March 17, 2010.
Happy Saint Patricks Day everyone♣
Let’s go back in time to when we were all children. Who was it that told you that the 2 biggest mistakes you might ever make were to try and guess a woman’s age or weight. Was it my Mom or maybe I was supposed to learn this in school? Either I was out that day or perhaps somehow I’ve forgotten this very basic, but evidently supremely important lesson.
There were over 40 boats in the huge anchorage in Thompson Bay, Long Island. We decided to have a bonfire/ beach get together. As the evening wore on I was somehow sucked into a conversation I would have been better off avoiding.
There was a circle of women (sometimes called a hen circle, but never to their faces) having a discussion, when one of the women stepped out, stopped me from passing and inquired “Bill, How old am I?”. My first thought was to flee rather than answer but the demon Rum had emboldened me. Now sucked into their evil circle I considered the question for a moment. In the space of about 2 seconds I considered the consequences of guessing too high versus guessing to low. The thought of refusing to guess never even occurred to me. How had such a basic rule evaded me when I needed it most? I considered her husbands age, her hairstyle, my shoe size, her speech patterns, the current state of the tide and finally blurted out the answer…..49.
She considered my answer for a moment and replied that she was only 47. Shit, I’d added 2 years to her true age which thus meant that I must figure she looks WAY older than really is. Crap. All the other women made mocking ut-ohs and similar sophomoric noises while I scrambled to get out of the hole I was digging for myself. I said “Wow really, that would probably make you the youngest person here this evening”. She seemed to be placated until I heard a voice from across the circle say “No, I’m younger than she is”. Damn, I managed to insult another one of the women without even trying. Where’s a lightning strike when you need one?
I thought the original woman took pity on me when she said “2 years was actually pretty close”. I thought shweew, this is still gonna turn out alright. That is until she looked me in the eye and said “How much do I weigh?” to the amused chuckling of her cohorts.
Now what? Do I refuse to answer and appear a coward? The obvious answer would be YES, but not to me. She’s a typical woman. She’s small, they all weigh between 100 to 150 pounds, they’re small, that’s what they weigh, right? To my own limited credit I’m not stupid enough to throw any of those numbers out there so I once again briefly considered my answer and what I knew about the questioner. Since she is an American and probably ignorant (like I am) about the Metric system and all those other nonsensical English systems of weights and measure I figured I could give an answer without getting myself into trouble. I threw out the answer “12 stone, yes, I believe you weigh in at about 12 stone”. 12 is a small number so she seemed satisfied, the other hens in the circle seemed more confused than mocking so I thought I was in the clear. That is until she turned over her shoulder and asked her friend, her bloody English friend, “How much weight is a stone?” Damn. Her reply was “About 14 pounds”. Bollocks. That’s right, do the math, I just told the woman she weighed about 168 pounds. I chose the only option left to me. I exclaimed “Holy shit, is that Tom Cruise?” They looked left while I exited stage right………