Monday, July 11, 2005

Anger Management

When I am calm and tranquil, able to step outside the narrow realm of my own perspective and view myself and others somewhat objectively, I am fascinated with the study of this powerful emotion. Anger is such a fluid, versatile, and multi-faceted state of being. It can ebb and flow like a tide, or come crushing and terrible out of nowhere like an uncharted asteroid, fiery and disastrous. Then again sometimes it is slow and noisy, grumbling louder and louder until the breaking point like a summer storm.
"When I was a child...I thought as a child..." In childhood "angry" was almost like a bad word. I would only ever say I was "mad" and even that was a reluctant admission. As an adult, armed with my pink pamphlet's chapter on self-validation, I have no such inhibitions. I get angry, more easily than when I was a child even. But when I get angry, my mouth opens. I don't like to keep it inside, it's like hot gas expanding in an enclosed space - best to open things up before the explosion comes. Alone, amazingly colorful, sharp words and thoughts spring out of me, that I would have been shocked to hear anyone say fifteen years ago. But somehow they empower me, and take the pressure off the boiler, so to speak. After that, I still want to talk, but constructively about the problem, rather than just spitting out descriptive words that convey emotion without ideas. This confounds the Blue Pamphlet on soooo many levels. First, his number one instruction in that little manual of his is FIX IT. Whatever it is, whoever it is, FIX IT and move on. But Pinks don't like being fixed. We find fixing to be antagonistic and insulting. It implies we can't do it ourselves, and that someone else can do it better. It doesn't lend itself to the impression that genuine listening and validation is occurring in our interaction with Blue. Second problem, when FIXING fails, Blue Pamphlet's very next cardinal rule to follow is: SAY WHAT SHE WANTS TO HEAR. Maybe this works for some of you out there. If so, I congratulate you. Or pity you. I'm not sure which. But I can tell you this doesn't work for Blue and I, because we spent so much of our dating years talking, really truly talking, that we now see right through each other whenever we attempt any kind of half-assed smooth-over strategy instead of being genuine. So my poor Blue, who knows that telling me what I want to hear will never work, is left with nothing else to do but clam up and hope for the best. And despite all the terrific definitions and explanations in the Pink dictionary and the Chapter about "Teaching Guys How to Talk" I still can't seem to explain exactly what I'm looking for from him in those conversations. Some kind of mixture of listening, having an opinion, making suggestions but not overbearingly fixing the problem for me.... It's an ideal almost impossible to achieve. Then there's Blue's anger. He keeps that to himself better than his most private computer passwords, and for a geek that's saying something. Half the time I can't tell which of us he's ticked at, me or himself. Or both. Unfortunately it means most Pink and Blue arguments end either in silence until our moods improve or else we end up just laughing and agreeing that we just can't figure each other out on this one. Not very good for resolving the heart of the conflict, but at least we feel better sooner or later. And even though there are many things we can't seem to agree on, things we don't "get" about each other, I still think we know each other better than almost any other completely opposite beings could possibly know each other, and no matter how confused, we're pretty far ahead in the great game.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Credit where credit is due

My husband says he wasn't the first to come up with this whole pamphlet idea. He thinks he might have seen a comedian talk about it or something like that. Anyone who actually knows the truth about it is welcome to post it for the rest of us.
Speaking of the pamphlets, specifically the blue one... Today my husband and his father installed a trailer hitch with electrical wiring on our yuppiemobile (aka minivan). They got really dirty, and were pretty proud of themselves, spending quite a few minutes after they were finished with the installation describing how it went to me, accompanied by manly gestures, sports analogies ("We were fishing for the wire...") and, of course, grunt sounds. Fortunately, I know enough from the pink pamphlet to respond to this behavior correctly: I smiled appreciatively, said "Wow!" and "Really!" a few times, applauded along with our toddler, who loves to clap his hands, and indicated with my facial expressions and body language that my husband was now even more macho in my eyes after having completed this man-task for me. I think we both got what we wanted from that particular communication exchange.

Ever get that...not so fresh feeling? Keep it to yourself!

I can almost guarantee you will not want to talk about it, and no one else wants to hear about it either. Furthermore, we do not want to watch commercials about it, or any other awkward, embarrassing femmy product on the market. There ought to be laws against subjecting innocent civilians to this kind of thing! Just this evening my husband and I were enjoying a humorous evening of watching "Whose Line is it Anyway" when suddenly our delicate sensibilities were assaulted by a bizarre commercial featuring exotic flowers on a box of feminine....somethings. Honestly, we're not sure what the boxes contained, that wasn't really mentioned in the ad. But we know there were pretty flowers on the outside of the package, which seemed to be the star of the show. As these things go, it was a fairly low-blush factor commercial, and there are some that are far worse. You know the kind I'm talking about. The Blue Liquid line of feminine product commercials, guaranteed to bring you mental images of things you would rather not imagine. They have achieved what I hope is the pinnacle of their yucky powers in the creation of the "Sticky Feeling" commercial. They should show that thing to sexual predators in prison. After watching it, how could anyone want to go near a woman ever again?
Right up there with the girly product ads are the ones about certain bodily functions we will not mention here. Let's just say regularity is a topic best left to private examining rooms in doctors' offices, and not on national television. And I don't know any woman who would actually hand her husband a box of that product with the name showing in front of a plane full of gawking passengers. After all, there's a limited number of bathrooms and typically only one way to get back to your seat. Talk about a walk of shame. Folks, if you seriously find yourself wondering about these products, do us all a favor. Read the package labels in the store. Preferably alone. Consult with the pharmacist. But for pete's sake wait till I'm done paying for my uh... girly items. It's hard enough to bring them to the counter to buy without having you walk up right at that moment to ask about your....symptoms. Thanks.

Friday, July 08, 2005


First things first. I hate pink. But it is overwhelmingly associated with girlhood, so there you have it. The Pink Pamphlet is that mystical guidebook inherited by all women from their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, gal pals, etc. that imparts to them the secrets of all things feminine. It's how we know.... everything.
Confession time: I was not the first person to iconify this concept of universal female knowledge into a tidy little booklet idea. As far as I know, my husband was the inventor of the notion. For more on his side of the story, you can consult him at his own blog, which is of course, The Blue Pamphlet. But this one is for me. And it's not just for girls to read. Obviously, women are very good at sharing their feelings and experiences with each other. We're famous for it. No, the only ones who really stand to gain from an insider's peek into the female mind are guys. So read up, gentlemen. I promise to be brutally honest, girl scout's honor.

Incidentally, I did not last one entire year in the girl scout's. By the time I got started in it I was too far gone in my tomboyish ways to ever be recalled back to tiny pleated green skirts and baking cookies. But my promise is still good, don't worry.