The Last Word


I’ve heard it said that the best way to get the last word is to apologize. I think that saying you’re sorry is a good thing to do anyway, but doesn’t apology precede forgiveness? Most of the time, a man receives an apology and he replies with, “Apology accepted,” or, “Don’t worry about it.”

When he says that, he got the last word, didn’t he? If he keeps going, and says, “You’re forgiven,” isn’t that the last word? And then what do you say when someone forgives you? What could you say? “Thank you,” maybe? But then, what follows that?

“You’re welcome.”……………(Sing it like the Rock if you want.)

Every man knows these little facts. It’s burned into every man’s cerebral cortex—how to end a chat. Every man knows what the last word is supposed to be. I’m picking on men here because men have a specific sort of need to get the last word.

Women, on the other hand, would use an apology as a conversation starter. Women are incredibly adept at creating—and maintaining—a conversation. In fact, if one woman is going somewhere, the other will make excuses to follow so the conversation can keep its momentum. Momentum is the key to female conversation. They build up the conversation momentum and then they push it even further. As a man, I find it hypnotic to watch women in conversation. They have the keys to perpetual speech. Personally, I run out of words. I have a limit. Not only a limit of words, but a limit of patience. If I’m talking to some dude, and he has a lack of ability to get the point across, or even to grasp the point I’m trying to convey, then I start to lose patience. I start looking for the exit, conversation exit and physical exit.

It’s an interesting function of manhood that makes men in conversation want to get the last word. It might be an upper-handed sort of feeling they try to achieve. It might be a sense of accomplishment. It might be the endless search for machismo, trying to get hair on their chests. As a man, I don’t even know the answer to the question why. I do know how it works though. I can perform a last-word conversation with the best of them. A typical end to a manly conversation might be like this:

“Alright then.”


“Well, see you later.”

“See ya.”



“Take it easy.”

This plays out until one of the men actually physically leaves. The one leaving might tap on something before he goes. No one is really sure why men tap on things when they leave. It may date back to tribal times—beat the drum as the chief leaves camp.

My wife doesn’t understand this. Nor do I understand her conversation needs. She might notice that I was talking to an old friend and ask what we were talking about. I’ll say something simple like, “Oh his mother’s in the hospital,” and she’ll want to know all the details. What’s the ailment? How long will she be there? Does she need anything? Has she had any visitors today? Is she allowed visitors? Did they force her to eat that awful over-priced hospital food? Is she on oxygen? Does she still have her ovaries? What’s the ailment? How many times has she been in the hospital in her life? Does she have a ride home? Will she take a cab or the bus? What are we doing Friday afternoon? Maybe we could pick her up. Does she have insurance? Does she need some? Do we have any extra we could spare? How many doctors had to look at her? How many nurses? And were the nurses men or women? Women hate it when men see them in those hospital gowns. Do men hate it when women see them in those hospital gowns? Oooh…flowers, she needs flowers.

Of course I always tell her I don’t know any of that stuff. My conversation skills aren’t about information gathering. I don’t mind telling her, proudly, that I clapped my hands, pointed at the exit, and said, “Ay-dios,” before I left. So yeah, the last word.

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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