Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Armchair Psychologist

Like a lot of Americans, I went to a Super Bowl party on Sunday, hell-bent on eating at least 15 hot wings and two cups of French onion dip. I accomplished that mission by halftime, but I noticed a quiet little exchange that could serve as the prototype for nearly every male-female relationship quarrel. Read on:

One recently married couple huddled close together near the TV. She was nodding emphatically as he talked her through the game. I couldn't hear a lot of it, but it went something like, "Peyton Manning, blah, blah, blah...You see, this season, the Colts, blah, blah, blah..." You didn't have to be Dr. Phil to see that they were both into the game and into each other.

Another recently married couple sat beside me, sandwiched together in a leather armchair. The woman of the pair was watching the first couple talk.

"Why don't you ever teach me about football like that?" she asked.

"Ask questions!" he said, punctuating the sentence with his clipped, staccato tone.

She laughed quietly and nervously, as if to convince herself (and everyone around her, maybe?) that she had been joking, that she didn't really mean it, and of course, she was so silly, she should ask more questions, and now would anyone like some of this delicious French onion dip?

I liked their short, kind of sad conversation. In a way, it's the stereotypical female question ("Why aren't you more affectionate with me?") followed by the stereotypical male answer ("Because you never tell me that's what you want!"). The exchange sounded the same as a lot of other mundane gender misunderstandings that are drilled into our heads during romantic comedies and morning talk shows: "Why didn't you wash the dishes tonight?" "Because you didn't tell me to wash the dishes!" (See: The Break-Up.)

However, in the armchair couple's case, his answer came off as near-verbal abuse -- in a semi-public setting, no less. And, in a sense, wasn't she asking him right then to teach her about football?

I hoped their problems were as superficial as a Mars-Venus discrepancy rather than what I sensed it as: something more serious and cutting. "I feel so distant from you," followed by, "You bore me."


Blogger notfearingchange said...

It seems that the second couple suffer from the lay-blame syndrome. That way they are both free from their own actions.
just a thought

11:33 PM  
Blogger NewbietoNYC said...

I like that, notfearingchange. It's so much easier to put the reason for your own unhappiness squarely on someone else's shoulders.

12:12 AM  

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