Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

June 19, 2007

Things I Love To Hate

Have you ever had someone hold something up near your face and say, "Ewww. This smells disgusting. Here, smell it...." They're not trying to be rude, they genuinely want to share this experience with you. Before you even have that extra second to think, "Do I really want to smell something disgusting?" you lean over and take a sniff. Then you both snuffle in agreement, "Gross, that does stink!"

OK, I'm getting pretty disgusting here, but I'm trying to illustrate an important phenomenon that I think is the key to managing a successful relationship for the long haul. Learning to Love the things you Hate in order to be with someone.

I think I've always fundamentally understood this concept, but never had to formalize or put it into words until my first serious long term relationship (with Only Child) in my late 20s. When you spend that much time with someone - especially if you live with them -- certain things they do (often many things they do) are going to drive you crazy. Roommates are hard enough to manage, but throw in all the relationship crap along with that - each other's parents/families, mismatched sleeping patterns, waxing/waning sex drives, cleaning habits (or lack thereof), decorating sensibilities... the list of potential Things to Hate is endless. Just how are you supposed to then push all that aside and actively want to love, nurture, get naked with that person on a regular basis?

Again, the art of Loving the Things You Hate.

I am a bit of a "ham" as a girlfriend. I enjoy acting silly, sometimes dorky, singing stupid songs, making jokes. This can be a charming quality in a good friend (and probably why I've had so many male friends), and maybe for a girlfriend for the first few weeks you are dating. But I can fully appreciate that my goofiness might start to be a bit of a turnoff after a little bit. At least it probably was for Only Child (since then, I've thankfully learned how to embrace both my dorky and my sexy sides. Unfortunately, Only Child didn't get to reap those benefits).

I think it all started with the theme music to "Law & Order." Well, not the theme music alone...more like the performance I added to go along with the music. I went through a major phase of watching endless L&O reruns and became irrationally excited when a new corpse was unveiled at the top of the show. Each time the intro music played, I would add a new instrument to the mix - the keyboard, the flute (or whatever that instrument is), the drums....But my favorite was the cheezy guitar riff at the very end. For some reason, I felt I could channel that 80's studio musician guitarist who was given the honor of playing those last few notes (beeeeow...beow, beow, beeowwww). I performed the song with all my heart, dancing around the room, waiting for the BIG moment - the guitar moment.

When it came, I would undoubtedly lift up my right leg, arm at the ready, and play my thigh with every ounce of my soul, scrunching up my face in the most ludicrous
overzealous musician way I could muster (think of the previous guitar/band leader from the old SNL band - damn that guy was annoying). Only Child would watch my performance with horrified awe, waiting for what he knew was my crowning jewel. And I can tell you without a doubt, he Hated - and LOVED - every second of it. Lord knows I wouldn't have stopped if he asked, so he chose instead to learn to love it, dread it, protest it, and laugh over it.

In fact, the phenomenon spread to him as well. He knew the "Six Feet Under" theme music drove me nuts, even though it was my favorite show. So what did he do? Pure, unadulterated performance art to the entire song. I screamed and laughed with disgusted abandon the whole way through his writhing dance (a much longer, more demanding performance than L&O, I got off easy). At the end he would fling himself on the couch, breathless from his dance and eager for praise. As much as I Loved to Hate it though, I had to give him a solid but speedy appreciative pat and then a quick "Shhhh," because damn if I would miss one second of that incredible program. Another thing about me I 'm sure he Loved to Hate.

Why am I writing about this? I don't know. I guess it's a funny memory and after my last entry full of useless self-doubt (thanks for the support those of you who commented) I wanted to think of something safe and far in the past that just made me laugh. I'd also like to hear some examples from you guys of things you have learned to Love to Hate to make a relationship more tolerable.

Just in case you need a little warming up, here are a few more examples of things I know past boyfriends have learned to Love to Hate about me:
  • When I talk about money and am trying to sound slick, I make an annoying clicking sound with my tongue while I rub my fingers together
  • My laugh - a staccato piano that goes up and down and often attracts attention
  • My unabashed enthusiasm for 80s dancing
  • Karaoke singing to Carpenters, "Only the Good Die Yong" by Billy Joel and my soulful rendition of "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi
  • My shameless love of childhood candy (Sweet Tarts, Nerds, Fun Dip, you name it)
And just so you know I'm not full of self-loathing, here are a few things I've learned to Love to Hate about boys I've dated:
  • Obsessions with photography that leave me either awkwardly posing for the camera for hours on end or following them around while they take pictures of something else
  • Day of the Dead decor
  • Tales of the good old days as a Deadhead or Phish head
  • Keeping his hand at rest semi-permanently inside his waistband
  • Watching ice hockey
  • Annoying sports cars
  • Black leather couches
  • Shopping for vintage clothes (yes, this was the first of my Gay-Straight boyfriends and boy did I have to learn to Love to Hate shopping!)
Get the picture? Now tell me some of yours!


About Melissa said...

Oh my, let me see. About my husband:

Turns the volume up (way up) before a movie or video begins, causing me to jump out of my skin (especially during the intro to 6 Feet Under).

When I don't like a song he likes, he plays it repeatedly, hammering it into my brain until I actually begin to like it.

He blows a big bubble, then pops it with his hand against his mouth, jerking his head back at the same time as if he was shot with a bullet. Yet another way he startles the crap out of me.

He clenches his fist and bangs his head loudly like a coconut.

He does't fart.

Is there anything he loves to hate about me? Ask him... ;)

Kelly said...

Here's my compilation of things I grew to love to hate about past boyfriends:
-Obsession with watching, purchasing, talking about, and naming fish for fish tank, including hours spent in fish store analyzing various plant combinations, and giving each fish the most offensive name possible, usually a combination of unmentionable words.
-Insisting on wearing "I had an abortion" t-shirt to whole foods.
-Intensely debating the individual's right to own a gun with my very liberal friend at her wedding.
-Unflattering experimentation with facial hair, culminating in mohawk.
-Drinking coffee out of discarded jelly jars, which accumulate in a pile on the passenger side of his car, and constantly slide around making clinking noises.
-Obsession with Minnesota Vikings.
-Obsession with Superman.

I have no idea what they loved to hate about me. If they'd LOVED to hate these things, then we'd probably still be together!

Sassy63 said...

My new husband and I share a computer room in our home. He works from home and I do a fair amount of writing on my computer. When he is working, he makes sounds like "uh" "uh" constantly. I know he is managing his anxiety, but it drives me to the Love to Hate Depot!!

I think he loves to hate my piles of stuff I leave around the house all the time. Things like magazines get piled up, or shoes. I come home and plunk down in a dining room chair, take off my shoes and there they stay. I've had as many as 4 pairs of shoes under the dining room table. I even get to Love to Hate that in me!

Sure enjoy your column! Melissa referred me to your blog.

Dating Trooper - Dating is Warfare said...

Thanks Sassy! By the way, I was in your writing class with Judy - the one right before you met Melissa, so hello!