Son, going ape for girls starts early

image At age 14, my son is beginning to understand a fundamental truth regarding the complex nature of the male/female relationship, which he summed up with the following conclusion:

Girls make boys act stupid.

He then offered irrefutable evidence to support his theorem:

Brittany told Joey to act like a monkey at lunchtime. And he did. Until Mrs. Flipendorf caught him stealing someone’s banana.

There was no debating his conclusion since it was clearly air tight. Instead, we discussed the ramifications of this groundbreaking sociological insight and how, as a man, he essentially had two options in catching a girl’s attention. The first is to act cool; the second is to act like a monkey. As his father, it was my responsibility to break the news to him that, as my son, he better start working on the monkey thing.

I made this realization as early as the second grade, when, in an attempt to demonstrate my coolness and win the affections of Mary Avioni, I ate a handful of chalk dust. My coolness factor lasted approximately 2.5 seconds, which is how long it took for my stomach to send everything — including my morning snack of Lorna Doones and milk — back out with enough force to reach Mary Avioni’s desk from six feet away.

Mercifully, God intervened and we moved three months later.

The following year seemed ripe for finally establishing my coolness. This decision was hastened by the arrival of a pretty Spanish girl named Zobada Sanchez, who immediately divided an entire class of third-grade boys into Cool Guys and Monkeys. I immediately devised a new plan for coolness. Something that had almost no chance of initiating my gag reflex.

I would, of course, win her over with my athletic prowess.

(Regular readers of this blog: I know you already realize this was a big mistake but please stay with me.)

Re-living the details is still a little painful. I can tell you it was the best tetherball performance of my elementary school career. I can tell you I was a dominant force, delivering a thunderous game-winning blow so loud it could ALMOST be heard over the crowd of third-grade spectators, all of whom began screaming after witnessing my nose relocated to the back of my head when I was hit by my own kill shot. A special counselor was brought in to help my classmates deal with their trauma. Meanwhile, I was lying in the nurse’s office with a nose roughly the size of a manatee, realizing my coolness would have to wait another year.

Mercifully, God intervened again and Billy Guthery barfed in the cafeteria on “Succotash” day — a sight that easily eclipsed my historic face plant.

When I fell for Sarah Getlost in the fourth grade I was taking no chances. My father explained to me that women couldn’t resist a man in uniform. He told me this while wearing a white T-shirt, Bermuda shorts and drinking a beer, so I had to take his word for it. My plan was to wait for our little league candy sale and go to her house dressed in my new baseball uniform.

In theory, it was a good plan.

In reality, Sarah Getlost answered the door wearing a cheerleader outfit, effectively neutralizing me. So, to impress her, I gave her my candy, a new baseball and all of my money. Needless to say my coolness was not established. Especially after my mother found out and I was forced to return to Sarah’s house and ask for all my stuff back. I don’t remember exactly what I said, only that it was awkward and involved a lot of gulping to keep my bile down.

After telling these stories to my son, he shook his head and put an arm around my waist.

“You DID got my step-mom though.”
“Did she make you act like a monkey?”
“She still does.”

He thought about this for a moment, then shook his head.


(Ned is a syndicated columnist for News Media Corporation. You can write to him at or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, Ore. 97439)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

49 thoughts on “Son, going ape for girls starts early”

  1. The secret truth is, all the smart girls prefer the Monkeys: hilarious shenanigans have a far longer shelf life than chalk dust and tetherball, as evidenced by white boards and lawsuits.

  2. The monkey approach is so much more interesting than the cool approach. This is good advice! Your son will win the girl of his dreams and that’s all that matters. Today, I’m going to dedicate a banana to you in your honor!

  3. “Girls make boys act stupid.”

    This can cause lots of heartache and bad decisions, I see men making such bad decisions due to infatuation and the idea that somehow women are more special and prize-worthy. What young men need to realize, is that women are just as human as men. We are all individuals. This demystifies the pedestalization of women, and thus opens up the opportunity to truly have a loving friendship with your lover.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. In the end, what the “cool” or “Monkey” approach is really about is being yourself — which, in my mind, is probably the most important thing to remember when it comes to finding the right person to be in love with. If your relationship begins under false pretenses, it’s only a matter of time before it comes crashing down. Or worse, doesn’t; and you have to continue a charade of being someone you’re not. I’m blessed enough to be married to my best friend. Someone who doesn’t just “allow” me to be myself, but makes me feel good about being “a monkey.” That is the key to a true, fulfilling and loving relationship. Oh, and really good pizza when the kids aren’t home.

    2. Maybe so but we do have the boob factor and that is what throws men into the idiot zone. It doesn’t matter if big or small or not even there yet, there’s the potential of them, knowing they are inevitable. It’s all about the boobs.

  4. It IS all about someone liking you the way you are already BUT it takes at least a couple of decades to learn that. (Not to mention that you must like them for who they really are too.) No matter how many times the grown-ups tell you that, you still have to learn it yourself. Oh the agony.
    I am so glad I am old and married for the last time. That makes it sound like I’m a serial spouse but I’m not. I was only married once before this, for seven months, it’s almost like it never happened.

  5. When I was pining for Teresa MacMillan at age 11 or so, my technique was to bike back and forth in front of her house. The problem was I only had a vague idea of where her house was so I just rode around and around her neighbourhood looking for her or at very least some kind of sign. On the plus side, I got in pretty good shape that summer.

  6. Ned, I’m fortunate enough to have 3 teenage boys myself and all I know is when your 14 year old trumps your overly-intellectualised philosophies on life ya jus’ gotta go with it, right? Glad I stumbled upon your corner of the blogosphere, mate, lookin’ forward to reading more. Respect REDdog

    1. REDdog, I’m finding myself on the verge of getting trumped more and more often by my two boys. And don’t even get me started about my two girls.

      I want to pray and drink frequently, not necessarily in that order…

      1. Ned, I have a daughter followed by 3 sons, all currently teenagers…20 years of youth work helped me prepare nicely for this time in my life (thankyou Jesus!!). Personally, as a man of faith, I’m not sure prayer and drinking are so far removed from each other as some would have us believe, I shall raise a Kilkenny to you right now my new friend…cheers REDdog

  7. in second grade i left my lunch change in hillman bailey’s desk so he would like me but never told him because i was too shy so my plan was foiled, i was hungry, and he ate a double lunch. i also heard that i was ‘going’ with kevin o’shaunessy in 5th grade and the fact that we were in different classes and actually never met had no impact on this at all.

  8. Wasn’t it just last week your little guy was learning to shoot fruit loops in the toilet? My, they do grow up fast! I recommend “Parenting at the Speed of Life” for your next book. Or maybe “Parenting at the Sound of Laughter.” Keeps the theme, but might make more sense.

    1. Lol! It’s like soap opera kids. They go away for the summer and come back five years older.

      The Fruit Loops was a Flashback post. Just to be safe, I’m going to stay away from any Flash-Forward posts…

      1. Didn’t we discuss being safe on Twitter? Sure it’s what allowed you to get to this age…wait, no, that was being clean. Okay, stick with being safe. I was going to try to make the case that a flash-forward post about your son ten years from now was the best thing to do, but maybe you are right, play it safe. That’s good thinking, Ned.

  9. Had I known to act like a monkey instead of trying to act cool, maybe junior high would have been more pleasant! Thanks for being 35 years too late, Ned!

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