Self-reassurance, or affirmation statement?

About a year ago, a new family moved in across the street.  A divorced head of household, her son with a girlfriend, and a daughter with two sons of her own, the elder of whom is bright, energetic, and over here with our two sons every day.  Others appear, or stop appearing, randomly. 

The said head of household has been revamping the landscaping and cleaning up trees and so forth.  She visited the other day, asking to borrow tools for the effort.  Sainted wife offered our stepladder and a telescoping pruner. 

At one point during a lull in the conversation, she said, "I don't need a man."  That struck me as rather queer.  Did she mean she didn't need a man to handle the landscaping that has utterly dominated her spare time for the entire summer?  She said it at a moment that I thought my sainted wife might not have heard it, almost that it was calculated so.  In retrospect, I found it somewhat offensive. 

I said, "well, you don't need a man until you need a man," meaning that it's easy for a woman to say she doesn't need a man, when she can borrow the things that tend to be available through a man from someone else's man. 

Since then I 've been thinking of about better  comebacks I should have offered, so she didn't think I was trying to hit on her, for example.  "None was offered," for example.  Please suggest your own comebacks in the comments. 

"Not until you need a ladder from one." 

"Is that an affirmation statement, or a self-reassurance?"

"Is that why you don't keep one around?" 

"'How's that working for you?" 

"Of course not, the world's your oyster, Toots." 

Eric Hoffer: where to start?

Due to recent reviews of the Longshoreman Philosopher's biographies in American Spectator and Reason, I've now got a yearning to read him.  Which would be best as a first read, one that has the most relevance for today's situation? I have to make a good first cut, considering other demands on my time. 

Amazon reviews are positive for The True Believer