Monday, January 24, 2011

Real Thoughts on Imaginary Conversations

I'm gonna throw this out there, and hope it's something everyone does, and I'm not feeling all awkward after I tell you, as if I'd just said, "You know how when you're at someone else's house and you go to use the bathroom, and you look behind the shower curtain to see what their bathtub looks like," before I realized nobody else does that.

I have imaginary conversations. Often.

I should be clear: I don't believe they really happen when I have them. At least, not on the intellectual level or whatever you want to call the level that knows things like "Hitting the button several times will not make the elevator come faster" or "The fact I just picked this line will not cause it to suddenly become the one with the slow checkout person."

However, on one of those other levels that knows for a fact if you hit the button a lot the elevator gets there faster and the only sure way to make a checkout person work more slowly is for me to get in his or her line, I sometimes live as if these conversations happen.

If I've known you for over, say... a year, and especially if you've ever acted strange or have come to me with a problem I wasn't sure how to handle, or if you've ever been really ticked at me for good (or bad) reason, I can tell you now we've had an imaginary conversation in my head. Or... I've had one with an imaginary you.

It's like breathing. It just happens. I can stop it if I think about it, but then I drive to the store or walk to my car or sit down to eat and the next thing you know I've had this whole conversation and gotten really angry about how it turned accusatory or sad at how poorly it went or happy with how funny we both were. And the intellectual me has to tell that other part of me to remember it didn't just actually happen.

Seriously, so many people I know are two people to me. They're the people they actually are, full of mystery and spontaneity--but they're also the people they've been in my imaginary conversations. Well, the people they were in the most recent one. That person changes often.

Now, before I get you thinking I'm too crazy (if it's not too late for that), I'll say I for sure know who is who. Really. There's no question. I don't get the two confused at all.

But I do find myself really angry with people who have confessed things to me in imaginary conversations, or accused me wrongly. I sometimes laugh at myself for getting so worked up before I realize the important fact the conversation didn't actually take place.

So, the next time I seem to be acting outwardly hostile at you for what you're pretty confident is not good reason, you might just throw that out there. "Are you mad about that imaginary conversation we had?"

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