How to Talk to an Irrational Person

Chris is the best at talking to irrational people.  I think its because he’s had lots of practice.  After all, we’ve been together almost 10 years.  That is sort of an admission that at times – very, very rare times – I have been known to act in somewhat irrational ways.  I don’t know why I do it.  But sometimes I just feel the need to shake things up and I have found the most effective way to do that is with an irrational demand or irrational argument.  Both are equally fulfilling to me.

This weekend I made an irrational demand which led to an irrational argument, so bonus points to me for thoroughness.

A few weeks ago, Chris read somewhere that Mystic, CT (one of my favorite places) was having a Labor Day Festival.  I was surprised that he mentioned this to me because usually it is me dragging him to these kinds of things, so I was really excited.  Sunday morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn all pumped up about our Mystic Adventure.  But when I poked Chris in the ribs to get him up, too, he just kind of whined about driving so far.  Undeterred, I made him get up and we headed out.

Almost four hours later, we arrive in scenic Mystic and I’m ready to go.  But Chris is mopey.  He doesn’t want to actually go into the Festival.  Trying not to panic and call him all kinds of names in public, I ask him what HE would like to DO now that we are in MYSTIC, dear. And he compromises and says we can go to this arts festival up the street.  Great!

Lets talk about art for a minute.  Chris and I both appreciate the arts – him because he works in them and me because I want to be artistic more than anything (though sadly, I have the artistic abilities of a chimp).  But we are not the art-buying type.  We’ve never owned anything original and its never been a big priority in our lives.  When we bought our new house though, we decided to try and only use original artwork.  Nothing expensive, really, just things from student artists or street venders, sketches from our travels, etc.  This is the extent of our interaction with art.

As we are looking through the stands at the arts festival, we are both immediately drawn to this one vendor’s tent.  There are the most beautiful paintings inside.  Vibrant, colorful, passionate.  The kind of art that even I can appreciate.  Really breathtaking.  And Chris felt the same way.  So, I call over the artist and ask him about two paintings that we particularly liked.  He described them with such love that I almost asked if he would come home with us.  After his explanation and once I closed my mouth and wiped the dribble off my chin, I asked him how much one of them cost.

$650

Now, to some people, this might be a steal.  Especially for a piece of art that is as beautiful as the one we were looking at.  But we recently put our entire piggy banks into our down payment on our house and since then we’ve been making decisions like whether we should buy laundry detergent or toothpaste.  So, $650 on a piece of art is a little much right now.

Chris (the rational one in this situation) takes the guy’s card and politely says we’ll think about it.  And I (the irrational one in this situation) demand to know why Chris won’t let me buy the piece of art.  Why?  Why will you not let me spend our grocery money on a painting, Chris?  Why?  So what if we can’t pay our electric bill?  So what if we can’t put gas in the car?  Light a candle and hitchhike to work!

But instead of immediately arguing with me, Chris says that we should walk through the rest of the festival and think about it.  Sure, think about it.  I’ve heard that before.  I’m still waiting for my mom to get back to me on thinking about extending my high school curfew.  Everyone knows a thinking about it is just the lazy way of saying no.

And I go into a rage.  I want the art.  I want the colorful, happy, vibrant art!  I want it on my wall!  I want it now!  BUY ME THE ART, DAMMIT!  (This would be the irrational demanding part…)

Now, Chris knows that the best thing to do in these situations is to remove me from the scene.  Much like a 3 year old.  Just take me somewhere else and distract me with candy and shiny things.  So, he takes me down the street and buys me an ice cream cone.  And that’s when I go into the irrational arguing part.

“You’re so boring, Chris!  You never want to just be spontaneous!  You just want to do the same things over and over again!”  (Which is a strikingly similar comparison to my Dad, if you want to go all Freudian on me…)

“Okay,” Chris says.  “Other than buying that painting, what do you want to do that is more spontaneous?”

“Like travel.  Why don’t we ever go anywhere on the spur of the moment?  Why don’t we just go away for a weekend every now and then?  Just up and go?”  (Side note:  The answer to this question is because of the previously stated laundry detergint vs. toothpaste issue…)

“Okay,” he says.  “We could do that more.  Maybe on Columbus Day we could go to Montreal for a long weekend.  How does that sound?”

“Okay,” I say, thoroughly enjoying my ice cream cone.  “That’d be fun.  Do you want some of my Chunky Monkey?”

And that, my friends, is how you talk to an irrational person.  You talk them around the real issue until they are so distracted that they are happy again.  It works every time for me.  But you know, only Chris can really do it right.  Somehow when I’m irrational, he just has a way of talking me around in circles until I’m happy again, and by the time I’ve realized what has happened I’m already enjoying myself too much to complain.  He’s a sneaky guy…

We did not buy the $650 piece of art.  And even though there is still a huge empty space on my living room wall, I don’t really mind.  I hear Montreal is beautiful this time of year…

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