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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
That's What She Said
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Friday
Jan192007

Dichotomy Of A Serial Pleaser

I've never been one for romantic comedies. Oh, I indulged in my fair share of Molly Ringwald (I heart Jake Ryan) classics.. and I still love those. Give me an Anthony Michael Hall over Julia Stiles any day of the week. It's the modern romantic comedy that leaves me emptier than a Vodka bottle under Lindsay Lohan's bed. Not sure why. I'm not pretentious for fucksakes. Well, I try not to be. But when my self-esteem is low and I need to feel superior to something, I've been known to name drop a band that I could give fuck all for.
"Oh you haven't heard the new Sigur Ros record? Fucking amazing. You're SO missing out."
But mostly, I'm not all about subtitles and obscure foreign flicks or anything. Chrissakes, I've not even seen Amelie.. and cred seeking tards have been dragging out that film for ages. So, no - I'm not pretentious. God, I can watch sitcoms well beyond any human beings capacity to listen to a laugh track without slicing off their ears and shoving them under the couch cushions.

For me? Laugh track = PROZAC. Say it with me everyone... LAUGH TRACK EQUALS PROZAC.

**cue laugh track**

When I used to have a freak-out, anxiety attack - whatever the chic term is for engaging in a good ol' fashioned episode of straight up losing your shit - I'd watch a sitcom instead of drinking or popping pills. Okay, so sometimes I did all three.. but nowadays, I mostly stick to Roseanne re-runs. So fuck off all you grandiloquent no-TV-owners of the world. Yes, even you, brother-in-law Dave who expresses disgust concern for my television consumption.
"You're not taking my brother down with you, are you?"
Please.. I've seen The Surge sit through several Real World episodes and then express genuine interest in the latest episode of FLAVA FLAV... 'take my brother down', indeed. I'm not the one watching American Idol.. I've moved upward and onward... to classier fare - like The Bad Girls Club on the Oxygen network. Oh Ripsi, you so crazy. But most importantly, Ripsi dear, underneath my mirth at your psychopathic antics, you make me feel so much better about myself.. and that's really the important thing, right? Glorifying in the fucked-upness of others for just a moment, a glimmer of self-satisfaction. Else what is the point of reality television?

Point is, I don't like modern romantic comedies. They're filled to the brim with hot air and sugar; cotton candy. But the biggest transgression? Those cloying director bastards slick over a liberal coating of "realism" (read: Julia Roberts as a struggling hooker or J-Lo as a maid with a precocious child to support. NOTE: both women were "saved" by rich, white men) so we all grow up with fucked up versions of love and life and family. Constantly comparing our own lives with the movies and wondering why in Jesus name we're all so fucking fucked up? We aren't. It's the moves that are wrong. Fucked up is the new norm, don't you know? Thank God for the reality shows and their embarrassing displays of just how far human-beings will go for attention. At least they help to wash off the saccharine romantic comedy candy shell that leaves my body stickier than Jenna Jameson's after a hard day's work on the set of "Cum One Cum All."

The romantic comedies. I get pissed just watching them. The foppish Hugh Grant playing (surprise!) Hugh Grant with his flopping hair and boyish charm can go straight to hell. HOWEVER, What I'm trying to say is that because of my unhealthy penchant for sitcoms, I can certainly understand why someone else would enjoy watching Jack-o-lantern Julia neigh her way through a flick or Cheshire Cameron shake her over-exposed ass. Again.

So there's that. The one side of me. The unemotional, romantic comedy hating, skeptical, raging loner who would rather stay inside and read than meet pals for a cocktail.

And then there's that other side of me, which, truth be told, does not come as naturally as Mean M*nica. The side of me that wants to please, she writes shit like this.. But the real me? Is more like this.

Deep down I really think I am this huge, bleeding heart.. I love everybody and I want everybody to love me, to a fault. But over that gushy cherry center is a rock hard layer of bittersweet chocolate. That metaphor is so lame. What is it with the candy metaphors today? But anyway, way down deep I love people and want to please all of them all of the time. Which makes me so fucking angry! Reading back over this blog I can see that sad sack of a girl laboring to be honest but shying away from really saying what she wants for fear of attack from internet strangers. It's how I am in person too. I bend over backwards to be nice to strangers, random assholes on the street - falling all over myself with goofy smiles and "no problems" even though you just stepped on my toe with your POINTY GODDAMNED MANOLOS, YOU FAKE EYELASH GLUING, HAIR EXTENSION WEARING, GUCCI PURSE CARRYING, ORANGE-FACED --- ahem.... Yet, here at home, a pin drops and I glower at The Surge with a churlish lift of my left eyebrow accompanied by a bitter sneer perfected by years of use. Poor fuck. Still, I feel so justified in my raging bitchiness because I had a broken childhood and I'm just waiting for him to make it all better. It's his job, right? That's why I got married... so the man could fix everything. Shamefully, although I wish it were a clever, post-modern observation, there is more than a grain of truth in that last sentence.

Shouldn't it be the opposite? Shouldn't the nice girl make appearances at home and with loved ones and the bitter bitch be the one carving her way through New York subways, news stations and such?

Reader Comments (31)

I think the reason you watch sitcoms is the same reason I watch romantic comedies. They just make me feel better. Happy endings are safe and you know the girl/guy will always get the girl/guy. Romantic comedies are safe to watch, if you know what I mean. I absolutely love your blog. I've been reading over all your The Girl Who stories and they're just brilliant!

January 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

"Shouldn't it be the opposite? Shouldn't the nice girl make appearances at home and with love ones and the bitter bitch be the one carving her way through New York subways, news stations and such?"

It should be Monica but it NEVER is! I could be in the worst mood of my entire life - throwing things at my husband *purses, socks, pens, oranges...nothing fatal really*. But then 10 minutes later we are at the bar with friends and man I am witty, charming and hilarious! It pisses Rob off to no end that in the middle of one of my moods he gets the shit covered log end of the stick and everyone else in the world gets 'fun Richelle.' It is just part of the package - it's in our genetics as women - and then it allows men to use their FAVOURITE explanation that they know nothing about...'It must be PMS'....

January 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterrichelle

I grew up feeling great resentment towards my father for doing exactly that. Everyone knew him as a funny, charming, happy person and then at home I saw the real him - angry, silent, and disapproving. Later in life, It was brought to my attention that I was doing the exact same thing. It felt so wrong at first but I made a concious effort to be just as nice to my husband as I am the dickhead who cuts in front of me in the grocery line with 15 items because he (husband not dickhead) is the one who really deserves it.

January 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterchristina

"I bend over backwards to be nice to strangers, random assholes on the street - falling all over myself with goofy smiles and "no problems" even though you just stepped on my toe with your POINTY GODDAMNED MANOLOS"

That's funny because since I've been in NYC I've noticed that I like how NY'ers are "real" with strangers. I got so sick of the whole southern charm thing-I guess I came across too many people who faked it, and I couldn't do it...I have a hard time being nice and charming if I don't mean it, or want to be. I quickly adopted the sometimes cold, strictly business attitude.

But also, I usually only lash out at loved ones-people who I know will still like me/be there for me afterwards. Which is horrible, but then again, they've freaked out on me too...I think everyone needs a a few people with which they have no filters. Like Richelle said, "it's part of the package" when you're dealing with good friends/family. That way our nasty side isn't presented to the world for everyone else to deal with...

And of course I've now dimantled my anti-southern charm argument...looks like I'm a hypocritical mess - definitely time to start drinking!


January 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterktphotog

Please oh please keep comments on! I love the readers of your blog and I nearly enjoy the comments as much as your posts.

I don't like romantic comedies either! But I'm also not so into sitcoms (exept The Office) I hope that doesn't make me pretentious. I just got to the point where if I watched another sitcom about some fat husband screwing up and his pretty wife giving him the business I'd puke.

Great post and don't be so hard on yourself. You seem to be more analytical than most so you're prone to hating yourself more.

January 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGemma

It's early in the morning where I am. I'm reading through my favorite blogs, drunk, searching for something. Here yoo are. As always, I can feel you strugggling to express yourself with honesty. I enjoy every single blog you write and wanted to tell you so while you are allowing comments. It's nice to know that not all girls are the stereotype they seem to be.

January 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRaj

It's early in the morning where I am. I'm reading through my favorite blogs, drunk, searching for something. Here yoo are. As always, I can feel you strugggling to express yourself with honesty. I enjoy every single blog you write and wanted to tell you so while you are allowing comments. It's nice to know that not all girls are the stereotype they seem to be.

January 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRaj

Drat! Sorry for the dreaded double (and now triple) post.

January 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRaj

I know exactly what you are saying here. That's all I got. Just checking in from my rainy trip to Austin. :-)

January 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEDW

I very much know what you mean about dichotomy. Growing up in pubic my Mom was one way with us and a completely different way around the people she worked with. They loved her. She never hugged us or told us she loved us. She's in a retirement home now and as far as I can tell, is mean to everyone now. I think the dichotomy is natural to a degree. We're all more comfortable around our loved ones. It's only when taken to an extreme that its wrong. But everyone has a public and private persona that aren't the exact same.

January 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I totally related to this. I sometimes act towards my husband in a way I would NEVER act towards any other person on this planet. It sucks, but it also seems really hard to control. The sad part in my case, is that he does NOT do it to me. If he ever acted towards me the way I (sometimes) act towards him, it would hurt me so bad. I recognize that this is fucked up. I just don't know how to change it.

Thanks for opening comments again! I so often relate to your posts that it's hard to not have that comment button to be able to tell you so. Emailing seems too creepy.

January 20, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteramanda b

Just watched Amelie about two weeks ago and LOVED it. It's on sale at Target for $9.98 with the Valentines stuff. (FYI)

January 20, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercassie

I can COMPLETELY relate- although I adore the romantic comedies and would happily sit at home and watch them all day, any day- I am the same way at home and on the street though- love to all the strangers in the world just to make them like me and then sneering and snapping to the one who does like me, loves me, adores me, regardless of the sneering- I guess that's what matters.

January 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAdrienne

In old land Ripsi would be hanged likke a death rabit.what decadency is it yankees calls enthertainement? It is disturb.

January 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterH

We can comment! Wooohooo! Every time I read one of your posts I am dying to comment and email DOES seem like too much. I am highly suspect of all romantic comedies as well. They're so formulaic and you can predict every single thing that will happen. That said, I do love my fair share. They're like comfort food, right?

January 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I’m high up there in the ranks of the stranger-pleasers, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be so bubbly to the guy who just sold me gum if I had just wiped-up the beard clippings he left all over the sink for the umpteenth day in a row.

It’s got nothing to do with love as far as I can tell. It’s got everything to do with being roommates and, well honestly, seeing your rotten self through your roommates eyes. But I’d rather just blame it on how irritated I am about the crackers on the floor.

January 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHolls

I love Roseanne AND Sigur Ros, and hate anything with Hugh Grant in it.

There's no oomph, that's the problem. Roseanne has oomph.

January 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterClare

rather than focus on the public face vs. private face, why not think more holistically? should we not try to walk through the world in goodwill, whether we are at home or not? (by the way, i live in nyc, and find that people here are generally nice, warm, helpful, etc.) one can't be in a good mood ALL of the time, of course. but one can certainly have the intention of treating everyone, beginning especially with oneself, with respect. then the "bad mood" moments are just that...moments, i.e. they pass. intention is everything, and from reading your post, it would seem to me that you, like most of us, have good intentions. thank you for writing this.

January 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterS

rather than focus on the public face vs. private face, why not think more holistically? should we not try to walk through the world in goodwill, whether we are at home or not? (by the way, i live in nyc, and find that people here are generally nice, warm, helpful, etc.) one can't be in a good mood ALL of the time, of course. but one can certainly have the intention of treating everyone, beginning especially with oneself, with respect. then the "bad mood" moments are just that...moments, i.e. they pass. intention is everything, and from reading your post, it would seem to me that you, like most of us, have good intentions. thank you for writing this.

January 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterS

Damn, I do this too. I never really thought about how I am so sweet to all the outside assholes in the hopes that they will walk away thinking 'what a nice girl' and instead give my friends and family the hateful bitch attitude. Hmm, something to work on.

As for the romantic comedies, yes, they are always nice on the fat pms days, but damn, they sting when you realize that the rich, handsome doctor (or whatever feel good occupation) are a *little* hard to come by these days...

January 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHales

hey sharer of the love for the Fork.
I agree, recent romantic comedies just aren't as good as the ones of old.
And this is a tragedy.

January 22, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersublime-ation

You are sassy lately. I like that. Keep it coming.

January 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJAY

H, is that you Hamad? If so, I missed you! Monica, you crack me up even if I don't agree with you. My life would have no meaning if I couldn't curl up with a schmaltzy romantic comedy. I liked what somebody said about trying to be kind all the time. Sadly, for me, this would never work. I must vent my frustrations on someone. If it isn't the man on the subway, then it will be my significant other. Those are just the odds.

January 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAimee

I loved this post too, but have to comment on the fact that you are bringing your childhood issues into this relationship and I think that by hoping and/or expecting the Surge to make it all better, you are not taking enough responsibility. I have gone through this too and have found that at some point we really have to deal with our own baggage ourselves and not expect someone else to deal with all of the issues for us. Chances are that our significant other has had their own fair share of sh!t to deal with and piling ours on their shoulders as well will only hurt the relationship. Sometime soon, maybe you and I can both learn to let go of our issues and concentrate more on the present. Although annoying or frustrating at times, there is beauty and worth in small shared moments. Let yourself laugh more easily instead of giving into the negative emotions that come so easily. Maybe it is possible to just retrain our brains to react with less intensity and more humor...

January 22, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterheather

Yeah, it should be the opposite. As someone on the receiving end, I can tell you it is hellish! You feel so guarded around the person and you start distancing yourself from them because it hurts. I also started to discount everything they said to me because that way it was easier to not believe the really hurtful shit. After a while, I noticed myself feeling numb around them and fixing a bland expression on my face whenever in their presence. I’m a very affectionate person, but when I see this person I always have to force myself not to tense up when she hugs me.

January 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterES

I think it's part of being human. With strangers, you know that you will (probably) only have one interaction with them, so you are at your best for 2 minutes. I'm sure there's some sort of evolutionary explanation for this (better to err on the side of caution with strangers than risk getting skewered by a spear). With significant others, you have more time to average out, and you won't always be at your best. We can't always be super pleasant. Part of being intimate with someone is knowing their dark underbelly too.

January 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterThe Default Attorney

I have been known to go wack-o on a boyfriend, or two, but I really try to be nice and civil because I grew up with my parents bickering at each other all the time.

When the bickering or bitching is happening, you can cut the tension in the room with a knife, and as a kid it was h-e-l-l being in that environment.

Said parents will hit their 45th wedding anniversary this year, and the tension still fills the room.

January 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKaren D.

But sometimes Monica, don't you think they deserve the arched eyebrow and the sneer?

January 22, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterisabelle dolce

I'm with Isabelle. My boy generally deserves a snotty look at least three times a day!

January 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterElla

I love giving my SO a hard time.

January 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDooce Fan

The Sarcastic Idiocy Forum declares you to be hilarious. Feel free to drop by and share more of your comedy gold with us anytime.

http://www.thesif.net/SIF/index.php?

January 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPolitical.Asylum

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