Monday, February 13, 2006


I'm the kind of person who asks these sorts of questions a lot:

What's wrong?
Are you mad at me?
Is everything okay?
Etcetera, etcetera.

More often than not, these questions are directed toward coworkers, friends...And, more than likely, toward a female.

Women are strange creatures. They don't come out and tell you they're upset with you. They're catty, and they do sneaky little things that let you know you're on their shit list. I should know; I do it myself. I can't look at you if I'm upset, or I'll answer your questions in quiet, monosyllabic responses. I won't let you tell me I'm wrong, I'll argue with you for no reason, just to show you that you're not the boss of me.

I didn't say it was mature.

So when I see these traits exhibited in the women in my life, I instantly seek out the cause. But, frankly, I don't really care if you're upset because your car is on the fritz, or because you're stressed out. I just want to make sure the root of the problem isn't me.

I have a problem with wanting everyone to like me. I want to please everyone, I want to be the cool girl you work with, the cool chick you hang out with. I don't want to be the one who gets on your nerves, and I can't stand the thought of you saying something like "God, I just can't stand Laurie today."

I'm especially aware of how you feel about me when I feel less-than-spectacular about you. For some reason, if I'm upset with you, it's extra-special important to make sure that you're not upset with me. I start to wonder if my latent anger toward you has seeped out and has become obvious. Because very rarely will I want anyone to know I'm angry with them.

My frustration with the people in my life, women especially, comes in waves. My affection or disdain for someone ebbs and flows, and if I like you today, I'll probably shift back into dislike in a matter of moments. But that dislike will pass, and before I know it, I'll like you again. That's just how I am. I let little things get under my skin; Like the way you say my name, or how often you call, or how often you unknowingly invade my personal space. But these, I realize, aren't character flaws. They can't make me hate you, and they can't warrant my distaste for you beyond a few hours. They're just my little idiosyncrasies that I'm projecting onto you. And I know that. So I try not to hold you responsible for my obsessive-compulsive disorder.

But, sometimes, my frustrations get the best of me, and I'll find myself grotesquely annoyed with someone over something silly like two phone calls in a row. I get overly competitive, and find myself angry over a bout of I do this better than you. Even though I know I'm probably the only one competing. So I'll seethe, and maybe even vocalize (out loud, but to no one but myself) how irritating you've become. But I know it will pass, if given time.

And, of course, there are times when my aggravation with someone is warranted: Perhaps you've made one too many jokes at my expense, knowing that I'm too good-natured to stand up for myself, and too proud to let you know you've hurt my feelings. Or maybe you've taken the liberty of calling out one of my many flaws. Flaws that I try my best to ignore. Maybe you've been mean to someone I love, or you've challenged my intelligence. These things, to me, are sufficient reasons to be upset with you.

But if I'm annoyed with you, and I begin to notice that you may, in fact, be annoyed with me, too, I go into repair mode. What did I do to make her mad? How can I fix it? I simply cannot let sleeping dogs lie. And I cannot live with knowing someone is mad at me. It drives me crazy.

In my head, I go over the things I may have done to upset you. And I'll think of excuses and explanations that I feel will dismantle the situation. So I'll try to drag it out of you by offering you the opportunity to tell me how pissed you are at me. And then I can offer you my prepared "explanation" (that is, probably, really just an excuse...An attempt to explain away truly shitty behavior on my part.) and we can get on to being friendly again.

And, deep down, I'll be annoyed with you for being annoyed with me.

Men, I don't envy the fact that you have to deal with women.


portuguesa nova said...

I wonder if it was a man or a woman who invented chess...or any other game where you constantly need to be thinking 10 steps ahead of your next move.

Laurie said...

I was about to say "A woman, definitely." But then I thought about it for a second...And I realized that it had to be a man, becuase they always have to think about what we women are thinking...

It was probably a married couple who accidentally created it.