My Wife’s All-Purpose Gasp

gasp.jpeg“Oh look!” she shouted.

My heart skipped a dozen beats, my eyes bulged from their sockets, my mental status leapt to high alert, and my right foot reflexively slammed on the brakes at what was certainly an impending fatal crash. A surge of adrenaline coursing through my veins, I shouted, “What? What?”

“Look at how pretty Josie’s picture is!”

This scenario has been repeated too many times to number. On the road. At home. At church. My delightful wife’s vocal apparatus produces one, and only one, all-purpose gasp. The same gasp that appreciates the beauty of a baby also announces the detonation of a nuclear warhead.

gasp2.jpegTheoretically, this is entirely appropriate. The dictionary defines a gasp as the convulsive catching of the breath out of pain or astonishment.

It’s the “or” that causes me grief. Years of hunter-gatherer breeding has conditioned the male of our species to react with fight or flight on the occasion of a woman’s gasp. Is a wolf about to snatch our offspring? Is a rock slide about to sweep us away? Is disco about to make a comeback? These and other dangers require decisive actions on a man’s part. Hence the fight or flight reaction hardwired by God into our being.

speed-trap.jpegLadies, you should thank God for that reaction. It has no doubt saved you lots of money in speeding tickets: “Gasp! A cop!” And lots of money in medical bills: “Gasp! The baby! She’s falling!” Thank God for the male gasp-reflex.

But, for the love of God and man, please come up with a different noise for pretty things. It is scientifically proven that every wifely gasp diminishes her husband’s lifespan by 8 days. By my reckoning, I’ve lost already lost 4.2 years. I don’t mind the sacrifice. I’m a man, and we’re made to give our lives away to protect the ones we love. But 84.7 percent of that diminished lifespan has been given to gasps over pretty things, and I must speak up. It’s only righteous. I am morally opposed to abbreviating my life over pretty things. It just ain’t right.

puppy.jpegI propose that the world’s women designate a different noise — with more sustain and less attack — for pretty things. Might I suggest a gentle Ahhh, as in “Ahh, what a lovely dress on that rack.” “Ahh, what a cute puppy.” Or, “Ahh, what a delightful blog entry.”

Wait! My wife’s been reading over my shoulder and she just gasped. Gotta run…



8 thoughts on “My Wife’s All-Purpose Gasp

  1. HA! Well-written and much enjoyed; thanks for the giggles! ‘Ahhh’ isn’t gonna cut it though; not by a long shot. I’ll try to think of some better alternatives… 😉

  2. Oh BELIEVE me I can relate. I cannot count the number of times I have looked wildly around, heart racing, wondering what was about to hit us. Turned out to be a field of wildflowers or something else quite pretty and not remotely perilous to our life. Oy!

  3. Bill,
    While I personally have no knowledge of what you’re talking about, I do have some advice. Have cable tv installed in the dog house. You’ll be glad you did. Don’t ask me how I know.


  4. You guys are SO funny! Actually, I think Bob G surpasses you this time, Dr. G. I, too, don’t have any knowledge of what you’re talking about; and I’ve never had to have cable TV installed in the dog house…

    Is this something about the differences between the sexes????

  5. I am fully aware of this scenario! Except, it’s always when we’re driving, and it’s always my husband’s gasp over a Corvette (and I thought we were headed towards a fiery crash). All the gray hair’s on my head are from Corvette gasps! We women suffer, too!

  6. Dear Laura,
    While we here at are certainly sympathetic to your plight, this issue belongs to men. It’s our birthright. I simply cannot imagine a man, especially one as manly as your husband, gasping. At a red Corvette? Please. You exaggerate. I’m sure he spots the ‘vette and comments, “Nice!” or something mellow like that.

    Nice try. It’s still a guy thing.


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