Watch people never learn. This part is simple: You’re in the way. But they are never in the way, right? Except the cat thinks you are. Well, they’re just not in the way. None of this would really mean anything, either, except in those moments when you hear someone trying to order a kitten around by repeating the same three or four words in grating falsetto that any observer with line of sight would notice only makes the cat wince. If you want the cat to come in from the garage, then don’t stand in the doorway and angrily explain why the cat shouldn’t be in the garage. If you want someone to tempt the cat back into the house with sound, such as food, then get out of the way. Don’t literally stand there in the way and wonder why he isn’t passing through. Meanwhile, the house is flooding with cold air, including the lower portion where the heat system does not work properly, and this, too, would be something to not even notice, except for when they finally walking away from the open door in disgust and complaining that it’s cold in the house.
There is a household discussion that has to do with why I never watch television in the living room. The problem with this discussion, of course, is that the answer to the question is essentially verboten: It is impossible to watch television in the living room.There is, indeed, a television in the living room, and the problem is not so much the arrangement of the kitchen such that there is a lot of noise from the one into the other. Rather, it is that nobody is allowed to watch television in that room without having conversations about something else: How much cheese there is, or going to the grocery store tomorrow afternoon, or, hey, maybe we should buy a new television; I can’t remember the other six topics, but it really is like a television show or movie in and of itself.If I managed to watch five minutes of the show, I couldn’t tell you what happened. In all the years I have known multiple people to behave this way, talking over a television program about something irrelevant and nonessential, then waiting quite literally a matter of seconds to do it again, it has never really made sense. Sometimes you can rewind and replay the same segment in front of them multiple times, and it starts to feel as if they actually resent that you are watching television, would very much like you to stop, consider themselves too polite to actually say so, and thus have no alternative save annoying you until you turn off the program and leave.And that is what it is, but in the end, yes, that is why I watch television downstairs. The answer, when I actually encounter the question of why I don’t watch television in the living room is to look at the only person in the house who asks me that and say―
“Because you won’t let me. Because if you are home and awake, and I am watching television in this room, you absolutely must speak to me now about whatever you can think of in the moment, even if it’s a matter weeks away having precisely nothing to do with me. Because I have just rewound the same fifteen seconds of this show, several times, in order to hear what they’re saying, and every time I restart the video you start talking again. Because when I tried turning up the volume just to see what happened, you actually talked louder in order to be heard. Because I can take a hint, a’ight?”
―and you just don’t go talking to people like that.
And then you went, when everything was virtually done, and deliberately wrecked the soup.Does anybody understand that when you’re supposed to be the sane people in the room, this kind of behavior really stands out?
I don’t know; it’s just heartbreaking in its moment. I mean, fuck, somebody wants you to cook something you’re known for cooking, and guess what: No, don’t do what you always do! You need to do it my way or else it isn’t right!Then fucking cook it, yourself.Seriously, I’ve just been overridden in my own goddamn kitchen!Fucking bullshit. You don’t want it, then don’t fucking ask. You want something else, then say so. But don’t fucking go out of your way to make me miserable in my own kitchen.
I live in an American household that manages to make potato chips unpalatable. Let that point sink in.
It’s never really that people don’t understand; we always say it as if they are somehow confused, when they are not. Like this:
• Why do people fail to understand that if someone should expect to be criticized every time they walk into the room, to the point that one can actually watch people look around for something to complain about, then no, that person will not want to be in the room with you.
It is not that everyday belligerence doesn’t understand; these people do. It is not that they are somehow confused about why the constant hostility distresses anyone; they aren’t.
If there is any one thing you ask people to not do, they will do it.
So, there is this thing people do, sometimes, and perhaps it is perfectly human behavior, except when it is so clearly statistically deviantα. Or maybe it’s just something about perception. Sometimes we exist in an environment where simple things are impossible: I am writing something; my coffee cup is empty; if you wish to take odds, no, I cannot manage to go refill my coffee cup without someone demanding that I stop what I am doing and undertake another task. And perhaps that summary sounds a bit pointed, but when you can watch someone get up and start searching the room for something to give you, they make some sort of point: Here is something that looks like it has a deadline in about four weeks; you need to stop what you are doing and do this thing right now.
And if you ask about this phenomenon, the one thing people don’t do is explain why they can’t leave you to what you’re doing; indeed, very often they come right out and—what, confess? admit? acknowledge? chide?—say the one has nothing to do with the other.
α There is, of course, a recursive dive into the question acknowledging that statistical deviance, real or perceived, is itself perfectly human; this is, to the one, a seemingly legitimate existential consideration, and, to the other, a nihilistic rabbit hole.