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2006-09-29 - 8:34 a.m.

...back in high school?.....

Yesterday, I had my first very-long phone conversation with J since leaving NYC. We talked for several hours about politics, global wars, cooking with or without tephlon, his job, the plague, and his strange girlfriend, Al Gore...things like that.

The general theme was, "there are no problems, just challenges." He and I find a cynical pleasure in describing the messes of life and then blandly applying platitudes to them. As he put it in an email this morning:

"we don't solve world problems, but we certainly air them."

J is definitely dating the wrong woman. I know, I know, it is not good form to judge these things from the outside. And I was very careful not to give this blunt opinion to him. But I listened to him talk about their relationship for about an hour. About her dislike of musical concerts (which he loves), her hating the plays and movies that he loves, her getting upset because he signs his name to emails, about her being perturbed because when he calls and says, "Hey ---, it's J" she is annoyed, because of course she knows that it is J, so why should he still feel like he needs to announce it? She is irritated because he doesn't make her coffee in the morning, or because he carries *his* luggage to the curb BEFORE he carries hers. There was a long string of things like this.

These things alone are enough to make me think, "dropkick this puppy through the goalposts of love, fella" - but hey, I'm not the one dating her, and hearing a few comments like this cannot actually describe the whole relationship. What was most telling that was he had this overwhelming attitude of "what did I do wrong NOW?" Any one of the points I listed above could be a minor tiff between lovers. But this attitude towards your partner is NOT minor.

I was sucked into this type of dynamic many years ago with a partner. With the perspective of several years, I can now say that it takes two people to put that dynamic in place, and that in my case I LET it happen that I always felt the need to placate my partner. I now think that there is a kind of hidden self-centered-ness in the expression, "what did I do wrong NOW?" because it centers all happiness and problems on the actions of one person. The trouble is, I don't know how a couple can remove themselves from this dynamic once they are there.

I tried to say a few of these things to J. I also do remember that in the beginning, this woman did a world of good for him.

The sneaky bit - and the bit that makes me terrified to say TOO much to J - is that I know of a mutual friend of ours who has a serious crush on him. But I simply do NOT want to be in the middle of that one - so all comments about dropkicking are kept entirely to myself.

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