According to Woodman, the thoroughly pointless conversation – which comprehensively detailed his wife’s work day, lunch experience, plans for the evening and friend’s relationship difficulties, a subject that actually brought Jena Woodman to tears – took place in the living room of the couple’s Lafayette home at approximately 6 p.m., shortly after Woodman began watching television in an effort to unwind after work.
“I love my wife and everything, but by God does that woman like to talk,” said Woodman, 30, who works as a field technician for a local civil engineering firm. “I wanted to just come home [from work] and chill out for awhile, but Jena immediately launches into these long, boring stories about what happened at work and what’s going on with a friend of hers and a bunch of other stuff. I just tried to act like I was paying attention and hoped it wouldn’t go on too long.”
Occasionally retorting with such all-purpose conversation perpetuators as “That’s nice, honey,” “No kidding? Huh,” and “I’m sure it’ll all work out,” Woodman pretended to give a shit about his wife’s exhaustively detailed personal accounts until just after 6:45 p.m., when Jena was forced to interrupt the one-sided exchange to receive a telephone call from her longtime friend Nelly Smith.
“Saved by the bell, I guess you’d say,” Woodman jokingly explained, adding that he used the brief interruption to exit the room and seek solace behind some cardboard boxes in the basement, where he remained for several hours.
Woodman acknowledged that although the lengthy, expendable conversation depleted a good amount of his after-work leisure time, the 45 minutes spent maintaining a convincing, give-a-shit veneer was not a complete waste.
“I was able to give some thought to a few things I hadn’t had time for,” said Woodman, who admitted to mentally drifting “light-years away” from his wife’s inane banter. “While Jena was busy carrying on about God-knows-what, I was trying to figure out the significance of a couple of scenes from the movie Memento, which we had rented a few nights back. I think I’ve got most of [the plot] figured out now.”
“Listening to her babble also gave me a chance to clean out my wallet, which I’ve been meaning to do for weeks,” added Woodman. “I doubt she even noticed.”
In addition to analyzing movie storylines and sorting a pile of receipts, Woodman mentally planned the couple’s upcoming camping trip and also reminisced about his 1996 bachelor party weekend in Las Vegas – all the while remembering to nod, say “Yeah,” and display other characteristics indicative of a person who is giving a shit.
Woodman said he often pretends to give a shit about what his wife says.
“Somebody – a guy – once told me that women tend to work things out in their heads by talking things out, so most of the time it isn’t really necessary to listen to everything a woman says,” said Woodman. “It’s been my experience that the theory usually holds true. So I usually just keep my mouth shut and let her talk herself out. Sure, it’s a complete waste of time, but it seems to make [Jena] happy.”
Added Woodman: “Besides, on the rare occasion that she’s talking about something important, I’ll pick up on it right away because she’ll be yelling.”
After six years of marriage, Woodman said he feels that his willingness to pretend to give a shit about what his wife says is vital to the health of their relationship.
“If I didn’t sit there in total silence, staring off into the distance but occasionally grunting out an ‘Oh yeah?’ or a ‘No kidding,’ Jena would probably start to think we have a communication problem,” said Woodman, adding: “I pretend to give a shit because I care.”–Cliff Frantz