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.
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.
Ladies, 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.
I 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.”