Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sorry, I Don't Speak Coffee Table

We've established that there are lots of subjects that interest me, and I love to talk about them. But there are some things that I simply don't enjoy talking about. Those things are things.

Just about any thing as a topic of discussion is, frankly, unpleasant to me. So much so that I, yes me, Beth, can be just short of rude (I know, impossible, right?) if someone talks about an object for more than, say...a minute. After that I will go pale, my eyes will glaze over, and I've been known to make gurgling noises in my throat. No need to call 911, just stop talking about the thing. You'll be amazed at how quickly I recover.

No, I don't abhor all possessions. I like things. There's my ice maker. Seriously, I wouldn't give it up. When I'm in a house without one, I wonder why these people have flush toilets and electric lights, but not an ice maker. Are they prairie folk? Once you have an ice maker, the idea of living without one is bleak. Unthinkable.

You'll notice though, that if you read that statement aloud from beginning to end, it takes no more than a minute. Even the finest man made (alright, human made...I don't want anyone going all militant on me) object requires, or deserves for that matter, no more than a minute of discussion.

Imagine my immeasurable discomfort when my mother (don't tell her I'm picking on her) talked to me for 15 straight minutes about coffee tables! You heard tables!  She was looking for furniture for her new place. She'd seen one she liked in a magazine. She described it. She went looking for one. She saw many. She described them. Each of them. Some came close to the one she liked, but she had to explain why it wouldn't work. She talked about the wood, the leg style, the weight for heaven's sake! She was sad that she hadn't found the one she really wanted, but she'd keep looking. 

She seemed slightly distracted by the glazed-eyes and gurgling sounds, but not enough to stop talking. ABOUT COFFEE TABLES! 15 MINUTES! I'll never get those 15 minutes back.

There are very few things you could say about a coffee tables that I would find interesting. If a coffee table had been used as a murder weapon, I might be intrigued enough to listen. If Ryan Gosling's feet are propped up on your coffee table, I definitely want to know. Text me. Please.

Other than those two unlikely scenarios, coffee tables are meant for coffee cups and coffee table books. That's why they call it a coffee table. No need for further discussion. Ever. Really.

Lest, you think I'm singling out my mother, I'll tell you about an incident concerning my mother-in-law. Don't tell her either.

One day, I arrived at her house, and she was terribly excited to show me something she had just bought. What followed went something like this...

"Look what I got!"
"Oh, how nice. It's a purse."
"Not just a purse. It's a <insert name of overpriced, overvalued, overrated purse manufacturer here>!"
"Great." (Any indication of enthusiasm is purely unintentional).
"I thought you'd be excited."
"'s a purse."
"I got it for $40! It was 80% off."
"Are you saying that there are people in the world that would spend $200 on 
a purse?!" (OK, I didn't actually say that. That would be impolite. And, obviously I know a lot of women that would spend that kind of money on a purse. I just don't understand it. Unless it also makes ice.)
What I really said was...
"Good for you." 
"I was so tickled! I couldn't wait to tell <insert name of female relative who not only would spend $200 on a purse, but has. Many, many times>."
"I'm sure she was delighted."
"She was! A lot more than you."
"Sorry. But it's a purse. I don't really get excited about purses."
"Well, I'm happy."
"I'm happy you're happy."

In all fairness, I have to admit that there is one thing I desperately covet. My heart flutters whenever I see one. A 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang convertible. Color choices in order of preference are: Guardsmen Blue, Rangoon Red, Poppy Red, Cascade Green, Wimbledon White. I could be talked into a '65. 

However, as much as I desire to own one, I could still say everything I need to say about it in less than a minute. "It's so pretty. I really, really want one."  

See? Way under a minute.

My antipathy toward talking about stuff ends at art, music and literature. Those things aren't really stuff by my definition. But I'm sure there's at least one difficult person out there who would argue, "What about a Van Gogh painting? A Thomas Hardy novel? What about an album by The Replacements? A poem by Byron? Those are all things, aren't they?"

Wrong. They are ideas. Dreams. Parts of someone's soul.

When someone sees beauty in the world, or pain, joy or sadness, and is able to put it on paper, or canvas, or in song so that you can feel what they felt-
if what that person created lets you remember how it felt to fall in love, or lose a love, or find your love again- if by listening, or looking, or reading, you find out that somehow, someone else knows who you really are deep inside, even though they may have lived in another time, another place...then that is worth talking about.

Or not.

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