Dear Tom and Ray,

I received this email the other day and thought it might help you in answering some of the "relationship" questions that you so often get. Here it goes!

Women's Key Words and Their Meanings

"Fine": This is the word we use at the end of any argument that we feel we are right about but at this point just want you to shut up. Never use fine to describe how a woman looks. This will cause you to have one of those arguments.

"Five minutes": This is really half an hour. It is equivalent to the "five minutes" that your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so it's an even trade.

"Nothing": This means something and for that you should be on your toes. Nothing is usually used to describe the feeling that a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards. Nothing usually signifies the beginning of an argument that will last "five minutes" and end with the word "fine."

"Go ahead" (with raised eyebrows): This is a dare. One that will result in a woman getting upset over "nothing" and ultimately end with the word "fine."

"Go ahead" (normal eyebrows): This means "I give up," or "Do what you want because I don't care." You will often find a raised eyebrow "go ahead," several minutes later, followed then by "nothing" and "fine," and she will talk to you in about "five minutes" when she cools off.

Loud sigh: Though not actually a word, it is still a verbal statement very often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot at that moment and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over "nothing."

Soft sigh: Again, not a word, but nevertheless a verbal statement. Soft sighs are one of the few things that some men actually understand: She is content. Your best bet is to not move or breathe and she will stay content.

"Oh": This word followed by any statement means trouble. Example: "Oh, let me get that." Or, "Oh, I talked to him about what you were doing last night." If she says "Oh" before a statement, RUN, do not walk, to the nearest exit. She will tell you that she is "fine," as she tosses your clothes out the window, but do not expect her to talk to you for at least two days. "Oh" as the lead to a sentence usually suggests that you are caught in a lie. Do not try to lie any more to get out of it, or you will get the raised eyebrows "go ahead," followed by acts so unspeakable that we can't bring ourselves to write about them.

"That's okay": This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can say to a man. "That's okay" means that she wants to think long and hard before paying you retributions for whatever it is that you have done. "That's okay" is often used with the word "fine" and in conjunction with a raised eyebrow "go ahead." Further alluding to some point in the near future, after she has plotted and planned, when you are going to be in some mighty big trouble.

"Please do": This is not a statement, it is an offer. A woman is giving you the chance to come up with whatever excuse or reason you have for doing whatever it is that you have done. You have a fair chance by telling the truth, so be careful, and you may not get a "That's okay."

"Thanks": A woman is thanking you. Do not faint. Just say, "You're welcome."

"Thanks a lot": This is much different from the meaning of "Thanks." A woman will say, "Thanks a lot," when she is actually ticked off at you. It signifies that you have hurt her in some callous way, and will be followed by the loud sigh. Be careful not to ask what is wrong after the loud sigh because she will only tell you "Nothing."

I hope this clears up any misunderstandings.

Maria Fili

[ As Read on Car Talk ]