Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Friday, October 01, 2010

Party of Ten, Please

Friday, October 01, 2010 By

"What did he say about the car?" A.R. asked me after I hung up the phone.

"That wasn't a conversation about our car repairs. That was a conversation about our marriage," I laughed.

And it kind of was. All of the unspoken things that went into the conversation - which, on the surface, were about struts, strut mounts, and CV joints - were about our relationship. For her, it must have been like watching a Bertrand Blier film without subtitles.

(Update: Alice Wynn tells me that the Bertrand Blier reference was pretentious as hell. I argue that it's not. We cannot agree. So in place of Bertrand Blier, you can imagine any director who concentrates on male-female relationships. We couldn't think of anyone except Woody Allen. but he doesn't count, because all Woody Allen films are really about Woody Allen. Except now I remember Pedro Almodovar. Is that still a pretentious reference, Alice? Is Blier pretentious because he's French, or because he's European?)

Lots of things in life are an unspoken negotiation. But negotiations in relationships are entirely different - because some kind of conflict is inevitable due to the fact that so much of what occurs is actually inside the minds and hearts of the people involved.

One might say, "Dishes are done," just to let one's partner know that task has been checked off the list. One's partner might hear "I did the dishes because you wouldn't," or "I did the dishes, now you do the laundry." Another partner might hear, "Dishes are done," and think "Big deal; I cut the grass." Those statements might not be part of the spoken conversation, but they're still present within the negotiations.

In this conversation, while I desired one course of action to ensure things were done correctly, he desired another course of action to avoid conflict, increase overall efficiency and save money. Both courses of action had benefits. But he was more aggravated by the situation than I expected. So, as a compromise, I asked for a separate, smaller, additional action, to which he agreed. Negotiations complete.

But what he was thinking? I may never know. It may have been, "What does she know about car repairs?!" It may have been, "Please do not make me deal with these people again." It might have been, "I don't give a flying crap about the car. I'd rather just buy a new one." Speculation does no good because even if I know the thoughts, the inflection, intention and accompanying imagery can never be known. Neither does he know what went on in my mind while we talked about it - nor should he.

Ah, relationships. You think it's a dialogue. But it's an ensemble cast.


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