Sometimes a smile is all it takes?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/09/03 03:01 -04:00, original URI:

This blog has no redeeming social value whatsoever, but it seems to have been written, and you seem to be reading it....

I was settled in, no big plans beyond avoiding the 90210 series premier and the moral decay that this particular phoenix rising would represent.

And then the phone rang.

It was my friend Andrea.

She was calling to yell at me.

Well, that was my first approximation. I should probably dig a little deeper.

Initially she wanted to know what was going on with me. But not much is, and she has something els on her mind anyway.

She just broke up with her boyfriend, Jacob.

It wasn't anything I said or did and it really had nothing to do with me.

I was curious why she would be so unhappy with me, in that case. Though I have learned the hard way that the temptation to try to solve problems that men have must be avoided when venting is going on. What's the expression? Something like

Don't try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and avoids the pig.

but I think this, do not say it. Since Andrea is not a pig, and saying this right then would probably just make things worse.

I try to divert her a bit, thank her for calling me at a more reasonable hour.

It doesn't work. She is really missing Jacob. But nit really talking about the situation in a way to help me understand what I can do.

Yes I know I  shouldn't try to do anything, maybe. But I figure it is better to keep my options open; I'd hate to finish the call realizing I could've done more.

Music is playing in the background. Here is something I can maybe use to understand the situation, if she picked the song, that is.


She is listening to Elizabeth Fraser, and her song This Love (mentioned previously here).

The voice just slays me. In my dreams there is some woman who somehow is a magic combination of Vienna Teng and Liz Phair who sounds like Elizabeth Fraser. I wake up before the song ends because it would mean I arrived in heaven and therefore died. Which they say you can't do in dreams, I guess.

Wait, I was talking about something here.

Andrea. Andrea used to love this song and felt like it expressed her feelings for Jacob. Now she has listened to it and really paid attention to the lyrics and realizes that it is not a very hopeful theme-bearing kind of a song.

The song is on repeat.

It is like six and a half minutes long, and a rough one to listen to even once, in my opinion.

This love
Doesn't have to feel love
Doesn't care to be love
It doesn't mean a thing
This love

It kills me when I hear it, but some people think I am dead inside these days, so this wouldn't really block me. It's kind of like how Kenny dies every week, you know?

Now as things turn out Andrea is mad at me because I have been getting her thinking about looking at the lyrics of songs -- to think about ways to get me out of my shell. So while listening to this song repeatedly she thought about this antisocial habit of mine and she started listening to the lyrics. and then, like the man who thinks he is blind for years only to find out that his hat was simply a bit too large, she realized that the song that she thought represented her deep feelings actually better represented the end of the relationship.

Aha, so now I know why she is mad at me, at least.

I could argue that this is not what I have been saying to try to defend myself. But she'll get that soon anyway and in the mentime I would have robbed her of what she is trying to do to make sense of it all. So I leave that whole track alone.

Instead I ask her what happened.

They had really been growing apart for some time. Well, closer sexually but apart emotionally. They both knew it but denied it, until they both realized that they couldn't keep pretending they didn't want anything different.

I've been there before. Denial (Da Nile) may be a river in egypt but it has tributaries flowing through many of our lives.

I put on another song, softly: Better Things by The Kinks, playing on SLOW in WMP (Ctrl+Shift+S is your friend).

I sing the second verse softly:

Here's wishing you the bluest sky
And hoping something better comes tomorrow
Hoping all the verses rhyme
And the very best of choruses to
Follow all the doubt and sadness
I know that better things are on their way

And then I turn the song down low. I think I made my point.

I can hear her smiling over the phone line. If you don't know what I mean by that then I probably wouldn't be able to explain it. I know that some of you know what I mean.

She tells me that I really suck, and that she didn't call to feel better. She called to yell at me.

I tell her that I knew that. But even at night I can be productive, sometimes.

She thanks me, then curses me a bit.

We chat a bit longer, I request and receive permission to blog about the conversation, and here we are.

There is no good reason to blog any of this, but I decided I may as well do so. Sometimes a smile....

This blog brought to you by(U+0c78, aka TELUGU FRACTION DIGIT ZERO FOR ODD POWERS OF FOUR)

John Cowan on 3 Sep 2008 11:40 AM:

"Annoys the pig", please.

Listening to "troubles talk" is a bonding activity; women do it, and contribute their own troubles, not because they want solutions, but because they want to feel closer to each other.  (See Tannen's books, which are the best I know on the subject of how men and women communicate, at least partly because they are written by a sociolinguist rather than a sociologist or psychologist.)  Men's typical SOA (solution-oriented architecture) gets in the way of this.

Sometimes it runs the other way.  My wife Gale's friend Tom used to talk to her about his troubles, but when she reciprocated with her own troubles, he got annoyed with her for changing the subject.  Listening, especially active listening ("I think you're feeling ..."), isn't easy for anybody.

Jonathan Rascher on 3 Sep 2008 4:33 PM:

I believe that quote ends with "<i>annoys</i> the pig".

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