Around The Rim Country

Tractor guy creates 'Male Generic Apology'

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Oprah's Book Club, a regular feature of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," has made best-sellers of 38 books since it became a regular feature on her program in 1996.

I've never watched, but from what I can tell Oprah recommends a book, every woman in America buys a copy and reads it, and then she and the author, who is by now very rich, discuss it on her show. According to a recent cover story in Newsweek magazine, Oprah has also become very rich to the tune of $800 million.

But because money isn't everything, it's good that Oprah also has adulation. "Her journey continues to inspire women to listen to their own voices and try to play by their own rules," wrote Newsweek's Lynette Clemetson.

I think it is wonderful that women have such a role model in Oprah and an outlet for their inner whatevers through her book club. Since she features the very latest by such authors as Toni Morrison, Barbara Kingsolver and Anita Shreve, it's no surprise that one suburban housewife told Clemetson, "She's giving me the tools to find myself."

Speaking of tools, I think it is time that men had a vehicle for getting in touch with our innards too, and I am therefore launching Jim's Book Club. Our first title is Roger Welsch's latest offering, "Love, Sex and Tractors" (MBI Publishing, $22), the final saga in the thrilling tractor trilogy that includes the titles "Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them" and "Busted Tractors and Rusty Knuckles."

Right up front, I have to ask the women out there in Rim Review land to stop reading this column. Right NOW.

WARNING: there is still time to turn back. All women MUST stop reading this column NOW.

Okay, guys, the reason we had to lose the ladies is that women are not allowed to read "Love, Sex and Tractors." In the introduction, Welsch writes, "I am an accomplished and experienced male chauvinist sexist pig. This book is for men only, and that's it. You can call me names if you want (bet you can't think of a new one) and you can take me to court, but if you're a woman and you read past this point {*}, I'm not going to be responsible for the consequences."

There are a couple of reasons why he imposed this ban. First, he doesn't want "intimate details of the male psyche" to fall into their hands. For example, that it isn't frilly and silky things from Victoria's Secret that drive men crazy; it's mashed potatoes.

Second, the ban serves as a counter to Woman School. Women will deny that there is such a thing, but Welsch points out that it can hardly be a coincidence that all women do, say and complain about the same things.

Yes, there is such an institution, and Welsch has a pretty good idea how they pull it off. "That's what they do when they all go together to the 'ladies room' at the same time," he says.

At Woman School, they study such subjects as "Confusing the Idiots," "Giving Directions from the Passenger Seat" and "Unreasonable Demands." What Welsch says his book is intended to do is level the playing field, or, as he puts it, challenge "the exclusivity of gender training."

So he tells his readers to hide the book from women, and that's why we must also ask you to eat this column once you have finished reading it. Or at least put it someplace safe, such as "under the seat of your pickup truck" or "under the toilet seat."

What's really cool about the book is that you don't have to know anything about tractors to learn pretty much all you need to know about love and sex. While Welsch is a midwestern tractor buff and restorer extraordinaire, you can just about substitute anything that only guys like to do and the book works just as well huntin', fishin', buildin', spittin' or playin' with electric trains, for example.

Welsch even uses a horse example sure to appeal to all you cowboys out there. He says when you separate stallions into one group and mares into another, the stallions will stand around shivering and confused, while the mares "proceed to kick the living hell out of each other" unless some poor stud wanders in, at which time the mares will "proceed to pound him down to about two pounds of hair and teeth."

Lest you think Welsch is writing a book that's all doom and gloom for the male species, he most assuredly is not. In fact, he has come up with a system for male survival that women must never, ever discover.

The trick when a woman gets mad is to rate the degree of her anger by applying this test that Welsch has developed. By answering such simple questions as whether you can blame whatever it is you're accused of on someone else, whether she is calling her mother or a lawyer, and whether the lawyer is any good, you are instructed to either disappear or to recite the Male Generic Apology or MGA.

The MGA is really the crux of the book. But without the benefit of the special security measures Welsch has built into his book, I dare not repeat it in its entirety.

I will, however, tell you it begins, "Darling, I apologize from the bottom of my soul," and ends, "Let me take you out to supper tonight."

There are also some addendums you can use, depending on the reaction the basic MGA brings from your female counterpart. If she does not relent, Welsch tells you to add: "to some place other than Burger King."

If you still get no reaction add, "and a movie." Only when this fails, do you recite: "you know, that great comedy about the three women living in a city apartment who all get together and spend the whole night having a fun pajama party talking about their relationships."

If still no response, Welsch says it's time for your trump card. You add, "and then we'll go dancing."

If all of the above fail, he says, "To hell with it. There are more fish in the sea."

The way Welsch sees it, "A man gets married when he thinks this one is about as good as he's going to get; a woman gets married when she thinks she has something to work with." And that, guys, is what life is all about, according to Roger Welsch.

On the scale of monkey wrenches, with five being superb, "Love, Sex and Tractors" gets a rating of four monkey wrenches.

This concludes the first episode of Jim's Book Club.

Ladies, you can start reading again right here {*}. And for excluding you, "I apologize from the bottom of my soul ..."

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