The Pasty Gentleman's Guide to Communication

JOSHUA DANIEL MATTSON // NOVEMBER 9, 2018 

Hey. I’m Josh and I use he/him/his. I’m an Environmental Studies major and History minor, and I joined frisbee because —

Oh sorry. Forgot what this was for a second. Anyways, hey guys. Sorry — I mean hey y’all. I’m here to talk to y’all about a really important learning experience I had. Last weekend, I was at a party on South Professor, nursing a Black Label, bopping my head on one and three because let’s be real, I have no sense of rhythm. Suddenly, I saw a figure approaching me on the dance floor. It was a girl who I definitely knew but whose name I couldn’t remember right away. Before I could mumble “What’s up,” she dragged me off the dance floor and sat me down. “Dude, literally what the fuck!?” she said, then started yelling at me for not responding to her texts for a week, especially because we had talked about what a bad texter I was a thousand times before.

As she was talking, I remembered where I knew her from: I’d been hooking up with her pretty consistently since school started. And she made me breakfast last week after I stayed over cause I ran out of meal swipes. And I cried to her about my parents’ divorce freshman year on our Barrows hall. Kayla! Her name is Kayla.

Kayla walked away from me and we didn’t make eye contact for the rest of the party. Soon after that I went home and smoked with my housemates cause I was pretty wiped.

Three weeks later, I remembered the conversation and stopped in my tracks. I was disgusted with myself. I must learn how to communicate, I thought. So, here I am. 24 hours and one Adderall-fueled writing session later, I have changed like the water in my bong- every six months. I consulted my panel of experts — three girls who sit together on the stairs during Tank meals — plus one Jezebel article about ghosting I saw on my timeline. Here’s what I found out: communication is hard. And takes effort. But don’t worry! If you’re like me, you can use these tips and tricks to be a great communicator without sacrificing your precious energy:

1. Don’t ghost!

It’s really draining to pick your phone up from your night stand and send a reply text to the human being you hooked up with. However, you can still be in touch without performing this difficult task! Some alternative methods include communicating via carrier pigeon or organizing a campus wide game of telephone and hoping your “hey I can’t hang out tonight I have a screening” message gets to them.

2. Queerbaiting: Don’t. Don’t!!!

It’s unquestionably fine to explore sexual fluidity. But flirting with a friend of your same gender when you know you’d never follow through? Nuh-uh. But hey, you can still show them that you’re an ally! A more respectful way to go about honoring your friends’ identity is to always be saying things like, “if I were queer, I would totally date you, but I’m not.”

3. Emotional Labor

It’s really shitty to never give emotional support to someone who constantly listens to you talk about your own feelings. Next time you vent, show them you appreciate their time and energy by leaving a tip when you’re done talking. It’s awesome if you make a really big show of fishing a few singles out of your pocket when you do this — a little gesture is all it takes to show how hard you’re working to be better.

 

4. Don’t Be Vague

Your partner deserves specificity about what you’re thinking and feeling when it comes to your relationship. So, the more idiosyncratic language you can use to describe where you’re at, the better. For help on this one, consult your friend whose creative writing capstone is a cross-genre exploration of texts from his ex, chemtrail theories, Cory Booker’s Twitter, and Lolita. Here are some handy turns of phrase to get you started:

 

“I don’t want to be exclusive right now ‘cause I care about you but I care more about being a horny little boy” = “It’s just like the tides/ wavering her hair grey/ with age like an oak tree ring or/ circular smoke puff”

 

“I’m not really into you anymore but I kinda like how obsessed you are with me so I just kept things going” = “Ye temptress! Ye siren! Turn back! Turn back!”

 

“I’m ending things because I’m afraid of intimacy and I need space to think about how special that predicament is” = “When a surgeon abandons his scalpel mid-operation where does his own heart go? It flatlines. Boom boom. Beeeeep. I turned off Grey’s Anatomy. I shut the light. Poured some scotch. It stained my sheets. Like you.”

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