Re: Ask The Mineshaft: Don't Go, Don't Stay Edition

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I really think the correspondent should get advice on his/her business from a certified professional instead of the Mineshaft.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 11:51 AM
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I've known people who agreed to end their relationship months before they actually did, because of a geographic shift. And it was a quite serious relationship.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 11:51 AM
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Absolutely.

People regularly decided to continue to date exclusively with the explicit acknowledgment that they will never get married or even never live together.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 11:52 AM
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I'm not sure I'm getting this clearly: like, an explicitly intensity-limited relationship? "Let's date on Saturday nights most weeks, and have sex regularly, but we're not getting married ever, and probably not going to bother meeting each other's families?"

That sounds to me like older divorced people -- something people dating in their forties or fifties might do. I don't know that I've ever run into people who've made that sort of deal explicit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 11:55 AM
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"Older" = people in their 40s?!?!?!??!?!

Ouch. Ouch.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 11:56 AM
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Grown people who know their hearts can decide to do whatever they want together. They could mutually agree on any level of intimacy, and I'm sure lots of them make their chosen level work.

Strikes me there are two potential problems. One is a mismatch in desired intimacy and the other is people not realizing what they really want. But if the couple doesn't have those problems, they could stay in any form of serious relationship they want.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 11:56 AM
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LB's childish notions are so cute.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 11:58 AM
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Seems common enough in implicit form, but the explicit "we are not going to get married" conversation is awkward at best.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 11:59 AM
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Is the "this is it" a statement that the current circumstance is and forever shall be the outer limit of intimacy and the relationship can go no further? Or is "this is it" supposed to be a self-confident statement of "wow, I've found the one," that is then dashed against the rocks of subsequent events and thus the question is, is that inevitable? I'm not sure how to read it as asked in the question.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:00 PM
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One is a mismatch in desired intimacy and the other is people not realizing what they really want

Absolutely. Mutual, complete satisfaction with the arrangement would be much rarer than limited relationships themselves are.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:00 PM
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Yes. Duh. Next.


Posted by: Sue Strong | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:00 PM
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an explicitly intensity-limited relationship? "Let's date on Saturday nights most weeks, and have sex regularly occasionally ... and probably not going to bother meeting each other's families?"

That sounds to me like older divorced people

That sounds to me like older married people.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:00 PM
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In theory, perfectly possible.

In practice, much less likely to continue successfully if an explicit conversation is had. Able to continue indefinitely, subject to individual circumstance, if no such conversation occurs.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:00 PM
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3: I believe that was the nature of the arrangement between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow.

And that worked out so well!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:01 PM
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12: Sadly, repeatedly meeting each other's families remains non-optional.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:02 PM
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You can say what you like but it usually won't affect what happens. Either way.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:02 PM
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5: Okay, 'older' was mean. I think what I was thinking in 'older' was 'unambiguously not thinking about kids, either from personal committment or being no longer fertile.'


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:03 PM
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OT embarrassment: I just chewed out one of my students after class for blowing off a midterm, and it took me about a minute to realize that I was yelling at the wrong black student-athlete. He was pretty nice about it, considering.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:05 PM
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18: how large is the class?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:07 PM
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This is a teensy bit vague, isn't it? Is it a nice, steady friends/benefits arrangement that will never turn into true, true love? Is it living together without marriage? Is it dating no more than once a week and talking on the phone only on Wednesdays? The potential for a steady state seems to vary a bit with each arrangement. And what is the motive of the asker? Does the asker want a steady date and the opportunity to date around on the side, but feels that Object won't want to? Does Asker like dating but feels that Object wants them to live together?

The way the question is phrased it seems like Asker wants to put the breaks on and fears that Object will, er, object. That's always-already a problem.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:07 PM
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I was yelling at the wrong black student-athlete

You don't really need us to tell you you're racist, do you.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:07 PM
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20:Asker wants to put the breaks on and fears that Object will, er, object. That's always-already a problem.

Oo-er. Brakes! Or maybe breaks, if brakes don't work.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:08 PM
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18: Oy. Sucks to be you, man.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:09 PM
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It seems that relationships of that kind never work out. In this they're pretty much the same as relationships of other kinds.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:10 PM
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18: how large is the class?

~ 35 students.

You don't really need us to tell you you're racist, do you.

In a word, no.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:10 PM
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Isn't this B's deal with her boyfriend?


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:11 PM
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And by "deal" I mean "situation."


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:12 PM
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25: ~ 35 students.

Oh my, that is bad. If it were ~350, that would be more understandable. Racist.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:13 PM
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18: Oh dear. I feel for you.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:14 PM
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In a job I had where I had to recognize several hundred people, I continually mistook I/rene I/ngeldinger for S/onya D/obberfuhls. Different ages and no physical resemblance -- they just got stuck in the "funny Germanic name" section of my brain, along with B/runo S/chimmelpfennig and Whoopie John Willfahrt.

But across the racial battle lines you can't do that shit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:15 PM
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I have told the stories about how incredibly bad Samoans were at distinguishing one white woman from another? I had people's co-workers come up to me and resume a conversation they'd been having with another Peace Corps Volunteer. It didn't feel racist, more just that there were few enough of us that no one bothered to remember faces -- 'white woman' was, 95% of the time, enough of an identifier to get the right person.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:16 PM
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31: Did you ever know Peace Corp Volunteers named Harla Yesner or James Fowler?


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:18 PM
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Part of the problem (I mean the part of the problem that isn't me) is that they're both slackers and barely getting a D. But the other part of the problem is that they are in fact two different people. Right now my involuntary wincing over this incident is down to about once per 45 seconds.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:18 PM
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I tend to do pretty well at remembering which student is which, but not which name goes with which student. The names of students who are friends are especially likely to get lumped inextricably together for me.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:19 PM
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30: I do that sort of thing with actors and musicians -- people will get stuck in the same mental drawer for some reason (not usually a good one), and then they're very hard to tell apart. Phil Collins and Eric Clapton are not distinct people to me, and Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, and Clark Gable are also a problem. (More the latter two, I can reliably identify Grant.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:19 PM
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32: Nope.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:19 PM
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35. Yeah. I used to mistake Elvis Costello for the man who wrote 'Shipbuilding' and 'Oliver's Army'.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:20 PM
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31: I had very similar experiences in, you know, that mysterious and inscrutable country I used to live in.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:21 PM
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Clapton is the weenie with the guitar.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:21 PM
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Phil Collins and Eric Clapton?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:21 PM
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37: Crap, I wish I didn't know that. Oh Elvis!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:22 PM
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40: pretty much impossible to tell apart, I agree.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:23 PM
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Cary Grant and Clark Gable are merged in my mind. Initials, maybe (G. Cooper too, for you). The face I think of is Gable's when someone mentions Grant.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:24 PM
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Sometimes you see Collins looking like a weenie with a piano or drums, but mostly you just see him standing around, looking like a weenie.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:24 PM
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Wow. That was one lightning quick threadjack.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:25 PM
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42: no, not even remotely similar. I'm hoping/assuming LB just pulled two random names to emphasize her point, not that she actually somehow consistently mixes up Phil Collins and Eric Clapton. That's pretty much like mixing up Hillary Clinton and Muhammad Ali. I just don't see how it could happen.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:25 PM
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33: The 'both slackers' thing should let you off the hook in your own head a little, I'd say. But mostly, it's one for the "Yep, grew up in a kind of racist society. Came out of it mildly racist some ways. Sometimes it shows. Work on it, and do better next time" file. It's not like most people don't have a story that bad or worse; it's just something to work on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:26 PM
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46: well, they don't look alike. I'm sure it's the fact that they both create faux-meaningful pop-rock pablum that has LB confused.

(how does one duck on unfogged?)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:27 PM
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46: No, I really do mean Phil Collins and Eric Clapton. I have no excuse (or explanation), other than being not terribly interested in music of any kind, and being particularly uninterested in either of them, but they seem to come up in conversation often enough that I have the opportunity to confuse them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:28 PM
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how does one duck on unfogged?

Awkwardly.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:28 PM
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The weenies who listen to Eric Clapton are more likely to think of themselves as fans of Rock Music, because he was in a Supergroup in the Seventies. This doesn't actually distinguish him from Collins, nor does it get around the basic fact that they are both weenies you hear on weenie-formatted radio stations.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:29 PM
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I have no excuse (or explanation), other than being not terribly interested in music of any kind, and being particularly uninterested in either of them, but they seem to come up in conversation often enough that I have the opportunity to confuse them.

Also, similar names, and they're about the same age, aren't they?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:29 PM
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Also, American Peace Corps ladies are pretty much all the same. But not much like that LeTourneau lady, unfortunately.

I can easily see someone being so indifferent to Collins and Clapton that they can't tell them apart. Isn't that what "indifference" means, after all?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:29 PM
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But Sifu, they create very different styles of faux-meaningful pop-rock pablum.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:29 PM
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LB's been very upfront about being musically-challenged, and those guys are mostly just names to her; we're all like that about something.

The old-time movie stars are very distinct to me, I suppose that says something. I'm trying to think of the knowledge people take for granted I can't keep straight.

Maybe medical conditions. I seem to have way below average interest in them. Some old guy I'm going to be! I'll be incompetent.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:29 PM
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It actually gets back to Emerson's example of associating people who have Germanic names even though they don't look alike. There is only room for so many middle aged weenie rockers in one's head.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:31 PM
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I was very sorry when Cait O'Riordan married Elvis. Little-known fact: she was a refugee who came to Scotland during the Biafra war.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:31 PM
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LB's confusion is a sign of taste, not being musically challenged.

I'd respect her even more if she also confused Sting for Clapton and Collins.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:33 PM
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I'm trying to think of the knowledge people take for granted I can't keep straight.

I'm always surprised when people (even linguists!) get languages confused, or group them in the wrong families. Not saying this is something you would have trouble with, but it's the sort of thing that's out there.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:33 PM
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If LB hadn't tipped her hand I would have been willing to credit her with good musical taste. My son absolutely hates Clapton. I liked him up until 1970 or so.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:33 PM
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Well Cait got out, John (can you pronounce it?). He's married to that parlour jazz woman whose name I can never remember now. I bet she's the Clintonista.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:34 PM
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Sting is a guy who shouldn't ever have taken off his shirt. I'd rather by far see Shane McGowan or Meatloaf shirtless.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:34 PM
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Mutual, complete satisfaction with the arrangement would be much rarer than limited relationships themselves are.


Why?

I am not sure what is so problematic.

the explicit "we are not going to get married" conversation is awkward at best.

Why? I am not sure why people think it is so unusual for two people to be happy with the current situation of their relationship.

Why is a relationship unsatisifying if it doesnt result in marriage?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:34 PM
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37: It concerns me more that Clinton supporters appear to be Elvis Costello fans. (Although almost everything after Spike, meh.) I want to go back to my twenties, when aestheticizing my politics made sense and sometimes worked.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:35 PM
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Kral.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:35 PM
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58: I actually have fond memories of liking the Police when I was a teenager. Haven't really kept track of him since, but that's enough to keep Sting as a separate person in my head.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:35 PM
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Yeah, people always think that Mingrelian and Circassian are related languages, but they just aren't.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:37 PM
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67: Yeah, exactly.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:37 PM
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Why? I am not sure why people think it is so unusual for two people to be happy with the current situation of their relationship.

I have a long row to hoe with this guy, obviously.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:38 PM
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Lots of things are possible, but my experience is that romantic relationships acquire a momentum of their own. IME, trying to keep a romantic relationship at some predetermined degree of intimacy usually, eventually, makes the other person either angry or bored.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:39 PM
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Why is a relationship unsatisifying if it doesnt result in marriage divorce?

Gotta read between the lines, John.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:39 PM
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Because women think their men will change and men think their women won't. Only being bound in difficult-to-extract ways holds people together. Relationships that fulfil Rilke's ideal have a chance:

But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.

About as common as living saints IME.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:40 PM
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71: From will's perspective the answer is obvious, of course.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:40 PM
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I mistake whitefolks for each other all the time, with no particularly good reason except that I meet a lot of people. That's okay, right?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:41 PM
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The Police put Sting at a real disadvantage relative to Eric Clapton and Phil Collins. He will need to be much more aggressively boring in order to merge totally into the Adult Contemporary hive identity.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:41 PM
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51: Yes, but Phil Collins was in an arguably better rock band, for virtue of it having a brief period of relevance and acclaim circa 1975.

Both of them have vaults of lucre from their decades of assaulting our ears in dentists' offices and elevators. I imagine Eric Clapton diving into his vault and swimming through it Scrooge McDuck style while the nauseating acoustic-strumming version of "Layla" plays on infinite repeat.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:43 PM
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75: You mean he'd have to do a song like "Fields of Gold"? But he already did!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:43 PM
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IME, trying to keep a romantic relationship at some predetermined degree of intimacy usually, eventually, makes the other person either angry or bored.

In my humble opinion, more trouble comes from thinking that a relationship is bad if it doesnt become something different. (If it does not evolve.)

This isnt to say that marriages are bad. But, why is that the place where all relationships must end up or be labeled failures?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:43 PM
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That from Rilke is beautiful.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:44 PM
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75: The lute thing should help.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:44 PM
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The old-time movie stars are very distinct to me, I suppose that says something.

So I shouldn't tell you that I can never remember which one is Jean Harlow and which one is Jane Russell. Or which one is Claudette Colbert and which one is Carole Lombard.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:45 PM
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He will need to be much more aggressively boring

This hardly seems possible. I think it's better just to give up the fight and concede that the Police forever ruined Sting's chance at merging with the hive.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:45 PM
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Is it possible for a serious relationship to continue without the implied or acknowledged potential for evolving into a more serious relationship?

You learn from relationships. Maybe it's doomed now because you both envision different futures. Ok. Your future relationships will benefit from your experience.

And, you never know. People grow and change. If you want to be with this person now, then continuing to be with them, they just might grown on you. You may end up not wanting to leave.

Of course, if you're dead certain that you want to leave, eventually, that's also something to consider. It will probably only get more difficult as time goes on.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:46 PM
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You should tell me whatever you like. I don't know why I know that and would gladly swap out for an upgrade to more useful knowledge, were cartridges available.

But the only brain-altering cartridges I can think of are the ones in gswift's cabinet.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:47 PM
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Whoopie John Willfahrt

Heck yes he will!


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:47 PM
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74: Inside my own head, I have a total free pass on mistaking anyone for anyone else, because I suck at faces generally, regardless of race, and mix people up all the time. This makes me wildly paranoid about looking for unambiguous points of identification (scar, tattoo, freckles/moles) on any new acquaintance who isn't white, because I know I'll get them mixed up with someone, sometime, and explaining that I'm just rotten at faces seems too embarrassing to cope with. So far the paranoia has preserved me from public humilation as a racist, although I do humiliate myself by confusing white people on a regular basis.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:49 PM
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81: Blasphemy!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:50 PM
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why is that the place where all relationships must end up or be labeled failures?

I think it's nonsense, and mostly the result of social conditioning.

On the other hand, I think the solution to all the controversy surrounding the institution of marriage is to pretty much do away with it (in current form). So I accept that I'm already in the minority by thinking it's pretty broken, as an institution.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:50 PM
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On the baseball discussion board I frequent, we often have discussions about which players we confuse with each other a lot. Sometimes it's based on similar names as well as other similarities despite completely different careers, as with Adam Eckstein and Adam Everett. Sometimes it's just based on being similar players with similar public personae, like Troy Glaus and Richie Sexson. Sometimes it's based on being the only two black guys on a team and playing the same position despite having little else in common, like Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones.

As for the topic of this thread I don't have nearly enough experience to say anything, as most people don't.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:50 PM
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Jane Russell: Her real name. Big boobs. From near North Dakota.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:51 PM
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74: DS, we're cool with that, what with the low expectations and double standard and shit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:56 PM
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More on topic, it is entirely possible to have a successful (in any meaningful sense) relationship of this type. Allowing for the fact that relationships change over time, and you can't artificially change that. However, possibility of success is certainly dependent on a couple of things; The couple will have to be honest enough with each other to determine if the relationship is actually the right thing for both of them (over whatever time period). They will have to be mature enough to know what that is for themselves.

I know a few people in this sort of situation, ones who really aren't interested in a marriage, and have something else worked out. Usually understanding this is a painful process of failed relationships, it seems, but some people self aware enough to sort it out without.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:56 PM
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I think even LB should be able to tell Clark Gable from Cary Grant -- Clark Gable always has a mustache; Cary Grant is always clean-shaven.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:56 PM
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86: I should probably adopt similar strategies. There's just a part of me that doesn't want to admit my mental Rolodex is full.

Probably the worst was when I ran into a waitress acquaintance of about eight years and introduced her to my companion not only by the wrong name, but by the name of someone I later realized is sort of her archenemy. She hasn't spoken to me since. The thing was, I was totally confident I had her name right as it was coming out of my mouth.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 12:57 PM
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93: but how does she know it's not just Cary Grant and Evil Cary Grant?

I can't remember anyone's name, ever. I just smile and nod.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:01 PM
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I can never remember people's names unless I know both the first and last name. I've met this guy Kevin a dozen times, I know several things that I have in common with him, but still when I was told on Saturday that we'd be hanging out with him I had no idea what "Kevin" signified. It turned out to be a guy who, if put on the spot and forced to guess, I would have labeled as "Jonathan", "Eric", or possibly "Jeff". I've finally labeled him but have already forgot his girlfriend's name. "Emma" perhaps. Or "Abby", or "Erin". It starts with a vowel.

I don't know why people just go by first names all the time. First names are not uniquely identifying.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:02 PM
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One of the reasons I am terrible at remembering names is that I have a terrible habit of stopping paying attention at exactly the moment that the person says their name. It's just then that I start to think ahead to what I have to say or do next (introduce myself, move on to the next student in the row, whatever). I must learn to stop this.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:02 PM
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There's just a part of me that doesn't want to admit my mental Rolodex is full

I'm ok with it. Sometimes an old acquaintance needs to be introduced and I've forgotten the name, but somehow it hasn't gone wrong. I don't have confidence that turns out wrong, usually more like a sense I might be wrong when I'm not.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:02 PM
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61: Diana Krall. All of the lame-musician trivia that LB claims blessed ignorance of is lodged in the dark corners of my brain and won't go away.

As for the topic: unclear to me if this person is saying, "I don't want a more serious relationship than what we have now" or "I want that at some later point, just not with you, so let's stay together until some undefined future point when I decide to move on." Most people who are looking for a committed relationship would see it as the wiser, more emotionally healthy choice to move on to something that has the potential to become committed (for whatever definition of ultimate committment is agreed upon by the parties involved) rather than staying in a relationship where that's explicitly ruled out.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:03 PM
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People shouldn't be offended when I don't remember their name. It's just because I find them boring and don't pay attention when they talk.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:05 PM
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93: but how does she know it's not just Cary Grant and Evil Cary Grant?

hmmmmmmm........good point.

I can't remember anyone's name, ever. I just smile and nod.

In practice, this is what I do too, since the only people I can reliably tell apart are Cary Grant and Clark Gable, and I never run into them.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:06 PM
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I have no image of Clark Gable at all. Whenever I try to invoke my mental image of Clark Gable, it turns out to be Humphrey Bogart.

Let's see here...yep, I have never seen a movie with Clark Gable in it. That would explain it.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:09 PM
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102: You've never seen the "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn, " scene from Gone with the Wind? It seems to me it's included in all montages of greatest moments from the Golden Age of American Cinema.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:14 PM
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#94. I once called a friend's husband by the name of a boyfriend non grata she'd dated years earlier. It was utterly humiliating and I still have no idea why I did it.

why is that the place where all relationships must end up or be labeled failures?

Far be it for me to say they must. But even in a marriage of true minds sans matrimonial vows, placing limits on the degree of intimacy available to the other partner doesn't usually work well at all, IME. (Which is what I took the questioner to be asking about.)


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:16 PM
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104: I once introduced my wife with the name of a female co-worker I was seriously crushing on at the time (a crush about which my wife was aware, and not at all pleased). That's not exactly the same thing as forgetting a name, however.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:22 PM
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Yeep.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:24 PM
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Why is that the place where all relationships must end up or be labeled failures?

Some of us don't form relationships, or admit intimacy, very easily or often, and aren't lucky, outgoing, thick-skinned, sassy, cool or attractive enough to be polymorphously-lusty sportcopulaters, and thus cling to the bourgeois institution of marriage that cause us so much childhood unhappiness. Habits of mind, I guess.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:25 PM
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It was an office party and said crush was in the room, to the extent that's mitigating.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:25 PM
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105: No, really not the same thing at all, is it. Yow.

I call all members of my nuclear family, including the dog, by each other's names -- most often Newt's, because he's the one I yell at most. I have to work on it -- Buck really doesn't like being called Newt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:26 PM
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My fiancee has called me by her dog's name several times. To be fair, they are similar names.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:27 PM
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placing limits on the degree of intimacy available to the other partner doesn't usually work well at all

I don't see that aspect in the question.

I am always amazed at how many people are in relationships where they do not talk with the other person. It isn't that difficult. Communicate.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:28 PM
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Yes. I've been dating the same girl for 12 years, we have no intention of getting married, nor any intention of living together. We don't swing and as far as either of us knows haven't "cheated" on each other. We couldn't be happier.


Posted by: tom | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:28 PM
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Instances like these give Freudianism it's plausibility.

My mother would name one of us wrong, and cycle through all our names. There were three of us, invariably the right name came third.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:29 PM
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its


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:29 PM
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Right now, Tom's girlfriend is telling her friends "I think he is going to ask me to marry him any day now!!!"


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:30 PM
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Too many Toms around here. I thought "really?", moused-over and found you were a new one.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:31 PM
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The 'both slackers' thing should let you off the hook in your own head a little, I'd say.

Extra leeway if they both sit at the back of the class and/or wear baseball caps.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:32 PM
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It was an office party and said crush was in the room, to the extent that's mitigating.

To no very great extent, I'd say. Ouch.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:36 PM
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My mom would also cycle through several names including the dog.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:37 PM
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109: Everyone in my small (me, my wife, her daughter, our puppy) nuclear family gets everyone else's name confused. My wife and I especially are always calling her daughter by the puppy's name and vice-versa.

Today a squirrel was bugging me while I was eating my lunch and without thinking I yelled at her, calling her by our puppy's name.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:38 PM
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relationships where they do not talk with the other person.
Silence creep: knowing there is disagreement about festering topic X (sloth or money are popular), everything near X becomes taboo. Underlying goodwill may return any day, but until then, neither party will flinch first.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:40 PM
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Although almost everything after Spike, meh.

Good thing you qualified with that "almost," since "All This Useless Beauty" is The Best Song Ever.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:42 PM
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When yelling at the smaller members of my family (the children or the dog), I tend to call out their names in the order in which they are likely to misbehave. Thus a while back Joey ran off into the street, and I yelled "Caro...Ed...Joey! Come back here!" because Joey is generally better behaved than both his sister and the dog.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:46 PM
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my mental Rolodex is full

The most delicious flirtation in Charade features Audrey Hepburn informing Cary Grant:

AH: I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies I couldn't possibly meet anyone else.

CG: Well, if anyone goes on the critical list, let me know.

I have never mixed up any of the movie stars named on this thread. I was well into my teens before I could distinguish Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen, though.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:46 PM
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108: Was the lampshade on top of your head, or poised at a rakish angle?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:47 PM
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113: my mom found a way around all that. She would call us down for dinner by screaming : "Fa-Be-Lu!" ie: FA-tima, eliza-BE-th and LU-cy. It was ingenious except for the fact that 'fabelu' sounds very much like "favelo" which means "slum or shanty town' in Brazillian Portuguese.


Posted by: Lucy | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:48 PM
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I was well into my teens before I could distinguish Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen, though.

I can see how this would be an easy mistake in the 80s, but they've pretty much completely split apart now.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:49 PM
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51: Yes, but Phil Collins was in an arguably better rock band, for virtue of it having a brief period of relevance and acclaim circa 1975.

That's tough, Cream was awfully good. I'd be willing to concede that Genesis had a larger output of good material but, personally, I like Cream's best stuff better. But that's relly more due to Ginger Baker's drumming than Clapton.

I'm also terrible with names. Mostly I just don't even try.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:49 PM
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124: What a great movie.

I have to admit I'm with Cryptic Ned on the Clark Gable thing. All my memories of the famous exchange with Scarlett have Gable's face as an indistinct blur of other faces, kind of like those camouflage suits in A Scanner Darkly.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:51 PM
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It was ingenious except for the fact that 'fabelu' sounds very much like "favelo" which means "slum or shanty town' in Brazillian Portuguese.

I think by "except", you meant to say "especially". Understandable mistake.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:54 PM
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126: You ought to commemorate this by becoming a Voltron-like galactic crimefighting team. "Evildoers, fear the wrath of FABELU!"


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:57 PM
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127: for a brief period when I was quite young, I would get Billy Idol and Billy Ocean confused. I think maybe I wasn't paying that much attention.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:59 PM
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If there's any justice, Gonerill will find a noose hanging outside his office door tomorrow.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:59 PM
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Also, now we know for sure that Brock's wife is poisoning him.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 1:59 PM
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all of the good will from cream and blind faith, all destroyed by his later, weenie-rock career.

"and then she asks me,..."
(played at a geriatric tempo)
"do you feel all right,...."
(is this a refrain or a wake?)
"and i say, yes...
(oh fuck, just leave out the speech-indicators, okay?)
"i feel comatooose tonight...."

nope. even the early stuff doesn't excuse that.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:02 PM
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131--

whereas "fabelu" comes out really nicely in ricky ricardo's voice.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:02 PM
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135: That song always puzzled me. It's supposed to be romantic, but as far as I can tell, what happens is that a couple goes to a party, she looks great, he gets too drunk to drive home, gets home, and passes out. This is a good evening?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:11 PM
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137: Wow, that's actually a lot more interesting than I assumed the lyrics were. I respect him a little more now.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:13 PM
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I think that it is possible for a relationship to continue but it shouldn't. Staying on a path that you know is a dead end isn't good for your mental health- or your partner's. Also, if it is an exclusive relationship, it is preventing both parties from finding a more suitable relationship that they would want to evolve into something more permanent. Don't be sad about the breakup- be happy you were able to recognize the situation, end it, and go back to being single- a state of potential for finding what you really want. Good luck.


Posted by: Jessica | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:13 PM
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122: Well, I was really thinking of Kojak Variety, which is pretty darn decent...don't really recall any of that stuff off of All This Useless Beauty.

Although right now the Best Song Ever is "One More Bottle To Drink", the folk version, performed by Billy Childish and the Singing Loins. Perfect late-night autumn music, really. Elvis Costello really is more spring/summer, except maybe King of America.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:13 PM
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140: I totally need to swap out at least half my 'reallys' for 'perhapses'.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:16 PM
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If I am reading the question right, the person's not asking just whether a relationship can survive a lack of a formal commitment or a marriage (if that's the question, I think it's 'yes', if both people are on the same page, but if one of them wants more, probably 'no') but whether it can survive an explicit conversation about the 'end' of the relationship. E.g., having an understanding that you'll break up with your college girlfriend when you graduate nine months from now but will continue seriously until then.

I know of one case personally where that worked. A couple decided to break up six months in the future and tried to keep everything the same. They stayed friendly but the relationship definitely cooled. All of the handful of others I know who tried something like that ended up with one person finding someone else and bailing.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:16 PM
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137--
you are clearly right--the imagined scenario is one of deathly boredom. in fact, you can hear clapton slowly succumbing to the sedatives even as he sings.

but it's not surprising. they weren't married, and they had agreed that 'this was it' and it wasn't going to evolve. even the fact that she looks great and he's obscenely wealthy can't help them. it's just going to stagnate into an appallingly boring song.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:17 PM
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And, oh god, Goneril. My honky self cringes every 45 seconds with you.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:19 PM
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This music more than offsets the later crap:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI8SUc2SV4k


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:21 PM
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ot: ackerman's coverage of the mukasey hearings is unusually credulous.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:21 PM
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142:

"we are only dating during DC Unfogged."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:22 PM
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144--
yeah, gonerill's story is cringeworthy indeed.
course, it's nothing on the spectacle i remember from when i was a wee lad.

after dating pete through college, judy then dated bob through grad school. pete carried a torch for judy, though, and when bob dumped her, pete finally won her back.
they were married by their close friend, the young father irish.

who got up in front of all of us, and referred to pete as 'bob' during the exchange of vows.

really happened. and after about four decades, i'm no longer cringing.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:25 PM
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Usually if one partner wants more commitment but remains nonetheless, said partner is going to start feeling pathetic and/or resentful.

Perhaps in some future generation, once the nuclear family has broken down entirely, we can all be rational people custom-tailoring relationships to our needs, but until that utopia arrives, I think there are very, very few people out there for whom bourgeois marriage isn't the implicit model, and those for whom it is not have worked very, very hard to create something else, basically out of whole cloth.

For this reason, it always pisses me off to read glib comments in threads like this about "Hey, as long as both partners know what's up," etc. It'd be wonderful if it worked that way, but in real life, it very rarely does.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:25 PM
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148:Wow. How long did that marriage last?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:27 PM
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146--
yeah, i just read sully and drum's comments on mukasey, and had the same reaction.

so this guy is talking like he's opposed to torture. so what?

do these people *really* think bush and cheney would have nominated someone who was not going to play ball?

do they really have memories that short?

no bush appointee has ever gotten up in front of the senate and blatantly lied about how they would conduct themselves after confirmation?

sometimes i get so *fucking* tired of belonging to the clueless party.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:28 PM
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I've had time-limited relationships because I was already committed to leaving town and the other person could not follow for career reasons. We set an expiration date and everything. It worked out very well. It might even have been hotter; there was a certain dropping of inhibitions once the whole marriage question wasn't looming over everything. We're still good friends.

She was an unusually sensible person though.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:28 PM
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but it's not surprising. they weren't married, and they had agreed that 'this was it' and it wasn't going to evolve. even the fact that she looks great and he's obscenely wealthy can't help them. it's just going to stagnate into an appallingly boring song.

And it becomes a hit because most Americans over 40 *totally identify with it*.

I am very worried that in four months, when I turn 40, I will suddenly see some great truth and/or beauty in this song, and listen to it repeatedly while thinking about quality lawn care.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:28 PM
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150--
i can't tell you, but the silence after "do you, judy, take bob--"
lasted several hours.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:29 PM
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149 gets it exactly right.

A relationship that the members have agreed will end in six months, and yet they carry on as if it will go on indefinitely, is pretty much exactly as hard for me to imagine as an open marriage. It's not impossible for me to imagine, but it's impossible to imagine me being in such a situation.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:30 PM
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146: You mean that he's misreporting what's been said, or that he's silly to think Mukasey means it? I may be credulous as well, but my prejudice, with respect to long-serving District Judges, is that they are quite likely to be fairly independent. That doesn't mean necessarily right about anything, but that a federal judge doing something crazy will probably be doing it because he thinks it's correct, and screw anyone who says otherwise, rather than because they're a team player. I doubt Mukasey will do much good, but I'd be surprised if he were committed to the Bush agenda like the real weirdos out there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:30 PM
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yeah, i've gotta agree with 149.
whenever someone tells you that jealousy is just a sign of immaturity, for instance--
that's a sign of immaturity.

153--
don't worry. sometime shortly after 40, your eyesight will take a major hit. but nothing about getting older will ever make you like that song.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:32 PM
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What I would like to see in a hearing like this one is the questioner asking, "Are you lying?", followed by "How do I know you're not lying?".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:33 PM
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"Hey, as long as both partners know what's up," etc.

"X and I decided that it would be best for both of us....."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:33 PM
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"Hey, as long as both partners know what's up," etc.

"X and I decided that it would be best for both of us....."

"My wife and I have an understanding..."


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:34 PM
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156 also to 151.

I don't know Mukasey particularly at all -- I haven't been on a case before him. But judging is a funny job; there aren't a lot of others where you can toss someone in jail for being insufficiently respectful. No one else gets treated like God, day in, day out, like a judge. That's not great for your personality in some ways, but it does tend to produce someone who's kind of lost the concept of obedience.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:35 PM
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156--

the second. for instance, i don't really think roberts has been calling balls and strikes. i think instead that he got up in front of the senate and lied his ass off. and then got confirmed and does exactly what his masters bid him to do.

i think that's part of how you get the nomination from cheney.

look, i don't know mukasey. but we just have no reason to grant him the benefit of the doubt.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:35 PM
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For this reason, it always pisses me off to read glib comments in threads like this about "Hey, as long as both partners know what's up," etc. It'd be wonderful if it worked that way, but in real life, it very rarely does.

Kotsko:

Did the question say that one person wanted more than the other person?

Why is that read into the question?

Why is there so much projection in this thread?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:36 PM
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163--
there's projection, will, because the original hypo we were given is so thin on details.
without adding in a lot, there's way to have any determinate reaction at all.
so we all add in stuff based on our own experience, or the experience of people we have known, or read about, or etc..
anything wrong with that?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:38 PM
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s/b there's *no* way, of course.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:39 PM
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Why is there so much projection in this thread?
Because there is so little detail in the initial question. Had the asker written any 5 words about self or the other party, things would be different. As it is, may as well refer them to La Rochefoucauld, Thurber, or Dawn Powell.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:39 PM
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155: I would be much the same way. My only traumatic break-up was with a guy who told me he didn't really find me attractive any more, didn't think he was in love any more, but didn't want to break up and just wanted to... well, I don't know what he wanted, because after two weeks of that bullshit I broke up with him. We had been talking, before that, about marriage and long term plans (another reason for the existence of formal engagements) and I was surprised at how fast I cut him out of my life. I am in the instantiation of hell hath no fury, apparently.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:40 PM
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The situations are very different:

1. He wants more, but she doesn't.

2. We have agreed that we will never get married, but still want to date each other.

There is nothing wrong with #2. Situation #1 is problematic.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:43 PM
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It's a terrible mineshaft question. And no one has posted about the Modern Doug story from Sunday.

max
['Which should've been titled The Prick and the MILF.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:45 PM
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162: Yeah, maybe. I may be naively overstereotyping judges as incorruptible paladins of teh truth as they see it (or at least such incredibly egomanaical monsters that they're not accessible to most ordinary corruption. But I do think there's at least something to the stereotype.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:45 PM
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I suspect Populuxe has it right at 70 & 104: a limit to the intimacy available is probably not sustainable long-term for something that's described, slightly oddly, as a "serious" relationship. There seems to be a tension there.

Sure, some might be able to do it, but they'd in the minority.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:50 PM
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As usual, the Onion has beaten us to it: Boyfriend Ready To Take Relationship To Previous Level.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:56 PM
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I'm breaking anonymity to say that Kotsko wins the thread.

I gave so few details, incidentally, because I felt they would distract from what I wanted to ask. It would have become a thread about college-age or long-distance relationships, and I didn't want to ask about that.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 2:59 PM
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Just tell her she's too dumb for you, destroyer, but you'll stick fuck her if she wants.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 3:01 PM
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still fuck her.

Sheesh.

Ain't nothin 'n nobody what's too dumb fer me!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 3:07 PM
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Stick fucking is more painful; still fucking lasts longer.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 3:08 PM
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stick fuck her if she wants

There really are all sorts of fetishes.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 3:09 PM
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Stick fucking.

No, of course it's NSFW.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 3:11 PM
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repeatedly meeting each other's families remains non-optional.

Au contraire! Take a boyfriend, and then every time your husband goes to visit his family, you go visit the boyfriend. Win-win.

On the limited relationship thing, I think if it's "I don't really see this continuing after we graduate" that's a hard convo, but potentially doable. If it's "I really have no desire ever to be married but I love you and want to be with you forever regardless," then that's cool. But if it's "I like you well enough to mark time with you unless and until someone I like better comes along"--well, even though that's the unspoken default state of most relationships, you're not supposed to *say* it.

Also, I really feel for Gonerill, but it's to your credit that you're taking it on the chin. (And rationalizations about how we all mistake people all the time aren't that important, given that we all know that the student understood the mistake as racist regardless of whether or not it "really" was. Damage, done.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 3:56 PM
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The real question in my mind is whether Gonerill has to give them both As or just one of them.

And, when he gives them both As, does that confirm him as a racist?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 3:58 PM
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They won't be getting As. The student in question is getting an apology in a follow-up email, though.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 4:00 PM
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And, when he gives them both As, does that confirm him as a racist?

It depends on whether, in his heart of hearts, his decisions are driven by the SBOLE.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 4:00 PM
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140: Overall, All This Useless Beauty is a forgettable album...so much so, I pegged the wrong song as The Best Song Ever. I meant to say "Poor, Fractured Atlas," as it is The Best Song Ever.

And Gonerill, I feel for you, but think of it this way: you're now an outstanding story.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 4:21 PM
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Billy Idol and Billy Ocean

Those two, plus Billy Bragg.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 4:28 PM
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And Billie Holiday, and Billy Corgan.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 4:37 PM
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Billy Dee Williams?


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 4:44 PM
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See, I always got Billy Dee Williams confused with Billy Jean King.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 4:56 PM
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James Earl Jones, Tommy Lee Jones, James Earl Ray. Not really, but it always takes me a little extra to sort out which is which.

I may be naively overstereotyping judges as incorruptible paladins of teh truth as they see it (or at least such incredibly egomanaical monsters that they're not accessible to most ordinary corruption. But I do think there's at least something to the stereotype.

Maybe partly that long-time federal judges were appointed at a time when the process of picking judges who would do as expected hadn't been perfected to the degree it has now. Reagan may have wanted hacks on the bench as badly as GWB does, but GWB has a better chance of getting them.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 5:42 PM
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Gonerill's story reminds me of one of my own. I lived in a very nasty city neighborhood, and one night, parking my car, I watched as a huge man chased down a girl, picked her up, threw her over his shoulder, and carried her down an alley, leaving one of her shoes behind.

After calling 911, I was paralyzed for some seconds, but a guy half my size chased after them down the alley, and I felt shamed into following. (Somehow it didn't register in my mind, but the little guy was actually carrying a machete. I only noticed it later.)

We didn't catch up with the kidnapper. I had dawdled too long and we guessed wrong on a turn. Later, at the police station, I talked to another witness who watched her get stuffed into a car with two other guys in it.

But that's not the story. That's just the setup for the story.

I never found out what happened to the girl, and I deeply regretted that I let the abductor get away. A couple months later, I moved to a much nicer neighborhood, crime-wise. (Though it took me awhile to realize how much better it was, because it didn't look much nicer.)

Just after the move, I was at a strip mall, and I saw a scruffy-looking guy eyeing a girl in an odd way. Suddenly he ran up to the girl, who I was now walking past and who was turned the other way, and he lunged for her purse.

I grabbed his arm, spun him around, and went off. I can't even remember what I said, but I was totally full of adrenaline and ready to fight this guy (who was somewhat smaller than me.)

Well, long story short, the girl was the guy's girlfriend, and he was playing a little joke by sneaking up on her. And yes, he was black and she was white.

The guy was very gracious about it - told me I did exactly what I should have done. But I was, and remain, mortified.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 7:18 PM
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189: Yikes. I will never understand what is the appeal of sneaking up on girlfriends to scare them. My last boyfriend did that to me once at Columbus Circle---jumped on me from behind and covered my mouth. I bit him and screamed, and even after I saw it was him, I was still crying. It was horrible, and very scary. He couldn't understand why I wasn't delighted by the surprise. I ended up saying it was because I've been a victim of domestic violence, which is probably part of why I reacted so strongly, but seriously, does any woman find being terrified in a public place to be a wonderful, intimate moment of joy? Jesus fucking Christ.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 7:23 PM
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Ok, 178 is totally awesome.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 7:30 PM
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139, meet 99.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 7:32 PM
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188, etc.: Philip Michael Thomas, Philip Baker Hall, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Three very different actors, and I don't confuse their faces, of course, but I associate the wrong name with each of their faces almost every single time.


Posted by: NickFranklin | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 7:57 PM
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I will never understand what is the appeal of sneaking up on girlfriends to scare them.

I'll cop to occasionally scaring my wife, but mild stuff, like in the house, and she knows I'm home. In public is a bit much.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 8:07 PM
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190: Agh.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 8:09 PM
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I've got about 100 comments t catch up on in this thread, but

I once introduced my wife with the name of a female co-worker

The poorly chosen rebound relationship right after my divorce was with a woman whose name rhymed with my ex-wife's. When you're drunk and falling asleep, it's really, really easy to mix the two up. But she somehow didn't see that as a mitigating factor.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 8:23 PM
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I nearly slugged a friend who decided to tap me on the shoulder on a dark city street. I hadn't heard her hail me. Stopped a foot from her jaw.

I guess my lizard brain is afraid of the dark.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 8:30 PM
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My junior high shop teacher described making intruder noises (rattling the doors, etc.) when his wife was in the shower a few days after they'd watched Psycho. He said she still got mad about it years later. Ya think?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 8:34 PM
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My wife is really bad at scaring me. The intent is there, but she has a hard time controlling her giggling.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 8:36 PM
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Not my sense of fun either, and my wife would be genuinely frightened.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 9:09 PM
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God, but I love scaring people. Is there any older brother that doesn't? I stopped doing it, though, because people get really, really pissed off about it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 9:13 PM
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God, but I love scaring people. Is there any older brother that doesn't?

Yeah, I'm the second oldest, and the oldest son.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 9:27 PM
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My older brother used to do it to me, and I was already a horribly neurotic pre-teen. He'd hide his car around the block so I wouldn't know he was home, and then jump out from behind a corner, two inches from my face. No, I haven't gotten over it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-17-07 9:32 PM
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I can never remember which one is Jean Harlow and which one is Jane Russell

Jean Harlow was the one on the end of the devastating put down by Margot Asquith. Jane Russell was the other one.

We agreed we weren't going to get married, and then some years later we agreed that we were, mainly on account of pensions and insurance and all that, but also because we wanted to give a damn good party.

Neither of those decisions actually had any impact on our sex life, accomodation, politics, commitment, attitude to children or cats or anything else. All sorts of other shit had huge impact, but no those decisions.

You can agree what you like. Six months later it won't make any difference at all. And if you try to quote it in evidence, it'll just breed resentment.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:23 AM
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True story: I have always liked my youngest brother's wife, but when they got legally married they were not sure whether they should tell me. I guess I am a fanatic.

You can agree what you like. Six months later it won't make any difference at all.

I think that in intimate, thick, important relationships, making everything explicit is impossible. In some sense, an explicit contractual relationship is a defective or incomplete relationship. Marriage is a legal contract, but the law only covers a small part of what the relationship involves -- a marriage which satisfies the legal minimums and no more might well be a horrible nightmare.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:47 AM
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204: "The 't' is silent"? Or was there a better putdown?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:02 AM
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206. Only one I've heard.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:59 AM
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Yikes. I will never understand what is the appeal of sneaking up on girlfriends to scare them. My last boyfriend did that to me once at Columbus Circle---jumped on me from behind and covered my mouth. I bit him and screamed, and even after I saw it was him, I was still crying.

In Jonathan Lethem's long article about a random New York subway station, he describes the strong impulse to do this to a girlfriend, and how he decided on moral grounds that it would be a terrible thing to do because it would evoke her powerlessness and make her more afraid in the future for no good reason, so he didn't do it. It's in his recent non-fictional writing collection.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 7:24 AM
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207--
surely there' s more to the put-down than the clause lb quotes?
some follow-up zinger?
otherwise, not so devastating by itself.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 7:29 AM
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Stick fucking. No, of course it's NSFW.

Oddly reminiscent, but safe for work.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 1:02 PM
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The stick-fucking video is laughable.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 1:10 PM
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Mukase really seemed to fudge the torture stuff. He seemed unwilling to respect the authority of Congressional statutes. He seemed to me to be saying that The U.S. doesn't torture, because it's unethical and contrary to the spirit of our country. Obviously, this isn't true, but I was really disturbed by his reliance on our national spirit. I am not being articulate enough, but here's the distinction I'm trying to make.

(1.) I don't believe that we should be relying on the goodwill of the president, and he has the same creepy ideas about executive authority as Gonzales, Yoo and Addington.

(2.) Torture is deeply unethical and contrary to everything just, but as an enforcer of the law, the AG ought to be enforcing those laws because he respects the authority of Congressional statutes--unless they're obviously unconstitutional.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:09 PM
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