THE WISEST man I know is not a man at all. He's a 9-year-old boy named Solomon, and he happens to be my son.
Until the other day, I thought he was just a regular boy. His room was dirty. His clothes were dirty. And if we hadn't imposed our will on him to spare ourselves the funk of pre-tween B.O., his body would have been dirty, too. The fact of the matter is, boys love dirt, and my son is no exception.
But now he's growing up, so I've been watching and waiting for the proverbial lightbulb to switch on - the one that tells boys it's time to be loved by someone other than their parents. That lightbulb is already shining brightly for one of my son's classmates, who apparently has the hots for one of Solomon's little female friends.
The boy moved in on the young lady about a week ago and asked for a kiss. I asked Solomon if he felt like his classmate was trying to steal his girl.
"No," he said. "I just like her as a friend."
I asked him if he wanted a girlfriend at some point.
"No," he said. "It's too much trouble."
I smiled and nodded, inwardly marveling at the wisdom he'd gained in less than a decade. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, though. Solomon knows a lot about females, because he has a mother and sister who take turns bossing him around. And he knows a lot about relationships, because he's carefully watched LaVeta and me.
At first I thought the boy had seen one too many marital arguments and sworn off girls forever. I thought he'd figured out that my perpetual lack of pocket money is linked to the girlfriend who is now my wife. I thought he'd figured out that what begins with treating a girl to a Popsicle can rapidly spin out of control. Perhaps he'd even looked at the ticket and snack receipts from our date nights and figured out that he'll have to be independently wealthy to take a girl to the movies.
Alas, my son didn't talk about any of that when I pressed him on his desire to be alone. He said one simple thing, and that pronouncement let me know he was wise not only beyond his years, but my years, too.
"I don't want a girlfriend because girls get mad at you and they never tell you why," he said.
That, my friends, is the cold stone truth about male-female relationships. Girls get mad at you and they don't tell you why. But they tell their girlfriends why they're mad at you, and then their girlfriends get mad at you, too. By the time they're finished with their sister-friend therapy circle, every girl within a five-mile radius is mad at you, and you still don't know why.
Next thing you know, women you don't even know have locked arms in sisterly solidarity, and because she has stopped speaking to you, the woman of your dreams is on the phone with her closest female adviser. You know, the one who never has a man herself.
If you had a wiretap, you'd know why your girl is mad at you, but alas, you're not the NSA, so you don't hear her when she tells her friend, "Girl, I shouldn't have to tell him I wanted chocolate turtles for Valentine's Day. He should know me by now. We've been dating for three weeks!"
And since you aren't privy to the conversation, you don't hear her girlfriend utter the words that doom your relationship: "Girl, you need to leave him alone. You deserve better than that!"
Many relationships have ended this way, because women get mad, and they won't tell men why.
If only I had figured that out when I was 9 years old. I might be a millionaire by now. In fact, I'd be the male equivalent of Oprah Winfrey, dispensing advice to the male masses with the confident swagger of a guy who's spent a lifetime learning the mysteries of women.
Unfortunately, it's too late for me to become that man, but it's not too late for my son. Any boy who can articulate the truth about relationships in a single sentence needs a show of his own.
If Will Smith doesn't mind, I think I have the perfect name for little Solomon's television debut. We can call it, "Girls of the World Ain't Nothin' But Trouble."
Solomon Jones is the author of 10 books,including his latest novel, The Dead Man's Wife (Minotaur Books), and the humor collection Daddy's Home: A Memoir of Fatherhood and Laughter. The married father of three has been featured on NPR and CNN, and has written on parenting for Essence and other publications. He created the literacy program Words on the Street. His column appearsTuesdays. More at Solomonjones.com.