ERROL CASTENS: What it’s like in the doghouse

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

Roger and I were taking a break from picking cayennes destined for his “Woman Scorned” hot sauce.
For lack of more compelling topics, we got to talking about women and their talking.
“A woman can be a strange creature, logically speaking,” Roger said. “She looks earnestly at the dog that’s just violated her rules of indoor behavior and sternly lectures him.”
I laughed and added my own details.
“She’ll shriek at him, ‘No! Don’t shred the throw pillows! Don’t you know how much time I spent picking out just the right ones?’” I said.
Maybe we’re just easily amused, but we had more.
“Sometimes it’s more along the lines of, ‘No! Dogs are not allowed to barf pizza on the living room rug, especially when dogs aren’t allowed to eat pizza in the first place!’” Roger said.
I chimed in, “Sometimes she’ll tell the dog, ‘No! Don’t pee on the sofa! That’s unacceptable in this house! We don’t pee on couches in this family!’”
Roger noted that a woman might even object to dog hobbies in verbal terms: “‘No!’ she says. ‘Don’t bring that dead rabbit into my kitchen! It’s horrid! Do you understand me? It’s HORRID!’”
About that time Roger started in about a woman’s conversation with her peers.
“She’ll talk to her friend girls for hours at a time, exchanging play-by-plays on her kid sister’s bad career moves and whose child gets in the most trouble and why she’s got to drink more water and how much weight she wants to lose and how her idiot brother finally passed his kidney stone and now wants to have it mounted on a plaque like it’s an elk or something and how her car needs new tires but she can’t find time to take it in between work and soccer practices and work and grocery shopping and work and … .”
I told Roger how she might subject her poor husband to a similar firehosing of information about 20 people at the office and how they interact and who among them is good and who isn’t and all about their families and the same playlist for each of their kids’ friends and three cashiers at the grocery and her favorite two tellers at the bank, not to mention what she heard at the hairdresser on Friday.
“She’ll want him to care about every detail of all those things that don’t have a thing to do with him,” I said. “But when something he does or doesn’t do displeases her, somehow this intensely verbal person becomes The Stone Wall of Silence. Unlike with the dog, she presumes The Look is all her husband should need to figure out the problem.”
“But just as surely as the dog has no idea what she’s saying with her torrent of words, the husband has no idea what she’s saying when she’s not saying anything,” Roger said.
“More accurately, he and the dog understand one thing,” he added. “They both know, ‘I’ve been bad.’”
Contact Daily Journal Oxford reporter Errol Castens at

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