It seems we express the most important things between the lines. We write things off. Shrug. Then double back to add just one more thing. Doctors have actually named it. The doorknob phenomenon. You’ll sit through your physical exam never bringing up the real reason you’re there until the doctor has her hand on the doorknob to leave. "Oh, by the way…" then you’ll admit that you’ve found a lump between your vagina and your ass that seems to be… black. "But," you’ll add, "it hasn’t bled since last night." Why do we do this? Leave what we most need to say to the last possible chance we have to say it? Why are we so afraid, so embarrassed? It’s cowardly and forces someone else to clean up your seemingly instantaneous mess.
Even in my everyday, a household argument, I’ll address what’s going on, but I won’t address what’s going on. It’s not until the fight has lost some steam that I’ll clue him in, usually in an elevated ineffective tone. He does it too. It’s piss-poor communication. And it’s no wonder. In the film, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Barbara Streisand’s character tells her husband, just as he’s taking a sip of coffee and just as she’s out the door, "By the way, would telling you now that I want sex tonight be enough of a warning?" And of course, there’s the ever memorable, "I’m pregnant. Please pass the turnips," from For Keeps? Why is it that we save (read: hide) the most important (embarrassing or frightening) information for the last possible second? Like ripping off a band-aide we think it will hurt less if we say it in one fast string with our eyes closed, giving the receiver of such news very little opportunity to respond. Instead of approaching it head on, allotting enough time, we run through it quickly, hoping maybe they’ll miss a detail. We don’t sit down and devote our time to it because then it’s drama, it’s "a talk," and admitting that, ramping up for such an episode is in fact admitting something is wrong. When it slips in, though, it’s a surprise, an afterthought, so its severity is lessened. We give it less real-estate in our lives, that which probably matters to us most. We "talk" about our relationships in text messages and IM conversations. We distill our lives into half-eaten sentences and "Oh, by the way"s. Without thought. I want a more thoughtful life, an engaging one, filled with people and activities, and plans. A life where we pick up the phone, even though texting is easier. A life ends up meaning most in the sidelines, the things we never plan for, but our conversations don’t need to work that way. Our needs shouldn’t be expressed as afterthought, out of fear or embarrassment. Having wants and needs is a good thing. We’re dead without them. And expressing them along with a wave of the hand, belittling them, tells people not to take them seriously… because we don’t. And by the way, that’s pretty sad.