Friday, March 28, 2014

That's a mighty big brain you have there

I call them The Big Brains.
They are the scholars, professors, doctors and some of the high-achieving students I met during a not-long-enough stint in the PR department of a prominent university.
These were some very smart people, hence the nickname.
I never said it directly to them because I was not sure if it might insult them and the only people I like to insult are politicians.
Sure there are a few politicians who do not deserve my barbs and laser beam shots of disgust, but they are definitely in the minority.
I must admit, there is one area politician I do have respect for. Sure he is part of the national gang known as The MPs, but he seems like a genuine guy, with a genuine interest in doing what is right.
I know, that sort of thing is even more rare than a Big Foot sighting, but I can confirm at least one of them exists (the decent politician, not the sasquatch.)
And don't even get me started on the Senate.
For the record, my daggers are meant for provincial and federal politicians. I find most of the local ones quite nice and seem to be in politics so they can actually do some good in their community.
Anyway, I was talking about people with large craniums crammed with all sorts of valuable knowledge.
I must admit, when I first started at the university I was somewhat intimidated by The Big Brains and oft felt akin to a multi-celled organism that just crawled out of the slimy pond of stupidness.
My wife tried to tell me it was not true, but I was too busy swinging from the trees in the courtyard and picking nits out of people's hair to notice.
I was definitely not running with my usual band of co-workers.
Not to say newspaper people are not smart. Some of them are quite bright and some of them are, um, er, my co-workers.
Moving on. For the most part, The Big Brains were pretty decent to work with. A few did think they they were God's gift to the world and needed one office to work in and another office for their ego, but some of the extremely smart ones were basically regular people (with really big brains.)
I guess when you are that good, you don't have to act like it. Those were the Big Brains I liked the most - regular people who just happened to be smarter than 22 of me put together, but they never made a big deal about it.
I did feel conspicuous my name did not have a whole bunch of letters after it like everyone else did.
I thought about adding a few just so I could be one of the gang and contemplated putting GSC at the end of  my moniker. But the letters for the Gold Skating Certificate I earned when I was 15 probably wouldn't impress anyone.
I do have a college education, so I have some functioning grey matter, just not as much as many other people.
I can string a few words together, add a comma when needed and I have a pretty good idea how to form a readable paragraph, but I highly doubt that will change the world like some of the people I met at the university are likely to do.
But we all have our role to play in this life. Could I have been nestled among the brethren of big brains had I tried harder in school?
I doubt it. I think a really big brain is something God gives you, like being tall, or having a sense of humour (hey, two out of three aint bad).
You can study all you want and yes it will help, but at the end of the day unless you have a big brain there is only so much room in there and eventually it will get filled up (some sooner than others).

Friday, March 21, 2014

I would argue my point, but what's the point

Arguing with your wife is like trying to outrun a dog: there is absolutely no point because there is absolutely no way you are going to win.
You are never going to out pace the hound and there is no way you are ever going to best the little woman in a battle of the minds.
Even a little dog can run pretty fast and even if you are a high-calibre athlete, odds are the little mutt will eventually catch you and tear you limb from limb.
I have learned size is not important when it comes to arguing with your wife.
I am 16 inches taller and more than 120 pounds heavier than my wife – big deal. Unless we are playing basketball, football or full-contact martial arts that size difference matters not.
I may be much larger in stature, but her brain, vocabulary and ability to express how she is feeling far outweigh my simple mind in the communications department.
Sure I use words for a living, but that is different. I am used to sitting at a computer and pushing down on these little square keys that makes words magically appear on the screen in front of me.
If I have to stop and think about something before pushing more keys, I can sit back and stare off into space until the next idea forces its way into my somewhat wobbly cranium.
I do not have that luxury when 'discussing' something with The Missus.
When it comes to arguing with my wife, I am like one of those old musket rifles used in the American Civil War. It takes a long time to load one shot and that shot is not very accurate.
On the other hand my wife, and women in general, are more like an mini-gun that can fire 6,000 rounds a minute.
Who do you think will win the war with that kind of fire power imbalance?
We will be having a 'discussion' and I feel I am making a strong case for my views and, on occasion, I even think I might actually be winning. Oh, you silly, silly man.
Gentlemen, if you feel like you are close to winning – beware you are in a very dangerous area.
If you think you can see victory on the horizon, you still have a lot to learn about arguing with women.
You see, while you are marching forward with the largest intellectual argument you can form, she is simply waiting with a force so much greater it is a wonder your ideas even left your brain before they were decimated like so many ants under a size 12 boot.
Is it because women are smarter than men?
In my case, you betcha. My wife is way smarter than I am and I have never denied that point. Her intellectual size over me is comparative to my physical stature over her. There is no way I am able to summon enough of an intelligent argument to come out victorious.
Speaking to many of my man friends, I know I am not alone. Brain discrepencies aside, it is also because women are just so much better at articulating thoughts than their hairy chested counterparts.
Throughout history, men would settle differences with fists, swords or other non-verbal methods of commincation, while the ladies had more of a tendancy to talk things out.
Ghenghis Khan never talked his way to a single victory while, say, Queen Elizabeth was much better at diplomacy.
So to my male brethren out there, do not feel bad when you lose an argument to your significant other. Welcome to the club. The wiring of the man brain versus the lady brain has been against us for millenia.
But I have learned six simple words that will end any verbal engagement with your spouse: Yes Dear, You're right, and the never-failing, go-to response, I'm sorry.

copyright 2014, Darren Handschuh 

Friday, March 14, 2014

If being married wasn't so great, it would be terrible

They fell in love and lived happily ever after.
Yeah, right.
More accurately: They fell in love, got married and discovered there was a wide range of differences, beliefs and ways of thinking that on occasion produced moments of heated discussions. There were times of great happiness, but also moments of great challenges. (Insert mother-in-law comment here)
Deep down, the married couple were still in love and still wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, but on the surface there was turbulence once in a while.
Love is kind of like a submarine: it floats around under the water where things are calm and peaceful, while the surface can occasionally be raging with a hurricane the size of Jupiter.
Anyone who thinks marriage is nothing but a blissful ride of merriment, sunshine and lollipops is someone who is more than likely still single.
Marriage can be terrific, but it can also be hard.
My wife has always said divorce is not an option, but there are times when I know she has looked at me and thought, “With a good lawyer I can be out in 10 years, 15 tops. And if I make it look like an accident...”
I am just kidding of course, at least that is what I keep telling myself.
Marriage is the melding of two minds. Two people must learn to think as one, to become one flesh as the bible says, and that is a task easier said than done because you still want and need to retain your own identity, but you also have to work together. A unified front is vital when children start arriving. It is important to be on the same page when it comes to discipline, religion and instilling a work ethic.
For the most part, our marriage is quite harmonious and generally we do enjoy wedded bliss, but even after 25 years it still has its challenging moments.
But we are both human with our own flaws, wants, needs and hang ups that occasionally produce a bump on the road of matrimonial merriment.
When some couples encounter a bump, and neither is willing to admit they were the one who put it there, that tiny, little bump grows into a volcano that threatens to consume the entire island of marriage.
The more volcanos you build, the more difficult it is to get around the marital island without getting hot lava splashed all over you.
Eventually the land becomes so full of spewing volcanos, the island of marriage is abandoned and both people move away and settle on new islands.
Marriage can be difficult at times, there is no doubt, but like anything worth having, it is worth working for.
During a marriage course the Missus and I took many year ago, the speaker said men wanted to be respected and women wanted to be loved.
My wife and I have tried to put that into practice, and it really does work.
Showing your wife love doesn't have to mean slaying a dragon (which is why there are no dragons left anymore.) It can be something as simple as getting her a bouquet of flowers, of which there are plenty.
The thrill of receiving a bunch of dying plants as an expression of love eludes my man mind, but the ladies dig it so who am I to argue.
They may look frilly, soft and tender, but flowers are powerful enough to quell a raging volcano.
On occasion I do complain about being married (who doesn't) but overall it is a blessing that I could not imagine living without.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Pets are God's way of making sure you can take care of a kid

I have seen it many times.
A young couple gets married, start a new life together but soon have a funny feeling something is missing.
Perhaps a new car will scratch the itch that is nagging in the back of their brain. Maybe a new house, or a move to a different city.
But that odd feeling persists. What they don't know yet is, it is their parental instinct kicking into gear.
They may not even realize it, but it is there – gnawing away at them night and day.
The need to care for some sort of living creature grows and grows.
They do not know it is the swirling waters of parenthood that beckons them to dive in, but they have to do something so they get a pet.
A cat or a dog are the most popular choices.
My wife and I did the same thing. A couple years after we wed, we ended up with two dogs to take care of.
And at the time, we thought the workload of looking after dogs was horrendous. (Yeesh, it is amazing how big of a wimp I was back then.)
Up until that point, we only had to look after ourselves. When we wanted to do something we did it. When we wanted to go out, we went and when we wanted to sleep, we slept.
But now we had these two little black, furry critters to take care of and we had to worry about when they were hungry, or wanted to go out, and good luck if we wanted to sleep and they didn't.
For the first little while, I will admit, it was rather daunting to have two more life forms to take care of. 
But, as time passed, we got into a groove and the loveable mutts were fully integrated into our lives and taking care of them became part of our routine.
We managed to raise them into adult dogs without any serious harm or injury coming to man or beast.
At the time, we did not know we were setting ourselves up for the impending arrival of children.
You get married, start with a house plant (which we forgot to water and it died, oops) then you get an animal (which thrived under our care) and that opens the door for a squeaky little human to make the scene.
It is kind of like a test: if the dogs survive you are ready to move on to bigger things,
So a few years after getting the hounds, Junior was born and suddenly the dogs were just dogs. Until the bundle of joy arrived, the dogs were our kids, but they immediately found themselves relegated to non-human status.
They were still loved members of the family, but our perspective had changed and they simply became dogs.
We quickly learned taking care of dogs was way easier than taking care of a baby. First of all, you can't just put the baby in the backyard and close the door when you want a little break from them.
House training a dog takes a few weeks, potty training a child usually does not even begin for more than a year. And if they doo-doo on the floor, you cannot rub their nose in it.
But like when the dogs invaded our home, it didn't take long for us to make Junior part of the daily routine of life, and after a while we forgot what life was like without him.
In fact, we did it two more times and each time went through an adjustment period as we integrated the latest family member into our lives.
It is a tried and true pattern. Many of our friends started out with a dog, then progressed to children, so when I see a young couple walking a puppy past my house I know what is in store for them, even of they don't.