A woman is on her man all the time to improve himself. She has to do this. All her friends know she took him on as a fixer-upper project and they’re always checking up on how she’s doing.
It’s like going back for your first high school reunion. Everyone wants to see what kind of car you’re driving, how much weight you’ve put on and how much hair you’ve lost. A friend of mine once said when he returned for his 10th reunion, he had to decide whether to put his “impress them” money into a fancy car or fancy clothes. He couldn’t afford to do both.
There is a method to a woman’s madness regarding her man’s appearance, an order to her obsession, a rationale as to why she dumped your best, faded, ripped jeans in the recycle bin. Her behavior can be best captured by the acronym ABM, which does not stand for anti-ballistic missile, though there are a lot of similarities. In this case, ABM stands for “Appearance Behavior Mouth.”
Appearance is the outward manifestation of how well a woman is doing with her man and is the easiest improvement area for others to spot and evaluate. Women have a six-point scale regarding a man’s appearance. (By way of contrast, a woman’s appearance is graded on a 48-point scale.) In addition to apparel points for occasion appropriateness, fashion and absence of food stains, the male scale also incorporates key aspects of grooming, both desirable and undesirable, in the areas of nails, complexion and hair.
The male spectrum’s six points: Unsanitary, Slob, Slovenly, Unkempt, Fair and Good. Once upon a time there was a seventh point — Excellent — but it was removed because of lack of use.
Behavior is equally important though this area takes longer to see any results. In order to spot changes here, other women have to actually talk to the man in question or observe him over time rather than simply glance at him from a distance to see what he’s wearing. Some of the areas to be checked relate to television remote-control behavior, time spent watching sports and nose picking. Standing up when a woman enters the room hasn’t been on the list since 1967. The failure rate for that behavior was too high and was driving women to Prozac in droves.
Mouth refers to what a man says and how he says it. Accents that need to be spring-cleaned take some time. A woman has a litany of accents to check: lower class, obvious, too country, too arty, too erudite, too stupid. Putting a governor on a motor mouth guy is as complicated a procedure as dissecting a live frog.
A woman has to be on constant alert that her charge doesn’t take a tone, interrupt someone, or make an inappropriate joke. Changing her man’s opinions, phrasing and diction becomes a lifetime career for most women.
The woman’s mother is interested in the man’s progress in a detached professional manner. She wants to see how well her daughter has learned her Sisterhood craft. As far as the man himself is concerned, the mother doesn’t think her daughter should have married whatshisname in the first place.
Another observer with a vested interest will be his mother. She took him part of the way before handing him off. Now she wants to see whether the new woman in his life is continuing on with her good work — or whether his mother needs to stage an improvement intervention.
Knowing they’re not “done” yet is why mothers have so much trouble letting their male children leave the nest. It’s like taking a roast that needs four hours at 350 degrees out of the oven after two hours and hoping the recipient’s oven is ready and pre-heated. It rarely is.
MORAL: Men, the next time your woman nags you about tucking your dress shirt in, or asks you to not listen to the Giants game during her uncle’s wake or interrupts the hysterical dirty joke you heard at the bar so she can thank the minister again for all his good works — remember it is all your fault.
This Week's Thought-Byte: After you die, can you change in heaven or do you have to wear those dorky clothes forever?