2007-02-21

A Break Up

When I came home from work today, my roommate was huddled in his hoodie on the upstairs couch. With the drawstrings pulled tight, he looked like a frightened turtle. I heard voices, well, one voice, actually. He was being addressed by a friend of his, who happened to be a girl. She seemed somewhat perturbed, while he seemed, frankly, indifferent. Trying to be polite, I rushed through the living room. I felt awkward enough being sweaty and smelly from the gym, and intervening in a squabble was not part of my plan.

I lazily showered, somewhat interested to hear what was going one between Roommate and his friend. But when I emerged, she was still going at it. Not one to be held hostage in my own home, I went ahead into the kitchen to fix some dinner, and tried not to listen too much to their conversation. Though it wasn't much of a conversation, as it seemed largely one sided; as far as I could tell, Roommate was hardly talking. And, I was unable to discern, what, if any, point she was trying to make.

Finally there was a lull when she stopped to answer the phone. Anyway, I went into the living room, where Roommate was draped on the couch, like someone had poured him there. He was in essentially the same position as when I had arrived nearly one hour previous. His eyes looked glazed over; his face was expressionless. I wondered if perhaps he was stoned and that's why she was lecturing him. But after I asked a few basic questions from him and got lucid answers, I quickly realized that he was not being lectured about being stoned, but he had gotten stoned off of the lecture.

His was a victim of verbal overload -- or, as Eliot from Scrubs calls it, "spewing molten crazy."

I don't mean to stereotype, but this typically happens when women have something terribly important to say to men, but feel they need to provide the emotional basis for whatever it is they want to say. It's kind of like explaining why it is that you're hungry, as if you needed to prove that you are, indeed, hungry. The typical response to verbal overload is much like Roommate's: disinterest, lack of expression, fewer than normal blinks, and in severe cases, drooling and general catatonia.

Unfortunately, this catatonic state does not go unnoticed by the speaking party, who frequently assumes it means that the speaker finds the argument less than compelling. In reality, though, the listener is just waiting for the speaker to get to the point, and any further effort to restate or explain some ancillary fact to strengthen the case will simply cause the listener to slide deeper into the verbal abyss. This explains why I was able to listen to bits and pieces of this conversation for over an hour and still have no idea what they were talking about.

So what's the bottom line? Get to the point. When you see his eyes roll back into his head and his tongue drooping, know that you've lost him. Don't take it personally. It's not that he doesn't care about what you think, but you've probably overloaded the language centers of his brain.

That's pretty much what happened to Roommate. He was talked into the submission. At this point, you may be wondering what this was all about. Basically, the three hour discussion revolved around the fact that Roommate didn't call the friend when he got back into town from a recent vacation. (No, they're not dating, the relationship is entirely platonic.) Apparently, this omission by Roommate was the proverbial straw, so there's no choice but to "break up."

Discussing this all later, roommate and I decided that we don't know exactly how friends "break up". That said, I have to conjecture that if breaking up means that Roommate won't have to endure any more 3 hour long conversations like tonight's, then it might not be a bad thing.