The Way Things Are






Iím observing these bipeds.
2006-04-10, 2:20 p.m.

Iím a little sad today*, because my grandmotherís sister passed away over the weekend. She was a very nice lady, and the last time I saw her was at my grandmotherís Ė her sisterís Ė funeral in July of 2002. Iím really glad that the last time I talked to her, she said that my grandmother Frances ďwas always the pretty oneĒ, and I told her I think they were BOTH the pretty ones.

I suspect my great aunt might have been a little easier going, too. Pretty AND laid back. See where I get it?

I feel a bit uneasy, because her immediate family (this is my late fatherís family, so I donít have a parental representative in the hizzouse Ė my closest relative in the mix is my uncle) decided to do just a gravesite service with ONLY IMMEDIATE FAMILY INVITED, not even my uncle I donít think, which I can totally understand, because Iím sure they did not want to plan a whole big effing deal.

My mom was all worried, why donít they have a real funeral? Why donít they tell us when the service is? Why donít they invite us to it? She was wondering if there was something personal driving that decision, but I assured her that Iím sure they want to make it easy on themselves and NOT do the traditional luncheon-hosted-by-church-ladies after the services, and then have a bunch of people showing up at the house afterward, expecting to be fed and watered and socialized.

But what makes me feel uneasy is that weird lack of closure. I never believed much in closure before, but I think Iíve mostly had it with folks who have died, and I took it for granted. Itís strange not to go to Aunt Eís funeral and see my dadís cousins, and their kids, and tell our common stories about our grandmothers who were sisters, and quite the bad girls in an old-fashioned kind of way, I might add.

I obsessively looked for an obituary online this morning, but I canít even find that.

Anyway, just another reason getting older can really suck, eh? You lose that whole top layer of people, and your own parents become the top layer themselves, and before you know it, YOUíRE the top layer. Itís dangerous up there.


Please read the following excerpt, and select a conclusion based on the choices offered. Something to keep in mind is that we had agreed earlier in the day to work out together after work:

Me, and itís Friday night about, oh, say dark:thirty, and Iím talking to DW: OK, hereís my plan. Weíll work out, take a shower, and go out and get dinner somewhere. Then we need to pick up LG at 11:00.

Him: Iím feeling sick, like Iím hungover, and I canít catch my breath.

Me: Are you having a heart attack?

Him: I donít think so.

Me: OKÖ?

Him: Iíll try and see if I can work out with you a little. I think Iím just so out of shape. (He proceeds to do about half a workout, and then flops onto the couch)

What do you conclude from that conversation? Do you believe:

a. That DW intends to wait for me to finish working out and showering, and then squire me about town to one of the many fine restaurants small-town culture can provide?
b. That he wishes to stay in, due to not feeling well?
c. That he wants me to read his mind?

If you chose ďcĒ, you are correct.

Please read the following excerpt, and select a conclusion based on the choices offered:

After finishing my workout, I glance out the kitchen window, notice a beautiful sunset happening, and convince DW to get off the couch and come sit out on the front porch and watch the sunset with me, saying, ďThis is what we moved out here for. We could have stayed living in town to sit on the couch and watch TV. Letís not waste this.Ē

While sitting outside, admiring the sunset, and playing with the dogs, we receive a phone call from our friends, asking us if weíre going to the Sports Bar that evening. We tell the boozehounds ďmaybeĒ, and after DW hangs up the phone, I ask him if he really wants to go. He says, ďNo. It would be silly to get cleaned up, go into town, drink one beer, and then hit the road to pick up LG. Weíd be adding 45 minutes to our trip to pick him up, plus we donít need to drink before getting on the road.Ē

What do you conclude from that conversation? Do you believe:

a. That DW wants to stay home until time to pick up LG?
b. That DW wants me to hurry up and take a shower so we can go out?
c. That DW assumes I can read his mind?

If you chose ďcĒ, you are correct.


Itís the most confounding thing, my people, and I can only look at it with the detachment of perhaps a social scientist or anthropologist. Iím observing these bipeds as they attempt to communicate with each other, each continuously surprising the other with what they did NOT divine from the otherís lack of explanation.

As it turns out, after 1. telling me he felt sick, 2. not being able to finish a very easy 25-minute workout, 3. declining our friendsí invitation with an emphasis on the burden of driving back and forth when a drive into San Antonio was already on the agenda, and 4. just being generally sluggish and negative, DW did in fact think we were going out to eat.

It was the durndest thing. We came in from the front porch, sunset over, and he disappeared back into the back of the house without one word. I know what youíre wondering, and hell if I know. Maybe he had to poop. One never knows.

I had a flash of brilliance, and grabbed 4 corndogs and a couple of handfuls of tater tots from the freezer, and put them in the oven.

Next, I got a beer and sat down to watch TV and wait for our delicious, healthy, post-workout dinner to cook. Sure, he wasnít feeling good, but it would be rude not to cook for him. Because what if he had gone to poop, and he felt better afterward? Hell if I know.

And what did he do?

He came out from the bedroom, showered and dressed, and told me that if I didnít get a move-on and get showered, we werenít going to have time to eat.

Was your reaction to that like this: ???? Mine, too.

But-but-but, I spluttered. You donít feel good. You donít want to drive into town. I already put corndogs in the oven, but shit, they can go back in the freezer if you really want to go out. It was as if he had sprouted wings and were flying around the room while telling me this. What the hell happened here, I wondered.

It was a confounding lack of communication. I kept looking at him with that look, you know, the one your dog gives you when you tell her, ďWhen I say no, I mean no, and if you start chewing on that rug again, I am going to chase you around the house beating you with it.Ē I just totally didnít get it. I sat there with my brow frinkled, brain not computing.

Here are the things he thought, but did not say out loud. Or did not think loudly enough for me to read his mind:

1. I donít feel like working out, but Iím hip to the jive of going to get something to eat.
2. I donít want to drive into town and meet our friends at the bar, but Iím hip to the jive of going somewhere else with you to get something to eat.
3. I donít want to drive into town to get something to eat, but I do think we could drive to San Antonio and find a restaurant in the neighborhood where weíre picking up LG.

He said none of those things; assumed they were apparent to me. However, all I got out of him was a very generalized negativity to leaving the house and going out, when his plan all along was #3 above.

The general negativity didnít hurt my feelings in the LEAST. I am so very capable of feeding and entertaining myself, and if he doesnít feel good, he doesnít feel good. Iím not going to whine or complain or try to get him to change his mind. I switched quickly to Plan B: workout, watch sunset, drink a beer, eat corndogs.

What did kind of hurt my feelings is vague and hard to explain, but Iíll darn sure try, because I want to get my moneyís worth out of Dairyland. Here it is:

That he responded very negatively to something that he didnít actually feel all that negative about. Howís that for some grammar? Itís as if his knee-jerk reaction to my suggestion for making us a nice, simple Friday night, and frankly, keeping us awake until 11:00, was to throw out a blanket ďBlehhhÖĒ and then expect me to know what the ďblehĒ did and did not apply to.

Does your husband-or-other do that? Maybe not so much with the negativity. DW gets that tendency from his dad, who is a very loveable curmudgeon. Sure, I love that old curmudgeon, but I didnít want to marry him. But thatís a whole nuther story for another day.

But does your husband/partner/thing not really spell things out, and expect that you are either in his head with you so you know whatís going on in there, or that you can read his mind, and pick through the unspoken sentences and cobble together what he REALLY meant to say?

My part in this experience was that I shrugged, said OK, and went about my merry Plan B way. It didnít occur to me to try to pick it apart and make sure that what I thought he was saying to me was what he really meant.

Can you see any other thing I did or did not do to contribute here? Itís not like I think this is any big deal at all, but wouldnít it suck for our stellar lack-of-communication skills to muck up something important? What if we were to screw up our retirement plan, or world peace?

Iím thinking we are both so good at concealing what weíre thinking and what weíre going to do next, we should be spies.

*Iím not letting a little sad keep me from being a big self-absorbed.

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