Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Ahhhh....the art of being relationally understated.  Or is it a science? I'm not sure yet.   I'm coining a descriptive term for my husband here because he can lack for personal exuberance in his delivery at times.  I don't mean that negatively as I appreciate an even keel. I just mean he is lacking a certain element of drama in his stories when you might expect to get, well at least a tidbit of rise and fall.  

Like the time when I decided to wax on about... oh, I don't remember but it was something happening to me equivalent to, say, a tight head band.  I was no doubt reeling around and dramatically pulling the thing from my temples having Jamey rub the indention on my head until I could muster up the strength to go on.  All I really remember was that I was voicing my woes about something silly and then a few minutes of ample sympathy later, he raised his shirt six inches looked at his stomach and said "Hmmph."  in a slightly annoyed tone.  I of course said "What?".  Then he mumbled in the laziest way "Oh I guess I've got a hernia."  "WHAT?" This time I was louder, and I looked to see what he was talking about.  Sure enough, there by his navel was an obvious blowout between his skin and muscle layers! ( I apologize if that makes anyone queazy.)  At this point I'm feeling like my "tight headband" condition might pale ever so slightly to this new revelation.  Yet, Jamey was giving me close to nothing reaction wise while discovering that his guts were practically spilling out on the floor!!  (See, I know how to give attention where attention is due. ;)

That was one of probably many examples where a casual presentation on the husby's side leads to a larger  than normal reaction on my side.  I'm sure there's some law describing this imbalance like Newton's third law "For every action there is an equal or opposite reaction". Only it would be a fourth or fifth law that states "For every under reaction, there is a wildly overdone counter reaction to equal out the overall level of general action ."  or something like that.  I didn't finish college so my scientific analysis may contain nuts and or milk products.  

My whole point here is not whether or not I remember science(or math?) rules but that this phenomenon has happened again.  And it never fails to catch me off guard!  There we were at a restaurant sitting around eating chicken and taking pictures of each other eating chicken.  

(Ratchet and friend )
( Me, the under reactor, and Dandy)

Then, as an afterthought, Jamey looks at his hand and says to himself  "Yep, that seems to have done the trick."  Well, this is of course where I look up from my battered french fries and mutter through greasy lips "What?" with little or no enthusiasm.  So he lays out his giant manly paw and says "I fixed my nail."  Ok,  I'm confused.  And I say as much, so he continues.  " Well remember the other day when I said my fingernail got torn a little and it went to the quick?"  "Sure, sure," I say wondering why we are talking about fingernails.  "Well, I fixed it and it doesn't hurt anymore."  "OK.  But I don't see what you are talking about.  You're nails look fine."  Then to myself "gee you'd think he had a hernia or something bringing up his nail again."  And then the surprise.  "That's because I put a fake nail on it." he says with the same lack of affect as before.  "WHAT?"  I ask for clarity.  "WHERE?"  "Right here."  He says showing me his hand again.  "I CAN'T SEE IT!!!"  I say now with disbelief and increasing inquiry.
And there it was on his ring finger.  I still couldn't tell it was fake, just that it was a hair longer than the others.  It looked absolutely congenital, like he was born with Sally Hanson's on!!!  I absolutely guffawed as I imagined how that thing got on his nail without me having ANY part of it!!  I sat there laughing at him as I imagined the shopping involved in the process.  Then I moved on to the skillful sizing and trimming he obviously had done and then to the gluing and the clear coat of paint that was on all of his nails and I laughed some more!  How does he manage to be so understated even as he dabbles in cross dressing????  

OH MY I needed that little surprise.  When I asked how he possibly got a set of fingernails big enough to fit his manly proportions, he just said "It's a thumb, so I have two that fit."   You know.  Just when you think you're aware of what's going on in your house......surprise, surprise. 

And so I've decided to coin the term "Relationally understated" as a descriptive for my husbands type of personality. He has got the quiet physical comedy down and half the time it seems purely accidental. Don't even get me started on the "neighbors slide incident" that story is for another time and place!   
Do you know someone like this? If so please feel free to use this terminology next time you speak of their drama inducing delivery. It is the equal and exact opposite of the way I'm wired and so I find it quite entertaining.  It's clearly an art form. Or maybe it's science.  I still don't know.


Mrs Smiley Joe said...

"For every under reaction, there is a wildly overdone counter reaction to equal out the overall level of general action ."

Perfect, that describes Brett and I to a tee. Hee hee. Relationally understated indeed!! I love knowing that this phenomenon occurs outside of just our home and relationship.

And that finger nail story...Priceless and FUNNY!!!! What a hoot!

Mrs Smiley Joe said...

I forgot I had a point to make/ask. Why are we as over reacting women drawn to such under reacting men? And why do we group together? I have 3 other over reacting friends married to under reacting men. Did we smell the under reacting pheromones all those years ago? Was that the determining factor in our choice for mate? Hmmm...this definitely is interesting. You're on to something Shan! Sheer genius, you are!

Shan said...

Hi Smiley J! Well, I HAVE noticed that about most of my friends come to think of it and you are certainly no exception ;). None of us have the salesman/comedian type of husband that seems super gregarious. Though it's true I only know some of the husbands through their wives eyes. Yah yah.

I think we are attracted to them because they are our tent stakes keeping us from blowing away. And of course they are deep and clever and all of that stuff too. There, there husbands. There, there.

And, conversely, I think they like us because we can burst into tears at a moments notice. Nah, just kidding. They like us because we are so very animated and remind them of tv. We are the brightests lights and the darkest of rooms. Two very exciting things to the under expressive male. :D Am I perhaps full of hooey? I'm still "workshopping" my concepts here.

Jenna Jean said...

What a great read that was!!! The Scates Family totally fits in that category!

My man: "My toe is hurting from when I kicked the dog yesterday"


That is a classic in our home!

Or the time I was in labor and Jay said "just go back to bed" because I was supposed to get induced the next day. When I finally got him to believe me I was dilated to a 9!

I totally agree with your last paragraph to Smiley Joe. "We are animated and remind them of TV" Love it!!!

Shan said...

BAHHAHAHAHA Jenna! I hadn't heard the kicked the dog one but Jason is one of the MOST hilarious at those types of things. He makes me laugh with one of those pretty much every time I see him! We have....shall we say... BIG personalities. And you have one of the most surprising of us all. :D

Maria said...

Nope. Bing is just the opposite. She rarely, if ever, gets sick or has medical problems. So...when she does get sick, she behaves as if she is on her death bed. And small problems really mess her up. Once, she interrupted my blogging to ask me to come into the bathroom and take a look at something. I got up...went in and she made me promise not to get upset before she showed me "something."

I queasily agreed, thinking that it must be something pretty bad.

She lifted up her arm and had me check out her armpit. There was a big zit on it.

"Does it look like a tumor?" she asked me.

I was shocked. IT WAS A ZIT. I told her so and told her to pop it.

She gave me a terrified look. "What if it isn't a pimple?" she asked. "What if I pop it and some um..toxins or something seep into my blood stream?"

Well, you know me. I laughed. I guffawed. I snorted. I was basically pretty unkind.


Katie said...

Such fun to read a new post of yours! This is a great story, and I love the term relationally understated. You're such a good writer - I could picture the whole scene and your reaction to the new nail was hysterical. I would have to say I'd probably be the relationally understated one in a relationship, but it's been a while so I don't really remember.

Tally said...

Superior blog-writing. I especially love the props to Newton. I mean, really. Newton? That impressed the fire out of me! Don't forget where we scored on that IQ test. We got it goin on!! You a little bit more than me tho. Anyway, I also LOVE how you totally OUT J and yet you yourself hide sheepishly behind "tight headband"....I'm so sure!! Poor J. Baaahaha! Tell him thx 4 the laughs.

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

Oh my gosh!! This is so stinkin' funny. Shan, I love the way you write! And just when I thought it couldn't possibly get funnier, I read the comments!!
"They like us because we are so very animated and remind them of tv. We are the brightest lights and the darkest of rooms. Two very exciting things to the under expressive male."

Where do you come up with this stuff?!?! Your mind works in mysterious ways!!

Scout said...

Thumb! Ha!

My husband is strictly a facts man with as few words expended as possible. I, on the other hand, like to exaggerate for effect. I am sometimes accused of lying because of it. Can you imagine?

Jamey Clayberg said...

I suppose I should post a super-over-the-top comment to add some color to the discussion! Ha ha. Good post lady, if we were both like me it would be "Subdued Central," we make a good match, ying yang style. Love and XOXOX

Shan said...

Heavens to Mergatroid Maria! I would have guffawed and then reached out and pinched it! No I wouldn't. But if I reacted that every time I found a blemish on my skin, I'd be like those goats who faint at the slightest disturbance. "What's this..huh? [fade to black] :D

Hi Katie :), I would think that you might be relationally understated the way you think nothing of traveling all over the place without fear. But then again, you DO use a lot of exclamation points when you write!!!! Heehee That tends to lean the other direction in my book! Bah ha
Oh and you know I try to fix you up but I just don't know many available fellows out that way! Maybe more travel will do the trick! hee hee hee

And Trisha, I KNEW you'd note the Newton! HA HA I swear I had no idea I retained any part of that and then, like magic my I.Q. just whipped it out! My mind is a sharpened weapon just waiting to be unsleeved! Oops, I just misspelled "sleeve". I guess I'd better take it back down a notch. Oh and for the last time, your test was the higher one!!!

SKS: Thank you for being entertained! I am not a useful sort around the house but I can be good for a laugh now and again. Oh, yes, and deep thoughts too. teehee

And Scout, yes I actually CAN imagine. Can you imagine how I would be able to. That's where the good story becomes great! Well, that and acting out the story while telling it helps too. BAH!

And husband. I peeked through my hands to read your comment. :D But, I know you are happy when you can shock me with your casual attitude and give me a huge laugh on your behalf. And of course, you are right. We can't both be sent over the edge into heartbroken tears on the front porch when we find a mouse in a glue trap pleading for its life, now can we? :} It's like tv right???

RoverHaus said...

Oh my, fake nails?

Oh Behave!

I think this is one of the reason's I like him so much. One cool cat!

savannah said...

perfect story for this morning! y'all are adorable! and right on target with that observation! ;) xoxox

Shelley said...

Seriously Shannon--tears are LITERALLY rolling down my face RIGHT NOW from this story. I cannot stop crying I am laughing so hard. (Picture me at Noodles, and you'll have some idea of the choking guffaws emanating from my chest)

I thought the hernia was hysterical and then you brought the nail story--I CAN'T STAND it! LOVE IT.