Join the fun over at Mama’s Losin’ It
This week, I’m choosing prompt 1: Describe a time when you had difficulty communicating with someone who speaks a different language than you. (inspired by Jen from Hamster Central)
This prompt jumped out at me … but I’m taking it in a different direction than was probably intended. In my story, we both spoke English, but we certainly weren’t speaking the same language.
First a bit of background….
When I was sophomore in college, I met a guy who was my “First Real Love.” (I put that in quotes because, looking back on it 20 years later, I realize I knew nothing about love and he certainly wasn’t in love with me.) I was nuts about this guy … to the point where I debased myself for him. In retrospect, I cringe at my behavior and weakness. I had so little respect for myself and gave him incredible power over me. It was a true case of Unrequited Love, and he played me like a violin. And the pull wasn’t how he looked (because he really wasn’t attractive); it was his voice and the way he talked. He just wormed his way into my heart (and the hearts of many other girls, I later found out), and he could charm and beguile and dazzle you with words until you were putty in his hands. This “relationship” lasted about 6 months or so until I “drove him away” with my “neediness” and “desire for something more.” I was devastated when he ended the relationship. To this day, I feel like a part of me never really got over it completely. (I think all First Big Loves and Heartbreaks are like this. Like that Rod Stewart song says “The first cut is the deepest.”)
So, looking back now, I realize that pretty much every conversation we ever had was a study in miscommunication, crossed signals and differing agendas. I was so blind to the nuances and the truth of his behavior (actions speak louder than words is the lesson here!) and so hopelessly blinded by my “love” for him, that I wish I could go back now and give my 19-year-old self the translation and subtext that I didn’t have then.
So here you go, 19-Year-Old Jenners. Here is what he was really saying and what you didn’t hear. The actual conversation is in plain text. The translation follows in parentheses and italics.)
A Brief Meeting On Campus
Me: Hi. I didn’t see you in class today. (I was looking for you everywhere and heartbroken when I didn’t see you. I let it affect my mood and was sad until I happened to spy you across the campus and was able to quickly change my course so we’d accidentally on purpose run into each other.)
Him: Oh hi. Yeah … I overslept. (I was hungover from partying last night.)
Me: Well, I took some good notes. (Unconsciously I know that is part of the reason you keep me around … plus I’m just a really anal-retentive note taker.)
Him: Oh … good. Can I borrow them? (Sweet! With this chick around, I don’t ever need to go to class again.)
Me: Of course. I can bring them by later if you want. (I totally hope he says to bring them by his apartment and we end up hanging out. Please. Please. Please.)
Him: Uh ……. yeah. OK. That’s fine. Stop by about 4:00. (F*ck! I was hoping she’d have them with her. Now I gotta see her again later. But the midterm is coming up, and I need those notes.)
Me: I’ll be there. (Yay!!!! My day is good again!)
Him: Gotta jet. I’ll be late for work. (And if I’m late again, I might lose this job.)
Me: OK. Bye. See you at 4:00. (Yay!!!!!!! He totally likes me!)
At His Apartment at 4:00 pm
Me (to myself): He said 4:00 but he isn’t home. I wonder where he is? I hope he didn’t forget like last time we had plans, and he never showed up. I’ll just wait here. Panic that I’m going to be stood up … again ... begins to surface.
Thirty minutes go by. Not once do I consider leaving.
Him: Oh … you scared me! What are doing here? (WTF? Why is she showing up at my house? I hate that.)
Me: I was bringing the notes by from class this morning. Remember? We were supposed to meet here at 4:00. (He’s here!!!! Finally!!!!)
Him: Oh yeah, sure. C’mon in. (Might as well let her in. I’m feeling kind of horny anyway.)
Me: OK. (Yes!!! He wants me to come in!!!!)
Him: Wanna listen to some Floyd? (Gotta chill out for a bit. I hope I have some Henry Weinhards left.)
Me: Sure … I love Pink Floyd. (I love whatever YOU love so you’ll be interested in me. In truth, I think Pink Floyd is OK but I’m not nearly as obsessed with them as you are .. but I’d never let you know that because then you might not like me. But if I have to watch The Wall again, I think I’ll pull my eyes out.)
We sit listening to Wish You Were Here in relative silence for a time while he drinks Henry Weinhards. Then we start kissing.
Him: Oh yeah … oh. (God I’m horny. Let’s see how far I can push her this time to give it up.)
Me: Oh …. oh…. (We’re kissing! We’re kissing!!! I hope I don’t smell bad! I think he likes me. I love him soooooooooooooo much.)
Him: Wanna go in the bedroom? (I totally need to get laid.)
Me: Uh…sure. (OH MY GOD!!!! I love him so much so doing more can’t possibly be wrong. I love him! I love him! I love him. I hope he loves me.)
Things happen that shall not be described. Afterwards ….
Him: God, I could totally fall asleep right now. (I hope she’ll take the hint and leave. I wanna get to the bar later and I don’t want her tagging along.)
Me: Me too. (OH MY GOD. I love him. I love him. I love him. I hope we get married. I think he is The One. He is so amazing and wonderful and smart and intelligent and I hope he loves me. I wonder if he does. He must … why else would he want to be with me?)
Him: Actually, I’m kinda hungry. How about we get a slice of pizza and I’ll walk you to your dorm. I gotta write a paper tonight that I’ve been putting off. (This chick never turns down pizza … then I’ll dump her off at the dorm and head on down to meet Matt at the bar to hear that reggae band. Plus I think Carrie will be there tonight and I dig her.)
Me: Um.. ok. That sounds good. (Well, I am kinda hungry and pizza sounds good. Maybe he’ll want me to help him with his paper!!!)
Him: OK, let’s go. Do you have any money by the way? I’m flat broke. (I need my money for drinks later.)
Me: Sure … I can pay. (I love him. I love him. I love him.)
Variations on this conversation took place hundreds of time … with him picking me up and putting me down when it was convenient until I bothered him too much. Sometimes we would have “deep” talks and he flattered me by making me feel smart and worthy to converse with him.
And now, years later, I realize the reason we had such difficulty communicating was that I don’t speak ASSHOLE!
Cringing in shame remembering this and thanking my lucky stars I’m not there anymore,
P.S. And to you who reads my blog who knew me from this time, this isn’t about you. It is about someone else so don’t worry.