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Friday, March 16, 2018

The Right Rocks

Norma loves bricks.  She also dislikes straight lines. Along with gender, this is the major difference between us. I am a guy, and bricks are rectangular. Guys know brick walkways are supposed to be straight. It's like when we shop, we go straight to what we want and go straight to the checkout counter, then straight back to the car. Women don't. They wander all over a store, double back, circle around a few hours or days and finally find some item that was invented, marketed, stocked and sold while they looked for it. But I digress.

I have hauled bricks for walkways to this property for many years. Norma creates plans for the walkways. None are straight. All  are curvy. I protest emphatically. She says, "Set them as they are plotted."

I say, "But there will be gaps!"

She says, "Gaps will be filled when we find the right rocks." ,

I am always surprised at her answer. Surprise is psychological condition caused by dopamine, a neurotransmitter, carrying a compelling message through the brain: the extent to which a reward or punishment differs from expectation. It directly affects mood, memory, attention and cognition, and therefore qualifies as a vehicle of addiction, fear, strong emotional response, involuntary conditioning, slavish agreement, flight or fight, and the strange expression men get when they decide to uproot to tend an off-shore oil rig in Qatar. This is all due to a molecule, dopamine --the irreducible essence of what guys call "going apeshit". 

But then, after 48 years of marriage, I look into her eyes and ask myself, "Is this the face of someone who will always insist upon curvy brick walkways?"
 
And I must say yes. I will, however redirect your attention to the first photo and point out the fact she found the right rocks to fill the gaps. Moreover, I must --as a guy-- warn all other guys about dopamine and all molecules: Stay away from molecules! They are dangerous! Especially brain ones!


26 comments:

  1. I am with Norma. Conservatively speaking about 1000 per cent. Curved lines are much more better than straight ones.

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    1. Dear EC, I love your conservative estimate! Norma definitely thinks in her own way --and I in mine, good thing too!

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  2. Geo - you really hit the target with this one. Bricks should be even, straight, and lead somewhere (I'm thinking of the Yellow Brick Road).

    When it comes to shopping, I procrastinate as long as possible (until my shelves are empty). When I finally arrive at the store I immediately get what I want and leave as soon as possible.

    Women wander, dawdle, ponder, decide, and wander again. I remember going into a store with my mother when I was ten years old and leaving the store when I was fifteen.

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    1. It's because we're guys, Jon. 5-year shopping trips happened every week when I was 10.

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  3. To me that looks like the face of a woman who 'has all her ducks in a row' even if it isn't a very straight row lol. I live with a man who can't do ANYTHING straight on...everything is off side and out of kilter when he puts his hand to it....you get used to it.

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    1. Delores, guys get so we plan things out to compensate for future shifts in reality. What seems eccentric will straighten in time. 5000 years ago, the Egyptian pyramids were spheres.

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  4. Surely someone with the heart of a poet such as yourself must appreciate the curvy creativity of your bride's walkways. It's far more important that she's straight with YOU than that she lays out perfectly aligned bricks.

    Yeah, you're probably right about not trusting molecules. Atoms, too. (They make everything up!)

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    1. Dear Susan, when I met Norma in a library 1/2 century ago, I knew I'd encountered something remarkable, a human who always knew what's what. In philosophy, that quality is called quiddity. If atoms made her up, I'm in favor of them too.

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  5. I too have noticed the male's propensity to do everything in straight lines. When we built this house and moved in, my husband's job was to vacuum the new carpets before the furniture arrived. Every single room had neat rows of vacuum tracks running parallel to the walls, as if he was mowing a lawn. And I plead guilty to going in circles in a store, and everywhere else for that matter.

    So you can guess what I'm about to say -- I love Norma's solution to the curved-walkway-with-straight-bricks problem. And you are a good man to see the value in her design. What a lovely picture! Was it a special occasion or does Norma dress up to oversee your bricklaying?

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    1. O_Jenny, thank you. I believe that photo is a year old. This is March, our 48th wedding anniversary. That was our 47th, I think. Thanks also for saying I "am a good man" and yes, I always "see the value in her design".

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  6. Norma is still so lovely. My mother did not care much for symmetry either. No straight lines for her.

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    1. Emma, in high school Geometry class I was made to go up in front of everybody and solve a straight line on the overhead projector. I turned bright red and declared, "It needs no proof; it is self-evident". Only the girls laughed at me, which is where I learned the essential difference between guy and gal perceptions of reality. After my initial embarrassment, I realized the valuable lesson.

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  7. It makes sense. Guys are "supposed to be" more linear than women. Years ago, Peter Gabriel did a tour where he had a masculine-symbolizing square stage and a feminine-symbolizing circular stage.

    We play it way too safe, going from point A to point B by the shortest route.

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    1. Peter Gabriel is 3 months younger than I, so I may excuse him his stage geometrics, however, I could not have done better. Guys have an awful time when gals get mad at us --we wish they wouldn't. Yes, we are maddeningly simple mechanisms --Point A to B-- but it's the best we can do. At some crucial times in our lives, guys realize they are imbeciles. We need sympathy, not anger.

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  8. I had to chuckle at your post and nod in understanding. We have a bit of that in this household as well. Your account of shopping is one of the "truths" of the universe. But I will hasten to add, your walkway looks lovely and has character that is authentic and creative. Good things in this life. And so is a lovely companion of nearly a half a century. I too am so blessed.

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    1. Then you will agree, dear Tom, that although you worked hard for all advantages and successes, you also had some considerable luck in life --in a life-partner-- who keeps a lovely garden. Let's not change a thing, deal?

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  9. OMG! SWMBO may be related to Norma. And she always finds the right rocks, too. It's a conspiracy, I tellya!

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    1. Oh Bruce, if She Who Must Be Obeyed shares this inspired skill then it is a most welcome conspiracy indeed!

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  10. I had to laugh, Geo, at your observations of the way men and women shop. You are spot on. There is no better place to observe this then in a Home Goods store. While women are excitedly looking for tchotchkes and not missing an aisle, men are holed up in a chair the furniture area with a blank stare on their faces, wondering why they ever said yes to coming along. Of course, this is reversed in a Home Depot store.

    Left brain, right brain and put together, it becomes whole. That is a lovely picture of your bride, Norma, and I wish you both many more years of traveling walkways that are both straight and curved. It is definitely more fun that way.

    Happy Anniversary to a wonderful couple.

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    1. Thank you dear Arleen for your enjoyable --and educational--comment. I had no idea what a tchotchke was until I looked it up (phonetically, Chachka --an object that is decorative but not strictly functional). I love this word, even though I am no longer decorative and only debatably functional. And yes, I have waited. Norma has waited also, but usually heads to the plant nursery while I stand with other men in the plumbing department, meditating, examining, consulting our scribbled notes and sobbing softly. And thanks so much for the anniversary wish. Love makes it all worthwhile.

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  11. I like straight and I like curvy; depends on the area. But I agree with Norma, that the right rocks (or other filler) will come along and whatever her initial vision is, it will come to fruition.

    I have to disagree with you on one thing, and it grieves me to do it: I hate to shop, and when I have to shop, I go in, get what I need, and get out. If it's a long shopping trip, I start at one end and end up at the other, very seldom having to cris-cross the store for some forgotten item -- as a matter of fact, I usually arrange my shopping list for each store in order relative to how the store is laid out. My husband, on the other hand, bless his heart, often wanders throughout the store in paths that resemble a Family Circus comic strip. :)

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    1. Thanks, Lori. I like curvy too! And Norma has repeatedly proven that the right rocks are out there. My generalizations are intended as humorous and invite exceptions. I have always suspected that you are exceptional and am glad your husband is too.

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  12. I shop like a man then, but lay bricks like a beautiful woman. The right rocks resonates, enough to make dopamine. I think I'm going to go and dance now, till my molecules calm :-)

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    1. Another beautiful exception! I'm glad the dance is grand and global enough to include us all.

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  13. I wished that I was a stone/brick mason. My stepdad was one and he used to let me help sometimes. I loved the process of adding the cement like a pastry chef to the bottom of the brick, placing the brick, cleaning the excess cement away. It was satisfying work. He made arches out of bricks with no stones required, although I think you're curved norma path is much more charming for the rocks. He's been gone a long time but every time I go past the museum where those arches live I think of him.

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    1. Chicken, I've read this comment over several times in the past month and with each reading it becomes more beautiful. Thank you. I too am the father of a Daughter, and hope her memories of me will be as loving.

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