I understand men process information differently than the female of the species. This isn't just my opinion...it's been scientifically proven. Men have the ability to compartmentalize their thoughts into single categories: work, sports, movies, etc.. Apparently they prefer the direct approach of one thought simply leading to the next one in a similar line of thinking.
Must be nice.
A woman's thought process consists of tendrils interwoven in such a way that we start at Point A. but end up several moments later at Point Q.. We believe the ability to mentally link a myriad of things through a series of connections is perfectly normal. Unfortunately this super hero capability baffles men, who have a hard time keeping up as we merrily skip from one topic to the next. Come on ladies. You know we do it. How many times have you started talking about…say dinner, only to finally arrive at conversation’s end noting that all the money spent on those manned missions to the Moon could’ve been used elsewhere?
I offer that to explain this. While driving to work this morning, I heard the DJ joke about our state's college football rivals. In less than two minutes, I'd jumped from college football to one of my favorite wedding presents. Gentlemen, put on your seat belts. I'm about to illustrate how what you perceive as schizophrenia makes perfect sense to us.
We begin at football. In the south it's a big sport and legendary rivalries span decades. Locally that rivalry is between the University of South Carolina and Clemson. I attended USC, home of the Fighting Gamecocks. [I digress only long enough to explain that "Fighting Gamecock" was the nickname of Revolutionary War Gen. Thomas Sumter]. My friend Richard attended Clemson University, whose mascot is the Tiger. I always found that odd as Clemson was originally an agricultural institute.
From football my mind turned to reflect that logically, Richard and I should never have been friends. Our only link was the family next door. She was my best friend and Richard was her evil brother's friend. The brother was extremely smart but socially inept. Richard had enough charm for them both. Two years older than me, he saw something in my shy self which made him leap to my defense when Evil Brother's teasing became unbearable. When Richard went off to college, he asked if I'd write him...so he'd get mail.
Mail sends my brain to letters filled with Richard's bawdy sense of humor. It was his way of gently pushing me out of my comfort zone into the real world. We corresponded until I graduated from college. I addressed his letters to the "Cow College" and he sent mine to the "Chicken Coop". I listened to him rant and rave about proffessors, bemoan the female of the species, then roar the first time he had sex. I offered encouragement when he put off Dental School for a year to work for a pharmaceutical company where he made lots of money. With that money he purchased a blue Camaro. My reward was the first ride. Little did I know he was throwing in the bonus of taking me along as he tested it in the quarter mile to see how fast she'd go. I was praised for not squealing like a girl. It's hard to squeal when speed unexpectedly lodges your heart in your throat. He wrote and I listened. Letters explaining why the girl he thought was "the one" turned out to be scum. How earning all that money legally peddling drugs made him reconsider his career choice...out of guilt. Wining and dining folks at the doctor's office helped Richard discover his social consciousness. Dental school was replaced with Med. School.
In every letter Richard would say, "Sugar, I'm glad I have you to talk to." Only in the south can a man address a woman as "Sugar" and it be seen as a term of endearment rather than a sexual harassment lawsuit in the making. My Dad was the only other person who ever called me that, but he shortened it to "Shug". Richard's visits home became fewer, but he always left me with a gentle squeeze while whispering in my ear, "See you later, Sugar."
Richard's career choice leads to the memory that he sent his regrets when I got married because he was in Medical School. I won't lie. I was disappointed. He still hadn't met the right girl and I wanted to show him that "Happily Ever After" was possible. The day before my wedding a messenger arrived with a package. I recognized the handwriting on the card before I read the words. Richard had written, "Sugar, sorry I'm going to miss your big day, but I'm with you in spirit. I picked something so no matter how long you're married, you'll aways think of me." The box was from the department store where my china pattern was registered. I opened the box and burst out laughing.
Richard had bought me the Sugar dish.
Which is how, gentlemen, this morning's talk of college rivals led me to remember the sweetest gift I've ever received.