Do Let’s

 

I never asked for this.

 

Who said anything about asking.

 

Me, obviously. I just did.

 

No, I mean, why bother to say that. It’s silly. 

 

I suppose it’s another way of saying I’m doing the best I can.

 

You can’t be the judge of that. That’s for the rest of us to decide. 

 

Really?

 

It’s like saying you should get credit for good intentions. 

 

I think I should. ‘We,’ I mean. We all should.

 

What, ‘I can see that I wounded you deeply, but after all, I meant well’?

 

Why not, ‘I never meant to hurt you. I was trying to help.’

 

Meaningless.

 

Really?

 

What does it change? Does it stop blood from flowing? Mend a broken heart? 

 

I suppose not.

 

You should be held to account for the consequences of your behavior. A thoughtless injury hurts just as much as an intentional one. 

 

Does it?

 

Remember, you began by saying, ‘I never asked for this.’ I’m not surprised you’re now trying to earn points for trying. 

 

I don’t follow.

 

There’s something about ‘I never asked for this’ that suggests a degree of self-absorption. No offense intended, of course. 

 

Ouch. Point taken.

 

Pun taken. 

 

I’m beginning to regret bringing any of this up.

 

Why did you?

 

Probably a plea for sympathy.

 

Sympathy for what?

 

I’m not entirely sure.

 

Go on. I’m listening. 

 

No, I’m serious. I don’t really know. I guess … I guess it’s something everyone has to confront.

 

What is? 

 

This. This exactly.

 

Elaborate, please. 

 

This back-and-forth of ours, the discussion we’re having right now, and everything in the same category.

 

Well, excuse me. 

 

Sorry. It’s just that it can be exhausting.

 

Back to the undefined ‘it.’ Why don’t you just say what you mean?

 

Because, dammit, even if I say what I mean, or think that I’m saying what I mean, you’re not going to hear it the way I meant it. You said so yourself. I’m responsible not just for what I intend to do or say, but also for what you take me to be saying or doing. Isn’t that right? Isn’t that what you just said?

 

Calm down. There’s no reason to get upset. We’re just having a conversation here.

 

No, we’re not ‘just having a conversation.’ You can’t have it both ways, you know. One minute, we’re disagreeing about something of fundamental importance. The next minute, you imply it’s of no particular consequence.

 

Maybe we should just let this drop. 

 

I can’t.

 

Of course you can. 

 

No, I can’t.

 

So, when you said, ‘I never asked for this,’ you meant that you never asked to care and at the same time want to stop caring. You never asked to spend a lifetime hammering your square peg into round holes. You never asked to be born into this demolition derby we’ve had going for a few millennia now — in which, no matter what we do or don’t do, no matter whether we go forward or backward, we’re going to smash and be smashed. 

 

How expressive. Did you compose that yourself? Did you rehearse it ahead of time?

 

Well?

 

In a word: yes.

 

You know what I’m going to say next, right? 

 

I have a pretty good idea.

 

Do I need to say it?

 

No.

 

So we’re moving on? 

 

Do let’s.

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