Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Everyone's a Little Queer

...but me and thee, and thee's a little strange.

That was told to me by a college friend. It was a saying his grandmother would use, whenever people were gossiping. Gossip. That ugly word. I don't know anyone that doesn't engage in gossip at least a little. Some do nothing but gossip. Although it may be based on truth, gossip usually doesn't get the whole truth. The damage done by gossip is irreparable.

A story that illustrates gossip is the preacher that was supposedly having an affair with the church secretary. All of the congregation were involved in spreading these rumors about the leader of the flock. There was talk of firing the preacher, or firing the secretary, or both. Well, lo and behold, none of it was true. No affair was taking place. In the spirit of Christian love, the congregation went to the preacher to ask for forgiveness. The preacher instructed the congregation to take a feather pillow to the top of the local mountain, rip it open, scatter the feathers, and pick up every feather. It cannot be done. The rumor will always float around on the next breeze.

I bring this up due to a couple with whom Sybil and I go to church. Let's call the wife Jane and the husband Dick (no pun intended). There is a rumor floating around that Dick is emotionally (for now) involved with a married woman. There are phone calls. She calls him numerous times throughout the day. Her husband is spreading gossip about his wife and Dick. Knowing Dick and Jane, all of this seems to be very hard to believe. Although Jane can be abrasive and tends to talk down to Dick, they have been married about 15 years and have three children. The gossip and innuendo swirling around Dick and Jane have been the talk of everyone. The problem is NO ONE knows what is happening, except the wife and Dick and maybe Jane. All of this talk is just that: talk. Destructive talk. Now, whenever we look at Dick and Jane, we wonder.

This got Sybil to thinking and imagining. She has a wonderfully active imagination and likes to noodle things about. She asked me, if I worry about her doing the same thing the wife and Dick have done. I answer that, although the thought has gone through my mind, I don't actively worry about it. I have had moments of concern but not actual worry. Wrong answer. I should be worried. If I'm not worried, then I don't care. Oops, my bad. Now, the conversation has taken a turn into the surreal. I keep expecting Rod Stirling to start his monologue. What's that sign post up ahead?

The problem was my focusing only on the word "worry." To me that means that one is in a state of angst. "Worry" goes beyond occasional concern or "what if." Worry, to me, becomes every waking moment, loss of sleep, weight pressing down kind of thing. Am I wrong? Am I being too literal, as Sybil says?

I know I did not do a good job of easing Sybil's insecurity. I was unable to convince her that, just because I don't worry, doesn't mean I don't care. Can another person allay one's insecurities? I didn't tell Sybil that I don't care. I did say that I had moments of concern, but it didn't fill my waking hours. Does that mean I take her for granted?

Damn feathers.

14 comments:

So Gone Over You said...

I don't think you are being too literal - your answer would've been my answer. I think that because of cultural (and possible language?) differences between Sybil and yourself (which you have spoken of before), the communication between you two just doesn't match up or connect sometimes.

And as for Dick & Jane... well, every rumor starts from some sort of truth.

Anonymous said...

When she asks you a question, I wish Sybil would just write out how she wants you to respond on placards, or attach strings to your limbs, or something.
Life would be so much easier if you could stop trying to have adult conversations with her, and instead pander to every negative emotion that takes up residence in her head for even a second.
/insert eyeroll here/

Desmond Jones said...

This is really Twilight Zone stuff, Aphron. I would say to Molly that I'm not worried about what she's up to when I'm not looking, and that would be a GOOD thing - I trust her implicitly, and I'm confident of her character. More to the point, she's given me ABSOLUTELY no reason to call any of it into question. So that's supposed to mean that I don't care???? (cue Hitchcockean violin music - screech! screech! screech!)

"Can another person allay one's insecurities?" Good question; not nearly as well as he might wish, I'm afraid. . .

There's something to be said for not giving even the appearance of scandal, which Dick might have done better at, but you're dead on about the destructive effects of gossip.

And, as you say, the effects of it spread out far beyond even the direct objects of it. . .

FTN said...

So let me get this straight -- You are SUPPOSED to be worried that your wife might be having some sort of affair?

I would think trust and security would be good things. But what do I know.

As for gossip, it drives me nuts. Because it's far too prevalent in places like churches. If someone thinks "Dick" has done something wrong, they need to go right to him about it.

aphron said...

all-
The one thing about Sybil is that once she stakes out a position, there is no changing her mind or least not for me. Maybe I simply don't have the energy. Maybe my work life is stressful enough that I choose not to go finding other things to stress me out. My mistake was thinking that I could be secure in my marriage. It's not like we're dating, and she's free to wander off. Too many reprecussions now.

The language thing drives me nuts. Words have meanings. I'm sorry that the meaning isn't what one means, but that isn't the listener's fault.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't mean that you don't care.
It means that you trust your wife.

End of story.

Anonymous said...

Is Sybil trying in a weird way to get you to say "YES I AM WORRIED BECAUSE I WOULD HATE TO LOSE YOU, MY PRECIOUS LITTLE FLOWER?" I mean, there is *WORRY* like, I am such a jealous control freak husband you will never leave the house again... then there is *worry* like - look at my hot wife getting hit on by that guy who's in better shape than me, maybe I better go over and notice and appreciate my wife now. (Because I would despise *WORRY* from my husband, but a little *worry* might be a little bit complimentary.

I have had many arguments about symantics with my husband, can you tell?

And now, when it boils down to it, you can't allay her insecurity if it's as deep rooted as I think it is. That's gotta come from her.

Oh, and I like what so gone says about rumor being rooted in truth. If the wife's husband is spreading rumors about his wife and Dick, he is either a) gaslighting due to an affair of his own, or b)noticing and pissed off that his wife keeps calling some other man. Dick, in typical male fashion, is probably not fully cognizant of the impact of being the wife's emotional sounding board is on that marriage. He's proably just being a friend... but the wife is probably checking out of the marriage already.

But you are right... it is all gossip and it is destructive, but given a spouse is saying this stuff, if I were Dick I'd be backing out of the friendship with the other woman and focusing my attention on Jane. No good comes of any of it at this point. Not even for you, lol.

Anonymous said...

This is an example of a situation that you can not win.

deb above me shows exactly why. It is a question of semantics, word games, and illusions.

One the one hand, Sybil wants to know that you think she is still "so gorgeous" that you fear losing her to another. So she takes it as you do not "value her" as much as you once did or that you should.

HOWEVER.

Say yes, and two other potential thoughts come into play. One. Is HE having an affair (because after all there is that "guilty party" sort of jealousy, you know, you worry about HER having an affair, because "you are" having an affair), otherwise she may wonder why you are such a weak and insecure person.

Hosed either way.

(On a side note, I can't help but laugh at commenter's passing judgment on Dick and Jane. Apparently you parable about the Priest and the Secretary did not take root)

aphron said...

jessiferabs-
That's kind of how I looked at it. Despite our "blow-ups," I know Sybil loves me and won't go anywhere.

deb-
Ahhh, symantics. You have hit upon the problem. There's what a word means, and there's what one wants the word to mean. We have had many "discussions" about what she meant, and what she said. As for having a "little worry" about Sybil being hit upon, she knows which side of her bread is buttered. That's not to say she is stuck in her situation. It is to say that: 1)she refuses to give up2)we have 3 kids, and she feels strongly about staying together for the kids, 3)she, basically, doesn't believe in divorce.

joe flirt-
I learned a long time ago that I'm damnded, if I do, and damned, if I don't.

Trueself said...

This is indeed the kind of argument you can never ever win. I know because, and of course I hate to admit this, I'm pretty skilled at this behavior myself. Once I've staked out a position, no matter what your rebuttal, no matter how sound your defense, I'll have some way to twist it around so you're still wrong. I'm working on getting rid of this trait in myself, but all the same, I'd appreciate it if y'all didn't mention it to W or BJ any time soon.

Anonymous said...

Women are just different than men. Honesty doesn't matter, even if it has the potential to help. When the average woman asks a question, she just wants to be agreed with or reassured. Truth is irrelevant.

Luckily for the Toucher, So Gone is way better than average. ;-)

aphron said...

trueself-
Most of us get bogged down in what we wish it meant and what it meant. The trick is realizing that and modifying our position.

pm-

Where the hell have you been?

Emily said...

Sounds like she wanted reassurance about her attractiveness and a little flattery to me. Maybe she just wanted to hear that you would hate to lose her.

Or maybe she is hinting around that she is thinking of having an affair?

Anyway, it sounds like you missed your cue! Pity about that, but that is the trouble with the indirect, hinting around approach...

aphron said...

emily-
I don't take hints well, anyway. One has to be petty direct with me. Unfortunately, Sybil is the Queen of Nuance.