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Reading Into Things

September 11, 2009

When you go through a breakup, most of what other people say you either don’t understand, don’t want to understand, or are too drunk to know the difference.  This leads to spending a lot of time trying to understand obvious things in a way that is less obvious.  If you’re an artist, they call this creativity.  If you’re you, they call it reading into things.

Say a friend tells you that it was probably because he liked someone else, and that you had never really loved each other anyway.  Then the friend says that she is right in the middle of a book, and probably needs to get going.  Someone else might take this as evidence that your friend was in the middle of a book about how to make offhand comments that make other people want to cry.  But in your state, you take it as evidence that he had been engaged in a torrid affair; that you never had loved each other anyway, and that your friend is in the middle of a book.  A romance no doubt.

When you take this information to another friend, the new friend is shocked, “Even if that were true, you should never tell someone that to their face, and it was mutual what do you care?”  Someone in their right mind would have heard this sentence as, “You’re pretty.”  But what you hear is, “You say mutual, I say tuhmah-toh.”

Another friend (there are so many), relates an anecdote about her own breakup in which the ex-boyfriend became so deeply entrenched in his own readings into things that he became convinced that she was dating someone else.  When they got back together he pointed out his evidence for this, which was an online picture of her standing next to an older man.  “See,” he said, utterly sure she had been caught, “That’s my dad,” she told him.  Someone else might have taken this story as evidence that you shouldn’t read into things, but in your state it only causes you to wonder how many moms your ex-boyfriend could possibly have.

Clearly, both genders like to try to read each other like they would a poem at open mic night at the corner cafe, i.e. with a lot of emotion and a lot of comparisons to nature.  Say you’re a guy and you just got dumped by Sandy, and you hear some strangers on the street talking and you think they say, “Sandy was dancing with Joe,” but what they really said was, “Sandy was dancing like a ho.”  But this is one situation where even though you heard wrong, you come to the right conclusion anyway: Sandy is a ho.

Reading books is good for your brain.  Trying to read other people like they are books is not.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 18, 2009 1:16 am

    Yes. It’s all so confusing and then some dumb ass from South Africa says that “creativity is, among other things and manifestations, the politics of the impossile—that is, both the dream and the responsible materialization of transgression.”

    I’m serious. Check this months Harper’s. I wonder what he’d have to say about reading into things.

  2. September 19, 2009 5:06 am

    This was lovely. You have a biting, sad, humorous writing that I very much enjoy. I suppose I should also say something related to your post so this doesn’t seem like a generic spam message: As much as it hurts to separate two lives intertwined, there is a lot of fun in learning to distinguish the difference between your own insecurities and reality. Burning mementos also helps.

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