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

September 15, 2009

A Roomful of Faces

First allow me to set the stage.

A crowded living room full of my mom's friends -- many of them the Yenta ones I've told you about before. Everyone's sitting in a circle, my mom at the head (it is her birthday party after all). Next to my mom is an empty chair and next to the empty chair is a woman with a warm eyes and a stack of books to sell. Every 5-8 minutes, someone from the circle gets up, walks across the the circle and sits down in the empty chair. All of this so the warm-eyed woman can stare at them for a few minutes and read their face.

Yep, face reading. That's what my mom wanted to do for her 70th birthday party. And when you make it to 70 (and look as good as my mom does once you get there), you get what you want.

It turns out that my mom's friend knows the Face Reader who - as she told us many, many, many times during the session - has been on over 50 television shows like Tyra Banks and even The Young and the Restless (seriously). She also has a credible health care background and has studied the science (it is actually one) of face reading for many years and worked with law enforcement, corporations, the FBI -- anyone that might want to find out about someone without actually asking them. (It's similar to the guy that the TV show "Lie to Me" is based on, except that he reads "transient" emotions - the ones that tell you what they're thinking or feeling in a split second - and she reads the actual face - eye shape, nose, hairline, ears - all of which are supposed to reveal traits about your inner self. Here's some information I found that might explain it - but don't hold me to it.)

So we threw a potluck party and invited a select group of people who might be up for having their faces read in a festive setting. Interesting and entertaining. Generally a good party idea.

Wine Guy was invited and, naturally, I volunteered him to cook one of the main dishes. I was tasked with scribbling down notes during each person's reading since it goes by in such a blur you hardly remember a thing. I was so busy writing that I hardly had time to ruminate about the fact that both Wine Guy and I were going to have to sit there and have our faces read in front of everyone, Yentas and all.

I could tell that Wine Guy was excited about doing it, being a trained astrologer and all. But the second he made his way to the empty chair, I heard a distinct tittering among the group. [Disclaimer: It was at this very moment that the potential embarrassment of what was about to happen hit me. And it hit hard. Irrationally hard. So understand that I am writing about how I was feeling at the moment - whether it was accurate or not.]

The Face Reader knew WG was my boyfriend and, being the only unmarried couple at the party, this presented a great opportunity for her to talk about romantic compatibility as seen through facial structure. Totally understandable. The very first thing she says when his butt hits the chair is that we should definitely get married. Just. Like. That.

It's all a blur after that. I recall that everyone burst out laughing and that my mom and my overly obnoxious brother Pat-hole took the opportunity (as usual) to holler their exasperated agreement. I think I said something like "I'm trying!" and attempted to smile, all the while cringing inside and wondering how mortified/pissed/irritated Wine Guy might be feeling.

Then she started saying something about how the most compatible couples have a 70/30 match of facial features (70% similar, 30% dissimilar) and that Wine Guy's and my facial features totally line up. Well that was nice to hear. If only I wasn't dizzy with embarrassment while I was hearing it.

The rest of what she said about Wine Guy is also a blur (I have to consult the notes I was able to scribble down for him) but I know her comments were accurate and that she thought he had an interesting face (handsome, if I do say so myself).

A few more people had their turns and then it was mine, second to last. I sat down in the chair and looked into the Face Reader's eyes, praying I would be spared further embarrassment. [Refer to previous Disclaimer.] She looked at me deeply for a moment and then, very kindly, looked up towards Wine Guy across the circle and said firmly and with utter confidence, "OK. You need to marry him."

Huge burst of raucous laughter. I'm know I'm laughing too, because I'm relieved to hear this. But at the same time I'm dying. Again, brother starts hollering. Mom starts with her comments. I believe I even turned around and literally put my hand over my mom's mouth at one point. Wine Guy was laughing and seemed fine but it didn't matter. I was in full scale freak out mode.

When I realized the crowd was not going to simmer down right away, I tried to wait it out. I remember sitting there staring at the Face Reader, who was clearly taken aback by this reaction (it was sort of like a burst of energy the second she said it). I quietly said to her, "I'm just going to sit here and let it pass." I think I repeated that a few times, like a chant, as everyone let it out of their systems.

When I think about it now - after I'm all cooled down - I really don't understand everyone's hysteria. It's not like Wine Guy and I have been together for a decade or something. Yes, they all know that I am ready to get married and that I've had marital mishaps in my past -- but I just don't see why everyone feels they are perfectly justified in shouting out their opinions about my personal relationship. Especially during a moment that's supposed to reveal some insights into me - not just my relationship.

But I can hear my mom's voice now as she's reading this (even though I asked her to stop reading my blog - but really, that ain't gonna happen), "But we all just want you to be happy. We know getting married is what you want and we want it for you too." I totally believe that and now, in hindsight, I know that that their reaction was entirely out of love and good humor.

But at the time, and for the remainder of the party, I was pissed off. I felt like my face reading time was ruined by their heckling and that my mom and my brother were completely out of line. I was sure that Wine Guy was mortified and even less likely to propose to me now that this had happened.

While having cake a little while later, the Face Reader pulled me aside and asked, "What that was all about?" I tried to respond but, honestly, I was still so flustered I think I didn't make much sense. I said something like, "Oh, it's my family just making inappropriate comments about my life." Then Pat-hole walked up and began to declare his position as only Pat-hole can, "Baby Sister (that's what he calls me), Do You Want To Know Why I Said --"
Before he could continue (when he asks a question like that he doesn't really care if or what you answer) I shouted , "No! I don't!" and stormed off. Again leaving the poor Face Reader confused.

On the drive home I let it out to Wine Guy. Mostly I wanted him to know I didn't approve of all the "pressure" that was being thrust at him. It would have been nice if I'd said something like, "I hope you didn't feel uncomfortable during the face reading." Alas, I never say what I should - especially when I'm upset. Instead, my emotions just came pouring out in a flow of negativity and slight hysteria. (I know. I'm a real catch.)

Apparently, readers, I am really good at hiding my feelings because Wine Guy had no freaking clue how upset I was. And, to make me feel even more ridiculous for letting it all out, he responded angrily that I must be completely insane for feeling negative about the situation at all. Now I'm really confused.

So, wait. Not only was I wrong in how I interpreted this entire event (not unusual) but that Wine Guy was, in fact, perfectly fine with all the marriage joshing. Tell me if I'm crazy (well, I am. But only address this last sentence when you tell me) but when a guy knows you are waiting for a marriage proposal, and he knows your mother, brother and all your family friends are waiting too. And this kind of thing happens. And you think it's all in good fun?

Well, unless Wine Guy is a total sociopath with no empathy for other sentient beings (uh, I fell in love with one like that before - Naval A-hole - so I'm not being sarcastic) -- he must actually be realistically considering it.

Wow, it was a long and unnecessarily painful road to get to that happy realization wasn't it?

So on one side, I'm choosing to see this as a really positive sign from Wine Guy.
On the other, I clearly have some massively unresolved issues that have completely obliterated my ability to read a situation.

I'm seeing the shrink on Friday.

Dismissed.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Whew!!!

First of all - I get it. All of it. Your reactions may feel insane to you but I think they're actually pretty normal - a complicated mix of your anxiety, hopes, fears, protectionism for WG, agreement w/ and appreciation of the support from your family but horror at having it said so blatantly and fear of WG's reaction to that, public embarrassment, etc... I think you're completely normal! (Or else I share your insanity because I have reacted the same way - though I don't know that I was subjected to quite so public and overt a test.)

I think you're right to see the bright side of this, but you might owe WG a more complete explanation of your reaction. Guys are SOOOO unbelievably literal, and so rarely likely to connect the complicated and interwoven dots that underlie our emotional reactions. And we're likely to vocalize the more negative, self-protective stuff - rather than the truest, most raw, fear driven emotion. And it's the truest stuff that he needs to hear (probably) to understand what you're feeling in a way that lets him respond positively.

So I agree - this is positive. And I empathize - that was a NIGHTMARISH scenario. Thanks for sharing though! (As you can tell, I totally relate!)

Keep us posted...
Elizabeth

SoCoDivka Designs said...

Ouch! That sounds painfully awkward. I just finished reading this book, and it helped a lot in the middle of pre-engagement limbo--at least not to feel so alone! http://www.amazon.com/His-Cold-Feet-Guide-Woman/dp/B002N2XECE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254426279&sr=8-1

mimi of sexagenarian and the city said...

Oy.

It crossed my mind to wonder if this whole thing was set up for that purpose...To clarify: did your mother want a face-reader in order to get that word "marriage" out there in front of you & WG?

Well, only she can tell.

At any rate, I totally understand your embarrassment; and also, yet once more, I'm really impressed by WG. Now I know you don't tell us all about him, and you're honor-bound, as I remember I think from another post, to keep him generally looking good. So WG or whoever that guy was sounds lovely and dear. But hey if anybody ever wants to know what the term "society" means, as in, "the impersonal pressure of society," you got it here with these yentas.

I hope I never do that to anyone. Ever.

So hang in there w. WG but keep a bit of distance between you & the yentas.

Dating Trooper said...

Mimi,
I am 1000% sure my mom didn't plan any of her birthday festivities with this scenario in mind. And, as predicted, she read this blog entry and was less than pleased with it, especially thinking that anyone would think she would do such a thing. So just want to set that record straight.
--DT

mimi of sexagenarian and the city said...

Okay. Some relief.

But really, marriage is such a precarious institution under the best circumstances, that no one should exert pressure on anyone else to marry. Is 50% still the number for the failure rate? At any rate, pressure of that kind is bound to make the unmarried feel uneasy. Hope you have recovered.

Anonymous said...

DT, my sister used to be like this, before she got married. She was hypersensitive about anything related to the fact that she was the eldest (and unmarried) cousin. Basically, she was miserable being single. And it showed, because every last tiny reminder of her romantic failure, while others were (or at lease seemed) successful, was intensified in her head. I think you are over-reacting because you so long to be married and WG isn't taking any steps in that direction.

I wonder: Is the fact that you are living together without plans for marriage going to erode your love for WG? Are you going to start to resent him? He cannot be too oblivious to the fact that people his age get married. Why are you not at the point at which you move forward? WG will date you, he will live with you, but he won't marry you. It is clear that this is a distressing situation for you. I don't mean for this to be an upsetting statement, but you yourself seem to be increasingly bothered by it. What will need to happen for you and WG to make a decision on your future, which seems to include three possibilities: marry, split up, or continue in this barely-tolerable limbo.

PT

Anonymous said...

Very well said PT. I concur, and hope that you DT and WG move forward into mutual contentment with the status of your relationship.

Anonymous said...

The divorce rate is not really 50%. It is also very dependent on socioeconomic status, i.e. college educated couples only have about a 20% divorce rate.

Anonymous said...

Hard to say what Wine Guy is thinking. What bothers me is that the subject seems to be a taboo topic between you. How uncomfortable.

If it were me, I would break up with him. I wouldn't give an ultimatum at all - you don't want to be married to someone who doesn't have a great desire to marry you. I would just say that it's obvious you are in different places and you need to move on.

I wouldn't allow someone to keep me hanging like that.

Anonymous said...

Hey - Elizabeth here again. I popped back in and saw some of these comments and am wondering how you're doing. I couldn't take this kind of feedback. You allow us all into your lives and some of us can really empathize, and others just judge. It makes me wish I actually did know you so I could call you up like I would one of my girlfriends and have a little bitchfest about it all.

WineGuy sounds great, and committed to you, and loving. And perhaps a little freaked/stuck/whatever about commitment. But if you're happier with him than without him then that's all that matters. Trust your instincts and trust him.

And I'm sorry that you get some of the comments you do. I feel like I have lived so many of the same experiences as you are currently living, and I know that these remarks would hit me very hard and stick w/ me in an damaging way - which is ridiculous when we're all strangers. But we're human, and judgmental remarks about things we're already worrying about can be very hurtful.

I hope you're ok, and all of this is just trivial noise. It sounds like you have a great circle of friends so hopefully they're handling the "venting/bitchfest" necessities! :-)

Take care.
Elizabeth

Jaclyn said...

I read your recent twitter comment about thinking about ending the blog. We would all greatly miss you, but would certainly understand your need to stop writing if having this blog is making it harder for you to be happy in your life. If the problem is caused by the negative commentators, perhaps you might prefer making the blog private, so that you can explore your feelings in a safer community. I hope that you make whatever decision is best for you and that you are happy or find happiness soon.

Take care!

Dark Cloud Nine said...

urgh... can you sort it out and not be hurt by some comments?
And since WHEN did 'not married' become the equivalent of 'romantic failure'???

Just follow your heart (as much as you can) and don't EVER listen to people who tell you to break up with someone you love (I think this type of advice only applies in relationship where some violence is involved). It is you and only you knows the situation!!!

Now I tend to agree with both first comments :) and yes, remember guys are very literal... when we think they know what we want and think... we might be wrong.

KateM said...

Oh so now I understand the kind of comments that you are making reference to!

As you know, people, by their very nature love to meddle, interpret, advise and figure out what they perceive your 'problems' to be. And whilst this is a space for you to air what’s figural to you in the moment, I don’t get a sense of you asking people for their advice, guidance or opinion.

Please remember that people who have opinions about what you should and should not do with regard to WG have their own stuff going on and have their own unique ways of reacting. My best friend recently told me that she would dump her boyfriend if he hung out with his ex girlfriend on a Saturday night – something my boyfriend did a couple weekends ago. She made this statement with absolutely no information or understanding of the context, relationship or environment that this situation occurred in. It was a fixed reaction based on her past experiences with men and with her parents. My point is; because one woman would dump a guy who hasn’t proposed after a couple of years, certainly doesn’t mean that them advising you to do the same thing means anything other than that. They’re not in your shoes, never have been, never will be, hell, they have never even met you!!! So, it’s actually completely irrelevant what they think you should do. But people will always want to have their say, I guess all you can do is be aware of how you react to their responses. And like someone else mentioned, you could always keep it as a private blog if that makes the environment a bit safer for you.

I frickin love your blog!! And it poses a lot of important questions for me about my life as a 30 something woman without children, without a husband but in a healthy and loving relationship (albeit surrounded by married couples with children!!!). I got so excited when I got an email alerting me to your new entry and although I am only a very recent convert, your entries do inspire and entertain me no end!

So keep up the good work in whichever medium you choose to present it in and when you choose to make this blog into a book, I for one will be happy to buy a copy!

Kate