Thursday, 28 April 2016

What is Drama?

Yesterday I went on a splendid 9 to 10 mile walk along the Union Canal from Ratho to central Edinburgh. My travelling companions were three other female pilgrims-to-be and a dog. The weather was mild--not too hot, not too cold, not too sunny, but not too cloudy, either. We seemed to be moving along at about 3 miles per hour, and we had one half hour or forty-five minute break.

As we went along we chatted, and so the time and the miles sped by. While I was talking about the letters I received in my "Seraphic Singles" days, one of the girls asked "What is Drama?"

I took a big breath to opine on one of my favourite subjects.

Drama is the state of making a socially awkward situation more exciting and awkward than it needs to be.  My example was two fictional girls (here we'll call them Mary and Martha) and a fictional George. I shall now embroider the original story, as I have more time for juicy detail. (Drama thrives on juicy detail.) Goodness gracious, I made up a story while practicing for a pilgrimage!  How very Canterbury Tales.

Mary, Martha and George are all  slim young pillars of their local Extraordinary Form of the Mass. George, feeling that it is high time he married a nice Traddy girl and produced a lot of little Traddies, asks Mary out for a cup of coffee, so as to see if he likes her conversation as much as he likes her white lace mantilla and rockin' 1950s dresses.

Mary has never given George much of a thought before, but there aren't a lot of young bachelors in the parish and George seems like a nice guy. Therefore, Mary says yes to coffee and has coffee with George. They have a long conversation--well, actually George does--and Mary concludes afterwards that she isn't attracted to George and they are just going to be friends.

Unbeknownst to Mary, George privately decides the same about her. Therefore, after mulling it over and presumably praying about his future, he bumps into Martha in the street and asks her out for coffee on the spot. They have a lovely coffee, and laugh a lot, and afterwards George asks Martha on a Real Date.  Martha is very pleased and emails Mary to tell her her splendid social news.

Mary, needless to say if you're female, is seriously hurt. Although she wasn't that taken with George, it hurts that George obviously wasn't that taken with her and within a few days had transferred his attentions to Martha. Naturally, the easiest way to stop hurting so much is to tell a friend in the same set (perhaps even Martha) what a womanizing louse George is.

Now, there is no evidence that George is a womanizing louse, but how much more exciting it would be if he were, eh? And perhaps Mary would feel better that she had escaped the attentions of such a jerk, etc., etc. And if someone tells Martha, Martha's eyes will be opened to George's villainy before it is too late, etc., etc. The permutations of Drama are endless.

However, Mary has another option. Mary can swallow the hurt and not say anything to anyone, for she is schooled in graciousness and has a vague sense that such a prudential silence is what a Catholic Christian lady is supposed to practice. She tells Martha that this news is exciting and that George seems to be a nice guy. And if Martha, or some Drama addict smelling a whiff of Drama in the air, says to Mary, "I thought you were having coffee with George," she can smile and say, "Oh, that was just a friend thing."

The Recording Angel nods approvingly and writes this down in the Book of Life.

When I think about it, the dangers of Drama are worst when you are in a relatively small (but not too small) set during your undergraduate university or college years. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is when a goodly percentage of Catholics-who-are-Catholics pair off, to say nothing of making friends and business contacts for life. As long as you keep your grades up, long gab sessions of "he said" and "she said" and "can you believe it?" are probably not as damaging in high school. However, college and university, i.e. the beginning of adult life, are a different story. It's too bad then, that this is at the age when so many others (perhaps late bloomers like my formerly Drama-loving self) still live and breathe Drama. However, the best way to cope is to understand that this is their problem and to resist being sucked in, including with the help of prayer and, if necessary, conversations with sympathetic older ladies, like me.

In other news I had rollmops (herring) for lunch yesterday and to my chagrin they were cured not only in salt but in sugar. I adore herring, but my goodness. If you don't have a grain of refined sugar for three and a half days, you sure taste it when you get it.

Update: My super-smart Guiding/pilgrimage hat has just arrived from France. It is ever so smart. It is hard like a top hat,100% pur laine and hits my huge head perfectly. I may never take it off.
Carrick, c'est chic!


  1. Oh so much drama! I'm glad I read to the end, as I stopped in my tracks, well, chair, when I heard Mary was seriously hurt to hear George had coffee with Martha. Wasn't this the theme of your 'Fishing in the Same Pond' post, I thought? That it is okay for George to date more than 1 girl at the same time, let alone sequentially, so long as he is clear about things?

    Then I read on, and discovered the point of the post was to advocate for charity rather than hasty judgement; oh, the irony! :)

    Your MGM scenario does raise the question - should George have informed Mary he was no longer interested in her? (if not before asking Martha out, as quickly as possible after asking Martha out). Will it just cause Mary more hurt to be 'actively rejected', or is it a rapid removal of doubt (while Mary waits to hear from George again, even if she is not interested in him) so Mary can move on?

    How you know you're in a small country:
    "Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is when a goodly percentage of Catholics-who-are-Catholics pair off, to say nothing of making friends and business contacts for life". My best mate in undergrad days was (lapsed) Catholic, but he was the only Catholic I knew on campus! But then, I was in the science faculty, not theology. When I finally found the campus Mass (it was barely advertised), you could count attendees on the fingers of one hand... out of 30,000 students and 3,000 staff!

    Out of curiosity Mrs Mac, do you still get a lot of Seraphic letters? If not, who has taken on that role of (seraphic) agony aunt to the less than seraphic single Catholics? Anyone?

    Southern Bloke.
    P.S. Did you baptise your guiding hat? Or were there showers when you walked? ;) Good luck with the pilgrimage! :)

  2. Southern Bloke, I really feel that George was right to just disappear. Better than an awkward conversation.

    P.S. I was at dinner with some married friends (he from Wellington, she from Auckland.) They insisted that New Zealand is more expensive to live in than Melbourne is. I was like I DO NOT BELIEVE YOU. Are they right? If they are, I don't envy the Kiwis.

    1. Yep Julia, your friends were right. We were 4th most expensive city in the world behind Hong Kong, Sydney and Vancouver and level with you in Melbourne, but I think we just passed Sydney and are now 3rd. Eeeep! Combination of extremely high immigration and low wages - what a package deal eh? I have to fight off at least 5 possums every night for sleeping space in the attic. Why do you think there were so many Kiwis turning up in your neck of the woods? :)

      Ok, so we have 3 from 3 (Julia, Mrs Mac and booklover) for George not having an awkward conversation with Mary telling her he is not interested. Got it. But.... that just leaves the poor girl waiting until hope fades (assuming she is interested in George, which she wasn't, but you know). Just ouch... seems so cruel.

      At least for us guys, we know instantly when we're rejected. Of course, the rejection is often public, which brings the added joy of public humiliation (girls seem to like to announce their decision loudly - possibly to let the world know their high standards? set the bar for other prospective amours?).

      But I did really well Mrs Mac, at dodging drama the other night. One of Non-Denominational Christian girl's friends is cute and fun, so I thought of asking her out, but realised this *would* cause serious sparks, given NDC girl has been interested in me for over a year. So I didn't ask her friend. But that still leaves NDC girl not quite getting the message it seems, which is awkward in its own right...

      Oh, and the hat pic had water droplets on it, so I thought you may have had it blessed with holy water ;)


    2. Well, the one good thing is that girls are usually better at picking up on subtle signals than guys are. So if a guy doesn't follow up on a coffee invite in a reasonable amount of time, she'll most likely figure it out, even if she isn't willing to admit to herself. So in the end, I think it's less cruel than a conversation about how he isn't interested in her, just because they went out for coffee. If they've been seeing each other steadily that's a different story, of course!!

      And aw, that sounds frustrating for you!! Didn't Mrs. Mac say at one point that a guy should find an actress that he finds attractive but looks nothing like the girl in question, and then talk about her or post about her on Facebook? I vaguely remember something about posting 'Looking for my own Rita Hayworth', or something along those lines.

      Although it sounds like your NDC girl may just be not willing to pick up on hints. :/

    3. Aaah, yep, I'm finally convinced, I think. It is pretty cruel to have a specific conversation about how a guy is not interested in a girl. I do agree that George should have asked Martha later after sufficient time for Mary to have worked out George wasn't going to ask her out again.

      My judgement may have been coloured by the concern that Mary may just not get the hint, which leaves George unable to ask Martha, but if he waits a few weeks that should suffice surely. And of course this is kinda personal, given NDC girl just is not picking up on the absence of date invites...

      Will have to try the differing actress ploy, thanks booklover ;) I just don't much like making it seem like I have a 'tick box' list that excludes all women outside of my 'type' of tall blonde *practising* catholics (which is a slim enough category anyways ;) ). I'm not trying to exclude women or tick everything on the list, tho I suppose expressing a preference isn't excluding... I may be overthinking this ;)


    4. Oh, now I understand about the baptism of the hat. I took the photo from a catalogue.

      Poor George. There he was just walking down the street and he bumped into Martha and they just spontaneously decided to have a coffee. Then on the strength of it, George decided to ask her out. We are all clear that Mary didn't actually click with George, right? She's just feeling piqued that George felt the same way--which is irrational but typical in this vale of tears. (That said, given more time, George may have grown on Mary, but as Father Lonergan would say, "only the concrete is good.")

    5. SB, I think you should just ask the friend out. You're under no obligation to NDC, and if she refuses to get the message and kicks up a stink about you asking the friend out, that's her problem.

    6. Also, SB - I think I have a possum living in my walls.

    7. Ohh, that makes sense, SB!! And I was thinking about it this morning, and I'm not sure that I would have picked up on it a guy I liked had done something like that either, lol!! I might have been happy if I thought the actress looked like me, but I'm not sure I would have noticed if she didn't.

      And I totally agree with Julia about asking her out!! I think that's very sweet and kind of you to be concerned about NDC, but you aren't under any obligation to her at all.

      And Mrs. Mac, oh yes! But I think the problem that I have is that George didn't know that Mary wasn't interested in him. If they had talked about it or she had turned him down for a second date, then I would feel differently. Plus, it was one of her friends from the same small group. That just makes it stickier.

    8. Maybe part of it is that I've known people who thought the date went well and they hit it off, while the other person thought it was clear that they didn't hit it off? I don't think it's safe to assume that just because you didn't think you hit it off, the other person felt the same way.

    9. Poor George. But, well, Martha & George have each other now. So really I still feel it's poor Mary. But I do understand why George acted on the situation he found himself in with Martha.

      Speaking of which, I can't ask NDC girl's friend out, Julia & booklover. I don't have her number! NDC girl is the only person I know who does. And I am not likely to see her for a week or two, due to her changed work times. Maybe then. But I am trying to avoid hurting NDC girl, who is turning into a rather good friend, even if she thinks it may be more... aye, drama.

      Julia, have you named your possum yet? :D

      booklover, thanks for understanding! I hate to even mention a 'type' - that's just who I've noticed in hindsight I tend to be attracted to. But no way do I want to blinker myself to possibly wonderful women who may not meet some checklist criteria; we're human, not a bunch of body parts. About my only 'must have' criteria is being a practising Catholic, and even that I've tried to be open to others, as several priests have suggested we should be... I just don't see how you could click with/understand someone fully unless you agreed on our purpose in life = God.

      Back to the textbooks, sigh. Test on Monday. Fun times :)


  3. Yes, an awkward conversation would be courting DRAMA. Unmarried George is allowed to have a coffee with whomever he likes without apology, explanation, etc. Although it might not feel like this to Mary (or Martha), it's JUST A COFFEE. I have coffee with nice young men all the time. Well, once in a while--and I'm married, shock, horror. A coffee is just a coffee. If it's a FIRST COFFEE there is an element of "getting to know you", but really, so what?

    My guiding hat has just arrived, so it has had no opportunity to be rained on. I am putting off that evil day as long as possible even though obviously this hat can take it.

  4. I agree that the conversation would have been awkward, but I have some sympathy for Mary too. :) As preferable as it might be, people aren't accustomed to 50's style dating anymore.

    I feel like simply waiting a tad longer before asking Martha out would have been wise. Since he didn't know that Mary was not interested in him and they all belong to the same small group . . . well, I'm not sure why it wouldn't be a little smarter of George to wait a couple of weeks before asking Martha out? At least give Mary the chance to realize that he wasn't going to ask her out again before she hears that he's going out with someone else.

    If the situation were changed a bit and George had been interested in Mary and felt things had gone well and was planning to ask her out again, wouldn't he have been rather startled to see her out to dinner with a friend of his the next night?

    I'm not saying that Mary should bad-mouth him (she certainly shouldn't!!) and I understand that a coffee is just a coffee, but is seems like it behooves a young man who wishes to 50's style date within a small group of girls to exercise a bit of restraint.

    And partly for their own good, too. The only young men I've ever known who have done this just came across as desperately looking for someone to marry. And not because girls were bad-mouthing them, either.