May 27, 2021 – Communication Breakdown

I realized that I missed out on a few key phrases the other day when I talked about ‘the number three’ so I feel it’s necessary to mention them before I move on to the next topic. Primarily, three key phrases came to mind (after I published my blog-of-the-day). The first is ‘Three sheets in/to the wind’. This phrase (meaning ‘drunk’) is also widely referred to as ‘Drunk as a skunk’, ‘Plastered’, and ‘Bombed’. The second phrase I thought of is ‘Third time’s a charm’. I am not exactly sure why it’s a charm but people use it a lot. I suppose if you’ve hopelessly failed at something twice, maybe it’s meant to give you hope that you’ll succeed on the next go-around. And that, my friends, leaves us with phrase number three, ‘They come in threes’. This specific phrase is a bit more ominous than the other two as it refers to death or catastrophes. I cannot remember a single instance when this has turned out to be true. What I have discovered is that so many people I know have died on other people’s birthdays (which has a tendency to sour the celebration). My husband’s uncle’s wife died on my birthday, my husband’s mother died on our oldest son’s birthday, and my husband’s brother died on my true-blue girlfriend’s birthday.

There is also one more critical thing I forgot to mention that is related to ‘the number three’; however, it’s not a phrase, it’s a fact. Believe it or not, the boat my husband bought a few days ago is actually his third boat. Seriously, I am not kidding! And make no mistake, we no longer have the first two. They have been sold and are now draining the finances of two other families. I sure hope the ‘third time’s a charm’ with regard to this boat. I’m getting a bit weary playing ‘musical boats’. We did that for years with pickup trucks until I put my foot down. It seemed like a big waste of money and energy to keep buying and selling and buying and selling trucks year after year. I have to give my hubby some credit because even though he brings up ‘purchasing a new truck’ every now and then, he has managed to hang on to the last truck we purchased for 17 years. Geez, just saying that makes me feel old. I remember nearly every detail of that transaction and it seems like it happened just yesterday. Where the heck did the time go??!!

In case you didn’t notice, I’m the one responsible for mentioning ‘the four letter word’ (rather than my husband) this time. If you’re puzzled by this statement, let me explain. In most households, when people refer to ‘the four letter word’, they’re usually referring to the highly offensive ‘f-word’. I do as well, however, I also consider ‘boat’ to be a four letter word. I didn’t use to but I do now. I could live out the rest of my days quite peacefully if I never had to hear it again. Needless to say, that’s not a realistic expectation. My husband has ‘boat fever’ and it’s not going away. I heard that scientists were days away from coming up with a cure and then Covid happened and it got placed on the back (Bunsen) burner. How does any of this relate to a communication breakdown? Well, if you’ve read any of my previous posts when I’ve mentioned my husband talking incessantly about fishing or boats (there are several), you’ll know that after a point, it sends me into a tailspin. On Tuesday, I had gone into such an awful tailspin that I thought I was in a permanent state of vertigo.

Have you ever experienced vertigo? If you haven’t, consider yourself fortunate. It’s an awful feeling. It’s like waking up after drinking too much alcohol the night prior, except that you didn’t actually drink alcohol or experience anything pleasurable, there’s just an issue with your inner ear (that may or may not clear up with Sudafed). Anyway, back to ‘the four letter word’ that starts with a ‘b’. Monday was the day we bought the boat and I heard about it non-stop from 6:30 in the morning until nearly 11:00 at night. It was excruciating. I was so stressed out by the time my husband went to bed, that I considered taking up drinking. If things continued in that vein, I knew I was going to snap, so the next morning I asked my husband if he could refrain from discussing boats. “I just need a break,” I told him, “It’s too much!” He paused for a moment and then he continued to talk about all of the stuff he needed to do with the boat and what he had to purchase for the boat and where he was going to take the boat, to which I replied, “You’re still talking about it!”

I guess I got his attention that time because he finally stopped talking about boats. In fact, he stopped talking altogether. He said nothing further on Tuesday, nothing about the neighbor’s dead tree that keeps shedding needles and nothing about a potential move (two topics that he brings up on a daily basis). He didn’t even ask whether I’d checked the mail. At the end of the day, I asked him how he was doing and all he could muster up was that he was tired and going to bed. It was clear he was out of sorts. On Wednesday, it was more of the same. In the morning, I asked him how he was doing again and he dejectedly responded with, “Alright.” “What’s going on?” I then asked, “You’re being awfully quiet.” “You told me you don’t want to hear about boats so I don’t have anything to say,” was his reply. Around mid-afternoon, while he was outside (working on the boat), I went to check on him. He’d just finished cleaning all of the aluminum with a special acid-compound and had sprayed it off with a pressure washer. As he saw me approach, he stammered, “You cannot ask me to never talk about boats!” “I didn’t say never,” I replied, “I just asked for a break.”

If you wish to create a communication breakdown, it isn’t that arduous. All you need to do is speak or write to someone while emotional and not thinking clearly. Bad idea! If you’re anything like me, you’ll develop something much like ‘buyer’s remorse’, except that instead of instant regret over a hasty purchase, it’s instant regret over a hasty comment or comments. I’ve done it my fair share and attribute most of these occurrences to one of the afflictions I suffer from, “Open Mouth, Insert Foot Disease.” One of these days I’m going to learn (I hope) but I still find myself engaging in this practice from time to time. How it came about is difficult to determine, but I wonder if it has anything to do with all of the times when something would bother me (when I was younger) and my mom would advise me to just ignore it and not say anything at all? When something bothers me and I say nothing, it stays in my head and plays out over and over (like a broken record). Oh, how I ‘love’ to ruminate!! And when I say something, it’s usually done without much forethought or consideration for the possible consequences or fallout and has a tendency to come back to haunt me.

When I try to speak with my mother, we rarely effectively communicate. So many things I try to say are misheard or misinterpreted or simply forgotten. I have told her at least a half a dozen times that I’m leaving on the 29th of May for vacation but it doesn’t seem to matter. During countless phone conversations, before we say our goodbyes, she never fails to ask, “So you’re leaving for your vacation tomorrow?” Sigh. She also often asks, “Who is this I’m speaking with?” as well as “How are your folks? I don’t think I’ve ever met them.” The more I think about it, trying to communicate with people of advanced age has been an obstacle I’ve encountered throughout my life. If it’s not due to faulty hearing aids, it’s due to the constant evolution of the English language. My grandma used to use terms like ‘Commode’, ‘Nucoa’, and ‘Dirty Bird’. I didn’t know what the heck she was talking about. On the internet, credit is given to Jamal Anderson for ‘Dirty Bird’ but my grandma used the term for most of her life and she was born in 1910. I still don’t know what the heck she meant by it, but she used to yell it a lot when she played Yahtzee.

I had to laugh yesterday morning. My sister ‘Cactus Annie’ (who tends to bombard me and everyone else with texts) has been rather quiet in the last few months. I wasn’t sure what transpired but I noticed that the few times I’ve reached out to check on her she hasn’t responded (which is completely out of character). I found out the day before yesterday that she was admitted to the hospital (with Covid) and not doing well. To be clear, that’s not the reason I laughed. I laughed because when I called her at the hospital to let her know that I cared about her and was concerned, I mentioned that I had tried to text her (but she hadn’t responded to any of my texts), and wanted to know whether she’d changed her phone number. She acted surprised and then stated that in an attempt to remove herself from the email feed that my oldest brother started (and continually loads up with a bunch of bizarre content), she unintentionally blocked me. Did you or do you ‘buy’ that? If you did, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

Look, I’m a bit skeptical of her reasoning/excuse but no matter, I actually didn’t mind the temporary ‘cease fire’ of texts. Most of the time ‘communication breakdowns’ don’t result in anything positive, but in this case I came out on the winning end. To get a break from her continual rapid-fire texting (whatever the reason) was actually quite nice. Don’t get me wrong, I love her. That said, she’s a screwball. If you don’t want to take my word for it, ask anyone else that’s ever met her. I warned my previous boss about her because she was coming to town and planned on stopping by my workplace during her visit. He thought I was exaggerating but after he met her (after she left) he said, “Boy, you weren’t kidding!” This world, it takes all kinds!! Anyway, I still have much more to say on the subject of ‘Communication Breakdown’ in addition to my sister ‘Cactus Annie’ but I’m not going to keep you up all day and night rattling on and on like my husband has been doing to me (using a much-despised four letter word). I like you too much to put you through that!

Yikes! It’s late. I need to go! But before I let you off the hook, I feel compelled to share one or two more things. I promise, it will be quick! Have a fantastic Thursday. Thanks for listening. Happy ‘Eat More Fruits & Vegetables Day’. Yes, it’s a ‘thing’. And I sincerely hope you stop by again soon!!

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