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A Silk Purse and a Sow's Ear
Wednesday, January 14, 2009 • Posted January 14, 2009

I have been married to two women — the first one tried for 31 years to change me into her image of what a perfect husband should be — and the second one, bless her heart, even after 36 years is still trying.

When it comes to husbands there seems to be no way that a determined woman can be convinced of the truth in that old axiom which says: “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” But even if you could convince her, there still remains one basic problem. While she might think of him as a “sow’s ear” he sees himself as already being the “silk purse.”

Now I have heard that old saying all of my life but I have never been able to discover just what the author had in mind with his reference to a “sow’s ear.” I always figured that perhaps he was alluding to people like myself who were in need of change yet resisted all efforts of others to alter, modify or transform them into something they “ain’t”.

I have explored all the encyclopedia and search engines available to my computer and to Internet and have found that the only reference to Sow’s Ear is in connection with such things as names of eateries, remodeling firms and a beauty salon that runs ads for turning sow’s ears into beauties.

Now I’m not much of a historian but I would bet Eve thought that Adam had no style. She probably thought to herself, “some people just don’t know how to wear a fig leaf.” I would also be willing to wager that Moses’ wife was always after him to get rid of that long staff and carry something a little smaller and more in fashion, not to mention that nasty looking beard. Do you suppose that Noah’s wife ever mentioned to him that everyone in the neighborhood was talking about him behind his back? We should be thankful that he paid no attention to her and built his Ark anyway.

Yes, women have something in their genes that forces them to make changes in their man. As surely as a salmon must swim upstream, a woman must improve her mate. After every Spring comes another Summer. And so it is that after every wedding comes the mandatory home improvements on the male member of the twosome.

It is difficult for me to believe that in spite all the fine qualities woman kind possess, they could truly be dumb enough to think that they could change all men. Now I will admit that they can boast of many successes in this endeavor but as I ponder the situation it occurs to me that “change” is not the ulterior motive at all. No, I have decided that what women really have in mind is to keep us poor devils on the defensive.

Now if you don’t believe that — then just wait until she hits you with something like “you aren’t really going to wear THAT to the party, are you?” . Now she gets away with this because she is on the offense but what do you suppose would happen if he asked “are you going to wear THAT dress to church?”. Or how about, “those slacks are getting a little tight in the beam aren’t they dear?”

Of course he could say, “I think I see a lot of gray hair in the back” or “I hope that what you served for dinner wasn’t one of your own recipes.”

But of course he would never say these things because he is too busy deflecting the offensive barbs she throws his way.

When was the last time you heard one man say to another, “I don’t think you should do that, John. What would the other guys say?” The only reason any man would ever care what the other guys say is because his wife has told him that it is important that he care. Another good offense.

If she continues to run the “what would they say or think offense”, he must be prepared for it.

In the musical comedy “My Fair Lady” Professor Henry Higgins, who has worked his fingers to the bone to prepare Liza for the world, is very upset when she runs away from home. He turns to his closest friend and asks, “why can’t a woman be more like a man?” The answer, my friends, is simple. Women run the offense while men run the defense. And while the men are busy wondering how they became a “sow’s ear,” the women have stopped at the department store and bought the “silk purse.” And the good news is, the purse was on sale and she saved him a lot of money!

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A FOOTNOTE:ABOUT CATS:

I had often thought that the orneriness and peculiarities of our cat belonged to him alone, but the other day I read some of the basic rules for cats who have a household to run which makes me believe that cats, on the whole, are probably much alike the world over. Let me list for you some of those cat rules:

1. If you have to throw up quickly get into a chair or a rug, a shag is good.

2. Do not allow closed doors — open them whether you use them or not. After having ordered an outside door opened, stand halfway in and out and think about several things. This is particularly important during very cold weather, rain, snow, and mosquito season.

3. Quickly determine which guest hates cats the most and then sit in that lap. When sitting on laps or rubbing against trouser legs, select fabric color which contrasts well with your fur. For those guests who claim “I just love kittens” be ready with aloof disclaim, apply claws to stockings or use a quick nip to the ankle. Always accompany guests to the bathroom. It is not necessary to do anything, just sit and stare.

4. If one of your humans is working or writing, and another is idle, stay with the busy one. This is called helping, otherwise known as hampering. Following are some rules for hampering:

a. When supervising cooking, sit behind the left heel of the cook. You cannot be seen and therefore stand a better chance of being stepped on, picked up and consoled.

b. For readers, get in close under the chin, between the eyes and book or paper, unless you can lie on the book itself.

c. For knitting projects, curl quietly into the lap of the knitter and pretend to doze. Occasionally reach out and slap the knitting needles sharply. The knitter may try to distract you with a scrap ball of yarn. Ignore it. Remember, the aim is to hamper work.

5. To irritate the hell out of your mistresses’ spouse, get directly in front of him when he is walking and when he bumps into you with one foot wind yourself quickly around his other leg so that he cannot take a step. This endears us to the human male.

6. Begin training your people early and you will have a smooth running household.

In closing this portion I would have to congratulate an old cat of ours by the name of Higgins for the high diploma he held in each of the above rules and in the quick obedience he received for his every command in this household. However, (and it pains me to say this) in spite of all of the notoriety that cat has received through my articles, a review of these rules convinces me that in all probability Higgins was just an average cat.

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