Sam Venable  

Department of Irony

Y ou’d think that after more than forty years of marriage I’d know better. Indeed, I do know better. I just wasn’t paying attention to business. 

Oh, how I wish someone had held me down and said, “Think, man, think! Use your noodle! You’re a Guy who’s about to enter the Non-Guy world! For Pete’s sake, don’t blow it!” But someone didn’t say that to me, and it led to a crisis.

What happened was, I went fabric shopping with my wife.

Please understand. That, in and of itself, is not an issue. There’s nothing in the Guy Book of Rules that says you can’t shop for fabric—with or without your wife. Truth be told, I was the instigator of the fabric shopping trip in the first place.

Happened like this: I’d been needing new curtains in my office at home. Mary Ann had dozens of other chores on her to-do list, and, frankly, this wasn’t a high priority item for either of us. A few days ago, however, we finally got around to acquiring the raw materials. That’s when I committed the cardinal sin of Non-Guy shopping.

I walked into the store, which was stocked with approximately 856,732 bolts of cloth in 417,964 different patterns and textures.

I looked around for, oh, ninety seconds. Two minutes, tops. Then I announced, “Here’s what I want for my curtains. Let’s take it to the counter and ring it up.”

Mary Ann looked at me in horror, like I’d just been visited, publicly, by the Three-Bean Chili Emission Monster.

“What did you just say?” she asked.

“I said I found what I want. Let’s go.”

“Go?!” she demanded. “We just got here!”

“So? I found what I like. Let’s buy it and leave.”

“You couldn’t have found what you liked!” she insisted. “You’ve hardly looked at all!”

“How hard can this be?” I replied. “All I needed was something brownish with Guy Stuff on it. This material is tan, and it’s covered with a fishing lure pattern. It’s perfect.”

“But what if you find something you like better?”

“I won’t.”

“How do you know if you don’t shop?”

“I don’t need to shop! I came here for brownish Guy Stuff curtain material, and I found some!”

Our debate had attracted some of the sales clerks by then. They took Mary Ann’s side. In fact, they appeared to feel quite sorry for her. Of course they would. They were all Non-Guys.

To placate the entire lot of them, I paced up and down seven or eight aisles, nodding this way and that. After fifteen excruciating minutes, I finally was able to herd the Non-Guy caravan toward the cash register, where my originally selected material was measured, cut, and put into a bag. Mission, at long last, accomplished.

“Honestly!” Mary Ann said as we exited. “I can’t take you anywhere!”

And, wow, you should have heard what she said a few seconds later, when the Three-Bean Chili Emission Monster did rear his ugly head. The Guys would have loved it.

Sam Venable is an author, stand-up comedian, humor columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel, and a member of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame. His latest book is “WARNING! This Product Contains Nuttiness!”Contact him at .