Has The Old Man of the Forest Gone FEEble

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 8.42.28 PMWell, maybe I have, and I should probably explore this further in a blog post, but for now I will share a few thoughts. A recent HuffPo piece (I know; why does anyone read that horrid crap) by some sniveling snot (Matthew Fray who whines at length on his own blog) suggests that his wife left him not because she was irrational over his insistence on leaving his glass on the counter, but because his insistence revealed that he had no respect for his beloved.  Really. This old fart’s response?

Get a grip! This poor whipped kid thinks that he should do what his wife wanted because she wanted it, instead of doing what he wanted. Forget the umpteen thousand other things he did for her. Sorry – I am not going to wash my glass because I drank out of it, and it will sit by the sink where I set it. Maybe, just maybe, his obsessive (ex-)wife should have loosened up just a bit, instead of following him around and turning lights off…. It’s a two way street, and if you want to spend your interpersonal “currency” on where the dishes go, then you have real problems…. this joker is well off shot of his ex. Now let the claims of misogyny roll in

I don’t have to kowtow to someone because they obsess about something. It is always a two way street, and maybe, just maybe, she should understand that “he’s fighting for acknowledgment, respect, validation, and his love” as well, and it’s not about leaving the glass on the counter?

While The Gift of the Magi is in fact one of my favorite O’Henry stories, the practical result of the piece is that the family screwed itself for “love” because they could not effectively communicate. A relationship needs communication more than it needs silent sacrifice.

There! <shudder>I did a Skwire, lol!</shudder> Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, yes, but let’s face it, the possessions sacrificed, as well as the gifts purchased in the story clearly had value, and the couple clearly had very little beyond that.  It is all very good for the 1% to to romanticize about love, but the couple flushed virtually everything they had down the old toilet. Yes, yes, their love is far more precious than feeble trinkets, but that is not the question here. The question here is whether effective interpersonal communication could have brought them to the same juncture without the sacrifice of the family fortune (while unfortunately depriving us of a fine piece of literature).

main-qimg-168b99b211b02e4e925ec05f2284a2f2

Lisbeth Zwerger’s illustrations for “Gift of the Magi”

I understand that the woo crowd are going to scream, “You have missed the whole point you hormonal moron!” But I think not.  I get maudlin over the story just like I am sure Mr. Fray might.  But the lesson is NOT just that love is more valuable than trinkets. The lesson (though clearly NOT the lesson the master was intending to serve up) is that the couple were so self-involved in their obsessions that they failed to communicate at all, causing what amounts to a tragedy (as well as the joyful discovery the author celebrates). Money is certainly not everything, but one does not get on without it. Fairy tales celebrating poverty are just what FEE peddles, so I think you should lay that accusation at someone else’s door.

OK, if you want to think I have gone over to the dark side, you are entitled to your thoughts, but for me, being self-involved over you want, and being self-involved in Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 9.02.27 AMwhat you think another wants, are two sides of the same bad penny.  You are never going to work things out with “knowing glances”, no matter what Cosmo tells you.

Frankly, Father Oleska (Oleska still teaches a State required cross-cultural education class that promotes deferent communications styles and the inherent value of non-verbal-ness) and the entire non-verbal feminine communication crowd can go chat with themselves in their taciturn stillness for all I care. I am for Horton, who meant what he said and  said what he meant (even if his creator, Theodor Geisel, was attacked for being a misogynist).  The rest of you can go suffer in silence.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published.

*