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GLINT


Can you hear me now? 12.21.04

Mocking people is a dicey business. Sooner or later, you will find yourself turning your biting wit and keen sense of the absurd right back where it belongs: on yourself. A friend of mine and I like to do this thing when people say something say totally expected, cliché, or otherwise hackneyed, tedious, or boring. We call it a “can you hear me now” and sometimes go as far to turn to each other and say that line in a very, very, very deadpan style. It kills us. And it is perfect because the tedium of socially acceptable (and expected) self-expression is inescapable—sooner or later we all come out with the totally dumb scripted line. We. All. Do. It. This is what they like to call irony; I like to call it an incredibly effective and frighteningly insightful advertising campaign. Whoever thought up that commercial should be in a corner office nicely equipped with a fully stocked liquor cabinet and a killer view of Madison Ave. Or whatever the epicenter of advertising is these days.


Anyway, some classic examples of a “can you hear me now” include:

1) “I have been trying to call you all night!”
“Oh, my cell is turned off”

2) “I can’t believe she’s going out with him!”
“She is a total slut. And you are way cuter!”

3) Various phrases you tend to hear so often, you want to scream, e.g. “I don’t think Interpol sounds like Joy Division at all.”

Perhaps some of the most painful “can you hear me now’s” occur in the arena of the heart—yes, the romantic cop outs that have persisted for so long precisely because they work so well. But while the insincere “I’ll call you” is certainly dreaded, it is important to point out that many of the romantically inspired “can you hear me now’s” exist for a good reason—they make things easier. Sometimes it’s so much easier to hear, “it’s not you, it’s me,” or “I’m just not ready for this,” rather than the much more complex and potentially hurtful real reasons behind people’s emotional muddling.

Also, here’s something I just learned: sometimes it’s easier just to stick with the safe, standard response, like someone’s holding up the prompt card for you. You know, when someone says something like, “I really miss you,” the correct response is “I miss you too.” The correct response is not, “I am totally paranoid that you’ll stop liking me during this longish-distancey kind of thing we’re doing.” No. That’s not the correct response.

I have a really bad habit of saying exactly what pops into my head with little to no editing involved. Sometimes I hear something come out of my mouth and I see the text of what I just uttered clicking past like a teletype on CNN and I’m thinking, “No, what the hell is that? Did I really just say that?” Sometimes, the things I say kind of hang around for a moment, like big, annoyingly clingy cartoon conversation balloons. Lately my brilliant comments have tended to hover dangerously overhead, awkward and filled with ill portent--more like blimps heading for the electrical wires. Oh the humanity.


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