Bullitt's Bros

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Passive Agressive Christmas

I've been passive aggressive all my youth. I've never really stopped, though I've eliminated the more laughable manifestations of it over, say, the last four years. For instance, when I was, say, eight, and my family and I were at a restaurant, an exchange like this would happen:

Joe: I'm still hungry!

Keep in mind that Joe as a youth was always still hungry, though I don't think he regularly expressed himself as an angry five-year old, at least not when he was thirteen. Anyway...

Mom: Well, we could order more food...
Dad: Or, we could refrain from doing so. Eet ees up to you.

By, "we could refrain from doing so", Dad means, "no, you're not allowed to order more food." More on this later.

Me: Joseph, you can have the rest of my steak.

By, "Joseph, you can have the rest of my steak", I meant, "I don't want to give you my steak, but because I am liable to blame myself if you are unhappy, you can have my steak. Hopefully, you will refuse, but if you don't, I will use it as an opportunity to make myself feel good about my moral advancement, especially in comparison to yours."

Joe: Okay, but that's pretty silly of you. (gruumm, grum, graw)

Those last sounds were Joe hungrily eating my steak. Notice, as well, that by making fun of me for offering my steak, he shows that he understands what I was trying to do, but is having none of this "he who gives up his steak is morally superior" nonsense.

Me: ...

Well, I felt sad.

Anyway, there's a lot of implying, or, as the philosophers say, "conversational implicature", in my household. Always has been, as long as I can remember.

Fast forward twenty-two years.

It's Monday, Christmas day. Some friends of the family, the Coopers, are over. We've just finished eating our share of a beautiful boneless Christmas turkey and have retired to the living room. The six of us (three of my clan, and three Coopers) are having relaxed conversations, but then Dad comes in.

I'm sitting at the computer, which is occupied with playing Christmas music, and Dad comes up to me.

Dad: Would you like to play ... Chilean ... music?

Now, as a matter of fact I didn't. But here's what would have happened if I had said that:
Counterfactual Me: No, not really.
Counterfactual Dad: Even though ... eet ees ... unusual?
Counterfactual Me: Yup.
Counterfactual Dad (laughing): Okay, sanny! So perhaps you want to play eet anyway, even though eet ees ... strange?

And we're off to the races. I didn't need that, so I stopped the Christmas music and put in the Chilean music, which was nice, although a little less appropriate for the occasion than, say, Christmas music.

People continue talking while the Chilean music plays. Dad demands me to turn it up by saying, "would you like to turn it up?"

Again, I didn't want to play "exhaustion game" with Dad, as he's been, more or less, undefeated for thirty years.

So I turned it up. Family members and Coopers looked at us a bit askance while Dad grinned maniacally, as if to say, "I've rocked your world, have I not?"

Well, no one's world was rocked, though Mom's world was, uh, slightly annoyed. But what an odd thing to do:

(1) Wait for Christmas day
(2) Wait for guests
(3) Wait for them to finish eating
(4) When they're talking, try to send the message to them to shut up and listen to this old, incredible music.
(5) If they don't listen, turn it up.

Now, although this is ... well, incredible behavior, it's understandable. Imagine the following situation: you've discovered some incredible new music. You have a friend or family member who you know will love this music. So you go to a location where you can both listen. Then he starts talking over the music. Wouldn't this annoy you? It would me.

This is basically what happened with Dad. Except, of course: a. he told no one this is what he wanted; b. he doesn't have any reason to think we would love this music; and c. we were already in a situation where we talking and not supposed to be listening to music.

This is passive aggressive.

And now that I've become sensitive to it, I realize that I've really taken after my dad.

By the way, you don't have to compliment me for this blog post.


  • ... well that was silly of you asking us to not give compliments. (Shrug) OK... (grummm, grum, graw)

    ;-) Merry Christmas!

    By Blogger Keith, at 4:48 PM  

  • Congratula-

    Oops. Just saw the last line.

    My bad.

    Quick question:

    Do you think that an infinite number of "spam-guard" word verification robots were at an infinite number of virtual keyboards that they'd eventually spit out the first eight letters of "War and Peace?"

    By Blogger BIG, at 3:58 AM  

  • I always just thought your dad finds that sort of stuff really funny.

    We call each other gay, frat guys kill each other with alcohol poisoning, and your dad plays music at inappropriate times.

    It's all in good fun.

    By Blogger Mikey Y, at 12:37 PM  

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