ESSAY- Q&A primer: Tips for guys facing tough questions

My husband and I are taking a walk when we pass a rather large woman. She's bent over, revealing an even larger rear end. Without missing a beat, Bill turns to me and whispers, "...and no, your butt is not that big."

I blink at him, stunned, and then pat his hand. A tear springs to my eye. "A preemptive strike. I have taught you well," I whisper huskily.

"Do I look fat?" "Is my hair okay?" 

Women make guys crazy with these unanswerable questions. The men stare in response while the wheels spin in their heads: "What can I say that will get me out of here alive?" Sometimes they leave skidmarks trying to get away.

Our fault, of course. We get our husbands coming and going. If they say "No, you don't look fat," we yell, "Oh, you're just saying that!" or "You didn't even look!" If they answer in the affirmative– "Well, come to think of it, you have put on a few pounds"– it gets even uglier.

Men need to find answers that are truthful without being mean. It's a hard balance to strike. That's where this little crib sheet comes in. Designed just for husbands, it's a list of right answers to some of the toughest questions women are likely to ask. Wives, get out your scissors– you'll want to clip and give to the man in your life.

"What are you thinking about?"

Why she's asking: she wants to talk. She wants you to provide one little scrap of emotional content. It doesn't have to be earthshaking, just something that will bring her into your inner world. You don't have an inner world? In that case, make one up.

Bad answer: "Do you think the Chicago Cubs will ever win a Series?"

Good answer: "You know why I get so upset over the Cubs? It reminds me of when I was little and my father used to... [insert moving memory here; relevance not important]."

"Do these jeans make me look fat?"

Why she's asking: women have no idea what image to strive for. Hollywood stars are sickeningly thin. The average female is a size 12. We look in the mirror and don't know what we're supposed to be seeing.

Bad answer: "No. Yes. I don't know. Don't ask me."

Good answer: "You really look great. Look at the curve they give you." But suppose she really does look a little portly? Then blame the clothes. "You know, those pants really aren't hitting you right."

"Do you still love me the way you loved me when you really loved me?"

Why she's asking: this is a naked, blatant appeal for reassurance. She's feeling taken for granted. She wonders if she has just become an eternal source of meatloaf and clean clothes. Tell her yes, you love her, and then give specifics. (PS: This works even better when you say it without being asked first.)

Bad answer: "Yeah. Do you know where the remote is? Thanks."

Good answer: "You know I love you. I don't know how I'd get through life without you. Sometimes, when you walk away from me and I see that little wiggle, I wonder how I ever got so lucky. I still can't believe it sometimes."

"Can we discuss something important to me?"

Why she's asking: Incoming! Incoming! You're about to be yelled at for something you did or didn't do. Quick! Think, man, think!

Bad answer: "What'd I do now?"

Good answer: "Sure, honey, if it's important to you, it's important to me...." Your goal, however, is to play for time by disarming and distracting. Try, "But did I tell you I saw your sister kissing some guy today? It was in front of the 'buy one, get ten free' sale at that new lingerie shop." She'll be so busy on the phone, it'll be years before you see her again.

"Do you wish I still looked the way we did when we first met?"

Why she's asking: Mother Time is creeping up on her. She doesn't pay attention for five seconds and blammo! Her stomach loses all tone, her eyelids droop, and her upper arms turn to Jell-o.

Bad answer: "Jeez, you were so pretty then. I mean, now, too, but back then you were really hot. I didn't mean that the way it came out... don't hurt me."

Good answer: "What? You mean you don't?"

"Do you think that woman is attractive?"

Why she's asking: Basically, she wants to gossip and, at the same time, get a little stroked by you.

Bad answer: "She is so hot. Why don't you ever wear shirts like that?"

Good answer: "On a scale of one to ten with you as the ten? I'd say she comes in at a [pick a number significantly lower than ten]. And I'm betting implants. What do you think?"

"Do you ever think about your own girlfriend?"

Why she's asking: Curiosity. Insecurity.

Bad answer: "Sure. Sometimes I wonder what she's up to now. She was really fun."

Good answer: "Only on those nights when I wake up screaming. Please don't remind me."

"Wouldn't I look better if I had a nose job (tummy tuck, breast lift, eye job)?"

Why she's asking: she's spending way too much time staring at herself in the bathroom mirror.

Bad answer: "You look fine. Stop asking me."

Good answer: "You change anything and I'm changing it back. I want the woman I fell in love with, not some Barbie doll." Then distract her with, "Do you think I need hair implants?"

"Do you remember when we went to [emotionally charged event you swear you didn't attend]?"

Why she's asking: her nostalgia for the good old days means she's wishing she felt that close to you again.

Bad answer: "You sure that wasn't with your old boyfriend?"

Good answer: "All I remember is how gorgeous you were. Everything else is a blur."

Okay, guys, got it now? If you're feeling confident and want to improvise your own answers, fine. But remember: We want the truth, but truth filtered through love. And if you have to lie to prove your affections, don't let us stop you.