Thursday, 17 November 2011

Is there something in the water?

Must be. This is the third day I am surrounded by The Squabblings.

I sit on the ferry into Hong Kong Island and I hear an argument start behind me. It's conducted between a very loud spoken American man and a quietly spoken English woman. It starts over a basic disagreement - maybe that notorious controversy in cultural politics that gets everyone going - can you feed worms to fish?

After listening to the basic premise - him yelling how people are plain stupid if they say that nothing from the land can ever go into the sea and how even a second grader knows that fish eat worms! and she answering how it's all so wrong how stuff from the land is dumped into the sea and fish eat crap! - things really take a bad direction.

They start verbally laying into each other for about ten minutes on the subjects of worms and fish and crap and sea, then she begins, provocatively, on the meta level of discussion with, I feel threatened by how you're yelling.

To which his response is to yell very loud indeed, with something that goes like this:

'You feel threatened by ME? What? Like PHYSICALLY THREATENED? JEEZ. Do you think I'm going to ATTACK YOU? If you think I'm going to lay one finger on you then you must be PSYCHOLOGICALLY DISTURBED. Hey, you must have had a REALLY BAD THING HAPPEN IN YOUR LIFE that you think I'm OUT TO ATTACK YOU. You should just STOP ATTACKING OTHER PEOPLE FOR THEIR OPINIONS.'

At this point I was sorely tempted to join in and have a yell myself. Like how he was demonstrating his credentials to be a TOTAL ASSHOLE. I believe that is the American phrase for such matters.

Of course I did not. I am English. I don't use such language. I behaved in a thoroughly English way. Pretend nothing is happening. I have learned that you should never involve yourself in other people's arguments. And if any weapons come out, you run like a rat into a sewer.

Anyway, judging from my experience of the last few days, I can see there is a current fashion for interpersonal relationships to take on more overt argumentative behaviours.

I could believe, if I had involved myself, she would have turned to face me with a look of profound outrage, then gasped, How dare you speak to my husband like that?

2 comments:

Nora said...

I bet he wasn't her husband and I would have butted in if I had been you for them disturbing the peace. It's amazing how callous people can be and how stupid their arguments. You better not be so English the next time, Grit. Be rude.

Grit said...

nora, next time i will. i shall wade in, and imagine i am conducting some anthropological or behavioural research or summat. (hey, i'm almost willing the fight to happen now, so i have an excuse to join in!)