Let me tell you something about men that you probably already know: we don’t like questions. Questions are conversational bear traps that typically end with us having to (a) make a decision about something we don’t care about or (b) exert unnecessary intellectual strain and potentially expose our lack of knowledge in the field in question (probably commodities markets). We prefer to avoid them whenever possible.
Guys like to deal in statements, in commands, in Jen Aniston cleavage references. We’ll be the ones asking the questions, thank you very much. Everyone else can shut the hell up – including and especially every late night host not named Conan O’Brien. Don’t ask us where we want to go for lunch, what we’re wearing tonight, or what time we should leave for the funeral. If we knew/cared, we’d be doing it already.
There’s no question that questions suck, but, as with all societal ills (and Shia Labeouf movies), there are some that suck more enthusiastically than others. For example, “Do you like it when I do my hair like this” isn’t necessarily as bad as “How come your Facebook status still says ‘single’” but it’s a far sight worse than “What day is it?” And don’t even get me started on credibility killers like “why do guys think it’s hot when two girls kiss” or “do you think you could date a girl who was still in high school?”
And yet, even these are not the worst offenders. It gets much, much worse. Allow me to present, for your consideration, the worst question in the English language.
“Hey, can I ask you something?”
For starters, it’s a question about asking a question, and, as such, is meaningless and entirely unnecessary. But that’s not the worst of it. I can deal with unnecessary. Katy Perry is unnecessary and I still like her. No, the problem with this question is the specter of doom that comes with it. It never comes alone and it never comes in peace. No one ever says, “hey can I ask you something – are you gonna eat the rest of that?” Or “hey, can I ask you something – how bout them Packers?”
When you hear “hey, can I ask you something”, especially within the context of a dating relationship, you can be sure that a heavy conversation is on the way. She wants to talk about her mean boss, her hot sister, or whether or not you’ve read that Joshua Harris book she gave you. Or maybe it’s not that. Maybe she just wants to talk about “us.”
“Hey can I ask you something – how come you never use your ‘pookey-poo voice’ when we’re at Buffalo Wild Wings with your friends?” “Hey can I ask you something – if I was paralyzed in a car crash that totally wasn’t my fault, would you still find me attractive?” It’s like the 4th Horseman of the Apocalypse – “Its rider’s name was Death, and Hell followed close behind him.” (Rev. 6:8)
This is why, when asked “hey, can I ask you something”, everything inside a guy wants to scream, “No. NO! A thousand times, NO!! In the name of all that is pure and holy, please do not ‘ask me something.’” But we can’t say that. Saying that would be an admission of guilt. So we say “yes” and we turn to face the firing squad. For my money, I don’t know if there’s a more terrifying moment in human existence than the seconds that pass from the utterance of “hey, can I ask you something” to the asking of the actual question. Maybe being buried alive. But probably not.
And it’s all so easily avoidable! Got something serious to talk about? Did we say/do/drink something that’s been eating you up inside for the past month? Just come out with it! Skip the intro, skip the solicitation of permission – just ask the damn question. We don’t want to talk about it. We don’t even want to think about it. But we’re going to anyway. This is your world; we’re just living in it. You know it. We know it. The people sitting next to us at Panda Express know it. So let’s just get it over with.
Because, honestly, can I tell you something?
We really don’t care. Really.