Have you ever had someone ask (typically abruptly, and out of context, or in some other capacity that awakens your brain’s alarmist/self-preservationist tendencies) “…what are you doing for lunch?” or “…what are you doing Saturday?” or “what are you doing tonight?”
I’m not the fastest sloth in the forest, so I’ve fallen victim to answering these insipid, dastardly passive aggressive questions with abject honesty and naivete many times as my autonomic nervous system’s slow churning, ungreased gears barely kept up with my body’s need to breathe and circulate blood, leaving little room for my cerebral cortex to actually ignite and circulate some ideas, particularly ideas focusing on acute self-preservation.
The problem I have with this line of inquiry, aside from its passive aggressiveness, is twofold:
1. It’s manipulative and weird. I’m a fairly weird person, with all sorts of problems, including a “me-first-and-the-gimmie-gimmies” attitude, general slovenliness and a penchant for talking about myself incessantly to the point I’m regularly avoided at parties, that is, if I’m ever invited in the first place. But I don’t ever ask vague, open-ended questions with which I hope to finesse a specific commitment.
2. If I’m remotely paying attention (see third paragraph) what I really want to do is verbally eviscerate the perpetrator in a truly nuclear fashion to ensure they (a.) never speak with me like that again (b.) are aware of their malfeasance and/or psychological disorder and (c.) cry, lose sleep and realize what a horrible person they are and commit to therapy to eradicate all semblances of the behavior from their psyche.
See? What gives? Item (2.) is not a conscious choice. It’s just a reaction, similar to nitroglycerine reacting with sudden movement. This is why I could never be a politician – I’d lose my self-control at the first Town Hall and punch out the 4-H rep from Dubuque.
Thus, for the sake of humanity and my own freedom from incarceration, I’m developing a Public Service Announcement entitled “Don’t Ask Me About Saturday.” I’ll go on all the major networks (wait people don’t do that anymore right? I’ll make a YouTube video) with the intention of demonstrating the damaging effects of not asking directly for what you want/what’s on your mind and instead taking the circuitous route of forcing the interrogatee to awkwardly “fess up” their plans for the timeframe indicated in your vague inquiry.
And maybe I’ll get one of those stress balls.