Unclear on the concept

Overheard, verbatim, in a mall:

Him:  For the last time — do you want Chinese food or not?

Her:  No, I don’t.

Him:  Gawd!  You are so passive aggressive.

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  • suek

    Heh.  Hubby likes cheese on his broccoli (and cauliflower).  He likes pickled artichoke hearts and olives on his salad.  He likes wine vinegar on his spinach.  _Every_ time we have any one of these, He asks me if I want (whichever) as he’s adding (whichever) to his (whatever).  I like mine plain.  Every time, I say no, thank you.  He says “are you sure you don’t want some?”  I restrain myself from saying “_When_ in the last 50 years have I _ever_ said yes?” and just say “no, thank you” once again (although my brain is _shouting_ no no no!!).
    His mother did the same thing…so I guess it’s sort of ingrained.  Then he spent some time in the middle east (Saudi) where apparently you are required as a host to offer something three times to your guest.  If you only offer it two times, then apparently it’s an indication that you’re not sincere in your offer.  Further reinforcement for an already ingrained habit.

  • suek

    Hmmm.  You don’t suppose that his continuous  question is equivalent to “_Nobody_ likes it that way” … do you???

  • SGT Dave

    Unfortunately, I was often in the “him” role in this conversation.  What you probably missed was the past fifteen minutes of:
    “What would you like for lunch?”
    “I don’t know.”
    “What about pizza?” 
    “What about a sub?”
    (down through the next six places at the food court)
    “How about Chinese?”
    “Ok, lets go over there.”
    “In a second.  Did you see this?”
    “I thought you were hungry.”
    “I am.”
    “Let’s go get Chinese, then.”
    “I’m not sure – maybe…”
    “You’re not sure if you want some lunch, or not sure about Chinese food?”
    “Um, kinda.”
    -insert last three lines-

    She really wants him to take her out of the mall to a trendy spot about a half an hour’s drive away, that will cost him at least five times as much as the mall food – and then come back to the mall for another four or five hours shopping.  Chances are she’s already made one circuit of the mall and they’ve been there for at least three hours. 

    Sorry if I sound bitter, but I had a girlfriend (before I got married) like this.  She knew what she wanted, she just had to make it a guessing game.  And often, she would not understand that when you say “I’m hungry” within fifty feet of a food court, guys will consider only the places in the food court, not the Red Lobster (with Lobsterfest going on) or the haute cuisine French restaurant across town as part of the menu options.  Especially not when he’s already spent four hours looking at shoes for a wedding (the next day); you know, since the shoes he bought her for the dress she “had to have” don’t match the dress she actually decided to wear…

    By the way, the wedding was the end of that relationship.  She was too busy getting hammered and flirting with her ex-boyfriend the best man to even sit and eat at the table with me.  I realized about ten minutes into the reception I was there for the sole purpose of making him jealous; once he acknowledged her existence (and said she looked pretty) I stopped existing in her world.  I left about twenty minutes into the reception, with plenty of time to return the first dress and the first shoes at the mall.  Another friend informed me that she was a bit confused when she couldn’t find me at 2am following the dancing.  My friend was all giggles about the puzzled look on p-a girl’s face when someone told her – “Oh, Dave left about five thirty or so.”  By the time she got to her place, I’d already gotten all my stuff out, left a box of her things from my place there, and replaced my door locks (the advantage of being proficient with basic tools).  She left about forty messages on my machine; a lot of whining, followed by cursing, followed by the whole gamut of crazy. 

    Yep, you got the end of a conversation with a very frustrated male.  We never call them passive-aggressive – they’ll act up, starch your shorts, put tampons in your slacks pockets, and maybe key your car or post nasty things on facebook and twitter about you. 

    Wow, big rant.  Feels good to get some of the old angry out.  Much better now, and still happy that I found out I was the “make him jealous” guy she was going to settle for instead of the one she wanted.  I’d never have measured up; I’d always have been second.  And that, indeed, is a good bullet to have dodged.

    SSG Dave
    “If they have to ask you three times, chances are you aren’t giving proper feedback to the question.”

  • SGT Dave

    Sorry, I was writing while you were posting.  Didn’t mean a jab by the closing line – bad coincidence.

    SSG Dave
    “Wow, I didn’t realize my heel tasted like that, especially following my toes.”

  • suek

    No problem.  I have a feeling we’re talking different issues.  Maybe just variants of the same issue.   Our conversation at lunchtime at work is often similar.  I generally don’t care.  I say so.  “Anything but sushi” is my line.  (I have to say that, because 2 of us like sushi.  I don’t eat fish bait.  I don’t care if they want to eat it, but count me out!  If I _don’t_ say it, one of these days, they’re gong to bring it to me, and say…”well, you said you didn’t care!”)  We often go through the same type of conversation you have above.  The question is really … does someone have a _something_ they have in mind, but don’t want to come right out and say it, or should we be pulling names of eateries into a jar and pull one out because nobody _really_ cares!    Hmmm.  Maybe I’ll try that.  If nobody really cares, we’ll take what we get.  If somebody _has_ a preference and just won’t say so, they deserve getting whatever, whether they like it or not.
    Yours _definitely_ tops mine!!  I agree – you definitely dodged a bullet!  I can’t imagine…!
    One of our employees also does event planning.  Weddings are pretty high frequency items, as you can imagine.  A former employee who worked for us part time and then joined the fire department is now getting married to his fiance, with whom he’s lived for the last three years.  The event planner employee has been helping them get things organized (that’s probably his wedding gift!).  The groom to be  was apparently fairly stunned to realize that weddings cost in the neighborhood of $20,000 – and that’s on the modest side.
    I call it the “Queen for a Day” syndrome.  There actually used to be a TV program of that name – sort of the first reality show, I guess.  Great as a TV show, but I really have to wonder about it.  $20,000 for a wedding when you’ve already been living together for the past 3 years +?  Why???  I simply don’t understand it.

  • suek

    >>“If they have to ask you three times, chances are you aren’t giving proper feedback to the question.”>>
    The difference here is I’m giving “proper feedback”, but it isn’t being accepted.  As in “no…that’s the wrong answer…guess again”.
    I suppose I could be really aggressive and say something like “NO.  I don’t want it NOW.  I don’t want it EVER… and _STOP_ asking me a question you already know the answer to!!!  But to be honest, I think it’s a habit thing…I think he does it without even thinking about it.  No real point to getting aggressive.  Maybe he even has a little obsessive-compulsive streak???  It’s a possible.

  • SGT Dave

    I’m a sushi fan, so I’ll make this plea for the case.  Not all sushi is raw fish; you can get prepared (smoked and tempura-fried) sushi rolls, along with some interesting vegetarian versions.  I’ve got a friend who does magnificent smoked salmon sushi – he uses carrot, sweet onion, pickled oriental radish, and a basalmic reduction inside the roll with the rice. 
    My wife and I spent a bundle on the wedding, but it was something important for our families.  At least, it was supposed to be.  Her aunt (who was the matron of honor) caused more pain.  My wife hasn’t spoken to her in about five years and my wife’s regret is that she didn’t stop talking to her aunt sooner.  My wife’s mother passed on about two years before our wedding; her sister was supposed to step in (per request).  She was a pain in the @$$ the entire time.  Self-centered, really p-a, selfish, and holds other people’s grudges.  She even had the temerity to come visit my father-in-law at the retirement home and try to get him to change his will (in favor of her daughters) because she thought I was after money.  (This was after two kids and bearing through my wife’s battle with depression – and while I was deployed)

    Anyhow, enough rants.  You should surprise the sushi lovers by telling them – “I want you to get me a chicken tempura roll with cream cheese and veggies”.  You’ll most likely like it, and they will have to adapt to the strange food you like next time (say, Indian curry or Russian borsht).

    SSG Dave
    “Don’t worry, it stopped squirming a while ago.”

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    SGT Dave:

    In our house, I’m usually the one on the receiving end of that game.  It’s exhausting.  Mr. Bookworm hates to admit that he wants something, so he tries to corral me into admitting that I want what he secretly wants.  This goes around in circles for a while, and then I eat cereal for dinner.

  • SGT Dave

    I hear you there; I’m breaking my daughter (just turned 6) of this habit.  I give her three tries, then I walk out of the kitchen.  She’s starting to figure out that Daddy wants her to say what she wants – and my wife is starting to understand the tactic (though she thinks its a bit mean).  This way she says what she wants, gets a yes or no answer (and often a healthier counter-offer if no), and we avoid the 15-20 minute drama (that drives my wife to distraction).  Note, this same tactic has had some effect on my wife – we’ve cut the drama a bunch. 
    As for the Mr., my only advice is to ask once and if he does the “I don’t know…” go in and order either pizza or chinese.  That was my first step; it only took about three times before my wife figured out that I wasn’t going to play games – we had a fight, made up, and now (thank goodness) communicate clearly – at least about food.  One of our other tricks is to create “short list” options – one gives a short list of three acceptable places (say, pizza place, traditional italian, and bar&grill) and the other picks from that list.  The options have to be different, but the final location is acceptable to both.  It works with our kids, too.  Generally it is DQ, Subway, or TacoB – and the kids make a fast choice.  They feel they have a part in the decision, while the wife and I control the overall on the food.  (BTW, DQ does great kids meals by having grilled cheese as an option and applesauce instead of fries – our kids do that most often). 
    Anyhow, good luck with the wishy-washy; if he won’t say, don’t let him herd you.  Use verbal judo – “you said you don’t care” is the equivalent of a good hip-toss.

    SSG Dave
    “So you DO care what is for dinner – why didn’t you say so?”

  • suek

    >>so he tries to corral me into admitting that I want what he secretly wants.>>
    Yes…I think that’s the other half of the game.  So is that also the passive aggressive behavior?  I can see both sides (Guess what I want) and (you’re supposed to want what I want).  Are they both passive aggressive?
    And Dave…you’re welcome to the sushi – of whatever kind!  Yeah, I know there are different kinds, and some of them are vegetarian, but it’s just easier to say “no sushi” and get something else.  If I don’t close the door firmly, then I’m likely to get into the “don’t you just want to try this” thing.  It’s just easier this way.  If I were in Japan, I’d figure something out  – I wouldn’t starve!

  • jj

    Dave – one you’ll enjoy.
    At a very posh reception in London (sometime in the 1930s, I forget exactly when) old friends George Bernard Shaw (a worthless human being and blazing progressive ass****, but pretty good playwright) and Winston Churchill were standing and talking.  They were near the foot of a stair that led down to the ballroom, and every time someone appeared at the top of the stair to enter the room, a footman would announce them.  (Those days are gone!)  Anyway, within earshot of Shaw and Churchill was a gaggle of society ladies, and every time a female appeared at the top of the stair and was announced, this bunch had something, something usually incredibly catty, to say about her.  Shaw and Churchill listened to this for a while, and finally Shaw turned to Churchill and came out with the deathless line: “It isn’t just homosexuals who don’t like women; hardly anyone does.”

  • SGT Dave

    I love some of the old put-downs; Churchill was a great source for deadly humor.  Sometime I have to find my copy of “Evaluation Humor”.  It is a collection of some of the funniest bad things ever put in evaluations (mainly military, mostly British).  They include wonderful ones like “A farming community in York has gladly donated its idiot to fill our ranks.” and “This young officer always brightens the end of my day, by leaving.”

    SSG Dave
    “I may be drunk, but you, madam, are ugly.  And tomorrow I shall be sober.”  – Churchill

  • Charles Martel

    San Francisco columnist Herb Caen once told the story of a local taxi driver who picked up two Manhattan yuppies at the airport. On the way into town, the two began dissing San Francisco for its lack of culture, shopping and sophistication.

    One of them cracked, “You probably can’t even find decent sushi here.” That led to a flurry of more insults, ended by the request, “Take us to this two-bit town’s freshest fish place.”

    Which the driver did. He let them off on North Point St. in front of the Municipal Bait Shop.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Great stories.  The problem nowadays is that wit is no longer a valued commodity.  Instead, in-your-face crudity seems to be the way to go.

    The people who hung around the old Algonquin Round Table in New York, back in the 1920s, may not have been a very likable bunch, but they cared desperately about generating bon mots worthy of repeating.  Those days are so gone.  Now, the celebrities just aren’t very likable, to which they ally fatuity and banality.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Right on the deadline, eh SSG Dave?
    You didn’t dodge a bullet. That would have been a bunker buster bomb or FAE right there.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    :I’ve got a friend who does magnificent smoked salmon sushi – he uses carrot, sweet onion, pickled oriental radish, and a basalmic reduction inside the roll with the rice. :
    The rice and seaweed wrap isn’t like the fish at all in taste. If you want to avoid the raw fish, you can always just turn it into a sort of rice plus spice Japanese burger. The thing is, that’s usually not going to come from the Japanese. But if you are stuck there, you can always just hammer out the fish and stuff inside the rice and eat the rice.
    The onion and vegetable stuff you can see mentioned by Dave.
    :Mr. Bookworm hates to admit that he wants something, so he tries to corral me into admitting that I want what he secretly wants.:
    Sounds like insecurity. What, he thinks he needs the approval of the CROWD to have a belief and make it known? Tchhh *click*

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    “Wow, I didn’t realize my heel tasted like that, especially following my toes.””
    Accidental discharge into the foot.
    ‘Wait, I thought I had unloaded that rifle”

  • SGT Dave

    I think the banality has to do with the speed of information today.  The wit and wisdom were the only things one could see in the society papers; photos were rare at best and video did not exist.  Therefore, to make a mark, one had to skewer with words the subject of one’s intent.  Moreover, the words needed to be capable of transcending print to the mental ear of the audience.  Today we can be vulgar and carry a message via sight or sound bite – and celebrities are always looking for the next means of returning or remaining in our eye.
    Thus, we come full circle to the importance of the blog, especially the word-heavy and video-light conservative blog.  I so not need to see your face or hear your words to partake in the various shades of emotion you provide – my imagination provides the biting sarcasm or facetious severity on some pieces while underlining more serious writing with a somber tone.
    This, indeed, is the new salon, wherein each is judged not by color of skin or quality of birth, but rather by their capacity to contribute and their willingness to consider.

    And yes, Y, I dodged a bullet there.  I’ve been lucky – three engagements and only one wedding.  I should not have been so fortunate, save by the grace of the Almighty, who for some reason enjoyed watching me be a fool for years in seeking to replace the one I was meant to spend time with – at least until we caught each other in the end.

    SSG Dave
    “Words are both the carpenter’s tools and the materiel of his construction; a pristine hammer in the hand of a fool is as unworthy as a warped and rotten board.”

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    I’m hearing Allan and Barbara Pease’s Body Language audio book and it is hilarious what they say about politicians like BIll Clinton and how their body languages are inconsistent with their claims (lies).
    The more video and audio is present in the media, the more the citizen needs to learn how to recognize deception. Body language and understanding how to speak and hear it, is becoming more and more critical a tool.

  • jj

    Well, okay – as long as we’re tending that way – Shaw and Churchill again:
    Telegram from Shaw to Churchill: “I send you two tickets to the opening night of my new play, Pygmalion.  Come and bring a friend – if you have one.”
    Churchill to Shaw: “Unable to attend first night.  Will come to second night – if you have one.”

  • Spartacus

    [True story, supposedly, but subject to the accuracy limitations of my memory…]
    Churchill was in the middle of a quick visit to the Parliament men’s room, which was on the trough system at the time.  Atlee walks in for the same purpose.  Churchill shuffles down a bit.  “Feeling a bit stand-offish today, are we, Winston?”  “No, it’s just that every time you see something big and successful, you want to nationalize it.”

  • MacG

    I agree with Dave it is a study in context.

    sue I totally get this!  Although you are handling it with much more grace than me.  I get irratated that she still does not know me or my likes.  How many times do I have to say I do not like something?  She forces me to reject her “polite” offer time and time again.  Yes it was ingrained in her that it is polite to offer some of what you are having but is it polite to offer that which is known to be disliked?  It is an insult to me.  I like stability, I like what I like.  I am not likely to change. She on the other hand is like the four seasons.  Even what she does not like today she may like tomorrow – except for egg plant – I’m pretty sure. :) The converse side to this is “Do you want any fries?” “No”.  After I get my fries she want some.  I would have no problem sharing however it is the lack of saying what she means so I can order the next size up if I feel like it.  It comes across a forced sharing or like “Don’t touch that” and a little finger reaches out and quickly touches the what ever it was.  At any rate I perceive it as controlling or childish – neither of which is appreciated.  How to change?