The rules

A conversation overheard before a goatherd’s wedding night on the steppes of Kazakhstan.


My son, unlike the Americans, you won’t see your wife until the wedding night. Romantic love is viewed with suspicion because it cannot be given an economic value, while fifty goats can. So on your wedding night, you are seated next to some woman covered in wool and silk, draped in coins, and all you can see are her eyes which occasionally dart over to yours. They might be pretty. Its hard to tell, but then again, all of your cousins have pretty eyes, so its a safe assumption that she too would have those dark eyes. There is much feasting -too much, because there can only be too much. Not enough would be an insult, a cause for feuding. The laughing and shouting of the the men is broken up by the occasional report of automatic gunfire -your brothers are celebrating by emptying their AK47’s up into the stars -a glorious night! As the party goes on, you and your bride are escorted to your wedding tent. It’s hot inside. You ask her name, but she doesn’t speak. Both of you are terrified. Your mother is waiting outside. Your new wife lies back as she has been instructed to by her mother, and you do your duty. You’ve had practice -so much practice, that it doesn’t take very long. You reach under your bride and pull out the white sheet stained with her hymenal blood and hand it over to your mother. She ululates her joy and holds up the flag of Japan to all the waiting wedding guests. More gunshots and a return to feasting. The years pass, and you have many children. You have many opportunities to marry again, as you are a wealthy man, but curiously, you pass. You are content, after all. Then your eldest son is ready to marry and as his wedding day approached, he asks you about the truths about marriage and why you have stayed with one wife. You now lean back and stroke your beard and give your son this wisdom.


Rule #1: Over the course of any relationship, you can only have about a hundred meaningful conversations before something truly awful happens.


In fact, you tell your son, you rarely have more than 10 with anyone, and this conversation is number 3 between you two. The first one was about him practicing too much and too loudly. The second was about the superiority of boxer shorts. The more you talk, the less you have to say. You are on conversation number 6 with your wife, and that’s only because several years back she found some magazines under the rug. The important thing is listening, you tell your boy. Women will talk incessantly if given the opportunity, but the trick is to divine their meaning. This takes practice. You tell your son you can buy time by scrunching up the eyebrows and making a constipated noise, but to keep the peace, you have to dig through the words and understand. It can be like predicting the weather, you warn him. Women want to be understood, but not by words do you divine their thoughts. And that is the key. Divination. The better you get at divination, the less the need for those conversations which suck the life force out of you. Telepathy is what they call it in the decadent west.

And keep track of those meaningful conversations, because when you pass one hundred, something bad happens. Usually you die. You can ward off that evil day by much furrowing of the eyebrows -but avoid using that too much because eventually you will be cornered into a meaningful conversation. 


Rule #2 -Human interest and passion in any subject or person lasts about two years. Human life lasts about 50. Do the math.


You remind your son the time he decided to dabble in homing pigeons. Everything was pigeon this and pigeon that. Silly messages about runaway goats sent in from over the hills, for a year this went on. Then one day, the pigeons were, in his words, too boring. Then it was roast pigeon for a month. It takes two years for your passion fades into routine. In the west, they call it the sophomore slump. Never let something take away your reason. You can get to the next watering hole by keeping a steady pace, but if you rush, you will lose goats. Passion is like small bag of salt you carry out to pasture the goats for a month. You only need a pinch of salt to make a roasted goat tasty, but use all the salt in one day, and the rest of the month is tasteless and bland. Remember too that your woman is subject to this two year rule. Renew her interest in keeping you comfortable and sated by keeping yourself unpredictable. Like anything else, inscrutability takes practice. Be aware of your routines and mix things up. Keep a mental chart of your routine and change some aspect of it every year. For example, if you change your underwear once a week, after a year, make it once every two weeks! That will keep her off balance. Never let things go for two years. If you feel yourself reaching that two year point, you may have to have a meaningful conversation, but remember rule number 1! Having children is also a good distraction. Remodeling the yurt is another. 



Rule #3 -In all that you do, reduce it to simple, silent acts of nature.


Man is cursed by thought. A chicken without its head will run well. When you learn something, learn it with your heart and your bones. Don’t let thinking get in the way. This is the best way to manage rules #1 and #2. 


I have talked too much and used up one of my meaningful conversations. 



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