Re: Thresholds

1

This is exactly what the three of us explained to our housemate during my last year of college, when he complained that he always ended up doing most of the cleaning.

It's not good for a neat-freak to live with three stoner-slobs. Not good for him, anyway. It was great for us.


Posted by: JH | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:45 AM
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I am so glad I don't have roommates anymore. I am definitely a low-threshold bee.


Posted by: pasdquoi | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:46 AM
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This study really hits home. I look around and think about how clean the house looks. BR gets home and freaks out about how messy it is. She has helped me learn how to be neater, but it is really difficult when I don't even recognize that it is messy under her standards.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:47 AM
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Frau Bitch used to have a rant about how men who claim that they just have higher thresholds of messiness really just haven't internalized the idea that housework is their job. I don't know if she's backed down from this one.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:49 AM
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Oh, man, I had a 'neat freak with three slobs' apartment in college, and felt really bad about it. We did thank her a fair amount, just didn't get to the work before she'd done it often.

This is generally a source of a certain amount of guilt for me, because I've got a sky-high threshold for noticing that cleaning needs to be done. (Or, even worse, I notice a fair amount of time before I actually develop the impetus to do anything about it.) In roommate situations, I think there's something to be said for assignments. Vacuuming rooms X&Y is always roommate Z's job; dishes go on a weekly rota, and so on. It seems all tense and managery, but it does eliminate this particular problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:50 AM
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Not good for him, anyway. It was great for us.

That makes me so happy.

I think this phenomenon has been hashed out before on Unfogged, with ogged taking some bizarre "If you pick it up, peace and contentment will come" position.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:50 AM
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Yeah, if we could keep this from turning into a nasty 800 comment thread on gender norms, that'd be great.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:50 AM
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Of course, my daughter's ocd search for black markers in the house doesn't help the house disorder.

That little sneaky girl somehow found two black markers in my son's room last night. Man, did she crow about her find! "MARKERS!!!!!!," she sang to me triumphantly with a huge grin.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:51 AM
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What did you think would happen when you put up the main post?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:52 AM
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What's more, if one partner does something well, that increases the chance he'll perform that task again, just as failing at the task (or a lack of opportunity to complete it) decrease the chance he'll get another turn. Then consider that, before long, the partner who performs a task more frequently will likely be seen as a specialist at it. Taken together, these facts explain how one partner can get stuck with a household chore.What's more, if one partner does something well, that increases the chance he'll perform that task again, just as failing at the task (or a lack of opportunity to complete it) decrease the chance he'll get another turn. Then consider that, before long, the partner who performs a task more frequently will likely be seen as a specialist at it. Taken together, these facts explain how one partner can get stuck with a household chore.

Also known as 'if you break the dishes, she won't make you wash them.'

I liked the article, and it seems to describe the phenomenon accurately, although it glossed over why it's often the woman who ends up with the majority of the chores (we're just naturally better at it, right?) in marriages.

shivbunny and I are doing pretty well with an adequate division of labor. He's much better at organizing stuff than I am, so he does that. I'm much better at finances, so I do that. And the rest we try to split, which is a little frustrating because while he's notice when dishes are dirty, he won't notice when the bathroom or kitchen is dirty. So I tell him it's dirty and then he helps clean it. Hate feeling like a nag, though.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:52 AM
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9 --> 7

I'm off to teach.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:52 AM
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Or, even worse, I notice a fair amount of time before I actually develop the impetus to do anything about it.

This is me. My apartment is a mess, and I know it's a mess, but I just can't bring myself to clean it. Since I live alone, no one else does either, and it just gets dirtier.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:53 AM
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how men who claim that they just have higher thresholds of messiness really just haven't internalized the idea that housework is their job

Perhaps BR will disagree, but I consider housework my job. I do think that it is mostly a standards and recognition issue.

I come from messy people. BR and my previous significant other are very neat and orderly people. They have worked hard to change me. I appreciate their help greatly because it was just foreign to me.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:54 AM
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4: Well, it's complicated. It's not always men -- I'm pretty much precisely the high-threshold/low-housework person being described here. But part of what I'm describing as being high-threshold is not really thinking that the living room's being filled with clutter is my problem. (And mostly it does end up getting tidier without my intervention. Thanks, Buck! (I'm not really that bad--I do dishes and clean the kitchen and bathrooms. Clutter in rooms without plumbing is just a blind spot.)) I see it, and on some level I'd rather live in a tidier place, but I don't really see changing that fact as something that it's my affair to do much of anything about.

So, Bitch's assessment rings true for me from the inside.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:55 AM
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Aside from the cleanliness threshhold, there's also the split between people who generally tend to put things up after they use them (milk back in the fridge; clothes into the hamper or back in the closet; dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher; etc) and those who tend to leave everything strewn about all over God's creation (milk out for hours, maybe till next morning when it's cereal time again; clothes on chairs/floor/bed/wherever; dirty dishes on tables/counters/sink/wherever; etc). I will not reveal which end of the spectrum I fall upon, nor will I accuse anyone of being on the other end of that spectrum.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:55 AM
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Regarding 10. I think I have mentioned previously. BR finds laundry relaxing. I cannot fold laundry to save my life. I enjoy grocery shopping. She cannot shop for groceries.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:55 AM
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I'll note without judgement that 12 can sometimes be a subtle form of auto cock-block, teo.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:56 AM
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15: I split depending on which sort of thing it is. I'm very aware of food, but non-food objects disappear completely from my consciousness as I finish using them, meaning that I leave a trail of keys, books, magazines, glassware, clothes, towels, open cabinet doors, and so forth behind me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:58 AM
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18:

You left out kids.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:59 AM
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BR finds laundry relaxing. I cannot fold laundry to save my life.

Generally this is true for me. Buck just had a friend teach him this nifty new method of t-shirt folding, though, and now I'm wildly entertained by folding t-shirts. (You lay it out, pinch in three spots, shake, and it's a perfect square.) But this will wear off.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:00 AM
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non-food objects disappear completely from my consciousness as I finish using them, meaning that I leave a trail of keys, books, magazines, glassware, clothes, towels, open cabinet doors, and so forth behind me.

You left out "men" from your list.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:00 AM
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14: This is true for me, too. Clutter that isn't actual dirt, or things being out of place or in a weird place, just doesn't register. Clutter that is dirt will drive me nuts, as will not having a neatly vacuumed floor, so I tend to clean up the other clutter enough to vacuum the floor. But it's something I overlook otherwise, and put it down to noticing that my family tends towards packratism.

My paternal grandmother and my mom once had a running bet if one came over and the dining room table was cluttered, the other would have to pay a quarter. Pretty much they just passed a quarter back and forth on each visit.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:01 AM
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19: My kids would probably disappear from my consciousness if they weren't talking, but the situation doesn't arise much. Buck and I spent yesterday evening trying to decide if indefatigable, tireless, or relentless best described Newt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:01 AM
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20:

BR could try to teach me how to fold, but then she might have to go to the grocery store while I fold. I think she finds that terrifying.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:01 AM
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I had a roommate last year whose ability to ignore messes was tested by a new development. Whenever anyone would leave food open on the counter overnight, it would get eaten by mice. Would his laziness be tested by the knowledge that whenever he left food out he would wake up to see it full of nibble marks and surrounded by feces? No, he'd rather leave the food out one day and then invariably throw it away than put it back and be able to eat it later.

This contributed to his seemingly-genuine compulsion to buy the Valu Time brand of anything. Which, by its lack of nutrients, contributed to his laziness.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:02 AM
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20: I've seen a video of that technique on YouTube. It's pretty cool.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:02 AM
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The fault line between Fleur and me is that I am bothered by stuff that's out of place or lying around, but am not particularly bothered by "dirty" surfaces (floors, sinks, counters), whereas she has a high tolerance for stuff lying about and no tolerance for dirt on surfaces. The resolution of this conflict is complicated by the fact that it is difficult to clean surfaces without removing the objects lying about, so we tend to end up with great heaps of stuff that are not organized. (This was the background of the desk-top organizer faux pas that I mentioned in a previous thread.)


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:04 AM
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14: There are a few things going on. It certainly doesn't break cleanly along gender lines, but I think there is a pretty clear correlation.

I suspect there are two things going on. One is a natural aesthetic (or whatever) sense of how much clutter is ok. Quite separable from actual cleanliness, peoples comfort levels are different, and living with someone who has a different take on whether the house should look like a nordic furniture ad or a knick-knack store can be a challenge. The second thing would be societal and (even moreso) familial expectations; the degree to which people are perceived to be judging you, personally, on the state of your house (and what the expected state is). This varies quite a bit with social groups, but I think the gendered component comes in strongly here with how like a mother, say, is likely to take her daughter aside and say `this is how it should be' and instill the idea that this is her responsibility.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:05 AM
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I liked the article, and it seems to describe the phenomenon accurately, although it glossed over why it's often the woman who ends up with the majority of the chores (we're just naturally better at it, right?) in marriages.

I think the gender split comes down to it being highly sensitive to initial conditions. Assuming the article's right about the dynamic, which I'd say it mostly is, as between two people with only slightly different thresholds, the one with the higher sensitivity to the need to get chores done is going to do the chores much more often. So if men have a socially created even slightly higher tolerance for mess, that's going to make them much less likely to do housework spontaneously.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:07 AM
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LB is right about assignments. I've mentioned this before, but my two roommates in Cleveland and I made up a list of all the things that needed doing in the house. Then each of us chose the issue for which we have the lowest annoyance threshold. One person took over entering all our bills into a database so that when one of us paid for something, we would receive credit toward the general total of what we owed "the world" so it would never feel like we owed one another money. (He even split up among individual grocery items.) The money obsession was his, so he got to control the money.

The food obsession was mine. I agreed to make dinners, lunches, and snacks on demand at any hour of the day. I made party snacks if my roommates came over, packed lunches for school, and would make veggie quesadillas at 3am if that's what was asked.

Our other roommate was really bothered by clutter and cat hair on the carpets, so she was really good about vacuuming, etc.

Anyhow, the point was, since we each chose the job we'd resent someone else doing poorly, we worked a lot harder in those jobs than we would have if we'd done it resenting the failure of our roommates to do them often enough or well.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:07 AM
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Yeah, if we could keep this from turning into a nasty 800 comment thread on gender norms, that'd be great.

Gender norms? I'm hoping it doesn't tear our household apart.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:08 AM
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29 sounds about right.

But there are also social conditioning issues .... is there anyone here who hasn't been to a big dinner where all of a sudden someone decides it's time to clear up and most of the women feel pressure to join in while the men may actually be pressured not to?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:09 AM
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7 is endearing for the sheer wishfulness of its thinking.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:10 AM
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We had a really good system in the house where I lived in DC: a weekly chore chart (nothing onerous) with a $15 penalty per week if you didn't do your chore. Your penalty was added to your rent and reduced everyone else's rent. It wasn't much more than a token, but it kept people from feeling guilty when they skipped a week or resentful when someone else was lazy.

My current apartment includes a couple of roommates who are completely averse to systems of any kind and don't seem to realize that a generalized commitment to everybody just pitching in and keeping the place a little cleaner, man doesn't work at all.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:11 AM
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Anyhow, the point was, since we each chose the job we'd resent someone else doing poorly, we worked a lot harder in those jobs than we would have if we'd done it resenting the failure of our roommates to do them often enough or well.

I think this is key --- the ill feeling on both sides when a job is done but not to the standard of someone else can be really bad.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:11 AM
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31: look I rinsed my dishes, okay?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:11 AM
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I'll note without judgement that 12 can sometimes be a subtle form of auto cock-block, teo.

Perhaps, but the possibility of a girl seeing my apartment is probably the only thing that's going to motivate me to clean it.

I am bothered by stuff that's out of place or lying around, but am not particularly bothered by "dirty" surfaces (floors, sinks, counters)

This is me too. My apartment is quite neat and tidy, it's just dirty.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:13 AM
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completely averse to systems of any kind

The systems resentment is a real problem. I was ducking and cringing above when I mentioned assignments -- it just comes off so sanctimoniously tightassed. But that sort of thing really helps a great deal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:13 AM
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My apartment is quite neat and tidy, it's just dirty.

That sounds like a problem that you hire a housecleaner for. If you can keep it tidy, an hour or two every week or two should be all you need, and shouldn't break the bank.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:16 AM
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37: Right, but why do you not believe this is a random possibility on any given day? It becomes a little bit self fulfilling.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:17 AM
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32: shivbunny always helps with dishes, and over one of the holidays my mother was just shocked because the men normally go off to the living room to relax while dishes get done by daughters. I don't think I've ever seen my dad do the dishes.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:18 AM
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That sounds like a problem that you hire a housecleaner for. If you can keep it tidy, an hour or two every week or two should be all you need, and shouldn't break the bank

Spoken like a true upper middle class professional.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:18 AM
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Within any individual living situation, I think you have to back off a bit from treating it like a test-kitchen for symbolic patriarchal oppression. Sure, it's true that men and women are socialized to be annoyed by different things. But the damage, in some respect, is already done. I am never going to care enough to maintain the things that bother someone I'm living with, and s/he is never going to care enough to maintain the things that bother me. In any living situation, you have to respect the person you're dealing with and accept their limitations.

Of course, it helps if everyone has some interest in maintenance of something. My last roommate situation was a disaster. I have a very high threshold for clutter, but only a medium one for filth. They were happy with both clutter and filth.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:19 AM
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Pretty much they just passed a quarter back and forth on each visit.

Totally OT, but this reminds me of the French immersion program that my then-employer sent me to. The rule there was that if they caught you speaking a language other than French, you were fined 10 francs on the spot (with the proceeds going to buy booze for the farewell party).

One of the largest segments of the student population was rich francophile Texans. There was once such couple who had been coming every year for 10 years or so, with the wife steadily advancing through the courses, and the husband, Lloyd, remaining stubbornly stuck in the débutant level. Lloyd was a nice guy, but he frequently resorted to buying his way out of communication difficulties by paying the 10F fine.

Anyway, local legend has it that when Lloyd arrived at the school for the third or fourth year, he handed the directrice a check for a large sum of money, and told her, "Just run me a tab."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:19 AM
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I'm really bad about all of this stuff and desperately want a houskeeper, personal organizer. I have a very hard time with physical space and am often unsure of where papers and knick knacks ought to go. If someone woudl create the system, I think that I coudl follow it.

My current roommate believes in soaking piles of dishes in soap in such a way that it's hard for me to wash my own dishes.

I hate vacuuming with a passion, although I don not mind sweeping. I am not very good at really scrubbing bathtubs, and I often find myself feeling very worn out and even kind of light-headed after doing it. In short, I am a domestic mess.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:19 AM
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That sounds like a problem that you hire a housecleaner for. If you can keep it tidy, an hour or two every week or two should be all you need, and shouldn't break the bank.

You don't seem to realize just how little money I make; there's seriously no way I could afford a housecleaner. It would also be kind of absurd to hire someone to clean this tiny apartment when it would be very easy for me to clean it myself if I ever got around to it.

Right, but why do you not believe this is a random possibility on any given day?

Long experience.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:22 AM
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43: That's really true. If I see it as 'men can't clean bathrooms' it seems a lot harder to deal with than if I see it as 'I have to ask the person I married to pull his weight in this department just as he has to ask me not to put my schoolbag on the futon'*

*I cannot fathom why this bothers him as much as it does.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:22 AM
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7: Are you new here or something?

So my wife and I started keeping the house a lot neater overall after we started playing The Sims and internalized the concept of "room score". We have since cultivated complementary OCDs; I do small amounts of cleanup almost constantly on some kinds of mess, but she's much more likely to declare CLEANING TIME and do massive reconfiguration of big piles of stuff.

Also I do 90% of the laundry.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:23 AM
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It's worth noting (I may be pwned by distraction in this) that it applies in all work. The quote in 0 could describe pretty much everything about my workplace. I routinely do two or three times as much work, using a specific metric, than my colleagues because I am the first one driven crazy by the sight of work just sitting there. I learned a few weeks ago that when I left Ma Bell they had to hire six people to replace me because no one else was very motivated to do the very specific job I spent all day doing because it drove me insane to see it undone.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:23 AM
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42: Yeah, I felt kind of obnoxious making the suggestion. But dirt rather than tidiness is what it's easiest to hire someone for, and also what it makes the most sense to clean at intervals, so from Teo's description, a cleaning service would solve his problem completely. It'd still be expensive here, but I have the vague belief that hiring cleaners is much cheaper outside of NY.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:23 AM
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I think this is key --- the ill feeling on both sides when a job is done but not to the standard of someone else can be really bad.

Yes, my reaction when I do something and get told it's not been done to the appropriate standard is to try really hard not to tell the other person to fuck off. In my favour, however, I'd never criticize someone else, so at least I'm consistent.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:24 AM
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Also, I have a reasonable threshold for actual dirt -- I clean. But I'm fairly oblivious to clutter and disorder -- which has been, and continues to be, a bone of contention.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:26 AM
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Yeah, if we could keep [this thread about housework] from turning into a nasty 800 comment thread on gender norms, that'd be great

good luck with that.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:26 AM
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50: It's not super-expensive; my mom has one come in once a month (I think) and it's not a financial burden for her. Still out of my price range, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:28 AM
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I cannot fathom why this bothers him as much as it does.

This is a real problem. It's very, very hard not to trivialize something that is trivial to you.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:29 AM
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see teo, all you need to do is shack up with a girl teh patriarchy has programmed into a lower threshold for dirt than you --- problem(s) solved.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:30 AM
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I accidentally posted this in the do-gooder thread.

My right-wing uncle is a real neat freak, much more so than his girlfriend. It was actually kind of frustrating on Christmas Eve, because my sister and I were heading off to midnight mass, and he felt that he had to do dishes while the rest of us were opening presents.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:31 AM
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re: 56

This patriarchy stuff is looking like a win/win for us. Who knew?!


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:31 AM
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Jammies is way cleaner than me and I feel guilty about it. Fortunately I bring up all the time how guilty I feel, without actually stepping up my level of participation, so he gets to be both nagged and yet always cleaning. I feel this is best.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:31 AM
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57 was I.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:31 AM
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51: You call that a comment? Christ, it's like you're not even trying!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:33 AM
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If my salary allows, I think I can manage never to cohabitate again, which would eradicate these problems. On one hand, I do miss living with roommates because it's really lovely to have people to cook for and chill out with. On the other, it's just not fair to make anyone deal with someone as oblivious as me.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:34 AM
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Jammies is way cleaner than me

That's because you're not taking the opportunity to sprint to the shower after sex.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:34 AM
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63:

I would have bet the under at 50 comments before sex sprinted into this topic directly.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:36 AM
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Hmph. If anyone could explain to me how to figure out this whole men-women-and-housework thing, I'd be greatly appreciative. My boyfriend's cleaning (more accurately, not-cleaning) habits are basically the only problem I have with the man. I'm not even that clean of a person. I pick up for 15-20 minutes whenever I know someone is coming over, and then I get around to actually cleaning everything very thoroughly every 2-3 months. The rest of the time, I do the dishes and try to keep my dirty clothes in a pile.

With the amount of time we spend together and the seriousness of the relationship, we have been seriously contemplating moving in together in 6 months or so, but I am already annoying b/c of the housework thing and we don't even live together yet! It seriously makes me feel violent. And it's not that he doesn't notice, he just mostly refuses to do anything about it. And whe he does, it's usually (with the exception of dishes) a half-ass job, so he can continue to suffer from learned helplessness.

I blame his mother. So does she, actually. Ladies, please make your male (and female) children do shitloads of chores growing up. That is all.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:36 AM
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see teo, all you need to do is shack up with a girl teh patriarchy has programmed into a lower threshold for dirt than you --- problem(s) solved.

Indeed.

Speaking of which, still no word from the waitress.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:38 AM
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64: turned out to be 65.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:39 AM
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I blame his mother

A recipe for domestic bliss, if ever there was one.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:39 AM
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Ladies, please make your male (and female) children do shitloads of chores growing up.

In my case, this backfired. My mom always left me these enormous lists of things I had to do on summer days when she was at work, and they were insane. Pull all the weeds in our 1/2-acre yard. Trim the thorn bushes in front of the house. Polish all the wood furniture in the house with oil. Do the laundry. Wash the dishes. Mop the kitchen floor. And I was a lazy little shit who often woke up late, so getting all this accomplished by 2pm when she got home was near to impossible. I often didn't finish, and she'd scream at me the rest of the night.

Needless to say, I may know how to do chores, but I take no joy in it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:41 AM
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And whe he does, it's usually (with the exception of dishes) a half-ass job, so he can continue to suffer from learned helplessness.

Seriously, if you're interested in getting through this, welcoming and supporting the half-ass job is the way to go. You're looking to alter someone's habits, and that's very tough: if he's showing cleaning behavior at all, reinforcing what you've got is your best bet. (Yeah, yeah, condescending, people aren't animals to be trained, and all that. I'm leblanc's boyfriend in this regard, and I'm talking about the sort of thing that works on me.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:42 AM
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To be fair, he blamed his mother long before I did. I love her and she's an awesome woman. But she's far too hard-working and selfless. The moment I have kids, the little shits are going to be scrubbing with toothbrushes.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:44 AM
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welcoming and supporting the half-ass job is the way to go

Absolutely. If I make an effort, and all I get is "Seriously, you couldn't have tried a little harder?" I get punchy and resentful.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:45 AM
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Yeah, Buck is raising the kids to be like him, not like me. Which I applaud wholeheartedly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:45 AM
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m.leblanc: I'm not suggesting this generally as a solution, but I did meet one couple who solved this issue by hiring a service paid for explicitly by OT hours he took on for the purpose. It worked for them, and they arrived at it by talking about what was a problem, and why.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:46 AM
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I only had to clean my room when I was growing up. My father didn't want me to waste too much time cleanign up, since it would have been nearly impossible for me to keep up with my mother's mess. He had done a lot of caretaking as a child and didn't want me to fall into that role.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:47 AM
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70: You're right, LB, and I do, but it still drives me nuts. Mostly because the "I never learned how!" excuse doesn't work on me. I didn't clean shit when I was a kid. We had a maid who came to the house every day. I had to pick up my room every once in a great while, and I did dishes every now and then or tidied up if we had company in the evening, but like I said. Not much. And once I was 18 and living on my own I managed to learn how to all the shit I never ever had to do.

Anyway, the half-assery bugs me 'cause it's like "I'm doing this 'cause you're harassing me about it, but I don't really give a shit and resent you for making me do stuff."

As can be seen, I am rather irritated.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:48 AM
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Oh shit, I just realized there's a new woman moving in next door to me and she wants to be friends. I like the idea, as she seems incredibly cool (and possibly romantically interested in yt, which could be a problem), but this means I will have to maintain general cleanliness. I usually only make things neat if someone's coming over, which is pretty goddamn rare.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:50 AM
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76: Not everyoen finds figuring things out on their own so easily. I honestly believe that Adult education centers need to offer home economics classes.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:51 AM
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"I never learned how!" excuse doesn't work on me.

Well really, it's not hard to learn now.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:51 AM
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74: We have discussed this, and unfortunately, I am against hiring some other woman to clean my house just so I can have a nice feminist equal-division-of-labor partnership. As long as I only work 40 hours a week and am completely able-bodied, I see no reason that outside help is necessary.

This has led to long philosophical discussions about autonomy, work, gender roles, poverty, and capitalism. They are very tiring.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:51 AM
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79, see 78.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:51 AM
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76: It's tough. I figure everyone I've ever lived with should be livid with rage at me for similar reasons.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:52 AM
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That said, please no one promote anything I say to a main-page post. I feel bad ragging on my sweetie; he really is an extraordinary person with whom I am ludicrously happy. It's just, you know, this one thing.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:54 AM
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This has led to long philosophical discussions about autonomy, work, gender roles, poverty, and capitalism. They are very tiring.

So great and so true. The truth is that it'll work itself out: either you'll get over it or he will. Maybe one of you will just be more irritable than you might otherwise have been in some more perfect world. But if cleanliness looks to be the big issue in a future shared household, you're in pretty good shape, I think.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:56 AM
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It is hard to learn because so much of how we learn it is by what we saw growing up. I am not good with clutter because a moderate amount of clutter growing up was the result of having four kids, so I don't see it as a problem. To learn not to be cluttered now, I'd have to treat it like a list of Things Which Must Be Done, which doesn't seem to be how naturally neat people see their stuff. It's not like I don't know how to pick stuff up. It's learning to see it, which is a lot harder. And the same is true of shivbunny on the cleaning he's bad at.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:57 AM
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In my case, this wasn't a gender issue, since my roommates were female. I ended up spending almost all my time in my room and avoiding the common areas, since I couldn't stand the mess and I refused to clean up after them.

I live with my boyfriend now, and the cleaning thing is not really an issue. I am more likely to do serious scrubbing, but we both pick things up around the house and vacuum. We both load the dishwasher. He is more likely to do laundry than I am - I don't mind doing laundry but I tend to forget about it. We usually grocery shop together. My cleaning threshold is much closer to his than it was to the roommates'.


Posted by: pasdquoi | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:57 AM
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80: In understand that, and that's part of why I wasn't saying it was a good general solution. They had the long tiring discussions, I think, and arrived at that as being ok with them. To be fair, neither of them worked 40 hour weeks, so the saved time was probably important too.

It's not easy, but I think through observing friends a lot of it has to do with how invested they feel. I know people who suddenly became much cleaner when they bought a house, or even just furniture that wasn't cheap and they actually liked. But I don't think it's easy to solve, at all.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:57 AM
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MLB, I don't mean to harp on this, and I really do totally know why this is a patriarchal and philosophical problem in general, but I do have a hard time believing that treating an individual relationship problem as a symbol of worldwide oppression helps to solve it. Lamentably, your boyfriend is the product of a patriarchal upbringing that frees him from domestic impulse. And that sucks. But in acknowledging the hegemony that makes his behavior nearly universal among men, it also validates it back to him. He can't help it, you see, because he's cursed by the patriarchy. If you treat him as your individual boyfriend, with a free will, outside of a global system of oppression and domination, he may feel a little less weight on his shoulders and a little less doomed to continue in his current footsteps.

(I am not blaming you at all, of course, for tending toward the abstract/symbolic in your interpretation of his actions. I have this problem too, and bad, and it's really really unproductive for individual relationships.)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:59 AM
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I think 86 is pretty typical --- you engage with a partner differently than with roommates. Lots of shared living arrangements can break down into personal vs. neutral spaces, which is sensible I guess but probably part of why living with roommates can be hard.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:00 AM
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Leblanc -- have you tried having a scheduled time of the week to clean up together? Saturday mornings are a nice breakfast, followed by blitzing the apartment? Buck and I do that sort of thing some: the kids clean their room, while the two of us do the rest of the place.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:01 AM
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That works for us, too. Pick a weekend morning, then divide up the chores. Somehow it's less annoying cleaning the kitchen when I know he's cleaning the bathroom.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:05 AM
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LB, they don't live together right now.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:05 AM
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88: AWB, you're exactly right, of course. I have tried rather hard to free the issue from the larger context of "men not doing stuff." I'm still working on it.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:08 AM
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92: Sounds like they almost do -- one of those paying two sets of rent, but not a lot of nights where they're not sleeping in the same apartment deals.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:09 AM
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92: This is right, but LB's idea is a good one. With the amount of time that he spends over at my place, I feel perfectly fine asking him to help clean it (which of course, being a sweetheart, he is perfectly willing to agree to do. Just less good at actually doing it.)


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:10 AM
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I ended up spending almost all my time in my room and avoiding the common areas, since I couldn't stand the mess and I refused to clean up after them.

Yeah, that dynamic sucks. It particularly irks me when a common area is left unusable because of another roommate's mess. This is usually the kitchen, and the prospect of cleaning up the roommate's mess before one can even begin cooking is an enervating one.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:12 AM
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I used to have this problem with my ex and class. I saw everything he did through the lens of his privilege. On the one hand, I think it took some of the sting out of things he accidentally said that offended me ("He doesn't know any better; he went to the Lycée Française") but it also made me look for it. I felt like I couldn't meet any of his friends or talk to him about any financial interaction without having my ears already stoppered. I should have just broken up with him, because it made me rather mean about it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:13 AM
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96: It once go so bad for us that we followed through on a thread to just empty the whole lot into his bed. Things did improve a bit after that. Overall though, unless you are lucky living with roommates sucks (I'm sure he said the same about us)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:14 AM
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Maybe you were born mean about it?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:14 AM
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The roommate situation--it's funny, because I am not that clean, but I hate the thought of someone else being irritated by my mess. I once lived with a complete-neat-freak roomate (like seriously OCD), and I knew that if I left dishes in the sink for even a day, he'd end up doing them. So I never left any kind of mess in any common areas for fear he would clean them up and be annoyed with me. The end result is that the entire apartment was perpetually spotless except for my bedroom, which looked as though it'd been hit by a tornado.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:14 AM
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I found it easier to deal with roommates rather than shivbunny because with a roommate, even though we were friends, there was a sense in which it was a business arrangement, so it was easier for me to think about the divisions between a private space, where I could put my schoolbag where I wanted, and the public areas, where I had to make sure I wasn't infringing on the other person's space. But with shivbunny, all of it is supposed to be our space. So that mental arrangement doesn't work as well.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:14 AM
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This is usually the kitchen, and the prospect of cleaning up the roommate's mess before one can even begin cooking is an enervating one.

Yes. Oh yes.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:15 AM
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It particularly irks me when a common area is left unusable because of another roommate's mess. This is usually the kitchen, and the prospect of cleaning up the roommate's mess before one can even begin cooking is an enervating one.

Yeah, a particularly poisonous roommate dynamic, cleaning wise, is a group of roommates who are committed to only cleaning up their own mess, rather than cleaning up after someone else, but who aren't terribly good at actually getting all of their own mess. So you get orphaned mess that no one will ever clean up, and it just gets worse and worse.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:16 AM
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101: I think it's also that a friend roommate will be less likely to see your putting your bag on the futon as, like, a "sign" of something about who you are. People who date me are more likely than my friends to interpret my disorganization as a moral failure.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:18 AM
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Bave, how are you holding up? What bugs you about the state of your apartment?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:20 AM
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For what it's worth, I can't really recommend the solution in 98, but the living arrangement was becoming untenable. It was a pretty epic fight though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:21 AM
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Interestingly, this is an area that's worked out really well for my partner and myself. Her threshold areas is the bathroom, mine is the kitchen, and they both stay pretty clean and neat. Dishes were more of a shared responsibility when we had a dishwasher in our last apartment, but I fear and hate dishwashers, so I now do almost all of the dishes, happy knowing that they aren't molding or getting scoured by a space-wasting behemoth. Also, you need more dishes when you have a dishwasher, which just seems enormously inefficient. And we both feel guilty about letting the other person's threshold trigger, but the actual work (and guilt levels) seem to be pretty equal.

The bedroom, office, and living room seem to settle into similar levels of clutter, which we periodically take a weekend afternoon to blitz.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:22 AM
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104: In my case, it's not a question of interpreting something about my personality, as much as it is now that shivbunny is here, I feel like the living room is once again fully my space, and if it's my space, why should I be standing on ceremony?

We're still adjusting to living together. It's going okay, but we each have little things that drive each other crazy.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:23 AM
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Man, if I had a dishwasher, my quality of life would increase dramatically. I am terrible about doing dishes---truly terrible.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:23 AM
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109: We've actually stopped using ours.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:24 AM
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I think it's also that a friend roommate will be less likely to see your putting your bag on the futon as, like, a "sign" of something about who you are.

I can see the Cosmo/Details articles now:
Ten Signs S/He's a Slob
Are Your House Habits Compatible? Here's How to Find Out!
How to Know Whether S/He'll Slack Up Once You Shack Up
etc. etc. etc.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:24 AM
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I like them as a place to hide dirty dishes. It's not that it's all that much less work to unload the dishwasher as just to wash the dishes, but inbetween times, the dirty dishes aren't sitting out filling up the sink or getting in the way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:25 AM
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You know, the problem with the gender thing and cleaning is that patterns go both ways. To me, my boyfriend is just another guy who thinks that cleaning is beneath him and is someone else's problem, and to him, I'm just another woman getting pissy about dirty socks on the floor.

Also, I'm an extremely easygoing person (shocker, but true), and basically get angry about almost nothing except this one thing, so it's always like "you're mad? Whaaa?"


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:26 AM
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I have a dishwasher, but I rarely use it. I just don't have or use enough dishes to bother.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:26 AM
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Cute, M/tch.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:27 AM
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Frau Bitch used to have a rant about how men who claim that they just have higher thresholds of messiness really just haven't internalized the idea that housework is their job. I don't know if she's backed down from this one.

There's some sense in this, though it's hardly gender dependent. I developed a progressively higher threshhold for general squalor when I was in the "I sure as hell am not cleaning up after that SOB" phase. Now that the house is mine, all mine, again, I find that my tolerance has plummeted and my compulsion to clean and tidy up has skyrocketed.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:27 AM
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I do sometimes use it as a place to dry large dishes that won't fit in my drying rack.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:28 AM
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I fear and hate dishwashers, so I now do almost all of the dishes, happy knowing that they aren't molding or getting scoured by a space-wasting behemoth. Also, you need more dishes when you have a dishwasher, which just seems enormously inefficient.

I don't fear them, but I do strongly dislike them, for just those reasons. Although I'm reconciled to them more now, and it is convenient to be able to pack someone else's mess into it and close the door so I can get dinner started without being too annoyed.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:28 AM
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Now that the house is mine, all mine, again

This must be really awesome for you, Di.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:29 AM
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Anyway, soup biscuit is totally right in 87.2. Said boyfriend is actually meticulous about caring for items that he spent decent money on and/or cares about (e.g. quality knives, nice pots and pans, comic book collection, etc).


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:30 AM
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All those Cosmo-ish quizzes read like this to me:

IS YOUR MAN A TOTAL SLOB? FIND OUT!

1. Is your man a total slob?

a. Sort of, I guess.
b. Totally gross! Yes!
c. No, he's neater than me!

If you answered (a), give your man two slob points.
If you answered (b), give him three slob points.
If you answered (c), give him one slob point.

Scoring:

1 = Girl, your man is a neat-freak! You'd better go grab the vacuum and try to keep up!
2 = Your man is sort of a slouch, but mostly fine. Ask him to help take out the trash once in a while.
3 = Your man is a pig! Time to send him to boot camp!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:33 AM
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I had a housemate who used to leave food and dirty dishes scattered throughout the house for months on end (we tried to teach her a lesson by piling them up outside her door, but she walked over them, oblivious).

What actually bugged me most of all was her claim, some months after we all moved out, that *I* was the messy one. Sure, I might pile books around my bed and not mind that essay notes were scattered around the floor, but I have never left cake batter in a food mixer for 3 months.


Posted by: Heloise | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:33 AM
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120: Big greasy fingerprints on his prized comics, or the threat thereof, is the answer, MLB.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:34 AM
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as my roommates and I are emailing each other

I found this funny.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:34 AM
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BG: It's mostly the kitchen -- people leave dirty dishes in the sink and on the counter for days at a time, meaning I can't cook unless I want to spend 20 minutes cleaning or more cleaning the kitchen first. (And we have a dishwasher! That nobody will even load their dishes into!) Also things like leaving dirty socks in the living room. I'm not a neat freak at all, and the generally shabby conditions of the apartment are perfectly fine with me, but it turns out I can't deal with a perpetually dirty kitchen or dirty clothes left in common areas.

I really like my roommates, and I like having people around to chill with from time to time. And our apartment is pretty cheap for the location and size. But I think I'm getting too old and cranky to live with other people.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:34 AM
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96 and 102: Exactly. I ended up eating out way too much, or cooking at my boyfriend's house.

109: I hate doing dishes. Before I got a dishwasher I would decide what to cook based on what would create the least amount of dishes. Now I feel free to cook whatever I like.


Posted by: pasdquoi | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:34 AM
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as my roommates and I are emailing each other

I found this funny.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:35 AM
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I'm pretty good about cleanliness (washing dishes, taking out the trash, and cleaning up smelly or sticky things), but I have no capacity whatsoever to organize or deal with mess. The NYX had an article recently about how tidy and untidy people have different levels of brain activity in their frontal cortex when they clean up, which totally explained myself to me. I don't like cleaning in general, but simple, non-discretionary tasks, like washing the dishes, are easy -- you know the steps, it's easy to know when a dish is clean, and there's only one place to put the dish at the end. Picking up a mess, OTOH, involves so much decision making that it takes me forever to get it done. Should I throw out this magazine, or is there some chance that I'll need to refer to this article again? Does this cord go in the tool box, or with my camera stuff? It's endless, and it stresses me out so much that I've learned not to see mess in order to avoid dealing with it.

The worst is vacuuming. It's dirt, not mess, and I can't make myself learn to un-see it, but it requires me to pick up the mess on the floor to get it done.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:40 AM
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Y'all are being really weird about dishwashers. My wife describes the day we got our dishwasher as being the best in her life, alongside our wedding day and the birth of our daughter. Among other things, LB, however long emptying a dishwasher takes, it can't take any longer than emptying a drying rack.

Di, I totally had your experience - my years with Bad, Old GF featured plenty of fights about cleaning (she was at least as slobby as me, but cranky about it; yes, it was a microcosm). Once I moved out, I had a very neat bachelor pad. I loved taking care of my own place (not that it was sparkling, but it was always below my threshold of annoyance).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:42 AM
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At this moment, I actually have a heap of paper lying on the floor in my kitchen, because it's glossy, but not too glossy, and I don't know whether semi-glossy paper gets recycled or put in the trash.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:42 AM
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The worst is vacuuming

See, I love vacuuming - I have to go do some in a couple minutes, actually (family coming). I view it as a total score that my wife doesn't like it - she'd rather mop the 2000 SF of wood floor than vacuum the 750 SF of rug. Sucker!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:43 AM
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semi-glossy paper gets recycled as Magazines/Catalogs/Paperboard in my jurisdiction. Office Paper and Newspaper are usually pretty narrowly defined for recycling purposes.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:45 AM
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This is one of those things that I always debate about with myself. I know I am a slob, and I have very high thresholds for both clutter and grime. I sometimes think I should try and change that, but that just seems like trying to make more work for myself over something that doesn't bother me.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:49 AM
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God, I relate SO WELL to jms in 128. And 130.

Organization and tidying is so mysterious to me. I can make nice-shaped piles of papers, so the place seems kinda tidy, and then they get bigger and bigger, and I'm so perplexed by how to file them. There's one unique of everything.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:50 AM
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Yeah, exactly. Each object in the house requires minutes of serious analysis before I could figure out where I should put it. (In the case of books and magazines, it's often necessary to reread them in their entirety before they can be safely reshelved.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:52 AM
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I am really bad about not opening my non-personal mail. It all goes into a pile, and then I open it all at once. Lots of important things there, getting overlooked. When I saw House of Sand and Fog, it scared the ever-loving shit out of me. Oh my God, I don't open my mail either! We're all going to die!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:52 AM
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I'm even worse. I'll actually open my mail, and then put it back in the mailbox. Every few weeks or so I'll take it all out and deal with it at once.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:54 AM
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I worked as a cleaner. For a little over 3 years. So, I am totally fucking badass at large cleaning jobs.

But, I have little patience for some of the smaller ones and tend towards accumulating clutter in and around the area where I work [books, sheet music, CDs, etc].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:56 AM
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I find the easiest way to keep organized is to not have many possessions and to be weirdly obsessed with systems of organization (my bookshelf is organized by publisher). Obviously this won't work for everyone.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:56 AM
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Bave, Long-term the smoke would get to me. I was also a little overwhelmed by the pile of bottles on teh mantle piece. I didn't really see your kitchen.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:57 AM
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I generally put mail I need to deal with soon (bills and such) on top of my chest of drawers, and mail I don't need to deal with in a drawer with all my other miscellaneous papers.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:58 AM
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There's one unique of everything.

Yeah, about a year ago I bought an enormous metal file cabinet, with about sixty itty-bitty drawers, from a secondhand furniture supply. At the time I thought my problem was that I didn't have enough storage for every type of thing that I own. The cabinet is now "full," in the sense that each drawer is designated for occupancy by one type of object, and cannot hold any other type of object. So, for example, there is one drawer that contains one pack of playing cards and one pack of Uno cards. If anyone ever gives me a third pack of cards, I know exactly where to put it. But with any other object, I'm back to square one.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:00 AM
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142: Time to buy an additional cabinet, then.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:03 AM
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Yeah, the place is kind of cluttered. I can live with that, although I'd probably go with less cluttered if I could. As for the smoking, cigarettes get smoked maybe two or three evenings a week, usually by a visitor or two, and the smoke smell disperses enough that I don't usually notice it. Of course, pot gets smoked much more often, but I like that smell and it doesn't seem to soak into fabrics and get nasty and rancid like tobacco smoke does.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:04 AM
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142: Hah. I did exactly the same thing with the kids' toys. There are little Staples plastic filing cabinets with drawers labelled "Toy cell phones; Horses; Jewelry; Musical Instruments; Dishes and Food..." This was instantly unsuccessful.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:05 AM
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122a is how our problem escalated until threatening to, and then actually placing (pretty dry) dirty dishes and dessicated food remains in his bed. It was gross, but it was the only place we could think of he really couldn't ignore (as it was, they stayed there for 3 days).


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:06 AM
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jms: that cabinet sounds awesome. I totally want to have a many-drawered cabinet of mysteries.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:06 AM
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142:
For smallish stuff that accumulates in my bedroom I use one of those hanging shoe storage things. You have to have categories of objects, though, rather than too many unique types. And accept some imperfection in your system. (In my family both the neatoids and the slobs are manifesting their perfectionist streaks in different ways.)


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:09 AM
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148: We've started using a clear one of those (well, only 1/2) to store spices in our far-too-small kitchen. Hangs over the pantry door (which is small, but usually open due to crowding of stuff in the kitchen


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:11 AM
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As I note every time this subject comes up here, I'm surprised that antiquated gender norms about housework are still as prevalent as they seem to be. Among most people I know, any man who held to them would be sent to re-education camp.

Leblanc is totally right about raising kids to do housework. I grew up in a household with five kids and two working parents, and we had a rotating schedule of chores as well as regular cleaning days. I learned to keep house thoroughly and efficiently; the downside is that my threshold for both filth and clutter is extremely low.

Also, I'm with JRoth about the dishwasher. I was agin 'em until we were about to have kids, and now ours—an energy- and water-efficient model, of course!—is indispensable.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:11 AM
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milk out for hours, maybe till next morning when it's cereal time again

he left food out he would wake up to see it full of nibble marks and surrounded by feces

cake batter in a food mixer for 3 months

I am now traumatized. I thought I was a total slob because I have a milk glass on my counter from this morning and I only scrub my floors on hands and knees once a week. Although I do have a three foot wide pool of books around my bed.

This is why I can't have roommates any more. I remember the one who had the mysterious body odor and the butter-stick eating habit and I wake up hours later curled in the fetal position in a closet.


Posted by: winna | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:12 AM
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Bave, next to my Many-Drawered Cabinet of Mysteries is its corollary, the Enormous Pile of Miscellany That Will Never Find a Home.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:15 AM
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150: We've stopped using our dishwasher only because with two of us we didn't fill it up fast enough. If the dishes are going to sit, you have to 3/4 wash them first if you want them to actually come out clean. And for stuff you only have one of, we often found ourselves pulling it out of the dishwasher to wash by hand because we needed it. And unless you're very careful loading, it doesn't do a great job anyway.

With more people/kids, I can see it being much more useful.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:15 AM
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Among most people I know, any man who held to them would be sent to re-education camp.

I know you're kidding, and I'm being overliteral here, but once someone's a grownup, the only thing that happens to you for being a slob is that your roommates/partner/spouse is annoyed with you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:15 AM
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Hey, winna's back!

Winna, I posed a question for you a while back.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:18 AM
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but once someone's a grownup, the only thing that happens to you for being a slob is that your roommates/partner/spouse is annoyed with you.

Or they divorce you.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:18 AM
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You have to admit, will, they're probably annoyed with you at the time.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:21 AM
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Hello, my name is Will and I am a cluttered, disorganized person who hates to throw stuff away.

Hello, jms and heebie.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:22 AM
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When you're a kid, though, they send you to kid prison.

Ah, but the years of backbreaking labor I did there made me the person I am today.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:23 AM
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I've been trying not to threadjack as much, so I've put my latest request for advice on the waitress situation in a post at my site instead. I do still need advice, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:25 AM
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Hello, will! There's fruit punch and cookies by the door.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:25 AM
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153: True. Also, it's useless to get one that can't actually clean the dishes without you having to pre-clean them beforehand.

154: "Annoyed" covers a lot of ground. There's mildly, momentarily annoyed, and there's one-last-straw-and-we're-splitting-up annoyed, as will suggests.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:27 AM
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I don't mind people being annoyed with me. I usually deserve it. It's derision I can't stand. That's the line at which someone's intolerance of my behavior becomes itself intolerable.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:31 AM
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the dishes without you having to pre-clean them beforehand.

This seems to be true of the vast majority if it takes you days to fill it up.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:33 AM
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Then you need to have kids, soup, to save yourself some time washing dishes.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:39 AM
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160: yes, teo, it would be a disaster to interrupt "dishwashers: pro or con?" right when it's getting juicy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:39 AM
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Little stuff can really end up being big stuff after years.

Every day, someone walks into my office and says "I just cannot take any more of his (or her) crap!" (Often, it is one of the legal assistants, but that is not the point.)

I am a mostly reformed clutterer. Like jms and heebie said, I just cannot figure out what to do with most stuff. I get paralyzed by the fear that I might want to see it again.

My problem is mostly solved only bc BR just throws it out while I am not looking.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:40 AM
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166: Just not giving the people what they don't want.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:40 AM
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164: Yeah, once food gets dried on, many dishes don't come out of the dishwasher clean. So before putting it in I generally at least sort of rinse bowls and things. Stuff like oatmeal and cereal seems particularly tough to remove once dried. But maybe the most modern machines are better?

Anyway, I also dislike the smell that greets you when you open the door to load in more dirty dishes on top of the other ones in there rotting.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:41 AM
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166: You were jonesing for 800 comments of "Men suck"? We could probably get that together for you, if you really wanted it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:43 AM
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My problem is mostly solved only bc BR just throws it out while I am not looking.

My sister-in-law will move something out into the garage, and then after six months or so, if it hasn't been missed, it disappears permanently. This is both for my two elementary-school aged nephews and for my brother.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:44 AM
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168: Go to lunch, teo. Ask/tease her a bit about if it feels right, otherwise don't.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:44 AM
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171: That's awful! Didn't anyone miss your nephews at all?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:46 AM
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170: I'm hoping for "get teo laid: a continuing odyssey".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:47 AM
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174: Be the change you wish to see in the world.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:48 AM
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173: Not until summer came and there was all that yardwork to be done.

But by then it was far too late.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:49 AM
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I'm really not sure your ready for Sifu at this point, teo.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:50 AM
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Is anyone, ever, really?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:50 AM
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177: Not until he shaves those damn scratchy whiskers, anyway!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:51 AM
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I am actually from the one named after the originator of the legend of El Dorado.

156 is so, so true. Whenever I think about dating again the memory of having to constantly pick up after a grown man and his horde of friends keeps me strong.


Posted by: winna | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:53 AM
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Get ready, world! I'm gonna take you on a moustache ride!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:53 AM
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If you do have a dishwasher, remember to use it every once in a while so the seals don't dry out. My mother and father didn't use theirs for a few years once they were empty nesters and then, when my sister bought the house from them as they were downsizing, she used the dishwasher to explosive-spray-of-soap-and-water effect. Just an FYI.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:54 AM
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surely at least some more than others, LB.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:54 AM
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It seems my plan to not hijack this thread has not been a total success.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:54 AM
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181: All of us at once?


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:55 AM
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don't do things by half measure, teo. hijack away.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:55 AM
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All of us at once?

you have to admire the ambition, if not the practicality.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:56 AM
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Maybe I should have used that pause/play thingie. This would have been a perfect opportunity.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:56 AM
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185: my 'stache contains multitudes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:57 AM
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189: Yeah, that's why it needs trimming.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:58 AM
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Have you considered just a stache, Sifu? Too retro for your futuristic tastes?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:59 AM
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I am truly the worst of all possible live-mates. I simply cannot deal with a messy or cluttered house, but I'm pretty lazy. I don't know why my wife puts up with me.

Every week or so, I'll snap and clean the kitchen counters. That's my hobby horse. But I'm awful at remembering to empty the dishwasher.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:59 AM
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Go to lunch as per your usual routine, teo, and see what happens. At worst she doesn't want to date you, and she handled it badly so it will be a little awkward, but at least you'll know that and not be left wondering and fretting.

Oh and don't piss her off or she'll spit in your food.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:00 PM
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my 'stache contains multitudes

Like this?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:01 PM
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Oh and don't piss her off or she'll spit in your food.

This is general life advice for dealing with restaurant staff. Spitting is mild.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:01 PM
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I will back you up in the general principle of threadjacking, teo.

Just got finished with a series of interviews for a job as an equity analyst at my company (I'm hoping to fill more of a quant position, but I was shoehorned by the manager who wants me into equity analyst interviews because that's where they're hiring right now). I feel like I was mugged.

People, when you're meeting the college student/MBA student who's currently working on mutual funds and going to school, don't expect him to show the investment sophistication and reading patterns of an analyst with 10+ years of experience. Geez, ask me questions that get at my learning ability if you're looking for a new/inexperienced hire (which I know they are), don't ask me about industry-specific revenue-cost models that are only taught on the job.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:08 PM
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191: I have; I feel like I could really inhabit that look, but the chin-based facial hair is performing an important function.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:08 PM
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195: I know, but I didn't want to scare teo too badly.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:09 PM
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but the chin-based facial hair is performing an important function.

Yeah, I hate looking to much like my "Wanted" photos, too.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:10 PM
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The cool thing about a mustache, I think, is that it's so distracting that it does the same work as the goatee, but by redirection of the eye rather than blocking of it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:11 PM
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Rest assured that I am always very nice to restaurant staff.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:11 PM
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the chin-based facial hair is performing an important function.

Which is?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:11 PM
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146: our problem escalated until threatening to, and then actually placing (pretty dry) dirty dishes and dessicated food remains in his bed.

Wow. You actually did this. Bravo.

My life would be much improved with a dishwasher as well. My roommate is one of those people who goes through utensils at hyperspeed -- one spoon to stir his coffee (then into the sink), another for his cereal (then into the sink), another to stir his second cup of coffee. Dummy.

I've been considering throwing away half the knives, spoons and forks. Will this work, I wonder? Or will it just mean that *all* the utensils are dirty, all the time.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:11 PM
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Gracefully handling questions/assignments you're not fully up on is important; maybe that was what the questions were testing?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:11 PM
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Also, on the waitress issue, I'd probably still go for lunch and try to act as normally as possible, though probably lighter on any flirtiness since that could cause awkwardness. Don't bring up the number or the date, chances are that she will if she wants it to happen.

In the past, I've been in similar situations where the girl was very apologetic for losing the number. And similar situations where it was all glossed over as if nothing had happened. Not bad news either way.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:12 PM
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Of course, this effect of the mustache will wear off as they become more prevalent.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:12 PM
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chin-based facial hair is performing an important function

Hiding the grotesque scarring from the bear attack in which you lost your chin? Concealing your yakuza tattoos? Necessary cushioning for your second career as a chin-wrestler?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:12 PM
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204: I've known people who intentionally ask a few questions they're pretty certain the victim won't know the answer too, just to see how they handle them. And I mean topical questions, not microsoft style.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:13 PM
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202: division.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:13 PM
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Also, on the waitress issue, I'd probably still go for lunch and try to act as normally as possible, though probably lighter on any flirtiness since that could cause awkwardness. Don't bring up the number or the date, chances are that she will if she wants it to happen.

Yeah, this is the general consensus in the comments to my post.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:13 PM
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The reaon I think your threadjack didn't work very well teo is that the right answer is so clear. Although of course I'm waiting for someone like Emerson or dsquared to weigh in on the other side.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:13 PM
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One of the most interesting things about living with my sister is that with her engineer's heart, she absolutely believes that her systems must work. She will watch and study and think about the problem and then find a way to solve it. If she didn't want Cala leaving her bag on the couch, a number of horizontal surfaces would appear between the door and the couch until one of them tempted Cala's bag more then the couch.

She is relentless. She will make everything work. We're both cleaners, so that isn't so different. But she WILL NOT HAVE PILES. Piles mean that the system is wrong, and she WILL fix that.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:14 PM
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209: Higher mathematics are conducted in the chest hair.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:14 PM
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I'm waiting for someone like Emerson or dsquared to weigh in on the other side.

Yeah, me too. The consensus is eerie.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:15 PM
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Of course, this effect of the mustache will wear off as they become more prevalent.

Followed by escalation


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:15 PM
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210: I wouldn't lighten up on the flirting. Whether or not she wants to date you has very little to do with whether flirting with you is fun, and lightening up looks like you're offended.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:15 PM
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204, 208: Hopefully that's the case. I didn't try to cover up things that I didn't know. In some cases they were things I knew I should have investigated, but because of the short notice for these interviews and my work/school schedule, I effectively had one day to value a company from scratch. No industry knowledge, nothing.

Needless to say, there were holes.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:16 PM
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don't ask me about industry-specific revenue-cost models that are only taught on the job

I don't want to seem like I'm kicking a man while he's down, and I certainly hope that you get the job offer, but...

The problem is that these models are not necessarily "taught"; as an equities analyst, you will quickly be in a role where you have to build them yourself. The interviewer is trying to see if your intuition is good. You might not get the "right" answer, but you should be able to come up with a plausible hypothesis for what drives the revenues and costs of any business.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:16 PM
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216 is a very good point.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:17 PM
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I know! Hire someone ostentatiously hott to go to lunch with you and then canoodle like mad with you while she's trying to take your order. Waitress will be so jealous that she'll start begging you to go out with her!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:18 PM
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218: A friend of mine (obviously in a very different area) was once interviewed like this: We've got 1/2 hour. Plan me a manned mission to Jupiter, using %gs for budget lines.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:19 PM
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Whether or not she wants to date you has very little to do with whether flirting with you is fun

This may be what got me into this mess in the first place.

Hire someone ostentatiously hott to go to lunch with you

Interesting. Do you have any suggestions of specific people?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:20 PM
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220 to 217.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:22 PM
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Megan, your sister is awesome. I don't know why I loved that story so much, but it has made my day.


Posted by: winna | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:24 PM
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Teo, don't read too much into this. She may want to go out with you, she may not, she may want to see what you do next. Go, if you see her and she's cold with you, she got cold feet. Otherwise, game on ... you can tease her about not calling or leave it, but get a feel for how she's feeling. Maybe she just left it 'cause she knew she'd see you today anyway.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:25 PM
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Whether or not she wants to date you has very little to do with whether flirting with you is fun

This is true for female people more than male people? I never considered that.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:28 PM
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226: Wait? What? Flirting for its own sake isn't fun? In what bizarro-world is that?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:30 PM
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Do you have any suggestions of specific people?

Well, I'm afraid I'm unavailable for the mission, but I'll try to come up with a list of second bests for you.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:32 PM
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I'm afraid I'm unavailable for the mission

Darn. So much for that plan.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:33 PM
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229: Clearly what unfogged needs is a crack rapid-response team, ready to depart at a moments notice. We can fund with cock jokes.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:35 PM
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Winna, are you taking the 5th on 155, or did you overlook it?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:37 PM
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See 180, KR.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:38 PM
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231: Physician, heal thyself!


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:38 PM
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Damn, pwnd, although my comment, containing a link, was of superior quality.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:40 PM
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Teo,

The consensus is correct, except for one thing. Go to lunch, act like nothing happened, flirt normally. And if you really want to go out with her, pick an event at a time and place that you guess she might be available and tell her that you were thinking of going to this event, and would she like to join you. If she says yes, score, if she says no, rely on her excuse to decide whether to try again the following week.

Many women when given a number won't do anything about it for a variety of reasons. Damned gender norms.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:40 PM
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224 - Well, one nice thing about that is she doesn't blame very much. I mean, one explanation is that I am a lazy slob who dumps the mail on random tables as I walk in the door, but she seems to think things like "well the previous set-up was not adequate to magnetically draw Megan across the room with the mail and entice her to put it in the (smoothly opening, deep enough) drawers where mail should go".

Since, in some cases, clutter really does mean that your systems are inadequate, thinking this way is very helpful.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:42 PM
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235 makes a good point.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:44 PM
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236: But do you ever get the feeling that you're a puppet in her engineering production?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:45 PM
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218: I'd be really surprised if many analysts were creating fundamentally different models for valuing their companies. It's all pretty GIGO, so the best you can get is typically "looks good" anyway.

The more interesting parts of the interview (apart from the few quantitative finance parts where I really lit up, that being the job I want and all) were when they actually mentioned a model in use such as the "waterfall model" in retail that models same-store sales growth and new-store sales growth separately, and they asked me about the intuition. With a few seconds thought, I could tell them that the high CapEx on new stores decreases cash flow from those sales, making same-store growth much more profitable. But I haven't done any industry-specific valuation, ever, so it should be kind of obvious that I don't know what a waterfall model is in the first place.

Also, they seemed really annoyed anytime I admitted that I don't read a lot of BusinessWeek, or Wall Street Journal, or other fairly vacuous business crap. Yes, I've read it in the past, and you can nearly always tell what the article will say from the first paragraph, and it's a duplicate of what's in any decent business news on the internet or in the Economist. FT is worthwhile, I've found little else of interest. If I really wanted to spend 20-30 more hours a week outside my job reading stuff with such a low signal-to-noise ratio that slogging through it is a chore, I might as well have joined that hedge fund I was interviewing with before this company so I would at least get paid a decent wage for 60-70 hour workweeks.

Sorry, everyone. Just getting things off my chest, as you can tell.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:45 PM
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Also, teo, a week without contact is nothing worth worrying about, especially if she was occupied over the weekend. Give it a little more time.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:48 PM
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I like an uncluttered house much more than I like free will.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:49 PM
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232/233, Ah, yes. I missed that

HS mascot an airborne bird of prey? A predatory cat?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:50 PM
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241: Or so your sister would have you believe!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:51 PM
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Are there groundbound birds of prey? Or prey felines?

If so, they'd make pretty wimpy mascots.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 12:53 PM
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The roadrunner is a carnivorous bird that operates on the ground, though it can fly.

I believe all the ostrich/cassowary-style birds eat mostly plants, but also some bugs and the occasional small vertebrate.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:03 PM
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Also, wimpy mascot, eh?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:05 PM
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Careful, Ned. Winna doesn't necessarily want the whole world knowing that her HS mascot was the Fighting Cassowary-Style Birds!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:05 PM
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Also penguins are carnivorous and flightless although I don't know if they meet the definition of ground bound that you have in mind.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:05 PM
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Strange to read this thread while a cleaning woman is literally on her knees near me, cleaning the baseboards.

And she's cleaning them because I've been riding her all morning to clean things better.

And yes, I feel like an asshole, but the alternative is that I clean after she cleans, which seems to defeat the point of having a cleaning person in the first place. I have to fight the urge to be a victim and think, oh, that's okay, I'll just do it myself, largely because I think, well, I'm home all day (b/c of strike, still), so do we really need a cleaning lady? But the GF has wisely thought that perhaps I should be working on scripts during this time and not cleaning. (And I suspect she doesn't think I clean thoroughly anyway, which is why I'm here, directing the cleaning.)

Still, I feel guilty about it. I have also already forgotten how to say 'windowsills' in Spanish.


Posted by: Moira | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:06 PM
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246: well, since you mention it, yes.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:10 PM
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246: That's not what a roadrunner looks like at all.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:11 PM
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Yeah, the three-dimensional mascot photographed there looks indistinguishable from your average "Eagle" or even "Cardinal" mascot suit. It doesn't even have long tail feathers.

But the logo is pretty cool.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:13 PM
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I recently learned that my high school changed its mascot from "Crusader" to "Redhawk" after an apparently reasonable discussion of history and sensibilities. Free Republic reported the story as "School Changing Nickname, Mascot After Islamic Protest" (though there was nothing that could remotely be described as an Islamic protest); I won't link to it, but you can well imagine what the comment thread is like.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:13 PM
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I have also already forgotten how to say 'windowsills' in Spanish.

Tell her to "Limpie las nalgas."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:15 PM
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249: Oooh, oooh, I'm trying to learn Spanish and have a vocabulary of literally dozens of words! Um, 'debajo de ventana'? (That was meant to be 'under the window'. I have no idea whether I got remotely close.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:16 PM
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Still, I feel guilty about it.

That's a good thing. You're pretty justified in this situation, and it sucks to feel like the bad guy, but whenever you're riding herd on someone (justified or not) you're engaging in an activity with shades of asshole. If you ever get too comfortable in that role, it's an easy slide to just being an asshole.

Also, good luck with the script-writing. Current post-strike-scripts TV causes my brain to reach out and strangle my auditory nerves in a desperate attempt to make the stupid stop. We'll need your best work to make the love happen again.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:20 PM
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249: Sounds like you have the makings of a good sitcom right there!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:25 PM
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Spend a week or two creating a list of chores--everyone writes on the list all the various cleaning activities they do over that period of time.

Don't argue over who did most--"see, I wrote twenty things and you only wrote two!" Just use the list to generate a chart of jobs (include the little shit, or someone is going to end up seething with resentment). Assign chores. Balance "occasional" chores with daily ones.

If, say, Becks doesn't take the garbage out on Friday, as she's assigned to do, she puts a fine of $1-5 into a jar. The household uses the jar occasionally for group expenses, or to hire a cleaner once in a while. If you end up with a situation where, say, Catherine is constantly buying her way out of chores, get a pet squirrel and make caring for it her job.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:32 PM
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If you end up with a situation where, say, Catherine is constantly buying her way out of chores, get a pet squirrel and make caring for it her job.

That's how PK ended up with a mouse, the little shirker.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:35 PM
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4: No, she hasn't. In fact, she is more convinced of it than ever because she has--after three years in which it was explicitly agreed that housecleaning was Mr. B.'s job--learned to rid herself of the idea that cleaning is *her* job, and as a result the house is usually a big fat pigsty and I just ignore it.

Which is why I say take a couple weeks generating a list of chores. Part of what people who "don't see the mess" need is for the person who does (and who therefore cleans it up) to be very explicit about what, exactly, is being done. "Picked up everyone's shoes from around the house and put them by the front door." "Threw away bottle caps left on the kitchen counter." "Brought in three days worth of newspapers from the front porch, put them directly into the recycling bin." Etc.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:35 PM
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I'm trying to learn Spanish

I have to be on the radio in Spanish tomorrow and estoy nerviosa -- hoo boy. I can't possibly keep up with the pace. Also, the mood is different. I mean, not wildly different from English wacky-character morning drive shows, but it is a different culture.

Don't mind me, I'm just spinning my wheels. Thank heavens I have a colleague coming with me.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:37 PM
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259: Two mice. And caring for them is my job, which Mr. B. tends to forget when he starts griping about why is he the only one who ever unloads the dishwasher?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:37 PM
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Sounds like you have the makings of a good sitcom right there!

Lesbian couple with live-in Mexican housekeeper? It's golden!

Suggested plot devices...

The housekeeper is a conservative catholic who believes that the two lesbians will become straight if they only meet the right boy, which meeting she constantly tries to engineer, to comedic effect.

The housekeeper has a greencard, but her son is an undocumented immigrant who is always one step ahead of the INS. The housekeeper ends up having to hide the son at the most inopportune times, such as when the resident writer is hosting an influential producer to pitch her new script. Also, the son has a crush on one of the lesbians.

The father of one of the two women is a raving homophobe and xenophobe. The mother of the other woman is an activist lawyer who advocates for the rights of immigrants. The two loathe each other and hurl creative insults at one another at every opportunity.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:38 PM
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I have to be on the radio in Spanish

I could do that. If questions were limited to "What do you have," and I was holding a plate, cup, or bowl in one of six colors.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:39 PM
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264: You'd be a smash hit though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:41 PM
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Two mice. And caring for them is my job

Ah so you're the one who's been shirking.

I have to be on the radio in Spanish tomorrow and estoy nerviosa -- hoo boy.

At least with radio you don't have to wear a bee costume . . . .


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:42 PM
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Necesitas lavar los platos, LB.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:42 PM
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263 is wonderful.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:42 PM
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you don't have to wear a bee costume

Dude, don't joke. Apparently one of the characters (hosts?) is a parrot.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:43 PM
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I have to be on the radio in Spanish

Here's something to psyche you up for your appearance, Witt.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:43 PM
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Ridiculous. Now the boss lady (of the cleaning ladies) is here and she's going to town. Part of the problem is that I think the girl who goes most of the cleaning is terrified of our high-tech vacuum, which one can't be when cleaning a house occupied by a labrador who appears to be molting.

I think windowsills is like alfeizares - another handy Arabic-derived Spanish words, of which there are several hundred million - but typically, the word the girl said was completely different. That's why I say things like, por favor, asegura que estas partes encimas de las ventana esten bien limpiadas. It may not be correct, but it's clear enough.

And if I want her to do anything with my nalgas, it would be extra. !Joder!


Posted by: moira | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:47 PM
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Apparently one of the characters (hosts?) is a parrot.

Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!! Que lastima!!!!!!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:47 PM
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Isn't household stuff very country-of-origin dependent in Spanish? I was talking to a Uruguayan friend whose wife is Colombian, and talking about learning Spanish, and he went off on the multiplicity of possible words for stove.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:52 PM
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263: I think I already pitched that to Logo.


Posted by: moira | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:56 PM
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273: My impression is that the more modern the object in question, the more likely it is that there will be different words for it in different countries.

Like American vs. British English: stove/cooker, trunk/boot, hood/bonnet, aluminum/aluminium, cuisine/boiled things, etc.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 1:58 PM
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272: No, no. It's radio, not tv. It's more like this.

"GRAAAAACIAS de me invita, Sr. Lora! EncanTAAAAAda!"


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:00 PM
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273: Totally. The GF's family is from Colombia and my mother's a Chicana, so our vocab is a little off. Add to that the fact that I lived in Spain for a year, and had Argentinian and Nicaraguan roommates, and my vocab's all screwy.


Posted by: moira | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:00 PM
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Yeah, Sally's going to end up with a vocabulary squarely inbetween her Colombian babysitter, her mostly Porto Rican teachers, and her mostly Dominican (some Mexican, but not many) classmates.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:02 PM
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278: Bah, are you kidding? Sally's going to end up with a New York accent, no question. Maybe Nuyorican.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:06 PM
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spanglish: it's the wave of the future.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:06 PM
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Porto Rican

"I carry rich"?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:07 PM
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279: You're talking accent, she's talking vocab. You can murder spanish words with a new york accent just fine.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:08 PM
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282: Good point. They're conflated in my head because I went from first-semester Mexico City prof to second-semester Madrid-born-and-raised. Whoa baby, talk about whiplash.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:12 PM
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281: Whoops. Didn't that used to be the official US spelling, wrong as it is, though?

I'm told her accent's Colombian; she picked up more from Nancy then in school. Now that Nancy's not watching them anymore, I figure she drifts Dominicanward.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:13 PM
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I figure she drifts Dominicanward.

That really depends on the prevailing winds, and where the life-raft was dropped in the first place.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:14 PM
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my roommates and I are emailing each other

From: Becks
To: Armshmasher
Armsmasher, stop leaving your frickin' underwear in the kitchen.

From Armsmasher
To: Becks
Quit nagging me, dammit. That's Catherine's underwear.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:17 PM
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Looks like Catherine's going to get a squirrell after all!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:19 PM
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i can sing along
voLAaare, oOoo


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:20 PM
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Or they divorce you.

Wait, seriously? Have you actually seen cases where people divorced b/c they or their partner was a slob?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:45 PM
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Di [to herself]: "You mean I could have had a cause of action against that fucker YEARS AGO??!!"


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:46 PM
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Wait, seriously? Have you actually seen cases where people divorced b/c they or their partner was a slob?

Apparently such cases do exist.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 2:51 PM
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253: Really! And I was so looking forward to the DVD of Crusader Rabbit.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:08 PM
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Back from lunch.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:09 PM
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But what news, young teo?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:20 PM
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293: So ask her out again for a specific time and place. Not "Call me," but "Howzabout you and me go to X to do Y at Z time?" Yes is yes, no with a counteroffer for another time and place is yes, and 'Darn, I can't make it' with no counteroffer is no, but you should still hang out and flirt with her.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:20 PM
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Ah. I scrolled down for the update.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:20 PM
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I agree with LB.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:24 PM
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I'm not sure I agree about asking her out again.

Honestly, if it were me, if the slight discomfort or unsurety continues at subsequent lunches, I'd probably smile and say, "I hope my giving you my number and so on didn't make you uncomfortable! I like chatting with you, and this is obviously one of my favorite places for lunch!"

This gives her an opportunity to say something, whatever it might be. Breaks the silence over the issue, probably comes as a relief to both of you, and if by chance her concern is that you're an ax murderer, you can chuckle together and she can be reassured.

Then again, that kind of approach isn't for everyone.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:35 PM
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Eh, what's the downside? She can't be seriously creeped out, because she's still being friendly and chatty.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:37 PM
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I think Parsimon meant that the approach might not work for Teo. (I'm not sure it'd work for me.)


Posted by: the Other Paul | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:39 PM
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parsimon is right about not leaving it hanging --- i left you a comment more generally at your place, teo.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:42 PM
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Well, I'm taking parsimon's approach as an attempt to be realistic and break the tension given that there's no shot in hell she's going to go out with him, rather than a continued attempt to ask her out, so 'working for him' doesn't mean all that much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:42 PM
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bah. having this conversation in two places is screwy. My comment was basically this: Tell her you still think it would be fun to go out, but it's really ok if she doesn't want to and you don't want things to be weird at the restaurant now just because you gave her your number. Mean that, either way it goes. If she is receptive to the idea of getting together, she'll tell you. You should have a time and place ready to suggest then.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:44 PM
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Soup is wise.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:46 PM
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295 and 299: Exactly. This is being over-thought to a degree I haven't seen since about tenth grade.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:47 PM
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Yeah, what the biscuit said.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:49 PM
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303: I kinda wouldn't do that -- being explicit like that puts more pressure on her than is necessary. She might like you, she might not, she might be on the fence. You don't know what her deal is, but it doesn't matter, because in any case you'd be the same -- you'd lay low and be cool but still chat and flirt, because she's cute and you like her.

You don't have to tell her it's still okay and you don't want things to be weird, because, of course it's okay, and things would never be weird, because how could they be weird? You're not weird, you're cool and awesome and flirty and chatty. Kinda like AWB and Bave were saying at your place -- you're JPB and you're PO'T. And Steve McQueen. You're Steve McQueen, too.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:53 PM
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Yeah, sorry -- I wasn't sure whether to leave my comment here or at teo's place.

About "my approach," it's just that it may take a certain non-shyness to come out with honest statements that lay things on the table, as it were. To lay bare what's clearly going on in both people's minds: in this case, that teo gave the woman his contact information, she didn't contact him, he's surely wondering about that, and they're both aware of all of this.

This doesn't count as somehow assuming that there's no shot in hell she's going to go out with him (sorry to be talking about you in the third person, teo!): rather the reverse. It's an attempt to alleviate any concerns she might have, and let her know that however it pans out is fine. She may just be having second-thought jitters.

Similar to what soup said, really.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:55 PM
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I see that the consensus is against me, but I think that telling someone explicitly that "it's okay if you don't want to go out" or "I don't want things to be weird" tend to have the opposite effect than intended.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 3:58 PM
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No, I wouldn't say those things explicitly to someone.

"I hope I didn't make you uncomfortable" isn't the same as "I don't want things to be weird."


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:03 PM
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What I considered doing (but ended up not doing) was saying something like "so, you still interested in getting a drink sometime, or not?" in such a way that it was clear that either answer was fine with me. This is basically what soup is recommending, I think.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:03 PM
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309: I'd actually agree with you on that; I kind of missed that soup suggested explicitly addressing the possibility of weirdness. Yeah, if someone's creeped out by your having asked her out, directly addressing it won't fix anything. If she's not creeped out, directly addressing it will tend to suggest that maybe she should be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:03 PM
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She really doesn't seem to be creeped out. In fact, her behavior hasn't really changed at all.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:05 PM
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So everything's good. And yes, this is all getting terribly overanalyzed, but that's what happens when you ask a blog for advice.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:06 PM
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309: Well, I was reading what teo said that things are already a bit weird.

The problem with all this stuff is that mostly it's not the words. You can say `I don't want this to be wierd' in a way that totally defuses a situation, or you can say it in a way that makes weirdness. You can steal a really great line from someone and come off sounding like a dork. An you can say something really dorky and have it communicate perfectly what you're trying...

... we're all sort of talking out our ass on too little information. Advice to `be steve mcqueen' is all good, but really almost nobody is and a reasonable response to that is `but i'm not steve mcqueen'. Then you're focusing oo

What the advice really means, I think, is just be comfortable in your own skin. Have fun with what *is* there and don't get all hung up on what *might* be there. Find a way to communicate this fact to the people around you, and they will respond well, mostly, whoever they are.

But there aren't any `right' words for that, because it's got to be from you. I'm trying to extrapolate a bit for someone I really don't know --- and that's hard.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:07 PM
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I regard it as a compliment to my enlightened nonsexist childrearing that all of my 4 daughters' guys are neater housekeepers than they are.


Posted by: redstocking | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:08 PM
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In light of 313, exactly 311. Definitely don't bring up `weirdness' unless you felt it was already on the table, so to speak.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:09 PM
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Follow her home, sleep on her lawn and ask her out for coffee as soon as she walks out the door. You'll find your relationship clarified tout d'suite.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:11 PM
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The problem with all this stuff is that mostly it's not the words.

Yeah, exactly. And I may well be giving a misleading impression by the way I'm telling the story. Things really didn't seem weird today, or at least not any weirder than they have been all along (which is not very). The weird part is that what happened last week doesn't seem to have changed anything, and I'm not sure why.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:11 PM
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The problem with all this stuff is that mostly it's not the words. You can say `I don't want this to be wierd' in a way that totally defuses a situation, or you can say it in a way that makes weirdness. You can steal a really great line from someone and come off sounding like a dork. An you can say something really dorky and have it communicate perfectly what you're trying...

Yes, this. It's all about the delivery (which makes this sound calculated, but it's not): smile, and not just with your mouth, but with your eyes.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:15 PM
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320: Or you could write it in icing on your bare chest. This always works, teo. Trust me.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:21 PM
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What kind of icing?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:23 PM
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Should be in the grocery store, marked 'piping gel'. Buttercream would just be ostentatious.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:25 PM
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Not the weird kind! This is very important.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:25 PM
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My 320 sounds preachy. Sorry.

The weird part is that what happened last week doesn't seem to have changed anything, and I'm not sure why.

I'd take this as an opening to expand your conversations. Soup is right that there's not enough information. But still, I'd take it as an opportunity to just keep talking to her until such time as she might not feel weird about contacting you.

Overthinking, you say?! Nah, this is the basic stuff of life!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:26 PM
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I'd take this as an opening to expand your conversations. Soup is right that there's not enough information. But still, I'd take it as an opportunity to just keep talking to her until such time as she might not feel weird about contacting you.

Yeah, that's pretty much the plan at this point.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:28 PM
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really ok if she doesn't want to and you don't want things to be weird at the restaurant

That's a very good thing. You obviously flattered her and she's happy you came back. Certainly no reason to assure her of your intentions.

An underlying factor is that she's at her work. You may be her favorite customer and really, really likes you, but maybe doesn't see herself dating you. If she opens herself up, than great. Just keep going and something may just happen naturally.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:33 PM
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*then* great


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:34 PM
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Random thoughts about dating (you know, because I should be working).

For a long time I never really understood the `dating' advice that people wouldn't date you if you were desperate. And I don't mean that I would that label on anyone particularly. I just got to thinking about what it means.

You should take this from a point of view that pretty much I missed out on all the school age angst about `dates'. When we were that age, we'd just get messed up and screw. People either hooked up, or were together. Nobody went on a date.

Years later, after a longish relationship, due to a combination of changed socio-economics and age I was suddenly fair game for new groups of people. The recently divorced. Single parents. Professionals who had been career minded but realized suddenly the life goal of having a child by year X wasn't going to happen unless they found a partner in the next 3 months.

Lots of people were great. Occasionally I'd be out with someone new and realize they were really, really focussed on something else. Not that it was a bad date -- this was different. It was a good date ... and mentally they were already on to the next thing.

It's really disconcerting to realize that someone is sizing you up to fit a role in their life, whatever that is, and you barely know them. Can be a real turn off. And I think that's what people really mean when they say things like desperate. That it freaks you out when someone new can't stay in the now long enough to get properly acquainted. That you feel like they are trying to fit you into a preconceived box in their lives before they even know who you are, really.

If you've had this happen to you before, you can get wary of it. You can be really leery of anyone who seems to be putting too much weight into a coffee, a 1st date, whatever.

(teo, that's not targeted at you, the conversation just got me musing about it.)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:37 PM
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That's an interesting thought, soup, and a good thing to keep in mind.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:47 PM
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,i>It's really disconcerting to realize that someone is sizing you up to fit a role in their life, whatever that is, and you barely know them. ...And I think that's what people really mean when they say things like desperate.

Bingo.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:49 PM
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Let's try that again.

It's really disconcerting to realize that someone is sizing you up to fit a role in their life, whatever that is, and you barely know them. Can be a real turn off. And I think that's what people really mean when they say things like desperate.

Bingo.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 4:50 PM
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Soup's indicating something real, absolutely. A friend of mine not long ago said he'd broken it off with a woman he was seeing when he realized she was just trying to fill the slot in her life called "boyfriend."

I left off with the last guy I 'dated' when I jokingly said to him (he was in the process of flattering me), "You just want to get laid." And he replied very seriously that No, he was at this point looking for the One True Thing.

That was honest of him, and I didn't run screaming from him, but it did make me, as Soup said, wary. One wants to just enjoy another's company.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:00 PM
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When we were that age, we'd just get messed up and screw. People either hooked up, or were together. Nobody went on a date.

aaah, college.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:02 PM
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334: well in this case middle & high school but I think the experience is probably roughly the same. With less privacy.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:04 PM
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middle & high school age

that should have been.

Actually, scratch that. It wasn't like college at all.

People hook up and party a lot in college because they are finally allowed to. We hooked up an partied a lot at 15 because we weren't supposed to. It's a different dynamic.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:06 PM
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I've always been a late bloomer.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:08 PM
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This is really the thing that makes dating way too depressing to do right now. I hate being told what I want by someone who doesn't know anything about me. It's offensive.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:11 PM
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337: I drank some of the scariest punch of my life at your alma mater. Grain alcohol and grape Koolaid mix.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:14 PM
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soup's right. I dated a guy once who I felt wasn't interested in me as much as he was interested in having a girlfriend who met some minimum set of parameters. He and I broke up after a fun year and a half, and within three months he was engaged to someone else.

That's extreme, but I don't think that's all that odd. I've known people who made great couples where it didn't work out simply because they seemed to meet at the wrong time in their lives, and couples who were compatible in lots of ways but who seemed to get married because both were ready to get married. It wouldn't be hard to imagine them married to other people, had they happened to have met someone else.

But goodness, it isn't a good thing to project on a date!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:17 PM
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See, that's the sort of thing I just totally missed out on in college (and middle and high school, for that matter).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:17 PM
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Cala, I think it's really, really common. I've probably only dated a tiny number of people, maybe just three or four, who I felt were really interested in me, as opposed to trying to fit me into some kind of predetermined girl-shaped gap.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:21 PM
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That is, it obviously bothered me a lot less at some point than it does now.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:21 PM
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With some of my friends you could almost predict how the relationship would turn out based on where they were in their lives. Don't want to generalize too much, but it really did feel like the old stereotype of men getting married when they were ready, and women getting married when they met the right person.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:25 PM
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I've known people who made great couples where it didn't work out simply because they seemed to meet at the wrong time in their lives, and couples who were compatible in lots of ways but who seemed to get married because both were ready to get married.

This is the kind of difference that causes so much pain in romantic relationships -- how many of them must be abandoned because, most unfortunately, love is often not enough; and in the obverse, how many of them proceed due to convenience.

Man. This is unnecessarily cliched.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:37 PM
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341: That's ok teo, it's not for everyone. Also: plenty of downside too, particularly the way we did it. I didn't make it to high school, at least not properly. Lots of that time was pretty messed up.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:38 PM
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343: It's weird, isn't it. I once had a 1st date where we `accidentally' bumped into her mom, followed by a second date where we `accidentally' bumped into her dad. I was the guy it was ok to show to her parents! There wasn't a 3rd date.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:41 PM
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That's ok teo, it's not for everyone. Also: plenty of downside too, particularly the way we did it. I didn't make it to high school, at least not properly. Lots of that time was pretty messed up.

Fair enough, but I was really thinking more of the college experience, which I think I would have liked.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 5:50 PM
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I drank some of the scariest punch of my life at your alma mater. Grain alcohol and grape Koolaid mix.

You should be flattered, LB; they busted out the good stuff in honor of your visit.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 6:14 PM
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I've probably only dated a tiny number of people, maybe just three or four, who I felt were really interested in me, as opposed to trying to fit me into some kind of predetermined girl-shaped gap.

This is so depressingly true. I'm sitting here trying desperately to think of a single guy I've ever dated who was genuinely interested in getting to know me. I can only think of one who I didn't date, but really should have.

I realized not so very long ago that I spent an inordinate amount of my life with a guy who didn't have the first fucking clue who I am and didn't have the slightest interest in finding out. He was quite sure he really did know me, though, and would get quite upset if I attempted to talk about myself or act or dress in ways that didn't match up with the character in the script he'd written. It's still a bit disturbing to realize how long it took me to realize this -- or how long I had willingly just adapted myself to the role I was assigned.

For that matter, I don't think this is limited to the dating scenario -- there are just too few people who can get beyond themselves long enough to truly get to know anyone else.

And with that ever so melodramatic flourish, I am off to go drink martinis.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 6:18 PM
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I've probably only dated a tiny number of people, maybe just three or four, who I felt were really interested in me, as opposed to trying to fit me into some kind of predetermined girl-shaped gap.

1. girl-shaped gap? Is Apo dead?

2. I tend to think that's true, in some fashion, even of good relationships. I'm not sure what the "me" is without some sort of predetermined set of expectations that gets fulfilled or dashed.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 6:24 PM
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C'mon, Di. You know you're not a martini drinker. Go ahead and have a gin fizz, like you like them. That's my girl.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 6:25 PM
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I think a lot of guys think getting to know someone involves asking a lot of lame-ass questions. I am pretty sure Di will have my back on this, that a lot of the people who fail to ever know anything about you are the ones who ask a lot of stupid shit about your favorite book and favorite color and what color your mom's hair is and if you had a lot of friends as a kid. They write down those responses in their brains, and then toss them out whenever there's an opportunity to show they know you.

Someone who really wants to know you will watch you, and listen to you, and make connections between those things that you wouldn't have come up with yourself.

Or at least, that's how I feel about it. I'm sure most of my exes are running around complaining about how I never asked them what their favorite color was.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 6:54 PM
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Someone who really wants to know you will watch you, and listen to you, and make connections between those things that you wouldn't have come up with yourself.


Wow. This comes remarkably close to "If he really cared, I would have to tell him for him to know!"

I recognize that careful observation is important, but nothing beats good communication.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:22 PM
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sb wouldnt have to tell him


Havent we gotten beyond expecting people to just read our minds?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:23 PM
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That's not what I said, Will. I guess what I mean is that, to me, the factoid-memorizers aren't doing any real listening or interpretation. They're just doing what bad romantic comedies do---repeating some motif as often as possible to insist that it's really love or whatever. I'm not saying one shouldn't communicate. I'm saying that asking lame-ass questions is not the same as getting to know someone.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:30 PM
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It's like the difference between someone who reads a book and proves it by naming all the characters, and someone who reads a book and proves it by talking about what they think the book was about on an ethical or aesthetic level.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:32 PM
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awb:

I agree with your last statement, but communication is a two way responsibility. I see your comment as a good excuse for some people.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:33 PM
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A while ago I was sitting near a couple in a coffee shop who were on a first date, and the guy was going doggedly through his "top ten" lists one after the other--his top ten cartoons, top ten favorite movies, etc. Very methodical.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:34 PM
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It's like the difference between someone who reads a book and proves it by naming all the characters, and someone who reads a book and proves it by talking about what they think the book was about on an ethical or aesthetic level.

Sure. But your characterization places all of the responsibility on the reader.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:35 PM
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She does say "listen to you" in there. It's not mind-reading being advocated, just not thinking that knowing all about someone means being able to rattle off a list of likes and dislikes.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:37 PM
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Michael understands. I witnessed a similar first date between two young orthodox kids who were obviously trying really really hard to like each other, dammit. She asked him if he ever wore pink, because guys who are secure enough to wear pink are so strong and attractive. He bristled, and tried not to show it, and then said, "No, but I do have an orange tie! I like orange!" She sat back and mused on this for a while, and then smiled. "Yes, orange is nice!"

This is what I'm talking about.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:38 PM
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Will, I talk and like talking to people. But I don't like being grilled for information that is useless for the knowledge of who I am, and I don't like being expected to grill others for similar lame-ass info. If someone likes the same movies as me, this basically means nothing about his or her character. I want to know how someone tells a story, or how they deal with a problem, or if they get frustrated, or what makes them upset---none of which would get interesting answers at all if I asked, "So, what makes you upset?" They wouldn't be accurate. So you watch and listen, and it takes time.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:41 PM
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I am not disagreeing that understanding someone else involves more than knowing a list of their likes and dislikes.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:41 PM
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I think will and AWB are describing two different phenomena.

IME, the careful observation and making connections that AWB is describing is an absolute essence of both friendship and romantic partnership. The first time that someone does that for you can be magical -- touching and surprising and a wonderful affirmation of human connection.

But it doesn't come naturally to people, and our society is inconsistent in helping us to develop it. So I have a little bit of sympathy for people who go at it in a listmaking sort of way. It's not an end in and of ifself, but it can kind of -- what is that word? Rappel? you higher in the interpersonal experience so that eventually it comes more naturally.

It's like playing scales. It's never going to make you an improv genius, but it's not bad groundwork for functional piano-playing.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:42 PM
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Maybe it's an effect of having been on too many bad blind dates. The inevitability of going out to dinner with someone who asks where I'm from, and then makes a Kansas joke, and then asks what I do, and then makes a "I'll have to watch my grammar!" joke, and then later sends me an email with a repetition of the Kansas joke and a "PS -- How's my grammar? *wink*" makes me want to stab my eyes out.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:50 PM
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darn that Witt. Always so articulate.

AWB says it takes time to get to know someone. It does. So what do you do in the meantime? Find out what they like or do not like.

Are they sexist? Are they considerate? Do they appreciate art? Do they like concrete things or abstract things?

Are they trite? Do they like Celine?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:53 PM
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So what do you do in the meantime?

Fuck? Eat? Talk about something other than yourselves?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:55 PM
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Everything is about ourselves.

What we like to eat? Bland and boring? Exotic and adventerous?

How they fuck? Are they sensuous or selfish?

It is all information gathering: lists, sex, and food.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 7:59 PM
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Yes, this is all information-gathering. But it's not data-mining.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:01 PM
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Dont knock strip mining!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:04 PM
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Strip mining wouldn't be so bad. "You can ask me lame-ass questions, but you have to remove a piece of clothing for each one."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:05 PM
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What is your favorite movie, AWB?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:08 PM
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You'd better not be wearing any pants.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:08 PM
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BR just asked why I took off my pants and swung them around my head.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:11 PM
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Everything is about ourselves.

That Will, always cutting to the chase.

Didn't Nietzsche say the same? We can write about, say, Shakespeare, but we're just writing about ourselves, mediated through what we think about Shakespeare. Come to think of it, "Will" is a good name for a Nietzschean.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:19 PM
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That's fine. But there are different ways to talk about yourself, and the #1 lamest is talking about your favorite consumer items and how many siblings you have and that kind of stuff.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:21 PM
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Maybe it's an effect of having been on too many bad blind dates.

This seems to be key in what AWB is lamenting: if you don't know someone at all, you may well feel forced to resort to a list of questions.

Of course I think that this is a damned good reason not to go out with people about whom you know little to nothing. Why would you? You don't know them! It's not at all surprising that such situations will be awkward.

Which is to say, in part, that many of us just aren't good at spontaneous conversation.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:21 PM
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I have a Mac and four siblings, AWB.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:27 PM
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Indeed. Ogged, for example, is currently satisfied with his gadgetry set-up, though is open to hearing more, and is an only child.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:30 PM
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Building on parsimon's comment, lists are simply springboards to more interesting conversations.

You are simply setting the stage for the possibility of more interesting conversation. If the conversation never advances, then you will not get to know each other.

I think of it as a warmup before the main event. Foreplay so to speak. You dont just start off taking each other's clothes off.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:30 PM
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I and Thou.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:31 PM
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You dont just start off taking each other's clothes off.

Some Nietzschean you are.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:32 PM
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I dunno, parsimon. The person I was thinking of who is annoying me in this way right now is someone I have known for two years, who I met in the neighborhood, who just makes me totally crazy with small talk. I've tried talking about anything else at all with him, and it always comes back to what restaurants we like, what movies, etc. These questions are all so dull and humorless, and he keeps acting like remembering the name of some song I liked is the same as us having a rapport. And it makes me feel bad, because I have no other reason to not date him. I just hate hate hate small talk. Would he be different if I went out with him? My guess is no. And it would be even more difficult to explain my aversion to being asked stupid questions after anything like that started up.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:34 PM
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Even the abyss requires a little eye contact before it starts to stare back.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:34 PM
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So will, what's your favorite piece of clothing to take off?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:35 PM
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So, Abyss, what kind of music do you like?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:36 PM
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380: You went on a blind date with ogged? You've been holding out on us, parsimon!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:37 PM
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Celine Dion.


Posted by: The Abyss | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:37 PM
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386:

(Channeling Huckabee) If I was crass like others here on Unfogged, I would say Kraab's glasses.

What do you like to cook M/tch?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:41 PM
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I don't see anything wrong with beginning to get to know someone with a few basic questions like "Where are you from?" or "What do you do?" -- in fact, these are easy, accepted opening gambits in a conversation. But within a few moves you've got to get beyond a mere listing of facts and into stories or discussions; otherwise it's a lame conversation. I was out with a guy not long ago and we got to talking about music, which prompted me to ask him if he played any musical instruments. It turns out he did, and from there we ended up in a really fun conversation about our early experiences with jazz -- a genuinely interesting conversation, not a mental ticking-off of census forms.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:41 PM
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(Oops. Sorry to interrupt your date, will and M/tch.)


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:42 PM
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These questions are all so dull and humorless, and he keeps acting like remembering the name of some song I liked is the same as us having a rapport. And it makes me feel bad, because I have no other reason to not date him. I just hate hate hate small talk.

I understand. Maybe the guy just doesn't have much to him.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:43 PM
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Don't worry Bave, after asking all these questions, I'm down to just my socks.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:43 PM
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Query, query, masturbate, query.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:44 PM
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I happen to be making this right now. I hope it turns out or I'll be sad. She makes it look so easy!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:46 PM
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But within a few moves you've got to get beyond a mere listing of facts and into stories or discussions

Exactly. I have a weakness for spinning off into stories, which makes some people think I can't stay on-topic, but as far as I'm concerned, means it's only now getting interesting.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:49 PM
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AWB just knows I love Indian food, dont you?!?!? Way to make me hungry right before i go to bed. Thanks a lot.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:49 PM
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So, Abyss, what kind of music do you like?

Swedish heavy metal.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:50 PM
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One of my Unfogged DCon disappointments was not re-engaging in coversation with parsimon.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:51 PM
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I'm strongly pro-small talk. It's not just the information someone imparts, but how they feel about a movie they like, or their older brother who went to Kathmandu, or winning at Scrabble.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 8:53 PM
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400: Sweet, thanks. You were a busy man at that party. And I only met BR in very brief passing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:00 PM
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For the record, the parathas in 396 are harder than they look, but very tasty, even when they're sorta fucked up.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:32 PM
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I see that the question of small talk has arisen here before

Those are archives, man, and I haven't read the archived comments, but I expect that the reference to an aversion to small talk being principally a male thing caused some waves. Then again, that was 2005.

It puts me in mind of something I read in Harper's recently -- Ursula LeGuin on the state of reading in this our current society -- noting that fiction bestsellers these days provide a common ground for talk around the water-cooler, else what else would we talk about?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:35 PM
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When it comes down to which high school I attended I take the fifth!

I have never yet dated a man who loved me for my own self. They all take little bits of my character, the ones they find convenient or resembling their own self, paste them together in their head and call it winna. I am not a collage.


Posted by: winna | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:40 PM
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From the archived piece, this is perhaps the most correct thing Ogged has ever written anywhere on this site:

"Small talk" is an exercise in finding and building that common ground. And it's difficult, because you have to make yourself available, and you also have to listen, and there's no guarantee that you'll get anywhere. But the alternative is to get wrapped up in a self-fulfilling belief that other people aren't interesting, and are only interested in small talk, because you never hear them talk about anything else, after all.

404.3: Yes, that was a tremendously subtle and ethically complex piece by Le Guin, LOVED IT.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:46 PM
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I am a collage of manliness.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:48 PM
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I think it's possible to talk about things with people you don't know. And how you know people is not necessarily small talk, in the sense I mean it, because the answer could turn out to be a really interesting story. There are good questions, and really good answers.

I'm thinking more on the level of what consumer products you like, what restaurants you frequent, what TV shows you watch, etc. Someone really talented could turn those into interesting answers. But an interesting answer is sometimes not what was wanted.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:52 PM
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Small talk is fun, and can be a good way to get to know about another person.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:53 PM
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But not if the other person is using questions about your favorite band to decide if he should introduce you to his mom.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:54 PM
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If the small talk isn't leading to common ground or interesting stories, that's usually a good signal to politely disengage. In this way, small talk is tremendously helpful.

There are some topics so inherently dull that their mere broaching is a sure sign of conversational death. (My leading candidates for this: Home Renovations and Solutions for the Daily Commute.) Ruling TV shows, books, movies or food into this category would seem more than a bit self-defeating to me.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:58 PM
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Real estate, private schools, and plane ticket prices are the ones that make me walk out of a room.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 9:59 PM
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Real estate, private schools, and plane ticket prices are the ones that make me walk out of a room.

Those are kind of bland. Real Americans should do better.

For instance, is the .44 mag obsolete? The .41 mag covers the middle mag ballistics with less recoil, and .45 Colt in modern guns can handle heavier bullets as well as match or exceed .44 mag ballistics at significantly lower pressures.

Discuss.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:04 PM
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406:

404.3: Yes, that was a tremendously subtle and ethically complex piece by Le Guin, LOVED IT.

DS, you are making me laugh. That piece was so earnest, I was smiling at the woman the whole time she was writing it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:05 PM
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"Small talk" is an exercise in finding and building that common ground. And it's difficult, because you have to make yourself available, and you also have to listen, and there's no guarantee that you'll get anywhere. But the alternative is to get wrapped up in a self-fulfilling belief that other people aren't interesting, and are only interested in small talk, because you never hear them talk about anything else, after all.

That's good. Who is this Ogged?


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:13 PM
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Read the archives, my child.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:19 PM
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412: Real estate, God I'm with you on that one.

414: That piece was so earnest, I was smiling at the woman the whole time she was writing it.

I believe Unfogged shall be remembered as Ground Zero for a new genre of humour: the "Your Favourite Novelist is So Earnest..." joke. "Yeah, well your favourite novelist is so earnest that I heard they lambasted The Corrections for being insufficiently correct! Boo-yah!"

Okay, it'll need some work...


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:25 PM
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My leading candidates for this: Home Renovations

And one's children. Sadly, home improvement and parenting account for the bulk of my time, so I have become a crashing bore.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:27 PM
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Speaking of Utahns and their guns...

http://www.kutv.com/mostpopular/story.aspx?content_id=1b6e0236-232a-440b-a6d2-6a3f1aa52e90


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:29 PM
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I hate Franzen. And I really wanted to like him, since I got The Corrections as a gift from a writer a deeply admire. But I did not like it. I have not liked anything by Franzen I've ever encountered. My tolerance for whitemidwesterndudiana is quite high, but not that high. No, not nearly that high.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:29 PM
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DS. I'm tired as hell, but as circumstance would have it, I just started reading The Corrections and became exhausted after 30 pages.

"earnest" should be retired as a term. As should "annoying" and "hilarious."

As for LeGuin's piece, I can't tell what you mean any more: I work in the book trade, and she comes across as quaint. She's right, of course.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:36 PM
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Actually I really enjoyed The Corrections; I tend to like novels that are technically proficient and ambitious in scope. Also, Franzen's refusal to be associated with Oprah's media machine endeared him to me.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:42 PM
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As for LeGuin's piece, I can't tell what you mean any more

Oh, I'm just screwing around, really. Don't mind me.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:42 PM
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419: The samurai sword is just the perfect touch.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:46 PM
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407: You are an ad for Old Spice cologne on the side of a monster truck being driven by John Wayne that has US Marines shooting rocket powered grenades at aliens while the Marines simultaneously attempt to reconcile their need for affection with the stoic example of their father through wisecracks*?

Pretty neat!

* I would watch this movie and discuss it in preference to talk about real estate.


Posted by: winna | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:55 PM
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426

technically proficient and ambitious in scope

Please explain to me how The Corrections is either of these things. It's written almost entirely in jumbled similes and is entirely about a dumbed-down version of a fairly average estranged midwestern family. Where's the scope in that? It is long, I'll grant you.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:56 PM
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427

Heh. I'll read a bit more of the Franzen, just as I'll read a bit more Markson (calling Ben), before I veer off and start reading Middlemarch finally, because I think all this 20th century over-dramatized shit is getting to me.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:57 PM
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Middlemarch is technically proficient and ambitious in scope. I actually miss the first time I read it. It was a really wonderful time, finding out how good it is.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 10:59 PM
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* I would watch this movie and discuss it in preference to talk about real estate.

That movie needs a samurai sword.

Real estate these days is a good lead in to discussions of "Sure the economy is shitty, but it's about to get a whole lot shittier."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:00 PM
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So speaking of Samurai swords, there is no greater descent into nerdiness than to discover that you own an authentically antique Japanese sword. "I'd like to make this shiny", you say. "Oh my lord you must find a 10th level Toshiguri and never touch it again until he has dipped it in his secret semen reservoir at the base of mount Fuji", say the internet sword nerds. "But, really, I just want it to look nice", you say. "THE BLOOD OF LONG DEAD SAMURAI IS UPON YOU!" retort the internet nerds. Not that I'm bitter.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:03 PM
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431

The samurai sword is just the perfect touch.

If he'd pulled a Mishima on the Capitol steps, he'd have assured his immortality. Now, he's less than a footnote. Loser.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:04 PM
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432

I regret having missed out on the collage experience.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:04 PM
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433

Franzen's refusal to be associated with Oprah's media machine endeared him to me.

Racist.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:06 PM
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434

433 to, inscrutably, 432.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:07 PM
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435

AWB is totally right about the question thing. This is one reason that the date I went on last weekend wasn't very good.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:10 PM
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436

there is no greater descent into nerdiness than to discover that you own an authentically antique Japanese sword.

Really? Hand forged?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:15 PM
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437

Small talk is a difficult and highly technical skill. It is very useful, but it takes a long time to learn well and is by no means natural. It is very useful, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:17 PM
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436: ayup. Could be 400 years old. Too bad I used to use it to slice apples and such in twain in midair when I was 10.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:19 PM
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439

I don't have anything against small talk in general, but "what's your favorite color?" (which she really did ask me) is teh lame.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:19 PM
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440

Also fuck all if I'm going to spend $100 an inch to have it polished.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:19 PM
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441

439: she might have been great (orange) in bed, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:20 PM
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442

441: Maybe, but it's not worth it. Really she was just asking the lame questions because we couldn't seem to get a continuing conversation going on any subject.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:21 PM
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443

Too bad I used to use it to slice apples and such in twain in midair when I was 10.

That makes it extra awesome.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:21 PM
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444

Maybe, but it's not worth it.

You're not qualified to make this judgement yet.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:22 PM
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445

I've got standards, dammit.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:23 PM
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446

Besides, I'm not worried. My rabbi is trying to fix me up with a really hott girl.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:24 PM
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447

444: dude I swear to god this is what I keep hearing and it's soooo frustrating: I can tell you 90% for sure that I've fucked it beyond the point that it's worth anything, but the only way to know is to pay some fuckin' ultranerd samurai wannabee thousands of dollars to polish it. I just want it to look pretty, goddamit.

446: probably a good option for you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:27 PM
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448

I'm pretty sure 447.1 was meant as a response to 443, but it's much funnier to read it as a response to 444.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:28 PM
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449

448: it was meant as a response to 444.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:30 PM
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450

You could take the small talk meta. So, do you like small talk? How do you feel when people ask you about the weather? What are your 10 favorite lists of 10 things you ask people about?

Anyway, my connection is so slow right now I think I'm going to go to sleep instead of trying to refresh the thread. Not that this small talk hasn't been interesting. We could do this again sometime.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:31 PM
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451

449: Excellent. Now, what exactly are you having the ultranerd samurai wannabe polish?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:31 PM
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452

Y'all are hopeless. teo reads at the Mineshaft too often.

Sifu wins the thread with 437.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:31 PM
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453

I got confused and thought I'd integrated 442 into 438.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:32 PM
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teo reads at the Mineshaft too often.

True, but I'm not sure what in this thread this is in response to.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:34 PM
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455

OT: Dennis Hopper as Grad Student Boy.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:35 PM
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456

I can tell you 90% for sure that I've fucked it beyond the point that it's worth anything, but the only way to know is to pay some fuckin' ultranerd samurai wannabee thousands of dollars to polish it. I just want it to look pretty, goddamit.

Do it yourself. Scotch Brite pads polish steel well, and they're gentle enough that it's pretty tough to do outright damage.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:36 PM
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451: my sword, man. It's an antique.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:36 PM
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458

456: see, they hate you too, now. I have used brass polish and a soft cloth, and a felt dremel tip, and I think that's as far as I can take it without damaging it further.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:37 PM
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459

It's an antique.

Aw, you're not that old.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:42 PM
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460

455: Wow.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:45 PM
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I have used brass polish and a soft cloth, and a felt dremel tip, and I think that's as far as I can take it without damaging it further.

Go on to McMaster Carr's site and type "Scotchbrite" into the search function. That page has a table of the various grades for polishing. There's probably a hardware or an industrial supply shop local to you that carries all the various grades. Whatever you do, stay away from steel wool. It's aggressive, and can leave little micro bits of steel behind and create rust issues.

http://www.mcmaster.com/


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:46 PM
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458: Sifu, just stop now if you know you're damaging the thing. If you're 90% sure you've fucked up its value, back off of it for a bit.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:48 PM
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463

461: dude you don't even understand. Allegedly, if I remove even a microgram of steel from the outside, and that microgram ends up containing the hamon (the tempered steel edge), the blade instantly becomes worthless. What I (allegedly) have to do is send the thing to a certified polisher, who will examine the blade thoughtfully for X amount of Zen contemplation time and then polishing it, wearing the special outfit, using only the most specialest Japanese polishing stones. Could I subvert that process? Probably. Do I understand enough about metallurgy to not feel like an asshole doing it? Hey, convince me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:49 PM
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464

If you're 100% sure you've fucked up its value, go wild.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:49 PM
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465

Are you planning to sell it or something? Why do you care how much it's worth?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:51 PM
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466

"and then polish it"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:51 PM
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467

465: I don't care! But I feel stupid fucking up a 400 year old antique more than I already have.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:52 PM
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468

Couldn't you just find someone who could look at it and tell you if you've already fucked up the hamon or whatever or not?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:53 PM
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Also, if those Japanese swordsmiths couldn't make their swords sturdy enough to survive a mere 400 years of abuse and neglect their skills are highly overrated.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:55 PM
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468: yes, but that is the descent I was speaking of.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-18-08 11:57 PM
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471

Tweety, do you want to preserve it or do you want to use it?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:01 AM
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472

I mean, someone who wouldn't charge thousands of dollars and wouldn't polish it or anything. Just examine it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:01 AM
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473

If you man up and try it yourself, err on the side of fine grades, and for god's sakes no power tools. The Dremel is the path to sorrow.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:02 AM
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474

471: I've used it plenty. At this point I want it to look nice, and I'd feel shitty fucking up the value; ablating the cutting edge is detrimental to both goals.

472: in order to examine it you need to polish at least a section.

473: man up, my ass. You talk to these lunatics.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:04 AM
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475

If the thing's been around for 400 years and you're concerned about fucking it up, give it a coat of oil and explore your options at leisure. You'll want to keep it handy if you're contemplating seppuku, of course.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:09 AM
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476

475: my current plan, yes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:11 AM
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477

in order to examine it you need to polish at least a section.

Shows what I know about metallurgy.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:12 AM
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478

So where'd you get this sword, anyway?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:13 AM
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479

Embrace the Nerdpocalypse.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:14 AM
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480

478: my great-grandfather got it in Japan in (probably) the 20s.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:14 AM
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481

my current plan, yes

I wasn't sure what you meant by this. If you're planning on seppuku, can I have your sword?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:18 AM
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482

If you'd like to see my sword, incidentally, enjoy.

Laydeez.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:25 AM
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483

Is that forum the Antiques Roadshow of the samurai?

'I'm sorry, Mr Tweety. If you had not used Scotchbrite on your 16th century Minamoto sword, it would be worth FIVE MILLLLLLLION DOLLARS! As it is, it is now worth forty five cents and a single box of Jujubees.'


Posted by: winna | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:30 AM
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484

483: mm, exactly that, but loaded down with an almost incalculable amount of mystical Orientalist folderol.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:32 AM
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485

So you're "Ted F."?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:33 AM
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486

'I'm sorry, Mr Tweety. If you had not used Scotchbrite on your 16th century Minamoto sword, it would be worth FIVE MILLLLLLLION DOLLARS! As it is, it is now worth forty five cents and a single box of Jujubees.'

Heh. That's not a "can do" attitude.

Tweety, dude, you took a file to it? Ouch.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:33 AM
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487

482: That is pretty fun to read.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:34 AM
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488

485: yep.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:35 AM
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489

Also, who gives a ten-year-old a sword?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:35 AM
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490

Esp. this:

Ted, I guess there isn't any point in pointing out the damage you did, since you already know that, and I am sure have learned from it.

Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:36 AM
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491

who gives a ten-year-old a sword?

My parents had a big lot, about 3/4 of an acre. We were always running around out there chopping at stuff with machetes and such when we were kids.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:37 AM
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492

Yeah, but this is, like, a real sword. And apparently a family heirloom.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:38 AM
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493

490: I know, I love that. "Well, I'm sure you've learned your lesson, and I don't have to remind you again what a shithead you are."

489: that's what I'm sayin'.

489 to 486.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:39 AM
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494

And apparently a family heirloom.

Yeah, I was more thinking from a "sure, let kids swing sharp objects around".


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:43 AM
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495

I got another sword at the same time (pretty sure it's a Civil War cavalry sword), but not being RAZOR SHARP, it survived pretty well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 12:44 AM
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Also, who gives a ten-year-old a sword?

There are some weird heirlooms out there. When my family bought our old house we found a Japanese flag with (we later learned) farewell messages written on it; apparently they gave them to soldiers in WWII.

The old alcoholic vet who owned the house took it off someone's body, brought it home, and tried to give it to his kids. They gave it back.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 1:03 AM
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497

My Navajo cousin has one of those flags. His dad, who was a code talker, probably got it under similar circumstances.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 1:13 AM
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498

I thought about taking it, but it felt too creepy. My parents saw no creepiness in having it assessed.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 1:38 AM
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re: swords

I watched a documentary on TV about the company (Wilkinson, iirc) who still make cavalry swords for the British army. It's pretty amazing how robust they are. One of their tests on a completed sword is to bend it completely in half so that the sword makes a U-shape. It then springs back completely unharmed and straight. They are also functional swords, I believe. Not just dress items.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 3:25 AM
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500

Polishing your samurai sword is risky, but taking it in for evaluation is risky too. "Oh, yes! A vintage 1920 souvenir sword! We get one of those every week or two. You might try selling it to a theatre company or a sushi restaurant.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 4:51 AM
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501

I guess there isn't any point in pointing out the damage you did, since you already know that, and I am sure have learned from it.

I think this is going to become my standard reply to Sifu.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 5:49 AM
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502

Teo, here's a man who understands the importance of not being afraid to communicate with women.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 7:12 AM
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503

I think this is going to become my standard reply to Sifu.

Why only to Sifu? I think it has potential for a much broader usefulness!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 7:34 AM
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504

I can't believe nobody explored the homoerotic subtext in the "polishing Sifu's sword" discussion. It's like I don't even know this place anymore.

426: Please explain to me how The Corrections is either of these things.

If you're going to pretend to me that this isn't tightly-crafted prose, I shall demand access to your crack supply, for it must be truly excellent. And sure, I'd say that someone who can use a single family as a window onto the range of human experience that Franzen captures has fair claim on "ambitious scope."


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 8:45 AM
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505

Sifu, I fear you misunderestimate the magnitude of your sins. Some day a master worthy of the sword will appear before you, relieve you of same and proceed to kill you with it. It is only just.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 8:54 AM
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506

I regret having missed out on the collage experience.

This comment by eb is my favorite one of the thread. Clearly, AWB wouldnt like me.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 10:22 AM
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507

I can't believe nobody explored the homoerotic subtext in the "polishing Sifu's sword" discussion. It's like I don't even know this place anymore.

See 448, 451 and 459.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 5:24 PM
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508

504: I'm sorry, but I just can't read his prose. I know people like it, but I have no idea what they like about it, other than they say it's "tight," which could apply to a lot of bad prose, too. Does it read like something other than a first draft? Yes. Attention has been paid to grooming this away from sounding casual. But I still don't get what's good about it, as prose.

I'm not trying to be an asshole here, and I'm not some kind of fancified weirdo who only reads eighteenth-century philosophy. I do like 20th-21st century authors. I just don't think Franzen is a great writer, and I long to know what people enjoy about his work.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 5:32 PM
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509

I will grant you that there are a lot of details in it, like what kind of nuts are in the wreath, and whether they are spray-painted (they are). Also, wise, carefully crafted generalizations about how people treat furniture.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 5:35 PM
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Teo, I stand corrected. But I remain disappointed that your worthy efforts garnered so little support.

I know people like it, but I have no idea what they like about it, other than they say it's "tight," which could apply to a lot of bad prose, too.

I take "tight" to be generally a reference to economy of expression and a very close, poetry-calibre attention to choice of words. If this is in fact true of Franzen's prose (and I think it is) it pretty much excludes such work from meeting most standards of "bad prose" at the technical level. Beyond that, what most fans tend to like about The Corrections as craftsmanship is its extremely clever mobilization of imagery and metaphor. (The alarm bell of anxiety and the "guerilla" motif weaving through the linked passage are examples.)

Of course it's still possible to be a technical virtuoso and be unreadable. I'd say that Richard Ford excels Franzen on the technical front, but unfortunately his books put me to sleep. If I didn't enjoy the story Franzen was telling on some level, his technical niftiness wouldn't win me over. So, what can I say? I like the story.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 5:56 PM
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511

I really liked the part where the father goes loopy on the cruise ship.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 5:58 PM
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512

508: "Tight" normally refers to things which, for AWB...... oh, never mind. It was an abstruse subject-object kind of metaphysical-physiological point.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 6:09 PM
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I may have bad taste in prose. I really get off on prose like Gass's. I also despise similes and have an allergic reaction to the use of interior design and consumer items as shortcuts to character or "atmosphere" or whatever. So I think Franzen sets off some of my peevishness overmuch. Plus, I've read two of his mind-bogglingly stupid NYer things, both of which made me go back and take away the few points I'd given The Corrections.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 6:15 PM
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512: It was an abstruse subject-object kind of metaphysical-physiological point.

Yes, I thought of going there, but thought it might be overspecialized for this generalist setting.

I've never read Franzen's NYer things.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 6:20 PM
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Interesting. I think Franzen's prose is full of saggy and excessively melodramatic expressive choices. To my mind it is not tight at all, but florid, without justification for its floridness. It's choppy and relies far too heavily on sentence fragments, but this is not the same as being tight.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 6:26 PM
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516

I think melodramatic is right, but "saggy" and "excessive" are wrong; if there's a specific effect being aimed at and achieved (in Franzen's case, usually black humour), melodrama need not mean floridity. If the humour isn't your bag, YMWV, obvs.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 6:31 PM
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515: Yes, this! This is how I feel!

However, Franzen is one of these cases in which he's liked by lots of really smart people whom I admire, and whose taste I admire, and they specifically compliment his writing in ways that are totally directly at odds with every impression his writing gives me. It's not like, "Oh, his prose isn't strong but you have to read him for the plot." People always say, "What delicious, moving, beautiful, tightly-crafted prose, and what a generous and ethical and broad scope he has!" And that is confusing to me.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 6:31 PM
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516: And again, I would have specifically said that Franzen is incredibly unfunny and humorless, a total tin ear for irony or humor. And yet, here you are, a smart person with good taste, saying exactly the opposite.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 6:35 PM
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519

The best explanation, I think, is in 420: My tolerance for whitemidwesterndudiana is quite high, but not that high. If you're struggling with the basic premise of the story, what other people see as humour, craftsmanship, social insight et cetera is not going to register for you. It's like asking someone who hates folk music to listen to the subtle touches in a Martin Sexton song.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 6:40 PM
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520

Mostly, I'll admit, I was pissed off by the stupidity of the English prof character. His student asked him a question I received in my first semester of teaching, about an identical assignment, and it sent him into an emotional tailspin about what a fraud he is. No teacher could be so dumb as to not know the answer to that student's question (which is extremely easy) or so emotionally fragile as to crumble into oblivion upon the weakest 18-year-old's challenge.

I'm off for the evening.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 6:44 PM
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521

its extremely clever mobilization of imagery and metaphor. (The alarm bell of anxiety and the "guerilla" motif weaving through the linked passage are examples.)

After some past unfogged-based discussion of the use of metaphor in modern prose writing, I emailed this to awb, which explains why I now have it at the ready:

Benny's face was fleshy. Moreover, though it was not puffy, it seemed to be flesh recently acquired, and his expressions seemed, if such a thing were possible, to have difficulty in reaching the surface or, once arrived, to represent with conviction the feelings which had risen from within. So it appeared; though it may be that this want of precision pervaded the source itself, and his amorphous façade faithfully expressed confused furnishings, broken steps mounting deep stairwells, rooms boarded up, in disuse, and rooms of one character being used for new and timely purposes in the interior castle, whose defenses were not yet adjusted to the new tenancy but being constantly hastily altered in the midst of skirmishes, before that battle which would be the last.

And about a page later:

Benny had hardly looked at the face of the man who was talking to him: in contrast to his own it was a detailed fortification, every rampart erected with definite purpose, their parapets calculated to withstand repeated assaults from any direction, tried in innumerable skirmishes where many had approached so close as to tumble between scarp and counterscarp, an arrangement so long in the building that, though every bit of it had been erected for defense, in finished entirety it assumed aggressive proportions; inviting strategy, it might nly be taken by storm.

All this time, Benny's smile had not failed. His smile was his first line of defense. But even as he'd started to his feet, that defense was being abandoned, and so it remained, unmanned, as empty as gaping breastworks relinquished before unexpected onslaught.

(pp 600—602, The Recognitions, obviously.)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 6:46 PM
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522

From way back in this thread I've been avoiding previously:
Exactly. I have a weakness for spinning off into stories, which makes some people think I can't stay on-topic, but as far as I'm concerned, means it's only now getting interesting.

My association of parsimon with Kate Winter: all the stronger.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 6:51 PM
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523

Who on earth is Kate Winter?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 6:57 PM
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524

Ah. Markson, Reader's Block? Alright already, I'll finish it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 7:00 PM
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525

No, Wittgenstein's Mistress.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 7:34 PM
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526

525: Okey-doke.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-19-08 7:42 PM
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