Sourdough Toast

The biggest complaint women have about men is that they don’t listen.

The biggest complaint men have about women is that they talk too much.

There is even “scientific” evidence to support both these longtime stereotypes.

According to a 1993 marriage counseling pamphlet and subsequent self-help books, women utter an average of 20,000 words a day while men speak an average of only 7,000. While many researchers since then think the numbers are exaggerated, they don’t necessarily disagree with the premise.

And researchers at the University of Sheffield in England who monitor brain activity have found men can hear and understand other men’s voices. But when they hear female voices, they have to decipher them using the part of the brain that processes music. This means women have more sound frequencies in their voices, and men have a harder time hearing what a woman is saying.

I only cite this data as cover in my own defense for the following anecdote.

During a recent incredible Sunday morning breakfast my wife had exquisitely prepared, we were talking about our favorite breakfast foods. It was a lengthy conversation that went into great detail about the preparation of such dishes.

Anyway, after breakfast I had adjourned to the living room to watch a pregame football telecast and browse my laptop, while my wife continued conversing from the kitchen as she put away the food.

Because my attention had been diverted (let’s just say I was multitasking), I was unaware the conversation had transitioned to discussion about an upcoming farewell party my wife was hosting at her work later in the week.

She was thinking out loud about a proper tribute to give to her co-worker who was leaving and she asked me a question. When I failed to respond, she shouted for my attention and repeated her question.

“What’s a good toast?” she asked

Not aware the conversation had shifted from breakfast, I dutifully replied: “sourdough.”

The silence in the room was deafening, which I realized probably wasn’t a good thing.

After a brief period of silence and agitation on the part of my wife, I quickly apologized without the full knowledge of what I was guilty of.

Things eventually smoothed over and she informed me of my mistake. My punishment was to listen as she told me that I don’t listen well enough. But things eventually smoothed over and got back to normal.

I decided to avoid talking about her farewell party during the week, but after it was over, I decided to venture into the minefield and ask her how her toast went.

To my surprise, she said it went well. She said she even used my idea.

She said she told the story about how men don’t listen to their significant others as a lead into her toast and then served up the “sourdough” punchline. She said everyone laughed, and it was an enjoyable moment at my expense.

I told her I was glad to help out.

She then asked, “What do you want for breakfast?”


Andy Howell can be reached at