Who’s on first?

Have you ever explained something to someone and neither of you understood what the other was trying to say?  When no matter what you said you couldn’t make your message clear?  It becomes a comedy of errors sometimes and you just have to laugh about it.  Abbott and Costello did a skit called “Who’s on first?” in their 1945 movie The Naughty Nineties, which perfectly demonstrates what I’m talking about.  It gets funnier every time I hear it.  Click here if you’d like to watch the clip.  If you’re a baseball fan you’ll love this. It’s a classic.  And hilarious even if you’re not a fan.

I recently had a conversation with a woman at church.  We were making plans to combine the Portuguese and Spanish services on Sunday and I asked her a question about the order of songs in the service.  I usually create the schedule, with the help of the pastor, on Friday night at rehearsal.  This time a third party, M, had set up the schedule.  She didn’t understand what I was asking and I was clumsily trying to explain.  After a bit of incomplete/incompetent (on my part) dialogue, I looked at her and said, “I don’t understand.”  She replied just as simply, “What don’t you understand?”  Aaarrgghh!  Deadlock.  I’m laughing as I recall this incident.  As it turns out, it was my not understanding the Portuguese that was causing the problem.  I realized that after she went back to rehearsing her music and I was able to focus singly on what was in front of me.  As soon as I caught her eye, I gave her a thumbs up to let her know I had resolved my issue.  Fortunately we are both mature enough to realize it was no big deal.  Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

On a more serious note, have you ever tried to communicate with someone who doesn’t want/refuses to communicate with you?  Well, I have and it isn’t pretty.  The last years of our marriage I begged D to talk to me.  He wouldn’t.  Or maybe he couldn’t.  I guess I’ll never know which but the one thing I do know clearly and without doubt–we weren’t talking.  And I know what I think–he had already removed himself from our marriage.  His mind, along with his conversation, was elsewhere.  Once communication has broken down, the door is wide open for miscommunication to occur.  One partner will take a word, a phrase, or even a small sentence and isolate it and obsess over it and make it into something much worse than it was ever intended to be.  It’s so sad when that happens because it’s proof that real interactive dialogue is gone and the relationship is taking a nose dive.

I remember one time when I knew we weren’t connecting with each other verbally, and  I decided I should write him a letter.  (Back in the early days of our courtship D would write me long, sweet letters.  I still have them.)  So I wrote him a letter explaining my feelings about something; I don’t remember what, but probably our inability to communicate.  I closed by saying that either he didn’t get it or he didn’t care.  I also told him I preferred to think it was the former.  After a slow and difficult separation and divorce, I finally had to acknowledge it was the latter.  He got it.

An aside:  If my sweet brother Jack were alive, he would be 71 today.  He hated sharing his birthday with Ronald Reagan.  🙂    I still miss him. 😦


18 thoughts on “Who’s on first?

  1. Hi
    I could have written this post about X and I. (and I’m sure at some times she felt she could have written it). But your comment “After a slow and difficult separation and divorce, I finally had to acknowledge it was the latter. He got it.”, hit me hard. I finally had to realize and acknowledge this when I asked her during a counseling session how she would feel if it was reversed and I had begun seeing someone that I had an affair with (just a hypothetical cuz I never did)….and she told me, “I wouldn’t know, because I’m not you”.
    At that point, I should have realized that all the words about keeping an open heart and mind to putting it back together, were just for the benefit of appearances. Yep…just like you, “it was the latter.”


  2. Hi Pat! What you write in the second half of your blog makes so much sense to me. You’re really spot on there. Lack of communication between partners can be really heart-breaking!
    I wonder which years in a marriage might turn out to be the most difficult ones? Is it after being married for seven, fourteen, twenty-one years?


    • Hi Uta. It’s good to hear from you. I subscribed to your blog a long time ago but am not receiving notification when you post. I redid it today. Maybe it will work now.
      As to my post about communication, I don’t know how long it was before D and I stopped talking. We were married for thirty years. I just know that at one time we talked nonstop about everything. Hindsight is supposed to be 20-20 but in this case it isn’t. Oh, well. It is what it is.


      • Thirty years! This is a long time. I needed some counselling after having been married for nearly twenty years. We then had another daughter and all was well. But when we had been married for nearly fourty years, both of us needed a bit of counselling!

        The next crisis was after we had been married for more than fifty years. Hubby didn’t think it was anything to worry about, but I felt very vulnerable. These days I feel much more secure and confident again.

        I suppose there are ups and downs in nearly every marriage, even the ones that
        survive. It brings us back to communication and how important this is!


  3. I know what you mean about his being a different person. When D first left I kept asking myself “Who is this person and what has he done with my sweet D?” Of course we all change but when there’s no communication we get to the point that we really don’t know each other. I truly hope that your situation changes for the better.

    I don’t think I realized you had lost a brother, too. It’s been almost ten years since Jack died. It’s almost an out-of-body experience to lose a sibling, isn’t it? I always think about him but on his birthday I usually can’t help having an extra dose. The other thing I do on his birthday is call my sisters. I’m lucky to still have all three of them. Take care. And hugs to you, too.


  4. Hi Pat, as you know I am still with my man-child and one of the hardest things to deal with is the lack of communication. Sometimes I can hardly believe that this is the same person I fell in love with all those years ago, it makes me feel both sad and angry.

    I hope today you have wonderful memories of your brother, I think of mine every single day. He has been gone 5 years and I still haven’t really accepted the fact that he is gone and the way he left us… Maybe through our connection here, they made a connection there…many hugs to you today..


  5. Dear Pat,
    How sad that D had checked out of your marriage before it was over. That he didn’t value your attempts to reconnect enough… Communication is such a difficult thing to keep going in long term relationships.
    Let’s hope today brings you nice memories of your brother…


    • It is sad. I think I will always be a little sad about what could have been if we’d been better at communicating.

      Thanks for mentioning my brother. His life was difficult, usually at his own doing. I’m finally able now to remember all the good about him. And his wonderful sense of humor.


  6. It truly takes two people to communicate successfully. I have one relationship in which I have vowed to remain open and to not close myself off. It continues to be a challenge. (Sorry about your brother.)


    • Thanks for your comments, LS. I wonder how many times I said to my ex that it takes two to communicate. I hope you will be able to bridge that gap with the other person. Good for you for staying open to the possibility.


  7. Communication is such an art – but sometimes no matter how ‘artistic’ we try to be we know that we are not being heard or fully understood. I’m going through something similar at the moment at home – the joys of being in the middle of stepfather and stepson. I think I’m tip-toeing my way through it BUT I WISH THEY WOULD JUST LISTEN TO ME!!! OK rant over. I hope your day is filled with lovely happy memories of your brother Jack. 😉


    • Ah. It’s a fine line between your child and his stepfather and not a fun place to be. I’ve been there. You’re very wise. Wiser than I was at your age. I have confidence that you’ll manage it with love and grace.


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