When I sat down to write this toast, I considered making it short and sweet. Something like,”Gentlemen be upstanding. To the lassies.” Then shut up, drink and sit down. And for two good reasons. First, I wouldn’t embarrass my wife and, therefore, might live another day. Second, I have learned over the years that the less said, the better.
The old saying goes, ‘behind every successful man there is a woman.’ And she’s saying, ‘Try not to say something stupid this time.’ How often have you been telling some friends a particularly witty joke, using great skill in your presentation, only to have your lassie elbow you sharply in the ribs and whisper, none to pleasantly, ‘You’re not going to tell THAT one, are you?’ Gentlemen, I ask you, how many times have you heard your lassie say, ‘Do you think as she’s as pretty as I am?’ Or maybe, ‘Does this dress make me look fat?’ Or perhaps, ‘Are you staring at that slutty woman in the short skirt and tight blouse?’ Believe me, gentlemen, there are times that honesty is NOT the best policy. You might well get the dreaded, ‘What did you mean by that?’ and you’ll feebly try to explain that what you said wasn’t what you meant. If Rabbie had kindly told the lady he was sitting behind in church that a louse was crawling through her hair instead of writing a poem about it, do you think she would have thanked him? Not likely. She would have smacked him with her bonnet instead. Better to keep your comments to yourself.
Even compliments can go sour under the curdling glare of a disparaging lassie. You say, ‘You look great in that dress tonight,’ but she hears ‘You normally dress like a slob.’ You say, ‘That was a great dinner,’ but she hears, ‘Glad it wasn’t the unusual slop you serve.’ When Rabbie said, ‘My love is like a red, red rose,’ to his paramour of that moment, she probably replied, ‘Are you saying I’m prickly?’ Or, ‘Yeah, that’s ’cause you keep a dozen of us around all the time.’ If the words of such a masterful wordsmith as Rabbie could be misconstrued, imagine how your meager efforts could be twisted and misunderstood by your dear lassie.
In fact, lassies speak a completely different language than men. ‘I’m fine,’ translates to, ‘?I’m so angry I could scream.’ ‘You choose the restaurant this time,’ means ‘You’d better read my mind and choose the one I want or you’ll be eating TV dinners for the rest of the year.’ ‘?Don’t get me much for my birthday,’ is lassie-speak for, ‘If you don’t get me that three-carat diamond bracelet we saw at the jewelry store, you’ll be living with the ice queen.’ You’d better not misunderstand her if you wish to have a healthy, happy life, yet no man has mastered the language of the lassies. Sadly, Rosetta Stone does not offer a course in it and even Amazon.com doesn’t sell a dictionary to aid in translation.
Then there is the misnamed ‘silent treatment.’ How can loud snorts of disgust accompanied by a staccato of banging pots and pans be termed silent? Pity the poor man who asks,’What’s wrong, honey?’ ‘Nothing,’ she replies. Which means ‘Everything,’ in lassie-speak. Or worse yet, the cryptic, ‘You know what’s wrong.’ Immediately, he goes into a panic-stricken soul searching. Has she found the box of classic 1960’s Playboys hidden in the deep recesses of the garage? Or has she found out about the bottle of eighteen year-old Macallans he bought in a moment of weakness? Like a suspect on Law and Order, he blurts out his worst sin, only to find out she is angry because he left his dirty socks on the floor.
Is it any wonder that we men often prefer to stare at the ball game on TV and pretend we don’t hear the question or merely grunt in reply? Saying nothing is far safer than speaking unwisely. So, if your lassie asks you an awkward question or you remember a great joke at your next party, heed this bit of Honest Abe’s wisdom my father oft quoted to me, ‘Better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.’
To the lassies, who have tamed the tongues of Scotsmen as no English sword ever could. God bless them and save us from their wrath.
To our bonnie lassies.