Men Were Deceivers Ever

Not in my family, of course, but many men are not trustworthy. According to David M. Buss, The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating (1994), intelligent women have a complex battery of tests designed to determine male commitment.

Old Willy Shakespeare warned the fair sex about men a long time ago:

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.

However, even those male types of us, who are both handsome and reliable, like to think we are just a little bit dangerous. That is why we can protect our womenfolk, and we would like to suppose they are just a little bit grateful. Our being dangerous and their being grateful makes for a fine counterpoise. We men know exactly how our women can best express their gratitude, but too many slightly dangerous men are also slightly stupid.

We do not want our women to be afraid of us. We are much better off if she loves us. Still, we do not want to be taken for granted. “Happy Wife/Happy Life,” has no masculine parallel. The closest is “Happy Hubby/Gets Chubby.” The fact is the women in my family subscribe to the axiom that “The Surprised Brain is the Happy Brain.”

I myself hate surprises. They catch me unprepared, as is their purpose, and I always get embarrassed and then annoyed. Nevertheless, my wife loved surprises. I think they made her feel special, so I had to learn how to produce them, and I thought I was pretty good at it. I now suspect that my son, Jonathan, is better than I ever was and I both appreciate and resent having children (and grandchildren) so much cleverer than I am.

For their twentieth wedding anniversary Jonathan decided to take Sara and their three girls to New York City to an expensive hotel near Central Park, with plans to eat at fancy restaurants, play in the park, spend a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and attend the Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera. Of all that I am not jealous because I could have planned every item.

The problem is that it would never have occurred to me to coach my youngest to let slip that the family was going to celebrate the twentieth wedding anniversary in Erie, Pennsylvania.

The other two children were taught to behave as if their sister had revealed the secret so their mother would have to pretend that she had not heard their destination. Sara was not surprised when the family packed beach towels and swimsuits, but she did wonder why they were also supposed to pack dress-up clothes. Jonathan, of course, assured her there was an opera house in Erie.

When everybody got in the car, arrived the moment I most envy. Jonathan asked Sara to program the GPS for the hotel in Erie and off to the north they went. Some time later the car turned east and, in typical wifely fashion, Sara happily pointed out that her husband was going the wrong way. Then she saw four triumphant smiles, and said,

“Oh.”