Friday, June 01, 2007

How to Be Low-Maintenance

Darlings, Pretty Lady humbly apologizes for neglecting you. The truth is, the time simply got away from her, what with the heat, the Memorial Day barbecue, the roses at the Botanical garden, and lazing around with her new Gentleman Friend. But from what she gathers by the sparse state of her comment threads, most of you are similarly, and she hopes happily, occupied.

Pretty Lady and her Gentleman Friend do not make careers out of slacking, however, and the stress of so much mutual lazing did threaten to set the two of them into Limbo, at one point. Especially in the early stages of a new friendship, a person tends to forget that life is not all about sitting around and engaging in witty repartee, rather like a sitcom. Once the Intense Discussions began to seem a bit forced, Pretty Lady could feel that the next words hovering in the air might well have been, 'well, this has been nice. Let's move along, now.'

Fortunately Pretty Lady came to her senses in time, and the next time the G.F. called and suggested an evening of more purposeless Hanging Out, she declared, 'I really do have to get some work done. How about you bring along those pesky tax papers or something?'

The G.F. understood at once. 'Ah, the Mutual Ignore!' he enthused. 'I'll be right along.' Twenty points were awarded to the G.F. on the spot.

This may shock a few of you, but Pretty Lady has not always had friends who were as understanding and accommodating as this. Some of the most memorable knock-down drag-out fights of her career were precipitated by the fact that she had had the temerity to fall asleep in someone's company--not in the middle of a meal or anything, but during the hours when a person normally sleeps, after working long hours, or running the Bay to Breakers. Pretty Lady puts this down, in large part, to the fact of Spoiling, and Only Children, and the notion that whenever two people are occupying proximate spaces, their attention must be focussed exclusively upon one another.

Pretty Lady suffers from no such delusion, having shared a bedroom with a most beloved sibling for all of sixteen years. Under these circumstances, if both parties are Sensitive, and if long-term harmony is to be maintained, it is utterly necessary to cultivate the tactic of erecting invisible Privacy Shields around one's person. When a person shares a bedroom, overweening self-consciousness is an unaffordable liability.

(Horrors! Pretty Lady must share with you the fact that when she just typed the word 'unaffordable,' the Blogger Spell-Check underlined it in red. Perplexed, she Googled 'unaffordable' and discovered that as she thought, it is spelled 'unaffordable' and not 'unaffordible,' as Blogger would have it. What is the world coming to!)

In latter years, Pretty Lady has found that what makes her happiest, in a sustainable daily-life sort of way, is if she knows there is somebody she is fond of in the semi-near vicinity, working happily away at a project which does not involve Pretty Lady. Then Pretty Lady can occupy herself with one of the four or five or six ongoing projects with which she is concerned, and every now and then pause in order to consume a meal, and chat in a desultory, low-pressure manner. She does not thrive on chaos; what she likes is a quiet, constant hum. This makes her feel both unisolated and undistracted; it helps her to focus, and not slack off.

That is why it has so shocked her in the past, when she got to know somebody, got fond of them, and proceeded to show her fondness by attempting to hang out with them in companionable, industrious silence--and this person responded by throwing a hissy fit. She clearly recalls several conversations with a then-boyfriend, who was on the brink of becoming a Psycho Stalker, wherein he declared, very very late at night on a work day, "It's really rude of you to go to sleep like that. And would you put down your sewing while we're talking?" Or the hostess who could not endure the fact of her friend sitting at the opposite end of the room, reading a book, while she performed her Pilates routine. 'Would you go somewhere else?' she demanded. 'I can't have anyone around while I'm working out.'

(Gracious, one would have thought that she was doing something sexually perverted or something. One wonders how she managed to endure the shame of taking all those dance lessons.)

Pretty Lady feels that such persons are setting themselves up for an exceedingly neurotic existence. It is simply not practical to run one's life under the assumption that if there are other people in the vicinity, all of you are On Stage, and must perform accordingly.

This has nothing to do with the need for Basic Courtesy; one hopes that the tenets of such are not so unendurably constricting as to absolutely require total solitude for many many hours every day, simply in order to function. And it must be stressed that Pretty Lady is not at all a fan of Gossiping, Chaotic work environments; if the person at the next desk insists upon blasting offensive music, engaging in offensive conversation, or repeatedly interrupting her work, that person must be Suppressed.

So, for those of you recovering neurotics who would like to experiment with the Mutual Ignore as a daily lifestyle, Pretty Lady has a few pointers.

1) The Mutual Ignore is mostly mental. It is not control of physical space we are after; it is the cultivation of a State of Mind.

2) This State of Mind involves two basic assumptions: a) that the other person in the vicinity does not expect anything specific of you in an ongoing way (except for the abovementioned Basic Courtesy) and b) that this non-expectation is mutual.

This may seem simple. However, a person must have a base line of inner centeredness to perform it. If a person is incapable of understanding the basic tenets of the Mutual Ignore, it is highly likely that this person likewise does not understand personal boundaries. Either they habitually make the other person's business their business, or they expect that all people around them must be consumingly occupied with their affairs.

It is Pretty Lady's draconian, experiential opinion that these sorts of people must be ejected from her life, so that she can get some work done.


Doom said...

I almost always learn something here. Definitely this post, eloquent as it may be, as seems also to always be the case, was quite reminiscently enlightening. I term it that way because, some of those thoughts have occurred to me yet never have they been collected into a defined directed single purposed notion, with all the laces of the boot being given a final tug and tied together well to create such a fine fit.

I have finally attained some health, and am flexing my wings a bit. A little tweaking may yet be necessary, but. So, while reading this, I see areas in my relationships past and present where your notion of shared privacy and intimate work could be of great import. But more so, with health on the up, is the potential to be more practiced in the described arts in a dreamed of future relationship. These are things I can miss or forget. I think any can do so as well, and will, but the reminder does help.

I just keep Webster's College Dictionary beside my computer, as I often don't use or see the spell checkers. I had to look up eloquent and reminiscent, but they were correct. Maybe another, I know I have to recheck most things with the potential for double s's and c's to be successful. (Which, I successfully looked up, and re-spelled... so much for showing off)

Oh, by the way, however your friendship is goes does I am pleased to see he his dancing with you in a way that delights you. That's a lot of points though, but then again, one might paint me jealous. *laughs*

Pretty Lady said...

Doom! I am so delighted to hear that you are feeling better. I have indeed kept occasional tabs upon your blog, and must congratulate you on your new vehicle as well.

I am also flattered that you find this boot such an excellent fit. I was worried that Pretty Lady was becoming sloppy.

Do not be jealous, my dear, life is too short for that. Pretty Lady is everywhere, in nearly every lady there is, and there is a Pretty Lady, most definitely, for you.

Desert Cat said...

The Mutual Ignore, as you describe it, is in my observation something that most successful couples managed to learn somewhere along their decades together.

Actively seeking someone who is comfortable with that from the start is obviously the better way.

I'm not going to say I'm jealous, as I am fully occupied myself at the moment. But I will say that if this thing is successful I will consider him an extremely fortunate man.

Doom said...

Pretty Lady,

Trust me this once, my jealousy was quite general, though I would be proud if it were specific too. We of the imaginitive enjoy a stage show without movie style props because we can and we enjoy love because we are able. The props of love though perhaps cannot be shared with every woman, can be shared with those I am able to love. And yes, everyone of them has been and will be a pretty lady if not THE Pretty Lady. *laughs* It is so hard to say what is so easy to know, and a joy to try sometimes, in a forgiving neighborhood.

jeff said...

I have just recently read this post on low maintenance.

I am sorry I had to laugh, so this chap really said it was rude for you to fall asleep. Very self centered little boy. People should be able to go to sleep when the want to in their homes. That's why we have them, to sleep and eat in.

What was rude was his behavior, but I think it was something else, the sleep thing was an excuse to find fault.

The Pilates incident does not even deserve a response, hey folks do your workouts in the gym or in your room if you have roommates. The living room is for living in that's why they called it that.
It's not the Pilates room, or the gym, if one needs to use such said room one should seek an agreement and work out a schedule so that roommates are not put out.

It's called being civil.

Doom said...

Oh, I should add, when I said "Trust me this once, my jealousy was quite general...", I only meant that you are too young and perhaps in a different world. Should I be a few years younger and still in my prime, that would not be the case, necessarily. It was definitely not meant in a derogatory manner.

Anonymous said...

Someone once said that if two people can spend a half hour in comfortable silence together they can truly be the best of friends.