html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: I'm not a tip-toe Tom, I'm a tell you straight.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I'm not a tip-toe Tom, I'm a tell you straight.

While Chris and I were playing catch, I asked him a question I’ve been asking a lot of people lately. “Chris,” I asked, “what does it mean to be passive-aggressive?” Chris was surprised at the question, and then he laughed and said “That’s right. You wouldn’t know about that.”

Chris and Anand have this notion that I am fearless. They must have got that from back in undergrad, when I would walk anywhere at any time by myself. And I would speak up at meetings to say unpopular things. And when the sociopath moved into our hippy house, I was fine with confronting him directly and being the one to speak for getting him ousted. (By sociopath, I don’t mean someone whom I didn’t really like and by the way he also eats meat! I mean profoundly broken monster whom I liked much better when he was sentenced to the Atascadero State Hospital, but has unfortunately been released again.) Oh yeah, and then there was the time when Chris and Anand and I were walking back from BART and I got groped by this big guy who was with his big friend. It took both Chris and Anand to hold me back, because I was going to go explain to him that he owed me an apology.

So Chris and Anand think I am fearless, and I guess in those instances the literal meaning is true. I just plain wasn’t scared in any of those circumstances. Honestly, I don’t think I would be if they came up again; those aren’t scary things for me. But I am far from fearless. The interactions that scare me are basic ones, ones that you need to build honest relationships. Specifically, interactions where I am asking for something I want, and likely implying that my feelings were hurt before. Things like “please call if you are going to cancel our plans”, or “I took that hard when you said that”, or even “I think it is time for a raise.” Conversations like that are terrifying for me. I think about them in advance for days, knowing that it has to be done, but when the time comes my hands are still ice cold and my throat closes so I can barely get words out and I end the conversation before it is fully resolved.

Dreading conversations like those is what got me thinking about being passive-aggressive. ‘Cause you know what is really, really tempting? To post about that stuff here! So easy! I can be all “Darling readers, don’t you agree that any right-thinking person would do things exactly the way I want for all of these excellent reasons?” And maybe I know that people who are doing things wrong are reading this, and they can get the message, and I don’t have to have an honest, straightforward conversation with them about important things! Truly, it sounds great. I’ve never been a passive-aggressive person, but maybe I haven’t had the venue before. I think this is going to open up whole new horizons for me.

For those of you who come searching for "tip-toe Tom":

The song is called Going Down South, off the R.L. Burnside album Bothered Mind. Lyrics Born is singing. I also like the Lyrics Born album Later That Day, for a hip-hop funk sound.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hard to believe you'd be the aggressive type, you've got those cute under eye wrinkles from smiling too much.

3:50 PM  
Blogger poot said...

i just found your bloog the other day, i forget who linked to you- marginal revolution maybe? i dunno, but whatever, you're rockin. i rss'd you.

wow, i just wrote a fan post, how lame am i?

7:49 PM  
Blogger matt said...

I'm about the same way. I think a lot of us blogger folk probably are, actually.

3:56 AM  
Anonymous thelonious_nick said...

If you think posting about it here is going to get the drunk guy to quit defecating in the community garden shed, I'm not sure it's going to work. Or were you thinking of somebody else's actions?

7:04 AM  
Anonymous peefer said...

Fine. Be passive-aggressive. See if I care.

7:21 AM  

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