html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Grateful.

Friday, December 01, 2006


I needed to talk to someone last night, so obviously I called Chris. Chris was himself, which is to say, sweet and understanding and going straight to the heart of the problem. Chris’ great gift is his unfailing empathy, and the way he matches his responses to your needs. Almost. On the one hand, I can completely count on him for something I like very much. Chris doesn’t offer sympathy when it would undo me, and with me, he will joke about miserable situations. That is often a fantastic relief. I know he also values that in me. When he was gentrifying Oak Park and had to keep seeing stupid pointless violence, I was his calm voice, who just grinned and asked him if he was going to make a necklace out of the bullets in his fence. So Chris and I do that well.

But Chris’ unconditional love and acceptance doesn’t make him a very good person to turn to when you’re the person bringing you down. I’m all, “Chris, I’ve got to change my wicked ways and live on the straight and narrow!” And he’s all “How are you going to do that?” So I said “Next time I’m about to do stupid shit, I’ll call you, and you’ll tell me not to!” And he’s all “No I won’t.” It’s true. He won’t. He’ll just bathe me in love and acceptance and tell me I’m a great person, which isn’t exactly helpful.

I thought more about it and then I called Margie, who was willing to take on the responsibility of agreeing that I shouldn’t do stupid shit. I’m sure she’ll be nothing but gentle and tactful. And then I got to thinking about whom I go to, for what.

I go to Claudia or Le when I need someone who is willing to spend lots of time in the details. I try to avoid blanket statements about genders, but really? Women are so much better at this. You skip something relevant, like whether he said ‘I’ll call you’ or ‘talk to you later’ and they will back the story up until they understand every last part exactly. Claudia and Le will also do something few of my other friends will, which is condemn people. I call Shabana when I need someone who will help me search a situation for the best possible explanation for why people acted wrong. She always assumes the best of everyone; when I need to get along, she’ll help me find a way to do that. Not Claudia or Le. They get right in there with “nope, she’s did that ‘cause she’s a selfish bitch.” Very helpful sometimes; as, to pick any old example, when your best friend dates your ex.

I sometimes try my guy friends. If I call Teddy, I could well start with “woe is me” and end spending forty minutes discussing fruit. If I call Anand, we’ll be giggling and making fun of each other within minutes, which is fun, but doesn’t really answer burning questions about what that guy secretly meant when he said “I don’t want to be in a serious relationship.”

I wrote to a new girlfriend last night, who came though with a perceptive and thoughtful and supportive letter back. I knew she would. The blog has been very kind to me that way; bringing me new people whom I can go to for help in new ways. (Amanda, my boss really liked the SpeedGeekery technique. I did not, however, provide him a link to our discussion.) I am lucky to have you out there.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

An excellent collection of friends; congratulations on acquiring so many cool contacts. I have similar arrangements of friends for various purposes, though they're growing a bit rusty with my current bliss.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What wicked ways? What wicked things were you doing that you didn't tell us about?


3:50 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Not even fun wicked things. Just dumb girl things, like whining about boys instead of going out and having fun even though I knew better.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect she has bicycled without a helmet....

I know she challenges wrestlers who outweigh her by 50 pounds to knock-down drag-out fights.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I've been pretty good about wearing my helmet recently, 'cause I don't want to Tall Chris to be disappointed in me. Another excellent use for a friend.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guyspeak: “I don’t want to be in a serious relationship.”

Translation: "I am up for a roll in the sack but am not really interested in spending time with you. Lets just have sex with no strings attached until I get tired of it or find someone better."

If the female continues to pursue the guy, she may hold the guy's attention for a while but will inevitably end up asking "How can I get my boyfriend to love me?"

It is sad that so many women (and men) are strongly, serially attracted to partners who just aren't that into them.

-SV Insomniac

3:26 AM  
Blogger Dubin said...

I am willing to condemn people.

(Just for the record in case you need me.)

11:40 AM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

I too am great at ferreting out bad motives. Also at telling when things are going poorly and at predicting disasters. Wish I was better at solutions.

I'm impressed and amazed that you've managed to find so many people who will, well, take your side, for lack of a better term. In my single life, I usually ended up sorry when I went to most of the people I knew with problems; at best, they'd dismiss the situation as "it's over, so forget about it ," or worse, use it to manipulate me later when they wanted something, ("See, this is why no one likes you, because you don't appreciate your friends") or construe the complaint as really being against themselves somehow ("Oh, is that what you think of me, too?").

Like, once at a law school charity function a creep from your class I'll call That 70s Guy decided to grope my chest in front of a bunch of other students. The female friend I told screamed at me that I should just be grateful I got so much attention from guys. The male friend told me it served me right for trying to socialize with other people instead of having sex with the male friend.

One of my flaws is overrelating to situations that aren't necessarily analogous.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spungen: Wow. Unless I'm missing some extreme circumstance, that's awful. I can't imagine why someone wouldn't take your side. -K.

On a slightly different note, I don't really understand the mentality that says 'it's okay to give her (him) a grope, they won't mind' or 'I can get away with this! [grope]'.

Maybe I'm not much of an alpha? Low T? (Don't get me wrong: I like girl parts just as much as the next guy -- it's just never occurred to me to grab them because I like them. It seems wrong, gross and disrespecful.)

Are there any admitted gropers out there who are willing to explain?

12:37 PM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

Anonymous, I don't think she truly thought I should be grateful. I think it was more an issue of simply not wanting to show that loyalty. I think she resented me having what she saw as a claim for sympathy from others, and wanted to make sure I didn't get any, because she saw that as taking attention and power away from her.

I'm not the only woman I know that's happened to, and it's not the only time that's happened to me. I don't think the guy thought I wanted him to; I think he just knew he could get away with it. He wasn't an "alpha"; he was considered something of a weirdo. No. 1, I had made the mistake of thinking I could attend the event alone (since my so-called friends refused to go with me), and No. 2, I had made the mistake of getting dumped by a friend of his and getting treated rather disrespectfully.

The overall point being, this sort of thing does not happen when you're fortunate enough to have people who have your back.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the talking-to-someone front, I'm an undergrad, and am pretty sure I'm one of the kind of geeky guys you've mentioned in previous posts. Things haven't been going well for me romantico-sexually (to coin a phrase)
for quite a while, and it's incredibly frustrating and crazy-making. To indulge in a bit of melodrama, is there hope for me?


9:49 PM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

Paul, it might help freelance strategizers to know:

1) How old are you/what year are you?

2) Any relevant ethnicity issues?

3) What have you tried so far? are you getting shot down, or are you not even sure how to try?

4) What kind of geek? Math, enviro, science-fiction, history ...? What kind of school -- large or small, religious or not, public or not, general region of country.

5) Is this a recent problem or have you always had it?

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> To indulge in a bit of
> melodrama, is there hope for me?

One more question: is this in general, or specifically with Megan?

In the latter case, I can not advise you, but Megan would be well qualified to answer.

In the former case, the answer is unreservedly yes. There is no guy so geeky that some girl would not find him appealing. In my case, my wife had just finished reading "Smart Women, Foolish Choices" when she met me, plus I was driving a cool car. Otherwise, the movie star good looks that I had at the time would not have been enough to redeem me for the way I dressed.

Who could have known she was a member of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Polyester?

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SV Insomniac's comment is exactly correct. Tangle with the "not up for a serious relationship" guy at your own risk. Although he is sort of indirectly honest and therefore much less dangerous than the guy who just says whatever you want to hear until he is gets tired of you.

Paul: a girl will like you eventually. Keep an eye out for any woman who giggles at odd moments, gets inappropriately close, and/or invites you back to her room and then gazes at you expectantly. Hang around a large assortment of women who are roughly as attractive as you are and share some common interests, and then eventually one of them will start behaving like this. I know the wait gets long, especially since you are at your sexual peak and all.


12:00 AM  
Blogger Cladeedah said...

I think it's funny that everyone came up with the same name for That 70's Guy.

That 70's Guy was a freak. Reminded me of another guy I knew called Vampyre Eddy. They had a lot of the same mannerisms and creepy weirdo vibes.

Megan! I have big melodrama right now. I might need a level head to help me sift through the issues. Will you be home tonight?

9:59 AM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

Wow, someone else from King Hall. Hope I didn't out myself. Fortunately there were lots of other crazy people there ... there was, however, only one 6'5" woman that I remember! Didn't know ya though. BTW, the fact that everyone hopes you're in the WNBA just speaks to how comparatively uncool lawyering is.

Anonymous, I reiterate: Don't feel bad about not being a groper, I don't know anyone it's worked for. "Alphas" don't have to grope.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

HAH! I didn't realize until Claudia mentioned it who That 70s Guy was! Now I remember. He groped you? Ewwww.

Claudia, sugar. I am home tonight. Call me. I'll be wearing a towel, which will probably fall to the floor in my rush to get to the phone.

Also... The Funnier Megan and I hang out, like, two times a week. She just moved to Midtown, so we went to the new Taka's last night. You have to move back.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

Oh, I used to walk to Taka's for sushi.

Speaking of midtown, I miss the gay coffeehouse.

TSG was set off by Sleazy Libertarian Guy, who apparently started a rumor (untrue) that I wasn't wearing a bra. That's what I get for thinking that I was safe at any event with "Women's" in the title. Sisterhood, my gluteus.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spungen: I don't feel bad. (I don't feel bad about not being a bank robber, either.)

I suppose why I asked was this: there was a guy I knew in grad school who was popular with most everyone. One day, a female friend that I knew was irritated at the assumption that he was a great guy, etc. and said that he had groped her. I never asked him about it or asked her to elaborate, but it did change my view of him (as did seeing some of his other, caddish behavior.) -K.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a junior, almost 21. I'm at a small Northeast private college. There aren't any ethnicity issues involved, though there would be at a school with fewer people of my 'ethnicity'. I'm a major in what's basically a social science (not that many schools have it, so I'd rather not say what it is at this point for anonymity's sake). I'm pretty into my major--I'm pretty sure that it's basically my vocation--but I'd say I'm generally sort of a geeky type (smart, awkward, into SF&F, I use firefox w/ multiple extensions, etc).

More on all of this later.

11:08 PM  
Blogger Cladeedah said...

Megan - I hope The Funnier Megan gave you the crabs. :-P

Spungen - who are you? Were you in our class?

11:15 PM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

Cladee: You were a 1L, I believe, when I was a 3L. I remember you because you were sort of famous for being tall. ;)

I, on the other hand, was a little disturbed by how many other women there looked just like me.

11:55 PM  

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