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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Not-so-great Expectations

I wanna rant about something, and this looked like a good spot.

Sometimes our expectations about our behavior, and that of folks we love,
can be really dumb. Lemme give a couple of examples. Sure they're from
(US) TV shows, but I think we get many expectations from TV shows and
movies, and TV and movie writers draw their stories from our assumptions,
and occasionally, incidentally, from reality.

For example, the other day I saw an episode of "Scrubs." J.T. moves back
in with Turk and Carla after an extended absence. He jokingly comments
that they couldn't stand even a week alone while he was gone. And Carla
replies, "Yeah, we're in trouble," and walks away.

Huh? In trouble?

The assumption is that a married couple is always entirely comfortable all
by themselves, and are never more comfortable in a group. But that's just
dumb, for a couple of reasons. Many individuals are more comfortable
interacting with others in a group than one-on-one. What, they get
married, they magically become entirely different people? Of course not,
and just because the preacher just witnesses their vows, rather than
casting a magic spell to make them different people, that doesn't mean
they're in trouble. They're still the people they were, and each is still
the person the other loved enough to marry.

Humans are tribal. For tens of thousands of years, people have developed
their relationships while surrounded by the tribe, and their kids, and
their tribe's kids. We're still human. Deal with it.

Another assumption from another TV show, although it shows up in TV and
movies all the time. A show I clicked through on B.E.T; might have been
called "Girlfriends," but not one I watch all the time so I'm not sure. A
lady gets frustrated when her boyfriend doesn't propose, so she proposes
to him. He just kinda gives her a look, of astonishment, confusion, I
don't know what. Anyway, he doesn't say a word.

And she gets all embarassed and apologizes for saying anything and walks
away, and he still doesn't say anything.

The assumption here that bugs me is about proposals. When someone
proposes to you, you have only two valid responses: explosive enthusiasm,
screaming "Yes! Yes! Yes!" and a-kissin' and a-huggin' and whatnot; or
"Hell no, what the hell were you thinking? Go away, I never want to speak
to you again." Dumb. And you see this in romantic-comedy movies all the
time, too. ("Jerry Maguire" being an exception, of sorts, I suppose.
NOTE TO SELF: Gotta learn sign language.)

Marriage is about (hypothetically) spending the rest of your life with
someone. "It is not an arrangement to be entered into lightly." I mean,
you walk onto a used-car lot, the salesperson says, "Will you buy this
car?" And your only possible responses are "Yes! Yes! Yes!" or "Hell no,
I'd never buy a used car in this dump." Huh?

You might keep a used car for a few years, but even so, you ask questions
and expect answers. You discuss, compare, contrast and cogitate. You
give it thought, and if you're smart, you say, "Thank you very much" and
go away for a day or three to think about it. And that's just a car.
What, a lifetime should be an impulse buy?

How many divorces and breakups happen because real life doesn't match the
movies or, worse yet, the soap operas? "We just don't communicate." "You
don't excite me anymore." WTF? "We're in trouble." Sure, you're in
trouble -- and the trouble is you've forgotten you're in a relationship
with a real person, not a character in a sitcom.

I grew up in the Sixties, and I think it's sad so many folks still
evaluate their relationships based on movies from back then. Hey, they're
fiction! Rock Hudson and Doris Day? More recent indications are that the
late Rock Hudson would be unlikely to consider Doris Day his type.
Apparently Rock Hudson was a much better actor than I thought at the time.

You think it's a good idea to get relationship advice from last-century
movie writers?

Granted, I'm probably not the best resource on this stuff, either. I
haven't had a long-term relationship turn out well, and that may never
happen, and oh, well, it sucks to be me, huh? But I think it's a shame
that people who do have good relationships bail because it isn't perfect.

Even on TV. Because people see it on TV, and seem to think it must be
true, because they can't say it on TV if it's not true, right?

People aren't perfect. If life were easy, everyone would do it.

And that's all I have to say about that.

So, what do you think I can get on eBay for a slightly-used soapbox?

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