A few years ago, I came across the graphic above, and suddenly I understood something about women that I had failed to understand in my forty plus years on the planet. I had been misinterpreting their words all along. I had understood simple words like “fine” and “nothing” in a literal sense and had failed to realize that they had broader, unspoken meanings that could impact my quality of life.

With this newfound knowledge, I felt empowered to listen and ascertain the enormity of any given situation that required my attention. Admittedly, I am generally oblivious and assume that spoken words are to be taken in a literal sense. This works when talking to my male friends, but it’s a minefield of angst when dealing with the opposite sex.

Given the numerical notation, I assumed this was a hierarchy of sorts, like a progressive chart that indicates the level of anxiety I should feel. The thermometer in my car is similar in that it goes from cold to hot, and as it gets closer to hot, the little arm of the gauge crosses into the red. That’s when you really know you’re in for some trouble. Likewise, the bonus word “Wow” in the chart above represents the red area in this gauge of female-to-male communication.

If it were only that simple. Much to my dismay, I soon learned that this is not a progressive chart and that there may be no warning whatsoever when communication crosses “into the red.” It’s the equivalent of cranking the car and having the thermometer gauge go straight to red and the car overheating in that very instant with no time to react.

The randomness of the scale makes it difficult to apply any sort of mathematical formula to predict the probability that any actions or careless words could lead to an overheated situation. Being a simple guy, I instantly decided to reduce the scale to a game since it couldn’t be conquered mathematically. I conducted unauthorized experiments with my wife to see what actions or words elicited which reactions. This soon led me toward an imminent demise, so I stopped the game. I can say, somewhat with pride and maybe a little fear, that I am able to get to “Wow!” pretty fast. It’s a skill I never knew I had.

I wish I could say I had some sage advice for those men out there just now realizing the implications of the chart above, but I have difficulty retaining knowledge gained from experience, even that gained from near-death experiences. All I can say is that it’s not a game and the logic and progression cannot be discerned. Consider yourself warned.


The words seemed sincere enough. A long-lost royal relative in Nigeria had passed and left a significant amount of money in a bank account waiting to be claimed. All I had to do was send my personal information and the money would be wired to me as quickly as possible. My finger poised above the send button mere seconds from enjoying my new-found wealth.

Or a cheery, well-endowed woman with suspicious intentions found some obscure profile of mine online, one that I never knew I had posted, and fell in love with me. She just had to meet me, immediately. All I had to do was click on the link to her website that included a mishmash of incoherent letters crammed together before some obscure domain name. Seems legitimate if you ask me.

Or maybe I have some issues in the sex department. That’s nothing a little blue pill can’t solve. Luckily, my new best friend, who again is from a country I’ve never visited, can get me boatloads of blue pills for nothing more than pennies. I’m sure if I purchase enough he’ll include a Pez dispenser so that I can pop them whenever it’s convenient. My productivity will take a hit for sure.

I get endless amounts of junk email. Luckily, my accounts filter this out, but sometimes, before I hit “Empty,” I take a peek inside the junk folder just to see what exactly resides in there. It’s how I humor myself when I’m at a stalemate with my latest project and can’t seem to find the right words. I get a good chuckle and continue to gawk at the fact that someone, somewhere responds to these ridiculous messages or otherwise the messages would stop. Whatever fraction of a percent of a response rate they get justifies the minimal cost of blasting out thousands of emails to recipients around the globe. I wonder if anyone has ever followed the trail of these trite emails to the sender. What would he find?

I think a¬†short story could be written around this (whether or not it would be good is up for debate). What if someone clicked on the link and responded to one of these emails? What would happen? The obvious is that he’d (and only a guy would click on these mails) get ripped off, lose his life savings, get an STI, etc., but could there be something more? Would it lead to some level of international intrigue befit of a movie in the Bourne series? Probably not. I’m betting on the STI.