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Life's Little Lessons

Picture Hal and Dale, two American males living through a hot, humid, Savannah spring doing typical male things like wearing muscle shirts, spitting and scratching their bellies. They think a Saturday on the sofa is a day well-spent, and they wouldn't hesitate to change a tire for a lady in distress.

And they generally pay up after losing bets.

But being men, they lose their minds around women, particularly around Sylvia, the kind of woman who gets a man all out of sorts, if you know what I mean. Anyone talking logic to them gets drowned out by the whoosh of testosterone, which each man mistakes for the love-thump of his own heart.

Sylvia, strictly inclined toward flirtation, encourages Hal's and Dale's affections and free drinks. She stimulates their instinctual drive to compete. Last Tuesday, she even inspired them to paint the town.

While cavorting with seductive Sylvia, Hal did his best to give Dale the sign to move on. Problem was, Dale was giving Hal the wave-off as well. They took turns urging the other to leave until one or another threw a finger gesture, which triggered a full-tilt sprint toward a head-on collision. At the sight of two friends fighting, sly Sylvia delved down deep in her soul and decided to let them compliment her by squabbling it out.

She didn't like it, however, when the focus shifted from winning her devotion to marking trees. Hal and Dale took their disagreement outside, down the street, and on toward home, leaving Sylvia stranded.

Hal struck first, in a bold, imaginative, Jackson Pollack-ish display of anger, flinging a 5-gallon can of Verde Amigo acrylic interior paint onto Dale's porch. He wouldn't have slung such a sissy color to start, except that living along the Atlantic, all he had in his garage were crazy coastal cottage colors.

Hearing the clatter and splatter, Dale ran outside and nearly slid under the porch rail when he reached Hal's slippery assault. As Hal made his getaway, Dale went into his own garage and grabbed a 5-gallon can of paint. He went to Hal's place and plunked it onto the porch, sending large drips of Tropical Trance sliding down the vinyl siding.

Cans of Ocean Azure, Aloha Aqua, Pink Paradise and Sandy Serene went back and forth until Hal's paint reservoir ran dry. Out of ammunition and even further out of his mind, he called the police to report property damage. He didn't foresee that the responding officer might want to question the accused, who of course sought to press the same charges against the accuser.

Eventually the officer fleshed out that Sylvia had inspired the colorful clash and recognized a duel of honor. He could respect that. He sent them home with orders not to exit before daybreak.

By sunrise, Hal and Dale were again typical males, who scrub under their nails once a week, make artsy-fartsy noises whenever they feel like it, hold their forks like shovels and stand on principle. And they were back to being best friends who set their sights on seeing sweet Sylvia once more. Whoosh.

(Lucy Adams is author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. E-mail Lucy at

Web posted on Thursday, April 29, 2010

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