The power of sweetness


Dead tree came down. Wood shed and old men remained unscathed. Women (a neighbour came by) stood by and said all the right things (they do this to encourage us men to undertake these crazy injury-prone chores).

“Oh, honey! It fell just where you said it would! You are such a lumberjack! My hero!”

Sally has taken her job of supporting and nurturing me seriously and though I know that she is laying it on thick, I always smile and think I am great – for the moment, anyway. Her flattery always works. Even when I know it is false. I am lumberjack!

She once confessed, “I simply can’t understand it. Say anything to a man that indicates he is great and he’ll believe it. You can tell them anything as long as it sounds good and they become putty! It is the craziest thing!”

Seeing the look of horror on my face, she quickly added. “Course, not you, sweetie. You’re way too smart to be fooled like that. That is why I married you – because you are so smart, sweetie-pie. And because you are so handsome.”

And I was glad that she clarified her position on that and that I was exempt from that kind of manipulation.

But I am a bit of a fool now and then, I am afraid. Anytime I undertake anything, Sal comes by at some point and, not understanding what the hell I am doing or how far along I might be she always says, “Wow, honey. It’s really coming along. Looking good!”

And I always beam. Proudly. Fall for it everytime.

She is a master at the slight-of-phrase, too. The one that just serves to re-direct. I walk into the kitchen to get a cookie while she is slaving away over a hot stove and she says, “Oh, sweetie, I am so glad you came to help. The onions are over there. Could you cut them up like you do so well? You know, those cute little cubes that are always just so perfect!?”

Like a doofus, I forget the cookie and start cutting onions.


“Oh, cooking together is so much fun, don’t you think? I just love it!”

And I feel important, loved, valuable and especially skilled with onions.

Twenty minutes later, I remember the cookie deficit. But I forget the web that I accidentally walked into.

I approach the kitchen again. Naive. Unawares. Innocent. Thinking: cookie. And then I am sweetly started on cleaning the dishes.

There is such a thing as self-determination. I know that now. But Sal controls it.

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