Big Billy – That’s what she said

Women got their own language that only other women understand. For years and years I didn’t know this, and just assumed all the words Minnie used had their regular meanin’ and didn’t mean to say somethin’ else that wasn’t bein’ said.

But ya pick up on things, eh. I remember the first time I noticed it – it was years ago and Big BIllywe were at Cyril and Joan’s and Joan said to her, all excited, as soon as we got there – C’mon in the room and see my new curtains!

So Minnie goes into the living room and says, Ohhhhh! Are they ever different! And then they talk about nothin’ but curtains for the next fifteen minutes.

Seems normal enough, eh? But this language women speak, it’s sort of like a dog whistle, eh. It looks like nothin’s happenin’ but other women pick up on it for miles around. And, I figured out, even if you’re a man, you start to notice it a little bit if you’re around it long enough.

The night after we were at Cyril and Joan’s – and this is back when our daughter Rosie was in Grade Primary or so – Rosie shows Minnie a picture she drew of her in school. And of course, when you’re only five years old, everybody you draw sort of looks like the Elephant Man and you try to use every crayon in the box.

So Minnie looks at this multicoloured blob on the paper, probably not even sure if she’s holdin’ it the right way up, and gives Rosie a big hug and says – Ohhhh! Is it ever different! I just love it sweetheart!

And just like that, it finally clicked in my head. It was like when you lose the key to the baby barn and you’re tryin’ to crack the lock and you hear the last tumbler drop and everything finally lines up.

Holy cripes! I said, sort of jumpin’ up in my seat. You didn’t like Joan’s curtains at all, did ya?

And Minnie starts laughin’. Oohhh my god, did you see them things? It took me a minute to figure out what the design was, and then when I figured it out I almost burst out laughin’. Imagine! Hot pink and green watermelons on a diarrhea brown background! And her with a blue couch! Holy cripes, and the money she paid for them!

I was shocked.

But you said you liked them! I pointed at her, like I caught her. You made a big fuss over them!

Ohhh no, Minnie says. I never said I liked them. When we walked in, I can’t remember what I said, but I never used them words, that I liked them.

You said they were different! I said.

Right! That’s exactly what I said – they were different! Minnie says, as if that explains everything.

But you let on like you liked them! You let out a big ‘Ohhhhh!’ and all that, I said to her.

Yeah, of course I did, she said, rollin’ her eyes. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings or anything. Ya don’t walk into somebody’s house and say, Holy cripes are your new curtains ever ugly. I wouldn’t use them as a tablecloth for a picnic on a kids’ cartoon show. Ya gotta be nice, Billy.

I couldn’t believe my ears, but I didn’t make any more of a fuss over it. I just kind of filed that away in the back of my head somewhere and tried to remember if I ever gave Minnie a gift or anything and she said it was “different”.

Anyways, about a week after the curtains incident, I got my second lesson in the way women talk to each other.

It was a Saturday morning and as soon as I woke up I could smell homemade bread. Minnie got up early and decided to make some bread and a few things of buns – and of course that made me happy, since Minnie’s homemade bread is just about the best thing in the world, next to beer and hockey.

Anyways, after Minnie had the bread out of the oven and buttered the crust, she left everything on the counter to cool down and just as she was about to bag it all up, Cyril and Joan dropped by.

Ohhh! Homemade bread! Joan said.

Minnie said she just put a whole pot of tea on and offered them some fresh buns and molasses.

So we’re all sittin’ there and Joan takes a bite of her bun and says, Ohhh! Isn’t that somethin’? Mine always come out too light, like there’s too much air in them or somethin’, but – mmmm! – yours are right thick and doughy!

And that was all that was said about it, really. After they left, Minnie says to me – Did you hear what she said about my bread?

I tried to remember. Uhh, yeah, I said. She said it was better than hers, didn’t she?

Noooo, Minnie said, shakin’ her head with sort of a sneer. She said my bread was right thick and doughy. Imagine! Me with doughy bread! I don’t think so…

And that’s when I got my second lesson. Women will disguise criticism as a compliment because it’s easier to get away with it and – this is the key – they know it will hurt the other person’s feelings more than if they just came right out and said what they mean.

If me and Cyril gets into an argument about hockey down at the Legion, we just threaten to puck each other in the face until somebody else at the table tells a dirty joke so we can both just laugh and forget about it.

You women are some complicated, I said. So does this mean you and Joan are fightin’ now?

Fightin’? Minnie said, rollin’ her eyes like I was ridiculous. Of course not! I complimented her curtains and she complimented my bread, so now we’re even.

Women, eh?

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