Sunday, November 24, 2002

The temptation to analysis

There's always this temptation to analyze people in a dismissive way that I have to fight.

Last year I was on this walk by my house. I noticed that there was an open house for a condo. Two people let me in. A man and a woman, married couple. It turned out that they had remodeled these two condos. They were trying to 'sell' it to me. It's always uncomfortable when people try to sell things to me because then they appear particularly desperate. I suppose I know they are engaged in a truly hopeless activity...I have no money so selling to me is futility itself.

The man was young but not handsome. He had thick coke bottle glasses. The woman was younger and prettier. Of course my first unfair thought was that she was with him because he had the 'mark of success.' The Harvard MBA or at the very least the Harvard MBA mindset. This prompted thoughts about what makes women drawn to such men...the money makers. What makes them want to become the helpmeet of a man on his empty quest to own and buy.

I imagine them discussing, in a casual way, the condos they had remodeled and owned. She does the books or whatever it is that is beneath him to do. She is fully identified with his project. I supposed that this made her feel better about herself. She can tell her former girlfriends from college...the ones that live in her head by whose standard she shapes her life: "John's managed to remodel so many old houses. We've just been working and working but now that we've sold 10 this year we can afford to take it easy. Oh, did I tell you we're spending 3 weeks in Aruba in January?" Her mother, her sisters, they are envious.

Her worth is affirmed. As is his. He has different people in his head but they all approve of him...for the time being.

On the weekends they occasionally watch television or shop. They buy the right things, shop from the right catalogs, never do the strange or unexpected. They live their life according to plan.

The analysis basically takes the form: This is what they want. They structure their lives around getting what they want. But what they want is silly and not worth wanting.

Which begs the question: What is worth wanting? Haven't figured that one out yet.

So you see how cruel this sort of analysis is. Yes, it is easy to do. And I'm sure it is accurate but only on the most superficial level. It interfered terribly with dating in college. Such as when the skinny boy who liked Thomas Pynchon wanted to impress me with his gourmet Chinese cooking but only merited my dismissal when he went on too long about the thrill of drinking 'gourmet tea.'

I've never trusted people who like Thomas Pynchon too much.

And the guy who made me soup in a whole pumpkin but then I found out he liked Billy Joel.

It isn't as if I look down on them, on any of them, although it might seem so. It is just that...back then...and maybe now I am so terribly reluctant to admit I want anything. The vulnerability involved in caring is something I have a need to avoid. I can't face the possibility of making myself presentable to the imaginary audience through what I acquire or achieve. So in one way I admire their bravery and really there is no contempt. It's much more as if I envy their hopes but look at them as a cautionary tale...and certain people are too quickly dismissed as a warning of what not to become.


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