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a blog by Ann Althouse

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"(The mother of Marina Warner, the beautiful and brilliant English cultural historian, used to ask her, 'Why do you keep disagreeing with men? They don’t like it, you know.')"

"Women who are admired as beauties risk dismissal as brains. But Didion was both. It was non-negotiable: it was impossible to dismiss her words, and it was impossible to ignore her looks. Like her words, they were spare, elegant, and arresting...."

From "Joan Didion’s Priceless Sunglasses/An auction of the writer’s possessions is further confirmation of how, for Didion, style was not surface but essence" by Roxana Robinson (The New Yorker).

"People talk about how hard it is to make friends as an adult but all you have to do is ask someone what their favorite deep sea creature is..."

"... everyone has one and they are desperately waiting to tell you about it."

Tweeted Andrew Nadeau, last year.

Why did I remember that? Probably because it has a cool balance of generality and specificity. (Really, why do you remember things?!) 

But it sprang to mind when I saw a photograph — "A dugong, which is a notoriously elusive marine mammal, photographed in the Red Sea, near the Egyptian resort town of Marsa Alam" — submerged deep in the NYT Style magazine article "The 25 Travel Experiences You Must Have/A pair of internationally minded writers, a chef, an architect and a landscape photographer made a list of the most extraordinary adventures a person should seek out. Here are the results." 

To experience them [the dugongs], you must fly into the nearest international airport, in the town of Vilankulo, and then organize a helicopter or dhow ride to one of the archipelago’s many resorts and lodges....

No, I am not going to do that, so I don't know what will happen to me, given that you say I "must" have this experience. I'm going to bet that I need not do this. And I was out even before I read "organize a helicopter or dhow ride." I'm not organizing anything.

Found in the shallow coastal waters of as many as 40 countries, the large and placid dugong (imagine a manatee with a wider, shorter snout) is intensely shy, and its population is considered “vulnerable”....

Well, then maybe what we "must" do is leave the creatures alone. Maybe just talk about them, as we try to make friends with those other intensely shy, vulnerable animals, the human beings.

"We asked more than 100 millennials and Gen Xers about their parents’ phone habits. Around half said their parents are good..."

"... about not being on their phones too much and being present in the moment.... The rest, however, are absorbed in their devices. They are playing Words with Friends, Candy Crush and card games, often with the volume turned up. They are looking at the news, checking sports scores, scrolling Facebook and texting. Some are even using them as actual phones. 'Phone calls are the worst,' says Richard Husk, a parent of two. 'They will take a 45-plus-minute phone call with some random golf buddy while I am over with the kids trying to visit with them.' Tyler McClure said his mom is on Facebook constantly and can’t do anything without her phone, while his dad 'Googles the things he’s watching on television as he watches television.'... Many people we spoke to said their parents enjoy reading things out loud from their phones, telling their families or anyone nearby about the weather, the headlines or viral stories that may or may not be true...."

From "Baby boomers can’t stop staring at their phones/Everyone struggles to put down their phones, but some families have had enough" (WaPo).

Reading the news and reading things out loud that you think ought to be shared – that's what my grandfather used to do. He was born in 1899, and the news was in the newspaper. Of course, there was only one copy of the newspaper in the house, and he was the one with the claim to the front section. He'd be sitting in his chair in the corner of the living room, newspaper open in front of his face, and he applied his own standards to what ought to be heard by the rest of us. No one ever considered that this might be some sort of old-man, out-of-it habit that the younger people should mobilize to fix!

And thank God if your aging parent has friends. How dare you characterize your father's friend as "random"? If someone is his friend, that person is not random. I think this Husk fellow ought to think about what he's doing when he's "over with the kids trying to visit with" his father. Maybe dad is trying to give Husk the clue that the visit has gone on too long. Are you there for a few hours, or are you visiting for days? I don't know, but I don't think you should disrespect your father in the newspaper like that.

I wish my father were still alive, spending too much time on the phone or not. And I would love to hear Pop (my grandfather) read selections from the Wilmington Morning News again.

Some pages of Bob Dylan's "Philosophy of Modern Song" are photos like this with a couple sentences isolated from the text.

I find that pretty amusing. You can buy the book here. I have the audiobook and the Kindle text, so I'm usually out walking around listening. I like Bob's voice, reading, and the various actors who read some of it are good too. I intersperse that reading with playing the songs. Here's a Spotify playlist of the songs. I have the Kindle so I can find quotes to blog, but in this case, I need the Kindle so I can see the illustrations, and then I also need the Kindle so I can contextualized those captions.

Here, in this case, it's:

She says look here mister lovey-dovey, you’re too extravagant, you’re high on drugs. I gave you money, but you gambled it away, now get lost. You say wait a minute now. Why are you being so combative? You’re way off target. Don’t be so small minded, you’re being goofy. I thought we had a love pact, why do you want to shun me and leave me marooned. What’s wrong with you anyway? I’m telling you, let’s be amiable, and if you’re not, I’m going to wrap this relationship up and terminate it. You’re asking her for money. She says money is the root of all evil, now take a hike. You try to appeal to her sensual side but she’s not having it. She’s got another man, which infuriates you no end. 

But no other man could step into your shoes, no other man can swap places with you. No other man would pinch-hit when it comes to her. How could it happen? I get it, she’s not in love with you anyway, she is in love with the almighty dollar. Now you’ve learnt your lesson, and you see it clear. Used to be you only associated with extraordinary people, now they’re all a dime a dozen, but you have to keep it in perspective. There’s always someone better than you, and there’s always someone better than him. You want to do things well. You know you can do things, but it’s hard to do them well. You don’t know what your problem is. The best things in life are free, but you prefer the worst. Maybe that’s your problem.

Now, what song is he talking about? 

See how he's inhabiting the main character in the song and paraphrasing the lyrics, but he's making the main character "you." He's giving this ridiculous person his say.

I propose a party game based on Bob Dylan's philosophy of song. Prior to the event, get your group to agree on a list of songs that everyone knows. Then, when it's your turn, you do a little monologue as the character in the song, not using the lyrics to the song, but restating the character's circumstances and feelings. Play it like charades, but with talking.

So, what's the song? The best things in life are free, but you prefer the worst. That's hilarious.

I've got 8 TikToks for you tonight. I hope something here is fun for you.

1. The bumblebee's tongue. 

2. The innocent dachshund. 

3. Jordan Peterson says: Marry young. 

4. Much more advice for guys. 

5. Cursing. Seriously, don't watch that unless you want to hear some hilarious, intense cursing.

6. The corn kid reflects on his retirement. 

7. The immigrant's point of view.

8. Vicious panda attack. 

"King Charles and Queen Camilla... occupy three bedrooms: one shared room and an individual private boudoir each."

"The arrangement has been hailed as a recipe for marital harmony: no recriminations about toast crumbs on the duvet or arguments over whether to invite the Jack Russell terriers aboard, and plenty of space to starfish. And it turns out that King Charles is a bedroom trendsetter. The latest YouGov sleep study reveals that one in five couples have switched to separate beds (or opted for sleep divorce, as it’s cheerily known), with women (41 per cent) more likely than men (33 per cent) to say they sleep better alone...."

From "Are you ‘sleep divorced’? Here’s why single beds are back" (London Times).

What, exactly, is a boudoir? I get it that there are 3 bedrooms, and like the idea of 3 connected rooms, which could work very well in a house to accommodate the varied sleep patterns of a married couple and also be usable as guest bedrooms, but what makes an extra bedroom into a "boudoir." That sounds exciting, but why?

I see — in the OED — that the etymology is "< French boudoir lit. ‘a place to sulk in’, < bouder to pout, sulk." Is pouting exciting? Not really, but a room designed for pouting is hilarious. Were women accused of pouting when they just wanted to be alone? Was the word (and the room) used to get distance from a family member who was depressed?

Anyway... a boudoir is "A small elegantly-furnished room, where a lady may retire to be alone, or to receive her intimate friends. Formerly sometimes applied to a man's private apartment."

The OED has a quote from the diary of the second United States President, John Adams: "In what he calls his Boudoir, a little room between his Library and Drawing Room."

Here's the whole quote — in case you wonder who "he" was. It's incredibly boring (seriously... do not read what follows... or do read it, out loud, to someone else, after you've led them to think you're about to read something delightful):

I should not omit Alderman Bridgens Nuns, and Verses. About 30 Years ago Mr. Bridgen in the Austrian Netherlands purchased a compleat Collection of the Portraits of all the orders of Nuns, in small duodecimo Prints. These he lately sent as a Present to the Hide, and Mr. Hollis has placed them in what he calls his Boudoir, a little room between his Library and Drawing Room. Mr. Bridgen carried down with him a Copy of Verses of his own Composition, to be hung up with them. The Idea is that banished from Germany by the Emperor they were taking an Asylum at the Hide, in sight of the Druid, the Portico of Athens and the verable [sic] Remains of Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Carthaginian Antiquities.

"Her disability was not a dealbreaker — we didn’t even talk about it for the first couple of dates. We really connected. And of course, I thought she was very beautiful."

Said husband Rudy Izzie, quoted in "Defying odds, quadriplegic woman in Virginia has twins/Since Dani Izzie got pregnant, she’s had to deal with strangers saying she’s selfish and she can’t possibly take care of her babies" (WaPo).

From Dani Izzie: "I had some insecurity and doubt, wondering, ‘How am I going to take care of a baby if I can barely take care of myself?’... Everyday life was already challenging.... People rarely see disabled people represented in caregiving roles. I want them to see me and realize that disability is just a normal part of life.... Everybody has their challenges, whether they have a disability or not."

"The geometry of a throuple is complex. With a couple, there’s only a straight line connecting two dots. But introduce a third point..."

"... and so many more possibilities emerge — only one of which is an equilateral triangle. Although the Third slept between us in bed, sat across from us at dinner and walked between us holding both of our hands, the angles in our throuple kept shifting."

From a NYT "Modern Love" essay, "A Throuple’s Tricky Geometry" by Evan Sterrett.

I found this story hard to believe — 3 men and a chihuahua sleeping night after night in a queen-size bed?

One early July morning, I opened my eyes to my boyfriend making out with the guy who had been living with us for the past month. Not really a fan of sex before tooth-brushing, I smiled, mumbled “hot” and turned over....

I see I have a tag for "geometry." When did I ever blog about geometry before?

"A lawyer I just interviewed told me essentially that there was no reason to go into the office at his firm since no one was there, so if you go in, you are all alone."

"He works from home, as does almost everyone. It is just no fun, and there is really no law firm at all. Just a bunch of people logging in. That is why he is interviewing with me — because he wants a place to go where he has friends and human interaction.... At my firm, I am proud to say — and, indeed, the whole point of the firm — is that we are together. We are having fun with each other. We all have friends here. We are a team. We are in the office partly to do work, and partly so we can all add value to each other. Professional value, emotional value, inspirational value, value when we are down to get picked up, value to have the thrill of teaching and being taught, and every other kind of value. Yes, we have bad days of stress, but overall it is fun to be in our office with our friends.... If you are the employer — the partners — you need to make sure your office is one that people want to go to. Or they won’t go in, and as I said, it is game over, sooner or later."

From "Work From Home = Dead Law Firm/Working at home, to your bosses, can make you seem nothing more than a fungible billing unit" by Bruce M. Stachenfeld (Above the Law).

(I only clicked through to that article because of the picture, which was displayed in a much larger version at Facebook. It accounts for my use of the "men in shorts" tag.) 

ADDED: The linked article takes the extrovert's perspective and much of human life has been structured around the preferences and capabilities of the extrovert. The lockdown imposed the structuring that would have been chosen all along by the introverts — if only they'd been vocal and active enough to structure the lives of others the way they would structure it for themselves. Now, the extroverts want to deprive them of working conditions that served them well. The extroverts presume the are the normal we've got to get back to.

I can't watch the TV show "The Office" because office life makes me feel bad, but isn't the opinion expressed in that article pretty close to the attitude expressed by the boss on that show: "We are having fun with each other. We all have friends here. We are a team. We are in the office partly to do work, and partly so we can all add value to each other...."

When you are the guy who says things like that, you don't understand how it feels to those who don't say things like that.

"[S]o nauseatingly into this project is Terence that he has got ahead of himself and started incorporating Thursday’s behaviours (give compliments) and Saturday’s (the non-sexual mini-touch) into his repertoire."

"Translation: a day spent with him insisting that I am a 'very special lady' while attempting foot frottage with his gnarled extremities. There are few things that repulse me more than a man playing footsie, not least a man whose toenails could be classed as offensive weapons. The dog howls, whipped into a green-eyed frenzy. I feel utterly claustrophobic, stalked in my own home by a life partner turned dodgy uncle. Unable to take any more, I flash forward to Friday and 'ask for what I need,' since, 'We all have valid desires. But we don’t say them. We drop hints. We suggest. We hope our partners will "just know."' 'Terence,' I announce, 'I need us to stop doing this anti-divorce course. It is destroying me, and thus, us.'"

From "I tried to reboot my relationship in 7 days. Here’s what happened/Marriage experts John and Julie Gottman say a couple can reset their relationship in just a week. Hannah Betts and her partner, Terence, try out the ‘love prescription’" (London Times).

Reading this column, I was able to figure out that John Gottman was the man in TikTok video #5 that I recommended in a post on October 15th. I titled it "When your partner makes a bid for your attention." 

The TikTok user didn't identify the speaker and seems to have just taken a snippet of this 47-minute video put up on YouTube by The Gottman Institute.

The snippet in question was about the "Day one" prescription "Make Contact." Here's Hannah Betts on her Day One experience with Terence:

Monday, day one, involves 'turning towards'.... Say what? “ ‘When one person attempts to initiate a small connection by making a bid,’ ” reads Tez “ ‘— it could be physical or verbal, overt or subtle — and their partner then responds in one of three ways. Either they turn towards that bid, turn away from it, or turn against it.’"...

The 12 hours of turning that ensue are interminable: Terence forever twinkling his eyes at me, initiating regulation six-second snogs and pressing his clammy forehead against mine....

Some pages of Bob Dylan's "Philosophy of Modern Song" are photos like this with a couple sentences isolated from the text.

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