A penny for my thoughts? That’s about right . .

To understand women is to know why floral shops and jewelers will do commerce in perpetuity. The only plaid to their otherwise floral existence comes with the cards they show us from time to time, for sport.

The genius of  woman lies in her ability to be caught only in accordance with her wishes. They are beautifully elaborate puzzles full of idiosyncratic faiths we abide by as if we were puppies- our tails whipping madly and our bobbled heads chasing after them with due diligence.

As far as inquisitive creatures go, it’s no wonder they share the same perch with felines. The only thing we know for absolute certainty is that they’re going to ask questions. Bunches of them.  And when a woman asks you a question, rest assured we’re not talking meteorology or hand grenades. Coming close doesn’t work.

Unless of course, it’s that triedest and truest one of all.

Women own the query “What are you thinking?” in the same way the French own haute cuisine. Others may borrow it from time to time, but make no mistake as to the rightful owners. I possess no statistical verification to back this up, but  that’s okay. I know what I’m doing here (FYI- that last line happens to be a phrase that men own, resoundingly so).

It’s the gold medal question for all time. Its silver medalist sister- Do you have this in a smaller size?- is a Janie Come Lately in comparison.

The reason why they ask us what we’re thinking about is simple. It’s because they already know what we’re thinking about. See, women ask questions they already know the answers to at the same rate in which men don’t ask questions about the things they really should.  It is an innate mechanism which allows women to separate the wheat from the chaff and it’s one of the reasons why they can never hold the highest office in the land. For all we know they might throw the entire system into repair and we would never hear the end of it if that happened.

When women ask you what you’re thinking, they already know what your mind is busy trying to throw into the Burn After Reading file.

It’s the sex stupid!

That was Bill Clinton ‘s ticket punched theme back in ’92. Well, okay . .it’s what he was thinking back in ’92 in between stump speeches about the economy and a place called Hope (sex). He didn’t run for President out of some exalted design, are you kidding? He ran for President thanks to the lifetime of cocktail party jokes that beating Bush would gift him.

Hey, it’s what men think about 24/7. I mean, even Wal-Mart closes the doors sometimes. Unlike our libidinous excursions into every possible copulatory scenario. It’s like this. What women are looking for when they ask us this question has nothing to do with the answer we provide them. They understand the politics long before we push off from the diving board into two feet of water.

No, what women really want to observe is our presentation- How we plate the reply. Because they consider men on a scale which has nothing to do with merit, and thank God for that. For a woman, it’s all about the man who can think on his feet. They’ll keep you around if you give it a decent shot.

Understand that no two ‘decent’ shots are the same. They’re like horny little snowflakes. Some guys will utilize the rote approach, whereby they have a trusty store of indexed responses at the ready. And there are those of us who prefer the big risk/big reward improvisational approach.

No matter the method, we manage to navigate this minefield like Captain Kirk when the promise of mood lighting, slow music and candles are in the offing. If it was left to us? Dimmers, Barry White and aromatherapy wouldn’t mean a thing and “Hello” would be considered chatty. But there is art and semblance to our actions thanks to the rubric of feminine wiles.

Mind you, not every response we crank up is going to be a home run. In fact, few will clear the fence. Some of them are weak grounders which could be gobbled up by the bat boy. Consider this unfortunate Shakespearean grab bag.

Woman: What are you thinking?
Man: About adopting a puppy with you . . . or . . . That amazing weekend we spent with your folks . . .or How much I love the opera thanks to you.

Laughable responses all but acceptable responses nonetheless. Women understand the powder keg of moral ambiguities they’re dealing with, so they’re going to be satisfied with material that wouldn’t fly in an Econo Lodge stand up act. Unless you live next door to Mark Wahlberg, in which case you better start looking into whether your insurance covers carpal tunnel syndrome.

More than anything else, women want that ass slide into third base attempt, they crave it, since it is usually the only effort we put into the whole What are you thinking? business. It’s rare that we will rock their boat with a question such as this unless prompted into doing so.

The earliest record of a woman asking a man what he was thinking dates back to prehistoric times. The giddiness which had prevailed after the discovery of fire was soon quelled when a cave woman asked her cave beau what he was thinking as they cuddled around a campfire.

This exchange coincides with the earliest recorded cave painting, etched undoubtedly by a caveman. It was a single word, which when translated read Help.