It’s only four small words, a seemingly innocuous question. Yet a question, the sound of which is worse than ten sets of sharpened nails screeching across a mile-long blackboard – “What are you thinki...
It’s only four small words, a seemingly innocuous question. Yet a question, the sound of which is worse than ten sets of sharpened nails screeching across a mile-long blackboard – “What are you thinking?”
It is a question men loathe and dread, mainly because much like the meaning of life and world peace, there is no clear, definitive answer. Often, the answer truly is nothing (or nothing of significance). Yet, as women, often the question is one we cannot stop from asking, particularly if we are feeling uncertain or apprehensive. Perhaps a woman feels uneasy about the status of a relationship and then, out of nowhere, with the first pensive glance or scowl to cross her man’s face, the question comes out of her mouth, virtually unstoppable. The question takes on a life and mind of its own, leaving us helpless victims compelled to utter the question.
First, I tried logic to free myself from the compulsion. Logic dictates that it’s too broad a question and doesn’t really lend itself for what I want to know. Specificity, yes, that was it exactly (or so I thought). I would force myself to ask clearly and directly what I wanted to know rather than ask the dreaded question. But, to no avail, the question still popped into my head and straight out of my mouth before I could stop it. I resigned myself to my fate. I would go through life as a victim of my own compulsion.
Then it happened. You see, aside from the very real possibility that the answer is truly nothing, or nothing of value (which is usually the case), there also lies the possibility that it is something you really don’t want to hear or know at that particular moment. And it didn’t happen that I ever asked the question and received knowledge of something I did not want to hear. Oh no, it was much, much worse. I was asked the question! It was quite possibly one of the worst dates of my life. The type of date that reminds you some fates are far worse than torture and death. Even prison seemed a brighter, more appealing option than another hour on this date (and I look terrible in flip-flops and orange), one I wished would end quickly. We were finally in the car driving me home and he was telling a story that seemed to go on forever when he paused and asked, “What are you thinking?” I was dumbfounded – my mind a whirl of possible explanations and answers. Do I tell him something simple? Do I tell him the actual truth – that given the relatively smooth terrain to the side of the road, I am calculating at what speed could I safely jump from the moving vehicle and maintain minimal physical damage? Do I just jump now (as we were approaching a stop sign) and escape the question altogether? In just a brief, few seconds, these thousand thoughts going through my head in a vicious flurry when suddenly, a soothing thought entered into my head. I looked at him, smiled, and said “nothing.”
From that moment on, the cycle was broken and I was free from ever uttering the question again! The cure was as simple as having the question asked to me.
Copyright 2003 Tracey Winfrey Tracey is an author and founder of www.pig-dogs.net; A Different Type of Relationship Advice Site. Visit Tracey there to sign up for her newsletter, read her advice column, other articles and other fun things. Or, you may email her at email@example.com.