Monday, November 29, 2010


By Quentin Smeltzer,  11/29/2010

Now that I am a famous author, known at least to half a dozen fans, I have to be very careful about what I say and do.

For example, when my twelve year old son asked if he could sell my book, (you know the one, Self Help, Your Complete Book of Bad Advice for Every Situation in Life), at school to his friends, well, I could either have said, “Of course not, that would be completely inappropriate,” or I could have said, “I’ll give you fifty percent commission.”

It turns out I may have chosen poorly.  Certainly, my wife was not happy to get a phone call from the vice principal informing her that selling his father’s book in school is completely inappropriate behavior and the book has been confiscated.  My son is not allowed to have it and I have to go to school to pick it up.  I only hope they didn’t throw away the order sheet he started to compile…

I guess I’m not surprised—the world seldom keeps up with genius.  Soon, I imagine, all children will take their parents’ wares to school and hawk them from cardboard stands at recess, but for now, I guess my son and I are busted.   He was deeply disappointed, having already decided how he would spend his commission. 

In my defense, it’s not like I sent him to school to sell drugs.  He was selling a book for gosh sakes!  And a very funny one, at that.  True, the book contains adult language and themes and he was selling it to eight year olds, but they’re going to find out about sex and drugs and how to screw up their lives soon enough.  They might as well hear it from me. 

 “You’re going to go to his school,” said my wife, “and apologize and tell them this was all your fault!”

“Well, in fairness,” I said, “the original idea was his…”

“Which you encouraged!”

“True, but only to teach important values like entrepreneurship.”

“Why do I have to keep getting these calls?” she screamed at me.

I shrugged.  “You can give them my number,” I offered.

“Why is there so much drama?” she wailed, running out of the house and slamming the door.

I watched the door and counted backwards from ten.  At “two” the door flung open again.  That’s when she dropped the bombshell on me:  “I will live in this house,” she vowed, shaking her finger in rage, “I will help you raise our child, but that’s it!  We are no longer man and wife!”

Then she disappeared once more.  The door slammed and I heard the poor, little, four-cylinder engine in our SUV howl in protest as she floored it out of the driveway and roared off down our wooded lane.  This is my wife’s reaction to most of the problems we confront:  flee.  Run away.  I believe it is no accident that when it came time to buy a new vehicle she chose a Ford Escape.

Later, when next I saw her, I said, “Hey Roomie, how’s it going?  We’re roommates now, right?”

“That’s right,” she said.  “Roommates.  Nothing more.” 

“This is fantastic!” I said.  “This means I no longer have to listen to you talk about how much you disapprove of me and every, single, inappropriate thing I do!  This means you have half of the responsibility for keeping the place clean and paying the bills!  And when you start talking to me when I’m watching a television show, now I can ask you to be quiet!  This is incredible, fantastic!  Hey, if I get you drunk, I still might get lucky with you!  Why didn’t we do this years ago?”

It’s been several days now since our new relationship began and things could not be better.  When she starts to list my faults I cut her off; “Not your place, roommie,” I remind her.  When she leaves something out now I say, “Uh, roommie, you want to pick that up?”  And when I’m watching television and she starts singing show tunes in the kitchen adjoining I call out, “Hey, roommie, you wanna hold it down?  I’m a watching a show here.”

As for getting lucky, well, a gentleman never tells.  Let’s just say this new roommate arrangement is fantastic! 

Like all good things this new development will soon end and we will go back to being "man" and wife.  Unless of course we can create a new institution to make this permanent:  

“Do you take this woman to be your roommate, to share all work and responsibilities evenly, to raise kids and have sex with on occasion if you’re both in the mood, but really not to listen to her assessment of your character flaws and weaknesses because as your roommate that’s really not cool?”

“Oh boy, do I!  I do indeed!”

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Self Help for Women

Self Help for Women
By Quentin Smeltzer,, 11/6/2010

A friend of mine recently wrote to suggest that I write the female version of Self Help, or “Self Help for Women.”  She wrote something about men being emotionless creatures incapable of listening.  Something like that...  I wasn’t really paying attention. 

Clearly, men and women want different things.  Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?  Women want everything in the world.  Men want women, at least temporarily. 

On that last point, it is strange to see how many men who have a woman want some other woman, or more women, or women who will act like they imagined women might act when these men were fourteen and dreamt of having women. 

That the actual woman they might grow up to marry and have children with might behave remarkably like their own mother did is a thought that never crosses the fourteen-year-old, male mind.  If it did, all human procreation would immediately cease. 

I think most women, on the other hand, would appreciate husbands who act more like they remember their fathers acting:  silent, inert except to fix something, and always with money for the movies.  Instead, many women grow up appalled to find they’ve married a man who behaves like he's fourteen. 

My new friend noted that men are pack animals who must learn to suppress their emotions in order to hunt without hesitation.  She added, “Any male who cannot suppress his emotions after adolescence usually finds himself becoming a computer analyst or oil rig worker [so] his life will require no human contact at all.”  She forgot to mention writer.  This also explains why I entered the computer field. 

My friend notes that women value social connections, men value instant gratification, i.e., sex.  But really, what’s the difference?  First, I believe that if I have sex with you, I have made a social connection.  And if I can’t have sex with you, then really, what’s the point?  But, I kid.  I value social connections.  Without them how would I make any money, and without money, how would I ever get laid?  You see how it all comes together.

Another great point she makes is that a woman makes “connections over the course of her lifetime between emotions and various concrete objects.  For example, flowers!  This is a very simple way for the male to still show her that he has feelings for her, whether this is true or not.  Whether the male is capable of recognizing his feelings and being romantic really doesn’t matter so long as he understands that she has made this connection.” 

Which is fascinating!  It also explains why my wife constantly wants me to buy her useless crap.  And really, I would, except, why would I do that again?

One thing I am reasonable sure of is that women don’t need a “Self Help for Women.”  Women have the upper hand already.  Let’s face it, bitching, crying and withholding sex will always trump silence and breaking things.  We men just don’t stand a chance.

In fact I believe there is nothing a woman can’t get through a careful application of the three magic levers:  complaint, emotional outburst and physical affection.  What do men have?  Cold logic and the aforementioned ability to punch a hole through a wall.  We used to have money but they don’t hire men in this country any more.  Evidently the drywall repair costs were too high.