Friday, February 13, 2009

show; don't tell

Years ago I took a writing class. In the beginning, no matter what I wrote the same red professorial scrawl would come back to me; show! don't tell! This particular professor wasn't really a fan of exposition (which makes me wish he had edited any book Oprah ever hawked on her insipid show). It was tricky at the start but I was a nerd and a dedicated writer so I kept writing until I got what he was saying and did it right.

And now, years and years later I keep finding that his phrase, his show! don't tell! is the perfect sum up for a relationship. Yes, it's quite possibly little more than a version of 'He's Just Not That Into You' but dammit if it doesn't work even better.

Telling someone you care about them is quite literally one of the easiest things in the world. Growing up my mom was a HUGE fan of telling me that talk is cheap. As usual, as always, dead right. Talk is cheap. You can say anything and take it back, say you were drunk, you forgot... you never have to say true to your words unless lawyers, police and a judge are involved. You can verbally toss out whatever the hell you want and fix it later.

I dated man who swore he loved me. Swore it! And wasn't that lovely? He would say that he loved me then put on his coat and go home to his girlfriend. I dated another who also claimed to adore me. He would text me all day long about how he couldn't go on without me in his life. The fact that he married another girl in the midst of all those texts didn't seem to dawn on him... he couldn't get why I was done with him "But I love you!!" he'd implore into the phone, "don't you see that? I tell you all the time". Yeah buddy, and what a gift that is. Shakespearean in its depth and breadth.

I love words. I love to find them, parse them, use them. I'm a reader and a writer, I have an appreciation for words but even I realize how flimsy they are, like soaking wet tissues. But showing someone you care... well that's a whole different story. That's hard. And no one wants to do hard except someone who truly wants you to get how they feel about you.

It's harder to be thoughtful of someone's feelings. It's harder to comprise and let the other person be happier this time. It's awkward to ask someone out. In the age of texting, facebook messaging and IMs it's a bit odder to call someone up and ask how their day was. It's so much harder to be present when you can just say "oops, sorry about that, but damn, I told you I care about you".

In the end, for me, the best way to show me that you care is to actually care about me. Show me, because words are cheap and everyone says things they don't mean.


  1. I too love words and completely agree sentiments should be shown and not spoken. Talking is overrated and often totally meaningless.

  2. read your email and enjoy the day - Hank


My Wish List