When You Love Someone, Sighs Matter
Published December 26, 2012
A short story by Lisa Brown
I haven’t been successful at the art of love. When I say that I haven’t been successful, I mean that I’ve failed at it miserably and in every way conceivable. My first true love was a young man named Burt. He was in the first grade. I was in the first grade. He liked Scooby-Doo. I liked Scooby-Doo. It should have been a perfect match. It wasn’t. Burt (and it still stings to write this 42 years later) hated me. He informed me every chance he got that I had something called “cooties.” I initially thought he was trying to say “cuties” (because of his two missing front teeth), which made me love him even more. But then, my best friend Nancy, who apparently was cursed with cooties too, informed me that it meant Burt felt that I was inflicted with girl germs and should never be touched or looked at in any way whatsoever. This was a crushing blow for a 7-year-old, and it was probably the first time I let out a big long sigh, shook my head and walked away from love. Unfortunately at that age, it’s not like you can fix yourself a dry martini and hang out with the Rat Pack to get over your broken heart. So I did the next best thing that a 7-year-old in 1970 could do - drank a lot of Tang, watched a few episodes of H.R. Pufnstuf and pulled myself together. Truth be told, this is the exact way I get over most things to this day. I’m pretty much an expert at “sigh” language. Case in point, if my first boyfriend had been able to decipher the types of sighs I was sighing, we might have had a much longer relationship than one and a half days. I wanted to go to a romantic seaside restaurant for our second date; he wanted to go to McDonald’s while they still had the McRib for sale. I sighed very loudly before agreeing to McDonald’s, and therefore he thought that he had won the conversation. He thought wrong. He got his McRib, but he lost me (I fell into the children’s ball pit at the McDonald’s and sank to the bottom). He eventually found me but then lost me again when I broke up with him. Had he listened to my sigh right before saying yes to his dinner plans he would have known it was a very bad sigh, and we definitely should have gone to the place I chose. So what have I learned? If a woman makes a deep heavy sigh before agreeing to anything, it’s probably a good idea to retreat and do the opposite of what she has just agreed to. For example: If a husband says the following, “Sweetheart, I really think my mother should come live with us. We can give her the master suite and turn the kitchen pantry into an extra bedroom for us,” and the wife inhales for 30 seconds or so before letting out an overly loud sigh and then says “fine.” It’s not. There is the sigh you make when you know something is ending.This is the resounding sigh. I knew my marriage was over the day my ex-husband and I were watching the news and there was a story about a man who taught his rabbit to get on a surfboard at the beach. I turned to my husband and said, “That’s funny. Most people don’t like to get their hare wet at the beach.” And to my dismay, he didn’t laugh. I remember sitting in the living room, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I just let out a very long sigh and knew that things would never be okay for us again. Twelve years later I told him just that! I think I made him stay married to me that much longer just to punish him for not laughing at my joke. But I really do remember that sigh to this day, and that was almost 25 years ago. Resounding sighs are hard to forget. I’ve only made one other sigh like that in my entire life. My Grandfather had passed away, and I loved him tremendously. As a 14-year-old, I had to make myself walk up to his casket and say goodbye. I remember the deep long sigh that I took at the moment I was able to make my feet finally move. It was a sigh that was full of hurt and fear and sadness and love, and I’ve never sighed exactly like that since then. Lisa, can you give us an example of a good sigh? Yes, as a matter of fact I can! Suppose you’re with your man at a plus size woman’s dress shop called “Beefy Fashions,” and due to an unnatural love of all things cheese, the only item that fits you is a horizontal striped pink and orange cape. I’m not saying this happened to me; it’s just a tremendously specific example. Suppose that when your beloved sees you in the aforementioned cape he takes a deep sigh and says to you, “Orange really brings out the green in your eyes. You’ve never looked lovelier.” The sigh that follows something like that is considered a very good sigh. Clearly the man is lying. But sometimes when you’re wearing a pink and orange cape you need to know that your size doesn’t matter. Also you may need to eat less cheese. “But that’s another story,” (she sighed).