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The-Shoebox

Secret to using The Nod

I call it The Nod.

The Nod is when you are walking down the hallway at work, or down the street and you see someone you know, but not very well.

Usually, it is an upward nod for an acquaintance.

And how much you do the up nod depends largely on how well you know the person.

If it is someone you have seen once in a while, there is just a slight upward nod to say yes, I recognize you, but don't really know you. But because we both sort of know each other, social convention dictates we acknowledge each other, so I am sending you the up nod to say I know you, just not very well.

The better you know the person, the bigger the up nod.

A full head tilt means I know you to the point there have been a few conversations, but you are not exactly on my Christmas card list. However, there is a personal connection and I am acknowledging that.

Then, there is the up nod with a smile or perhaps with even a “Hey” thrown in.

This is for people of an even higher social status, but are still not at the point of being considered a friend.

However, their presence is important enough to warrant a full up nod and a vocalization that I see you there, I have some sort of connection to you and in general I would consider it a favourable connection.

There is also the down nod.

The down nod is almost exclusively for those people you don't know at all.

Perhaps you are walking down the street and happen to make eye contact with someone who is also walking down the street.

Rather than stare at each other awkwardly, social convention has developed the down nod.

The down nod says several things:

  • I see you and acknowledge that you are in fact, alive.
  • That you exist on the same planet as I do and because we made eye contact – intentional or otherwise – it is polite to acknowledge that we are both alive and living in the same community even if we don't know each other and will likely never see each other again.
  • It is sort of an “Attaboy for being alive” kind of greeting.

There are numerous variations of the up nod/down nod. And they can be altered to best suit whatever situation you may find yourself in.

You could run into someone you have known for a long time, but don't like. That is when the down nod is acceptable.

But nodding is mostly used for face-to-face encounters.

While operating motorized vehicles, there are other forms of non-verbal communication that can be employed.

We all know what the No. 1 signal is for drivers, but only slightly behind is when you use all five fingers to wave.

Cut someone off in traffic? No problem, a little wave of the hand means I see I cut you off and I acknowledge the fact I did so, but I gave the little wave so that's means it's OK because I just apologized.

Whether the other driver accepts the apology is determined by how many fingers are used to wave back.

If it involves two or more, all is good. The driver is not offended and realizes stuff happens. If they wave with only one finger, then they are not in a forgiving mood.

Cut someone off in a parking lot?

Give them a little wave and all is good.

Nearly hit them backing up in said parking lot?

Wave.

Pull out a little more than than you should have, causing them to touch the brakes and have a hostile look on their face?

Wave.

Run over their garbage can, flower box and garden gnome?

Wave and you are good to go.

Well, that last one may require a little more than a wave.

Perhaps a wave and a nod.



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Relationship tips for ladies

Ladies, if I may, I would like to offer some free relationship advice.

I would like to talk about communication between men and women — neither of whom actually speak the same language.

Men can communicate, but not in the same way you ladies can. When guys get together, there is tremendous communication about important things like hockey, cars, the job and other important matters.

What men rarely talk about is emotions.

"Y'know Bob, when you said my mustache looked cheesy, it made me feel all bad inside. It made me feel less attractive."

"I'm sorry, Frank, I meant it as a joke. C'mere, gimme a hug. I love you, man."

I have never, and I mean ever, been a part of such a conversation and I have been a guy for as long as I can remember.

Because men rarely talk to each other about emotions and feelings and all that gooey stuff, we are not very good at talking to our spouses about those same topics.

Women talk freely about their feelings and emotions and how their emotions make them feel. 

Practice makes perfect, and when it comes to talking about inner-most feelings, men are sadly out of practice, while women could make it an Olympic event.

My wife could easily make the national team on sharing feelings, while I would be relegated to the water boy. 

So here is where I will impart my meagre wisdom upon the world, even if it doesn't want it.

When it comes to talking about feelings and emotions, ladies, I implore you to talk slowly, use simple terms and most importantly of all never assume we know how you feel, because we don't — ever.

It is not that men are dumb (I know, there's lots of room for argument there), or we don't care (still more room), it's just we can't pick up subtle hints the lady in our life thinks is a blaring clue as to what is wrong.

If there is a problem, subtle hints work about as well as trying to knock out an elephant with a feather.

But if you say it in simple, straight-forward terms, the chances are much better our man brains will be able to connect with that little, tiny, miniscule part of our grey matter that controls emotions.

Yes, men (most men anyway) do have an area where they can look at and examine their emotions.

It is typically buried under a pile of brain clutter consisting of information about motorcycles, hockey, movies and why beer and nachos are possibly the greatest food combination ever devised.

But once you get through all that stuff, the emotional brain does exist. But subtle hints have little chance of getting past all the other things we find interesting and important.

Not that our significant other's feelings are not important, they are, honest, really, I mean that, but over the centuries men have had to concern themselves with matters other than our emotions such as hunting for food, defending their land from attacking hoards and watching the play offs.

I doubt there is a man alive, now or throughout history, who has not had the line, “Well, you should know how I feel” dropped on them.

We don't know. It's that simple.

After many years of marriage, I can tell when something is bothering my wife and she has learned subtle hints don't work and the direct approach is most often used.

See how it works?

My wife tells me how she is feeling and I recognize how she is feeling and then we have a big, happy talk about how she is feeling. I apologize for whatever it was that made her feel that way and life can get on as normal.



Seeing with women's eyes

It would seem God gave men and women different eyes.

The mechanics are the same, with retinas and all those other eyeball thingies, but they just don't see the same things.

For example, there can be a few items on the counter and, to a man's eyes, they are just fine where they are, but to a woman they are clutterish (if that is even a real word) and they must be put away — immediately.

A guy can look at the items many times and not see a need to do something with them. That is not to say men are slobs.

OK, some men are slobs, or neatness challenged as the politically correct world calls them, but I am talking about a couple of minor items here.

A woman, or more accurately my wife, can look at a room and see a dozen things that need to be done, changed, moved, cleaned, burned, have an exorcism performed on them or simply left alone.

I can look at the same room and think, Looks good to me.

So how come her eyes can see such a different world than mine do?

Beats me.

However, I have noticed that once we step outside, a role reversal takes place and I start to see things she does not.

Our lawn can be three metres tall with a family of rednecks living in it and she would not see a need to mow the grass. There could be more weed per square foot than Woodstock and she would simply walk by them every single day.

My man eyes, however, see the need to get the motorized lawn chopper out and make the yard somewhat presentable. The weeds, of course, must go, the hedge has to be trimmed, the trees pruned and something must be done with that darned spreading juniper that is attempting to take over the entire front yard rock garden.

“We have a spreading juniper? What's a spreading juniper?”was pretty much my wife's response when I told of the cedar situation that is threatening to create havoc in the entire western hemisphere.

I will show her the bush that is just slightly smaller than an aircraft carrier and she will invariably respond, “Oh, I never noticed it before.”

Funny how that excuse does not work when it comes to a pile of laundry.

“What do you mean you did not notice it? How could you not notice a pile of laundry next to the wash machine behind a closed laundry room door? It's so obvious. Juniper? What juniper?”

Let's just say the yard work has been left mostly to yours truly. Fortunately, I have two big strong sons who willingly jump in and help me with the back 40.

OK, willingly might be a bit of a stretch. I think forcibly is a more accurate description of their helping out with the greenery.

My wife's eyes do notice the gas guage now, which is a good thing. For a while she had a blind spot for that particular vehicular function and I would often jump in the car to go somewhere to find it had less gas than a squirrel fart.

But that's OK, I never quite did get the hang of noticing when we were out of conditioner (Hey, I'm a bald man, conditioner is not a real big concern for me.)

But eyes can be trained. My eyes have learned to notice when the floor needs to be vacuumed, but for some reason I am still somewhat blind to a pile of dirty dishes.

My wife has figured out the gas thing, but for some reason remains oblivious to the plight of the lawn.

Perhaps glasses might help us both.





Gutzilla thrashes self esteem

It was a sad day indeed.

I remember it vividly: the angst, the sorrow, the disappointment.

It was a day where I sat back and took stock of my life: the decisions I made to get me to this point; the paths I should have taken; the paths I did take. 

Yup, it was the day I could no longer suck in my gut to make it look like I didn't really have a gut.

Like I said, it was a dark day indeed.

I knew my gut was getting bigger. 

Hell, it was right there in front of me, so how could I miss it?

It seemed like every day my middle section became more prominent.

For a while, I could clench my abdominal muscles and make it look like I had a flat belly.

However, this could only be done for a short period of time before my face turned red and I passed out from lack of oxygen.

A small price to pay for beauty, though.

However, as Father Time continued to slap me around, sucking in the flab became harder to do until one day I woke up, looked in the mirror and realized no matter how hard I tried, my gut would remain out there for the world to see.

So I did the only logical thing: I bought larger shirts that would seem baggy on me and make me look thinner.

And it worked great – in my mind anyway, but at the end of the day, my abdominal shame was on display for all to see.

I had a shirt full of belly and I knew it.

And the stupid mirror knew it too.

Every time I would walk past the blasted device, my shame was there for me to see — protruding like some sort of carnival side show freak. 

Well, maybe not quite that bad, but it was noticeable.

I was hardly Gutzilla; that would be my neighbour who looks like he is 18 months pregnant with triplets, but I was hardly the svelte lad of yesteryear.

But then again, neither are my friends.

When I go a period of time without seeing them, the first thing I do is compare abdominal regions to see if they have outpaced me in the getting flabby competition.

Some of my friends have, some haven't.

Now, I just spend more time with the ones who are more abdominally enhanced than I am. Not necessarily because they are better friends, but because it makes me feel better about myself.

This works at the beach as well. The key is not to find the best spot with the best view, but to find the fattest person or people.

By dropping your towel next to a weight-enhanced individual, you automatically take a couple steps down the flab-o-metre. 

The problem is when someone does the same thing to you to make themselves look good. Eventually, there is a line of people from XXL to XL to L to M. all in a row along the beach.

But packing on the protruding pounds is part of getting older I suppose.

There are a few exceptions to the rule. I worked with one gentleman who was several years older than I was who was in fantastic shape. Flat belly, outstanding cardio – the guy was as fit as someone half, or even a third his age.

Yup, I really hated that guy.

There was a day when I could eat whatever I wanted and not have to worry about gaining so much as a pound.

Scrumming down a bacon cheeseburger with fries, gravy and Coke at 3 a.m.after a hard night of clubbing was not unheard of. 

And I would not gain an ounce of flab.

Now, just writing about the mouth-watering, late-night treat I put on three pounds.

So, if you will excuse me, I have some really baggy shirts to buy.



More The Shoebox articles

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About the Author

Darren Handschuh has been working as a writer and photographer in the media industry for the past 25 years. He is married, has three children, a dog and two cats (although he is not completely sure how that part happened).

He takes a humourous look at life, and has often said, “I might as well laugh at myself, everyone else does.” 

His writings have been compared to a collection of words from the English language assembled in a somewhat coherent manner. High praise indeed.

Life gives Darren plenty of material for his column, and no one is safe from his musings – especially himself. 

He regularly writes to his blog www.therudemonkey.blogspot.ca.



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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