrow for Thursday Throwback, in which I’m so lazy, I guest post for my own blog.

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WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?

Jessie dropped lobster and knife and ran to him with frightened eyes.

“What’s the matter, Bob, are you ill?”

“Not at all, dear.”

“Then what’s the matter with you?”

“Nothing.”

Hearken, brethren. When She-who-has-a-right-to-ask interrogates you concerning a change she finds in your mood answer her thus: Tell her that you, in a sudden rage, have murdered your grandmother; tell her that you have robbed orphans and that remorse has stricken you; tell her your fortune is swept away; that you are beset by enemies, by bunions, by any kind of malevolent fate; but do not, if peace and happiness are worth as much as a grain of mustard seed to you—do not answer her “Nothing.”

-O. Henry, The Rubaiyat of a Scotch Highball

Dear male readers of Simcha’s blog: I come in peace. I am not here to judge or condemn you. No, I merely hope to save you the inestimable grief that my poor husband experienced when he uttered his own seemingly harmless “Nothing.”

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Your girl says, “What’s the matter, sweetheart?” and your reply is always—and I do mean always—“Nothing.” Don’t get me wrong, I do know why you say that EVERY. TIME. It is because your thoughts at that moment have to do with some terrible, weighty issue, perhaps related to a feeling of rejection you are experiencing or with concerns you have over the way the war in Afghanistan is being handled. And because you boys love us girls so much you want to protect us, shield us from your inner pain. Of course you do, silly boys. Why else would you choose to respond with something as pithy and uninformative as “Nothing”? To avoid all of our helpful input? Of course not that.

Nevertheless, I feel compelled to alert you to the fact that the above situation does place you firmly between a rock and a hard place. Should you decide to gamble with a “Nothing”—rather than share the concerns of your heart and mind with your lady love—than three most unfortunate fates will most assuredly befall you.

First, she might just assume that you question her love and devotion. I know, I know: how could she reach such an extreme conclusion based on a single indefinite pronoun?  Let me explain. You see, we women spend countless hours studying the ways of our beloveds. We have studied you the way Darwin studied tortoises on the Galapagos Islands, and we’ve been doing it ever since the first blooms of young love seized our hearts. We take great pride in our ability to know and love you (though, admittedly, we may not always understand you). We know when there is something wrong with you. Were you to imply that perhaps we might be mistaken and that there is actually “Nothing” wrong with you—why, that would essentially be telling us that we are not adequately devoted to you! Do you mean to suggest that we do not know you well enough to sense the slightest seismic shifts in your masculine demeanor? Really now!

Second, as O. Henry alluded to above, the female imagination is a thing of wonder. Indeed, were you to take his suggestion and tell us that you had murdered your grandmother it would pale in comparison to what we ourselves might conclude was truly bothering you. It would be better to just lie to us; otherwise, we will be forced to extrapolate. You agree, don’t you?

Finally, there is the very slightest chance (miniscule, really) that we may—in a moment of weakness—decide that you really are in fact consciously attempting to avoid all of our helpful input, as mentioned earlier. The incisive dialogue…the penetrating, emotionally charged analysis of even your most trivial thoughts…avoided? I don’t imagine I need to tell you the ways in which this would be a very, very bad thing, do I? Think of poor Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction—remember how saddened and betrayed she felt? You wouldn’t want that, would you? No, I didn’t think so.

So, do tell us: What is the matter with you?

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Hallie Lord married her dashing husband, Dan, in the fall of 2001 (the same year, coincidentally, that she joyfully converted to the Catholic faith). They now happily reside in the Deep South with their two energetic boys and two very sassy girls. They are expecting their fifth child later this summer. In her *ample* spare time Hallie blogs at BettyBeguiles.com and FaithandFamilyLive.com.

  • Tiffany

    Oddly enough, my husband was usually the better communicator, and I was more likely to say “nothing.” But on occasion we were both guilty of that answer. However, we pretty much solved the problem.

    “If nothing is wrong, then you have no reason to be acting like a jerk.”

    It’s funny how that little statement opens up the lines of communications immediately.

  • http://suburbancorrespondent.blogspot.com/ suburbancorrespondent

    Oh, I do love that quote!

  • http://abigails-alcove.blogspot.com/ Abigail Benjamin

    Very funny! Very True!

  • http://caitierosie.blogspot.com Caitie

    LOVE IT!!!!! Hallie, when are you going to write a book??

  • Rosie

    Wow, this is so very accurate! Our conversations of this type always end up with me saying “oh, is THAT all?…Gee, I’m sorry for thinking it was something a lot worse.”

    I do think it runs both ways though. When the wife is upset, and the husband (often) can’t tell, it’s a good idea to tell him. Otherwise it will fester.

  • Holly

    I am a huge fan and LOVED this! If only my hubby were home, but he is gone digging for gold this weekend, so into my favorites it goes. (of course, he will be WAY too tired to read it when he gets in, but I will make him anyway. ;)

    As a devoted fan, I find it a neat coincidence that our names are so similar, I am married to Daniel, and our wedding was 2001. I’m not Catholic, but do you happen to be 27??? :) Oh, and I have 4 kids.

  • Pingback: A warning to men « Raise Your Glass

  • Quid est Veritas?

    The other stock one is “Are you okay?” to which the reply inevitably is, “I’m fine.” Always.


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