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First of all, thanks to everyone who was in any way associated with last
Thursday's *SOLD OUT* installement of Breakup
Girl LIVE at NYC's Gotham Comedy
Club. If you're thinking of attending January 7's all-new show
(theme: "New Year's Resolutions"), either make reservations now, or
plan on schlepping your sleeping bag over to 22nd St. the night before. (Don't
forget -- out-of-towners can tune in at comedynet.com. In fact, you can go see the
archives there ... after you read this column.)
Speaking of New York, excuse me, but it's been like 80 degrees here the past
week. I'd just gotten my flannel cape out of storage, but now it's back to
cotton. Go over to the park, and you'll see no sledding or other reindeer
games; everyone's in shirtsleeves and shorts. It is totally not
beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Unless you count the fact that yes,
people are checking lists, taking stock, first-drafting resolutions -- as
individuals and as halves of a couple. As in: If she doesn't appreciate the
fact that I spent two hours grating the potatoes by hand for these latkes --
her favorite -- then I'm outta here! There better be a ring in my
stocking! This is the last New Year's Eve I'm going to spend, as SARK has written, "dancing stiffly
with the wrong partner!"
And so, to use a seasonally incorrect but current-weather-appropriate play
on words, this week's theme is:
Ultimatum Frisbee: Cut or Clear?
In the game of ultimate
frisbee, people who stay to the middle of the field and lead the charge
instead of breaking long for the throw are Handlers. As they do so, handlers
might yell "Cut or clear!" -- which basically means "get open
for a pass, or get out of the way!" In ultimate, this admonition is
generally considered obvious and annoying. In life, however, we are
often entitled to yell, "get open to commitment, or clear your things out
of my drawer!"
But when? What's the middle ground between blind faith and brute force? How
can you tell the difference between Not Ready Yet and Will Never Be? Will the
act of pushing drive someone away?
Tough calls, all. And they're pretty much case by case. But I will tell you
this ... though you're not going to want to hear it. An ultimatum -- if you
choose to use one -- is not about getting someone to do something. It is
not bouncing the ball into the other person's court -- that is, out of your
hands. It is not a tactic, not a strategy, not a plan. It is not setting a
pick. An ultimatum is a statement of your purpose. It is, ultimately,
your responsibility. Because, ultimately, your partner is going to do
whatever s/he is going to do. YOU are the one who has to come through.
Remember what I told Cameo (who couldn't get her
boyfriend of 8 years to "commit" -- nor her biological clock of 28
years to stop ticking)?
I told her to walk.
I told her, that is, to walk this way: "I don't mean that you
should say, 'I'm walking out if you don't commit! Look at me! Here I go!
Yoo-hoo! I'm walking! I am so walking ... sort of near that door! Waaaaalking!
Watch me go...!' I also don't mean walk out the door, and then walk by his
house ten minutes later to see if he's committed 'yet.' I mean:
What, does Breakup Girl believe that a relationship don't mean a thing if it
ain't got that ring? No. Does she want to promote the stereotype that a girl's
best friend is all a woman wants, needs, and hopes for? No. [First of all, I'd
give the same advice to a guy. Second of all: ] I'm just going with what you're
telling me: that marriage and babies are what you want, and that they may not,
alas, be available in your current (eight-year!) relationship. You can't 'get
him to commit;' go get what you want with someone who wants the same thing. And
the thing is -- I hesitate to say this, because I am in NO way advocating
game-playing -- but, well, when you walk, this guy just might realize that he
is that someone." In which case, I should add, you may walk --
carefully -- back.
This is just one example. I am not advocating some sort of mass walkout. I
am just saying that -- again -- if commitment is what you want, you've got to
demonstrate it, too...whereever it may leave you.
But in determining whether an ultimatum is necessary in the first place,
you've got to break deep for a view of the whole field. In this month's issue
of New Woman, Dalma Heyn writes about her friend Jen, whose boyfriend kept
talking about how scary closeness was. "Yet there he was at [Jen's] place,
doing the dishes, fixing the washing machine, loving [her] in the most obvious
way. Instead of pointing out the discrepancy, Jen let him talk. [She'd] say,
'Mmm, closeness is scary.' ... [She] didn't jump on him or insist that he
commit. [She knew] he just had these residual fears to work through. While
tiling the kitchen floor, he announced casually that these tiles were so
durable they'd last as long as their marriage did." They were engaged
before the grout dried. Huh.
See, in a sense, waiting can be as active as walking. If you actually think
s/he will come around eventually, back off. If you really aren't sure, get on
his/her back. As long as you're sure that you are prepared to make the
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