Lost in Translation

The other day, while I was trying to get some much overdue work finished my phone rang. I looked at the screen and the minute I saw the name flashing there, I knew it can’t be good. It was none-other than a girl I know, who only seems to remember to call me when there is a problem, a crises, or the need for advice regarding a guy she has had feelings for , for some time now. So I picked up , knowing very well, that this was not going to be a cheerful conversation. Surely enough it wasn’t, since I was not met with a “Good Morning”, “How are you”, or anything resembling a remote question about me, my life or what I am up to. Worse still, I was not even asked if it was a good time for her to talk to me or not because this girl seems to assume that all times are good times for her to talk and for me to listen.
Instead, the first words I heard were “Why are all men deranged”, which was not exactly the best way to start my day. So I jokingly replied ”And good morning to you too”, but the 20 something girl ignored my attempt at a joke completely and she then said “Why do men don’t understand women seriously.” and then without giving me a chance to try and respond to her cosmic question she went on to say “He didn’t reply to my call”, “he” at this point being the guy she is interested in and who in return is simply practicing the coma routine. “When did you ring him? “ I asked “Last night but not late you know kind of late but not early either” she replied. “Seriously??” I asked, “And you are calling me coz he didn’t reply to your call Last night?” “Come on, he must have seen my call” she said.
I snapped “ Didn’t you think that he might be sleeping, eating, dead, injured, lying in a hole with his fingers paralyzed and his tongue tied, or here is another wild guess working, or not alone, or his phone was on silent, or whatever and that is why he didn’t reply? If he didn’t reply to you in days you should be worried but a few hours? get a grip on reality girl! ” “I don’t know what I mean to him” she said “He is all about the mixed messages”. “Sweetie why don’t you just ask him? “ I replied. “Well, I am worried I will hear something I don’t want to hear, but here is the thing………….” She said only to reveal to me a list of word for word conversations they had shared.
Being the good friend, I listened as we went on to try and analyze every little thing about their talks. Despite all our analytical capacities, the phone call didn’t end with any major discovery, and being at a loss, as to what I should say to the young girl, I ended the conversation with the simple advice that she should just ask him what she meant to him, not because it was necessary but because it was obviously the thing she was dying to do .
However, being a single girl myself, I wasn’t even sure if my simple advice was any good . Good or not, I personally have always been a fan of the bad answer above the no answer approach in such matters, Some people consider this approach to be abrupt and even suicidal to the self esteem, but life has taught me that no matter how destructive the bad answer is, when it comes to matters love and emotion, the heart does have a way of healing itself eventually and life always does go on.
For the rest of that day, the phone call did get me to wonder more about men, women, and relationships. I kept asking myself why it was that when we come face to face with a communication issue between ourselves and any member of the opposite sex, we spend all our time trying to analyze and understand what is being said and what is meant. Worse yet, we spend our time trying to analyze and understand what the opposite sex is trying to say to us, all by using the analytical capacities of members of our same sex. Girls ask girls, and guys ask guys, and together we are all asking for advice from people who are just as lost and confused as we are. If that isn’t puzzling enough, we make things even worse by asking for romantic advice from our single friends, as if their single status isn’t enough of an indication that they are just as lost as we are. At the end of the day, if our single friends had any clue as to what they were doing they wouldn’t be single like us.
To this effect, I always smile to myself every time someone asks me for romantic advice, since I can’t help but think that they had definitely come to the wrong person. I am a girl with a long track record of misreading the signs, and this in itself has led to a past history of train wrecks in the relationship domain. I am sure I am not the only person to make this claim. Such a grand history of misfits and blunders has nothing to do with age, since anyone who is still single is still probably misreading the signs at the age of 20, 30, or even 40. So, how an earth is a single girl ever expected to know what a guy thinks or to even venture on why he doesn’t do or does do something, and similarly how is a single guy ever going to understand what a girl thinks of him.
Now less honest but more opportunistic people have actually made careers out of helping people solve the blunders of relationships. Online forums, books, and full websites have been dedicated to the tedious task of decoding the differences between men and women . But, did these channels solve any problems of miscommunication? The answer is not really since people today are still asking others for consultations. They did however succeed in making the simple task of two people getting together a strategic undertaking. These channels even come in strange titles like “Get him to like you in ten steps”, “How to make him call you more”,” What she means when she is not talking”, “How to understand men” “What women want” so that each standard communication comes to effect after following a step by step formula.
In pure desperation for answers, girls and guys learn the skills fed to them from such channels of communication and then to appear smart they pass on this knowledge. As a result, girls tell the girls to play hard to get, and guys tell the guys to not respond.
The simple issue of love has taken up so much of people’s thinking to the point where relationship books are bestsellers. On a more personal note, I had to once fight everyone’s urge to read “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”, in a Book Club I am on the committee of, refusing this book as a piece of literature alongside other books like Ahlam’s “The Art of Forgetting” (Nisyankom).
Maybe life is a lot simpler than that. But if we do keep things simple how will relationships remain the center of people’s conversations and a source of income for many people who claim to be the gurus of love and infatuation? It is those people who keep encouraging a society of lies and misunderstandings, so that we spend our time analyzing by phone or at cafes what could be just told us straight on
Can’t we just ask the second half what they really mean, just to save us all the trouble of guessing, or shall we continue to give the opportunists new sources of income and those who are driven by ego more moments of fame?
At the end of the day, I hope that any advice I had given in this domain was useful. But, then again I tell all those asking for advice that I really don’t know anything and that I like them am taking a wild guess.

Note
The story in this piece is a mixture of fact and fiction some details were changed in protection of people’s privacy,

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