Posted by: foodtalker | November 6, 2010

under instruction

My friend Suzie has just begun a new relationship. 

But ever since the initial coffee at Starbucks he’s been writing and texting several times a day to say how he really likes her.  It’s making her suspicious and anxious.  She wants to know how can he already be making such bold declarations.  Is she not more complex?  I told her that he’s a bit like those people who, with barely one foot over the threshold, start gushing that your house is darling.  It’s just a reaction of enthusiasm with no basis in realism – but that’s me trying to be kind.

She’s not used to someone being so immediate – in fact she finds it a turn off.  She said she wishes he would wait to text her until after 7pm.  Then she could spend the whole day in a state of emotional turmoil and suspense wondering if he’d changed his mind.   Confirmation that he hadn’t would then be a huge aphrodisiac. 

None of this is a problem for me.  No one ever tells me they like me, or if they do, it’s not at the front end of the relationship, but at the end as a sort of consolation prize, when they are eager to assure me that they still really really like me.

Wouldn’t it be great if men came with operating instructions to maximize their performance and shelf life?

For instance, the instructions with a recent dalliance would have read: 

Warning: Narcissistic personality.  Don’t expect any attention unless it creates an additional self reflective glow.  Don’t take it personally. Pay homage. Worship and amuse.  It’s not about you. 

Emotional conditions may render appliance subject to regular periods of attempted over achievement that might result in either malfunction or equipment failure. Some parts are old and rusty.  Patience and selflessness are a prerequisite.  Keep up the strokes and assurances.  It’s not about you.     

Best used in short bursts over limited periods of time due to external attention deficit disorder.  Remember, it’s not about you.  It will never be about you.  Anticipate zero return for efforts made.      

And then the warranty would have a long list of what’s not covered including sincerity, honesty, generousity, accountability, magnanimity, or culpability.  And of course any out of pocket expenses or repair costs will not be refunded.  

My friend Rachael’s operating instructions would read like this: 

“Congratulations on your new purchase.  Take me home and I am yours forever”. 

But my own would be more complex:  

Unfortunately this machine’s original instructions were misplaced during manufacture so you’ll just have to figure it out as you go along.  Look for pop-ups that might offer occasional clues and options.  However, these are short lived and must be activated.  If all else fails, opt for end task, wait a day or two and then reload.  24-hour help might be available if you have the right phone numbers.  The wrong choices can cause a total system crash.  Sometimes the damage is irreparable.  Keep your receipt. 

But the only problem with an instruction manual is it’s best read before installation not afterwards.



  1. Good blog, Kate! But, your friend should run like hell. Those are classic symptoms of a control freak who often becomes abusive. Best, Bev

    • Very clever (and objectively amusing) if it were not more than tinged with sadness.

  2. Brilliant, Kate. But I venture to say that one dealie with a narcissist and we are all cured forever! It takes one to learn on, and that’s it. We’ve learned! Because ultimately, after that, they are so easy to spot you can see them in a crowd. It’s that hopeful look that says, “Could I be the center of your world, even if you could never be the center of mine, because I’m already the center of mine and there’s no room for anyone else.” Good grief. How much better off the world would be without narcissists.

  3. Those poor men! If only they knew how complex we are! LOL

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