In my (albeit feeble) defense, I'd just undergone a medical test that required sedation, which may or may not have loosened my tongue. Or maybe it was because I hadn't eaten in 24 hours and hunger affected my brain.Whatever the reason, I said something that embarrassed my husband.
We'd stopped at a local restaurant for a burger. I ordered the thickest, beefiest, cheesiest burger on the menu, plus fries, and my husband ordered a veggie burger and a salad.
Before the waiter left the table, I blurted, "That's what girls order!"
I don't remember anything else of the meal except how good that burger tasted. Nor did I remember what I'd said until later at home when my husband told me how embarrassed he'd been.
"You were still spacey from the anesthesia, so I'll just forget about it," he said. "But any other time I'd be really upset.
"Any other time, I'd like to think I'd never say anything that would embarrass him. But truthfully, I don't know if I can say never.
Sure, I could rationalize my comment by saying I was just trying to be funny. Besides, what I said wasn't all that offensive. Maybe my husband was being overly sensitive. However, that's not the point.
The point is I embarrassed my husband.
Over the years of relating to and writing about men, I've learned a lot about what makes them tick. One fact that's stuck with me is how much men fear being embarrassed or thought inadequate.
The quickest way to shut a man down is to let him think he's not measuring up. A man constantly measures himself against the "other guy"—like the waiter taking my husband's and my order. Brothers measure themselves against each other, sons against their fathers. They're always asking themselves, How am I doing?1