I hid in the crowded wrath of the crowd
But when they said "Sit down," I stood up.
Ooh, growin' up...
Yuh. I seem to have that habit, too.
What kind of relationship do you have with those closest to you? Pretty equitable? Easygoing mutual respect, that sort of thing? Or do you clash with your SO, spouse, bedmate or bong buddy? Clash? Uh, you know; when they look at you like you just did a Jules Feiffer* and turned into the world's biggest baby? That condescending, dopey, wall-eyed stare and pause in their speech that, when they speak again, it's as if you were suddenly reduced in mental capacity to that of a cherrystone clam's.
That kind of clash.
We've all felt pretty infantile on occasion. Yup, I know I have. Ever feel that way about your own dear ones? Like: did they just lose twenty IQ points while I was talking to them?
I'm wondering about this, you see, because I hear my own SO doing it to me on a regular basis and I'm thinking she's feeling the same frickin' thing from me. I'm wondering where the fuck this comes from and why?
Why do we condescend toward our dear ones? Why do they condescend toward us? What is it about a 'normal' dynamic of an adult relationship where the partners trade off in that parent/child thing? Or more accurately: the adult/infant thing?
Still not getting it? Let us consider a few cliche's, shall we? The 'givens' in our culture, comprende'? Men tend to regard women as pretty non-technologically oriented. Hey, it's usually a guy under your car, right? Or a guy with his hands buried up to the wrists in your computer? It's usually a guy flying your plane (might be a woman. Might be) or installing your cable TV/Internet. (Sorry, Chloe. Yes, I know you're one of the few exceptions...)
So it's usually a guy doing the condescending: "Sorry, ma'am, but your tranny needs a complete teardown. I'd explain why it's gonna cost you $400, but I don't think you'd understand..."
(Your tranny needs a complete teardown. Yeah, sometimes I think I do...)
But that's a mechanic talking to you; a woman he doesn't know. What about your SO or spouse? "Sorry, honey, but you can't do it that way. Lemme show ya how..." and he elbows you aside.
And you? Cluck your tongue, shake your head. "Men." (Meaning: boys.) Don't they ever change the roll of toilet paper? Or put the damn seat down?
Cliche's, yeah, but they're helpful. You can fill in the blanks with any of the above actions/infractions. The behavior subsequent is still to the point: we tend to treat each other as if we were infants more often than not.
And if there is one thing I've learned as a trans person, it's that when you insist, demand, enforce your treatment of someone, it usually categorizes them as such. Let them define themselves and the dynamic shifts drastically, doesn't it?
Those darn dynamics! Will someone please tell me why, even in the depths of a loving relationship, we still struggle to establish one above the other? Is there, anywhere, in this World, this Earth of Hours, one relationship where neither struggles for dominance?
I'm having increasing difficulty in imagining such a relationship.
It may be only my own experience. I must say that one such had no such struggle within it; instead, there were other struggles having nothing to do with dominance; only rejection. (That may be a significant point.) Still, all the rest contained seeds and active flowering and even large, malignant thorn bushes of emotional dominance.
With some, I suppose it's a given from the get-go: "She's weaker and the less able, so it's up to me to lead..." or "He's strong and capable but he's about as bright as a small appliance bulb..." Others, it grows on you, almost by accident: "You said you would do that two weeks ago! And you're still dawdling! You're such a child...!"
Signify your opponent as childish and it improves the odds, doesn't it?
Of winning, stupid. (See, I just did it, too...) Yeah, we want to win. Even if it means humiliating the other. "To crush your enemies and drive them before you and hear the lamentations of their women!"
Okay, not everyone marries Conan the Barbarian. (Although, I sometimes wonder when I see some couples together...) But we do that, don't we? Some of us.
I do. And I hate it.
I wonder if she hates it, too. I know it has a lot to do with her seeing me as emotionally inept; flawed. Kinda bent inside, so to speak. There's that frisson of pity which really sticks in my craw and I'll bet it does yours, too.
So we give as good as we get and that's helpful, isn't it? Yup, let's play oneupmanship with a reckless admixture of chicken and we'll find out who flinches first.
That's a great way to develop a dialogue. Assuming, of course, that a dialogue is what you wanted in the first place.
But if we look at the facts (and they're staring me in the face, so they're a bit hard to ignore. Also very uncomfortable.), we find that we tend to do this more often than not and sure, why not? It's the way we've always done it!
I'm thinking it's time to think outside the box. I'm thinking it's time for a changeup. Hell, I'm thinking it's time to change batters and pitchers! (Where the fuck did that sports metaphor come from? I swear, I ordered English Lit metaphors and look what they sent me!)
I'm thinking that it's time for a different reaction, from me, at least. If she signifies me as infantile or if I find myself talking down to her, it's time for a different dynamic.
(Which would be?)
I'm working on it. I'll get back to you. In the meanwhile, here's some more Bruce:
I took month-long vacations in the stratosphere and you know it’s really hard to hold your breath.
I swear I lost everything I ever loved or feared, I was the cosmic kid in full costume dress,
Well, my feet they finally took root in the earth but I got me a nice little place in the stars
And I swear I found the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car
I hid in the mother breast of the crowd but when they said, "Pull down," I pulled up
Ooh... growin’ up.
Michelle Diane Rose
June 26th, 2010
*Tantrum (1997) Google it. Why should I do all the work? Sheesh, you're such a child...