A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

07 June 2007

Communication in the 21st Century


Okay, so I've been having a rough time lately. And I really feel kind of stupid about it. Drama isn't my thing, and melodrama even less so, at least offstage. So here are the facts:

1) I secured the lead role in a play. The play rehearsed for six weeks. Then ran for four nights. On the fourth night I started to relax and have fun with it, and it ended.

My initial reaction feels like post-coital depression; there was this long buildup, a frenzy of activity, and now nothing. I'm smoking the cigarette and wondering if I could make myself a sarny on the way out. But then it gets slightly more complex.

1a) I stopped sleeping longer than about four hours a night almost a week ago now. In addition to being tired and unable to focus, I'm in a near-permanent state of tired & angry misery that reminds me of being fifteen again. With the grotesque difference that I'm considerably older than that. I also think I've stopped eating as well as I used to. Mme does her best, but I'm not terribly hungry.

2) I developed a crush on the leading lady. Okay not exactly; When I found out I got to kiss her I thought Okay, she's pretty. That's nice. We rehearsed very professionally together (she perhaps more than I in that she had all her lines pat from about day two).

But towards the end I realized a couple of things: she's radiant. She truly lit up the stage and it was a real pleasure to act alongside her. She's very bright, having written a play which she is now producing and directing herself. She's also just over half my age.

Okay, so lest I be creeping you out at this point: I'm a happily married man. I'm not interested, beyond my usual general level of interest in anyone with a double-X chromosome arrangement, in anything more than friendship and conversation. You'll have to take my word for that, and it's not like I've never thought for a fleeting instant of being somewhat less than chivalrous and more than platonic; but the worst I think I could be accused of, usually, is wanting to bask in a certain amount of reflected glory.

Her brother was also in the play, and I felt we'd kinda bonded. He's 18 and reminds me very much of me at the same age. In fact, it's as though someone stripped out my personality from high school and dumped half in him, half in her.

So these are two interesting people I want to stay in touch with. And it's just not possible. You see, the generation gap is nothing compared, I think, with the communication gap.

3) One of Mme's favourite movies is the Cusack/Robbins epic "Tapeheads." During conversation with the brother, whom I'll call Horatio Kos, it turned out he was also a fan. I suggested that we four, Mme, me, Horatio and his sister, get together for a couple of flicks.

"Cool." he replied.

During the run of the play, we met outside rehearsal on a couple of occasions. Last time he said straight out that this had to be the week because he was moving to a different shift. On Monday I e-mailed him to ask when was good?

And ... And ... And nothing.

Okay, no biggie. I went up to a meeting of the drama group that put on the play, where I got mugged into the vice-presidency. On the way home I stopped into the beer & wine store where Horatio's sister works to pick up a celebratory bottle. I swear she looked glad to see me. She recommended a bottle of pretty decent plonk called "Arrogant Frog" and we talked about writing and her future--which I believe in my heart involves, if not little gold statues, then a long and prosperous career on whatever celluloid has been replaced by. She also said that she and her brother were into the movie evening pretty much whenever (and I think that's a quote).

Now when I left that meeting I was still irritable, apathetic and unhappy. After speaking with her for about fifteen minutes (it was apparently a slow night) I was pleasantly surprised to find I felt much better. I went home and had a couple of glasses with Mme, and slept over five hours. Feeling fine the next day I dropped an e-mail to her saying essentially "Thanks for the wine recommendation and the chat, I hope we'll talk like that again," though not while I'm standing in the checkout line.

And ... And ... And ...

I hate ... HATE ... checking e-mail compulsively. But that's what I found myself doing yesterday. There's the old line in my business: You cannot NOT communicate. A brusque reply would say one thing. Nothing at all, I suppose, is quite clear too. On the other hand, we are taught to always presume good will.

In the big picture, this is nothing. Maybe two weeks from now I'll look back on it and laugh.

4) In the immediate frame, this accentuates that I don't have any particularly good frineds in town. That the people I've found that I most enjoy spending time with are from an entirely different generation, with the exception of Mme.

I don't wish to disparage the friends we have in town--especially those who read this blog--you are all wonderful people and I'm honoured to know you. But you all came to me through Mme (and why not, she is wonderful on her own account). The only person I've been able to speak with about this all is another 20-something who is disgustingly mature and accomplished for his age, and who of course has better things to do than hang out with me. He also doesn't drink, which is nearly an insurmountable flaw in any friend of mine.

My skin feels permanently too hot. Mentally I'm riding the edge of some imaginary line where my first reaction is to haul off and punch something. I don't want to be at work, don't really want to socialize (not least because of how pathetic this $#!7 feels) and were it not for the mortgage I would probably be lying on the local beach with a local bottle for a couple of days. I mean, if you're going to wallow, you should do it right, no?

Of course in concert with the way everything else is going, it's gone from 34 degrees and blazing sun last week to about 18 and dull, dull grey. So no beach in any case (though I did get the first swim of the year in on Sunday).

Normally I'd be able to laugh at how stupid I'm being. Usually I could get myself out of this within a couple of days. Maybe blogging it will help.

I have more on the generation gap thing, about nostalgia and mid-life crises. But I wanted to get how I was feeling written down while it's still fresh. Someday I may just feel this way again, though the mind boggles, and I want to be able to look this up and remind myself how useless and pathetic it is to be whingeing my way through a fairly priveleged life.

I apologise for infliciting this on you, O Avid Fan.

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At 8:44 a.m., Anonymous PJ said...

Whingeing can be good for the soul, and you have more friends than you think. The problem with inter-generational friendships is the language barrier. Our conversation is always filled with popular culture references. Nothing makes me feel older than mentioning Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey to my 20-year-old niece and having her say (humour unintentional), "Who?"

At 8:58 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

I actually think it's a communication gap, accentuated by the laziness of e-mail and the rapid pace of change.

I recall writing a message to someone once, and after about a week receiving a reply saying "Almost missed your message. I live my life on Facebook," or some such.

It seems reasonable that these people don't intend this to feel hurtful and insulting, but it does. And I can't speak to whatever form of communication would elicit a response.

Or maybe it creeps them out having someone as ancient as my noble self interested in hanging out with them.

Anyway, as John Lennon once said: "F*** it."


At 7:50 a.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Bonjour M Metro

You should profit from reading Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, especially the Play Episode

?? Which character are you - I rather imagine you to be Edmund, admired & supported by the heroic Fanny (aka Mme Metro)

Yr obedt servant etc


At 11:57 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

I regret that I am devoid of Austen, though Mme doubtless has some somewhere.

Edmund--often the name of the dissolute younger brother in theatre (consider the metaphorically-laden Lion, Witch and Wardrobe series).

Last time I played an Edmund he was an Agatha Christie character. Young lay-about-town with designs on an heiress, murder suspect. He turned out alright in the end though.

This character was a naive young teacher come to a village populated by bumpkins. In classic form he bacomes attached to the village and to the appropriate leading lady.

In a way it was very much casting for type. The character reminds me of a brief time when I actually knew everything and kept running into people who inexplicably failed to share my reasonable, well-expressed views.

So I got a blog so that I could shout at them ...

At 2:48 p.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Dear M

What do they teach in Kanadian Skules ?!?!

Schocking - miscomprehension of Jane's wonderful Edmund

No wonder you have not been picking up the J A references !!!!

Schocking, mon ami

Read the Jane Austen

Now, sofort - no wonder you have such strange views on dEvolution

- if you have not read the Lady, you should .... but perhaps you are not old enough to adequately appreciate her

... no ... heaven forefend that you should be like Mr Rushworth ...

No, you are requested and required to read Jane Austen, that keen observer of the Human Condition ... wonderful language ,,, and before the days when republicans were even thogught of ....

Your obedient servant etc

G Eagle

At 1:27 p.m., Anonymous azahar said...

Kids these days, eh? No fuckin' manners.

At 2:38 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

While studying communications I took courses in genre studies and theory.

Briefly, every generation has its own forms of communication. The advent of the telephone, and specifically the transatlantic call, meant the death of the letter, but for legal purposes.

My grandparents received a telegram the day I was born. The other set got a phone call, because they had a phone.

Today's young adults grew up totally plugged in. Cell phones, internet, MySpace, Facebook, and even o-my-FSM blogs.

So I see this as my own failure to identify the dominant contact means and adapt my own communication to the new set of rules.

Since the original messages were sent, one of the people has gotten back to me, so clearly some of them recall how to address their elders :-)


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