The Aftermath — Part VI, But What Do You Talk about After?

We may be hermits but that doesn’t mean we want to be incommunicado.

<thok><thok><thok> Is this thing on?
Can you hear me now?

Over there gekko says, “Don’t be jerks. Talk. Honestly.”

gekko and I talk by cell more often than by almost anything other means but smoke signals. Repetition and signal checks take up 13.3% of every conversation.

Hang on, my earbud fell out.

For the rest, we talk about what everybody does. Our families, our friends (yeppers, we most assuredly talk about you), the weather, our jobs, politics, the news, FOOFery, and what we watched on the t00b last night. Nothing unique there.

But we are blessed.

We can spin what the family foisted on us, what is falling on our heads, what we heard on the radio, what Facebook foisted on us into a nearly continuous conversation. Unlike teenagers, we rarely watch t00b “together” in different states but we do “hang out” on the phone.

I thought we knew a lot about each other’s families, but no. gekko didn’t know that my great grandfather paid my great grandmother’s tuition at Swarthmore before he would marry her or that my father’s first cousin Reuben, a profoundly deaf engineer, found his deafness an asset when he rode the centrifuge in the early NASA tests. I didn’t know her great grandfather presided over the trial of a notorious cannibal. Still lots more ground to cover there.

Most readers know we multi-task during drive time. I generally go on walkies while she commutes. That gives plenty of opportunity to engage in weatherly commentary because it is right there in front of us, talk about whether the owls have their heads up out of their nest, and to meow at passing pussycats.

Last couple of days we’ve talked about decorating styles. The family room of a “colonial style” two story home she described is predominantly black, white, and shades of gray and silver.

I’m not sure I have a “style” although my eye is most drawn to the houses of Chester County that I grew up in. I have a mix of Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton furniture, the latter mostly neoclassic, Federal style. I like the plain, straight legs and tapered arrow feet Hepplewhite often used. That is one reason I don’t own a sofa in North Puffin.

She has some podcasts and several Kindle books on the Droid. I have one audio book and a bunch of Podcasts on the iPod but she can store more on her Droid. We both listen to the “news” that way when we are driving or at the gym and not talking to each other. Podcasts help gekko facilitate the procurement of her bagel-shaped food objects and to listen to some Android Central info (did you know she has a Droid?). Newsweek broadcast a segment on treatment center cancer survival rates. The Naked Scientists explored neuromarketing or how a knowledge of your brain and behavior can help marketers to manipulate your buying habits.

And, of course, we dissected each of those.

gekko is not always interested in the 18-mile boondoggle here in the Keys. I’m not always interested in the project lead who caused her a bit of grief or whether TQM beats Six Sigma. But we talk about them because we are always interested in them.

“Don’t be jerks. Talk. Honestly.”
Speaking to the past. Speaking to the future.

Our list sounds kind of banal but we like it. Talking about all of that all the time means it is easy to talk about all of the other stuff like dates, and traveling, and marriage, and phone sex any time.

And, yes, we analyze our relationship. Incessantly. But you knew that, didn’t you?

[Editor’s Note: gekko and I shared a four-part polylocution plus these Afterglow posts. Please visit her companion piece, On Love, and use The Poly Posts index for the entire series and for other resources.]

Sculpture by Ania Modzelewski

15 thoughts on “The Aftermath — Part VI, But What Do You Talk about After?

  1. Wow. I’m not much of a phone peep, though I occasionally have a long convo with an old friend, but for the romance, it’s more like checking in where to meet, what time kinda thing. Sounds fun though, and you end up with more tidbits this way than in person cuz you just wouldn’t think of talking about the kitties you saw on your walk or whatever later in the day.

  2. I wonder if our readers will sit still for a poll:
    How much and how regularly do you and your [partners][friends][lovers] talk?
    What do you talk about?

    I do think gekko and I are a little unusual and a lot blessed, especially since neither of us is a particularly good conversationalist but we like it and we make a point of doing it so we don’t lose it.

  3. Two things:
    “That is one reason I don’t own a sofa in North Puffin.”
    I don’t get how your liking of a particular style becomes reason not to have a sofa.

    “Podcasts help gekko facilitate the procurement of her bagel-shaped food objects…”
    Podcasts can do that?

    And then this, triggered by your neuromarketing comment:
    Yesterday I was in the mall smelling all the wonderful fragrances coming from the various stores and the mall itself, thinking about how they can purposely send out those olfactory pleasures to encourage our buying, which led to thinking about all the other things marketers do to affect our behavior and wondered why people in education are so bad about using all these things we know about how people’s brains work to help people learn. Business people could teach educators a thing or two. And vice versa because it shouldn’t always be about the bottom line.

  4. @Arleen: “I don’t get how your liking of a particular style becomes reason not to have a sofa.”

    Anne and I have never agreed on a sofa that we both like. Instead, we use the settle my great grandfather had built from a chesnut tree he cut on the farm.

    @Arleen, when I wrote, “Podcasts help gekko facilitate the procurement of her bagel-shaped food objects…”
    “Podcasts can do that?”

    Podcasts can do anything. In this case, she filled the travel time to and from the BSOE (Bagel Shaped Object Emporium) with a poly cast.

    @Arleen: your neuromarketing comment…”

    It was The Naked Scientists show of 10/10/10. Here’s the link.

  5. How much and how regularly do you and your [partners][friends][lovers] talk? What do you talk about?

    With my husband we talk about things that need doing, how our day was, what we’ve heard from the sons, how our daughter’s doing, what we want to watch on TV, what we heard on the news, that sort of thing mostly. Every now and then we’ll get into a hopes and dreams conversation, though we do that less these days because we’re kind of on standby mode right now, just trying to develop a bit of peace after the turmoil of this past summer. We stay away from topics that could bring up sticky issues because we’re exhausted and need to regroup. So it’s just ordinary stuff for now.

    I don’t talk much on the phone. I’m happy to have people call me, and I have no problem talking on the phone about all sorts of things with friends, but I seem to have gathered together friends that are like me…they don’t like to make phone calls. Email is our preferred method of communication, and even then, with meatspace friends, it’s mostly to make plans, like Paula does. We do all our talking face-to-face. I only have one friend with whom I converse on a regular basis online, and usually just when we’re online at the same time. We talk about anything and everything. One minute it could be the different versions of the Apostle’s Creed and the next what one of us is having for lunch.

  6. Watch out! HashCash is screwing up again

    @Arleen: “We talk about things that need doing, how our day was, what we’ve heard from the sons, how our daughter’s doing, what we want to watch on TV, what we heard on the news…”

    Pretty normal household stuff. gekko and I do all of that. We are graced (and successful), though, because we load everything else onto the conversational table.

    When I see couples not talking in restaurants or walking stiffly down the street, I wonder what holds them together.

    @Arleen: “Every now and then we’ll get into a hopes and dreams conversation…”

    I suspect those are rare in any LTR, simply because we have already had all the hopes and dreams conversations and don’t “need” to revisit those.

    FTR, I think that is sad.

  7. I like the mundane conversation as much as I like the deep and intense relationship discussions. In the long run, the prosaic is what will make up our day to day lives — the “how was your day, honey?” and the “I’m running to the store, do you need anything?” will be more common than analyzing everything each other does in the relationship. I hope to actually live IN the relationship than spend all our time talking ABOUT it.

    Then again, I’m the one who doesn’t want to cuddle after the hot weasel sex, so I may be weird.

  8. I’m also very much not a phone peep, Paula. That D and I do talk so much is owed mostly to the fact that D unapologetically dumps his brain into the airwaves. I get to riff off of that. And, well, he makes me feel safe. He isn’t going to harsh me, and he isn’t one to subtly suggest that I am boring the pee out of him.

  9. What is crucial for me, and about which I intend to expound further in comment on my blog later, is the difficult conversations, as well as the times I let my inner lizard show through. All of that is needed, imo, to make this work, but a willingness on both sides to open yourself without overdoing the defensiveness is probably needed. Own your own hurt, but be aware of the possibility you are triggering his hurt.

  10. I do indeed dump his brain into the airwaves. If it is rattling around up there, sooner or later it falls out of my mouth. An advantage of ADD.

    OTOH, gekko does more than riff. She holds her own.

    @gekko: “be aware of the possibility you are triggering his hurt.”

    Honesty ought not be hurtful. I will never, ever answer the “Do I look fat in this dress” question.

    Some of our “difficult” talk is ankle chewing, the kind of thinking out loud, babbling through a problem or a decision that just demands help from the other. I have an almost overwhelming need to fix things. gekko has taught me the value of simply listening as she works from initial description all the way to solution. I will sometimes suggest direction but not jump right in with answers. She does the same when I’m in ankle chewing mode.

  11. My favorite zen teacher reminds me: “kind and compassionate” are not the same as “nice and polite.”

    “Do I look fat in this dress?” is one of those questions designed as a trap, and you’re quite right to refuse to answer it, Dick.

    My experience with the hard conversations is that they’re hard because they press up against my conditioned responses in a way that is uncomfortable and sweaty and challenges my ideas of who I think I am, what I think I believe, and how I think the world should be.

    I am also reminded again and again that I possess my family’s often-disagreeable tendency to want to be “right.”

  12. @Aileen: “I possess my family’s often-disagreeable tendency to want to be “right.”

    I AM™ always right. Fortunately, so is gekko.

    The only person in my family who was more right than I was my aunt, a lady who could say “No lick” to a dog and the dog would never lick that part of its body again. In its life. She was an irresistible force married to the immovable object who is my uncle. Her Main Line tensile strength often came up against what my dad called his Dutch hard headedness. They loved each other for more than 50 years.

  13. Honesty ought not be hurtful.

    Can’t control that, though. Even avoiding the trap questions won’t help you when you say something that triggers a hurt born from your lover’s past.

    ‘nother possibility is something you touched on somewhere, about having learned that sometimes what you need to do is just listen, not try to fix. Not everyone (and this isn’t just a guy thing, peeps) learns that. So when the missus is in tears because she’s too fat, you don’t suggest Weight Watchers™. That’s an honesty that will probably get you hurt, y’know what I’m saying?

  14. @gekko: “don’t suggest Weight Watchers™.”

    Hard lesson for a Fix-It Guy™, innit, knowing when to hug and when to heal.

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