The Agony Antagonist

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Girl, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it's true

In Amy Dickinson’s March 24 column, Troubled asks Amy about his relationship with his wonderful, intelligent, and way-too-honest fiancée. “Recently, a silly question came up,” he says, and continues to whine that the future Mrs. Troubled won’t say for certain that she absolutely would never get back together with her ex-husband, even though she has no feelings for him and no plans to rekindle that old, burnt-out pile of tires. Troubled is hurt by her inability to make such a statement, and turns to Amy for a bit of sanity. Amy says—correctly, I think—yes, there’s no such thing as absolutes in human relationships, and we all know that, and still we find it in ourselves to ignore that fact when trying to reassure our loved ones that we really do love them.

What she neglects to say is this: Now that you know this thing about the future Mrs. Troubled—that she cannot speak in absolutes, even in an effort to make you feel loved—and this other thing about yourself—that you have a need, however small, to feel that your wife loves you—either make sure that in the future these types of “silly questions” don’t “come up,” or break it off. I’m putting in my vote for option number two, personally. Being married to the kind of person who constantly says things like, “Well, if we had kids, I probably wouldn’t kill them all and frame you for their murders, but I can’t say for sure,” sounds like a real drag to me. I probably wouldn’t cry all the time and wish for my death, but you never can tell.

Also, Emily in NYC writes to critique advice Amy gave in an earlier column, saying that prying questions about personal subjects are best treated as rhetorical, impersonal statements. Thus, in the example she gives, in response to “How can you afford law school?” one would say, “I know! Law school is so expensive!”

Amy’s response? “In television, this is called a ‘toss.’ You just toss the comment back, without really saying anything. What works for news anchors can work for the rest of us.”

I imagine this strategy would work in the given example, though I also wonder how wide its applications are.

“Oh, are you pregnant again?” / “I know! I’m so fat, right?”

“Any new beaux we should know about?” / “I know, right! It’s almost like I’m a lesbian or something!”

“So, how’s your PhD thesis coming along?” / “I know! It’s like I start something and then I never finish it! It’s either like I’m just a big procrastinator or like I overestimated my abilities in the first place!”

(Or maybe #2 could be “I know! Cute, single, straight men are extinct in this town!” and #3 is “I know! Research and analysis is so hard!” Number 1 still has to be “I’m so fat!”)

As for what works for the news anchors working for the rest of us, I say, um, no. Not at all, really. See: hairstyles, makeup, fashion, awkward segways, and fake gigantic smiles.



At March 26, 2007 at 2:11 PM , Blogger Mister White, to you said...

I have no idea what you are prattling about, woman. If maybe you were just a little less concerned about some harpies like Hax or Ask, perhaps you might be putting together a plan for female hegemony. BUT NO!

You have my sympathy though, and my Apology, which you may now go and look at.


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