Thursday, October 6, 2016


I was doing my daily 5, which, in actuality is more like 4.7 miles and is not "daily" so much as it is...four times a week-ish.

Shut up. I'm not sitting on the sofa eating bon-bons.

Oh, how I wish I was sitting on the sofa eating bon-bons.

Instead, I was minding my own business, hoofing it around the lake.

Behind me, I heard voices--a man and a woman. They seemed distant. Her voice was very quiet and his less so. I couldn't hear what they were saying.

Surprisingly soon after I first heard them, they were overtaking me on my left. They were speaking in a low, guarded volume, which was what made me initially think they very were far behind me. They kept doing so as they passed, and neither looked up from their shoes the entire time. They never looked at each other and never looked around.

It was obvious they were a couple--only couples, and perhaps specifically Minnesota couples of a certain age (Late-50's through Dead...?) speak to each other in that way.

The mumble. The Minnesota Marriage Mumble.

I call it a Minnesota thing--I'm sure older couples in Iowa and North Dakota and Wisconsin do it, too. They barely speak to each other, not because they're fighting, just because they're using some kind of messed up Word Economy thing they've complacently wandered into and never left.

On the one hand, you see these couples and think they've been together so long they've got communication down to a science! A type of short-hand that requires only sounds they have developed over the years--sounds only *they* understand. It's a positive! It's their little thing. They know each other *that* well!

On the other hand, gawd, it's awful. Fucking awful. They seem so miserable. They're barely above grunting. How did they even get together in the first place without actually speaking? Or did their relationship evolve into this? Was there a particular event that caused the decline of their verbalization? Maybe they got into a big fight 20 years ago, stopped speaking to each other and somehow never fully started again?

I imagine the things they mumble under their breath when they are having their little passive-aggressive, "I hate my spouse," moments. Not meant for the other to hear, because it would start a conflict and we wouldn't want *that*, but it makes the mumbler feel better, bitching to themselves about it.


I see all kinds of couples walking around the lake, and I purposely don't listen to music while I am out, so I can eavesdrop on other people. The quick memo app on my phone is loaded with sentences that I heard actual people say to other people that I thought sounded interesting enough to write about later.

People are funny.

Sometimes they're funny because you know they've had the same conversation at least two dozen times in the late 6 months because, duh, they're people, and we're mostly boring idiots. The fact they find themselves unable to ever change the subject is sad, but, I can laugh because I'm not them.

Usually it's a wife relaying the upcoming schedule to her supposedly hapless man: "Don't forget Bob and Tammy are coming for dinner Thursday, and Megan is bringing the boys over Saturday morning while she runs out to Shakopee. I'm not sure WHAT I'm going to do with those two! Maybe take them to the farmer's market with me, or the Science Museum..." He listens, but doesn't particularly care and won't remember half of it.

Sometimes you can tell it's a couple out on their first date. Sometimes it's older guys talking about their investments, or younger guys talking about their jobs, or younger women talking about younger guys, or slightly older women talking about office dynamics, or a husband and wife enjoying some scandalous gossip about a neighbor or co-worker. Really, it's any number of combinations of people and they are having bright and animated conversations--they're outside! It's nice out! We're walking/running/pushing a stroller! Yay talking!

And then...mumblers. They don't even pretend to be happy to be there for the benefit of others, much less themselves. They walk around the lake as if it is yet another duty thrust upon them by the misfortune of their horrible lives.

Mumblers are less common than the Missus With The Weekly Schedule In Her Head (that's every 3rd couple, and, full disclosure: I was one of those wives when I had a husband--I knew he didn't give a shit, I just talked for the sake of talking). Mumblers are every 20th couple, give or take. They are becoming more rare, but...if you're patient, they appear. Much less majestic than Lake Harriet's part-time-resident bald eagle, and much easier to photograph, don't really want to take their picture. Or ever see them for any reason other than academic.

I walked home with the mumblers in mind and got a call from my friend, who wanted to complain about her date. She was right to complain--the man sounded like somebody NOBODY should date. She sounds defeated and hints she is ready to settle. She doesn't like being single and is ready to settle for just anyone.

Don't do it, girl...don't become a mumbler.

When I see the mumblers and hear the sad dating stories of my friend, I'm happy to be "single-and-not-really-looking."

Very happy.

Look at my house: It's my sanctuary. No one to resent, and very little frustration in living alone, except for, "Why isn't there a man here to take out the trash/go to shows with me/have great sex?" I can open my own jars and get things off of high shelves and pay my own bills. I can do what I want to do all day every day and not worry about who might get pissed off about it.

Yes, dinner is chicken and broccoli. Yes, I ate the same thing yesterday. Don't care.

I wish more women realized these things--all of the things of which they are quite capable, and I wish women (and men) closely guarded the things that bring them joy instead of giving them up as a part of a relationship contract. If they did, even if they decided to get into a relationship, with this knowledge and attitude it would make it a better relationship. Not settling. No mumbling.

Maybe when I give this advice, I'm just looking for more single friends to hang out with me--that assessment does have some merit. After all, it doesn't have to be a man going to shows with me--they can just be there for the trash and the sex parts. I can go to shows with girls I have hoodwinked into giving up on relationships. This definitely works in my favor.

And we can go to shows sit and complain about our lack of relationships.

But we won't be mumbling.

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