08 September 2008

Bernard's Big Idea About Relationships

Bernard had a spark in his eye. I looked up from my morning paper and saw him looking at me with a grin.

“What?” I asked, wondering if I had crumbs on my chin.

“I’ve had an idea,” he said with a flourish of his hand, as if he were about to pull a rabbit out of his sleeve. And at that very moment, Maddie arrived, breathless and excited. Bernard seemed pleased she’d be here to witness this.

“You two already started?” she asked.

“He,” Bernard pointed at me, “never waits. In the morning it is all I can do to make him wait until we’re at a restaurant to eat. He wakes up hungry.”

“And you?” she said, “why couldn’t you wait?”

“I’m a social creature,” Bernard shrugged. “He eats and I eat with him.”

“What’s your big idea?” she asked. Bernard smiled, like he was about to lay down a royal flush after throwing in all his chips.

“It’s about universals in relationships.”

“You mean like alien abductions,” I asked. “Relationships across the universe?”

Bernard scowled. “No, you idiot. This – this I’m serious about.”

“Okay,” I folded up my paper. “Tell us.”

“Okay, it occurs to me that there are three universals across any kind of relationship – business, family, lovers.”

“Why three, Bernie?” asked Maddie who was now stirring one package each of splenda and sugar into her coffee.

“Why do you have five fingers?” Bernard gestured. “I don’t know why three. It just works out that way. Can I talk?”

“Sure, sure,” she said, looking for her waiter.

“Three universals: responsiveness, empathy, and inspiration.”

“That’s it?” Maddie said. “That’s your big idea?”

“Well let me explain,” Bernard said, drawing himself up. “The better a relationship, the more responsive two people are to each other – or a group is to each other. But it is not enough to respond. You can respond all wrong. You have to have empathy as well. Your response has to work for that person, show you know who they are. And ideally, in a relationship, someone inspires you – makes you feel more alive and more acutely aware of what great things are possible in your life. They respond to where you are now and have a sense of - and might even play a part in getting you to - where you could go with your life.”

Maddie and I chewed on this for a bit. Finally, Maddie spoke.

“Bernie, you are always abstract. What does this have to do with anything?”

“Relationships have to do with everything,” Bernard said.

“Well what relationship are you talking about, Bernie? How has this helped you?”

And with that Bernie looked deflated. He crumpled into his chair. Suddenly, he looked about 15 years older. He teared up.

“Maddie,” I said, starting to rebuke her.

“No,” Bernard waved her off. “She’s right.” He stared at the table cloth.

Maddie reached forward and touched his hand gently. “Bernie, hon. Ideas about relationships are not the same as real relationships. You might want to trade in your idea for a person. You think?”

Bernard just nodded. Sometimes ideas are kinder than the truth. I kind of wish that Maddie had just let him be, but then I realized that she couldn’t. She didn’t have that kind of relationship with her brother. And maybe that was the real lesson – our relationships never transcend who we are. Relationships are not things like responsiveness or potential as something that lies in the gap between us. Relationships emerge out of who people are and that might just be why we spend so much energy trying to change the people we’re in relationships with. Bernie did seem to have a good idea. The thing was, it wasn’t obvious that Bernie or Maddie or me or anyone was ever going to exploit that insight.


Big Al said...

Bernie did indeed have a good idea. Unfortunately, it appears his relationships with you and Maddie weren't the relationships to exploit his insight.

When one door closes, another opens . . .

exskindiver said...

I agree with Maddie.
Why just three universals?
I believe there is one more.
The fourth should be environment.

A relationship can have all the responsiveness, empathy and inspiration in the world but if it is not in the right environment--it will not thrive.

Ron Davison said...

so you are saying that Bernard should have found the right relationship for sharing his ideas about relationships? In the wrong relationship, the ideas are ineffectual; in the right relationship they are irrelevant.

I told Bernard. He slapped his forehead and then muttered something about how if he could find the right environment he might be appreciated more, some place more like Oprah and less like R World.

Big Al said...

Chesca is correct and her words are in line with my statement about sharing in the right relationship. The right environment is either created or supported by the right relationship. Very symbiotic.

Ron Davison said...

Bernard wants to know why Chesca always gets to be right. Can he not get any credit, he wants to know. First Maddie, then Chesca, now you. At his age he thought that things would be a little different.

Big Al said...


To answer your question as to why Chesca always gets to be right, please refer to your copy of the Guys Secret Handbook, page 9, section 12.2.2. Wait . . . you *DO* have the latest release, rev. 2008.6989423, yes?

Gypsy at Heart said...

You and Madie almost won me over with your views but Bernard came out the winner in the end. He got it right but he gave up the ideal too quickly. Moral of the story? Never relinquish the ideal. It'll take you places.

As to why is Chesca always right, well that's easy, she's Chesca. What kind of a silly question is that? Chesca is always right. EVERYONE knows THAT.

Big Al said...


If it's not too much trouble, I'd like to kindly request you please use " " next time you quote directly from the Guys Secret Handbook. :-)

Ron Davison said...

Ever since they began putting out the Guy's Handbook in bureaucratic speak, my eyes glaze over every time I try to read it. It is just one of the reasons that I am so clueless about being a guy.

Bernard says that he may be imaginary but he is old, and as such deserves respect. He was delighted that you sided with him on this ... until you said that Chesca is always right. Now he knows that you are just humoring him or that there is a conspiracy among women and further suspects that Allen is trying to be a part of that conspiracy.

Chesca said...

Daryl sent me an email, he wants to know if you, me, CCE, Jennifer and Holly want be the new cheerleaders for the Rockets.

I said I would, if I can fit into the busy schedule of Z D'Erotica and Motherhood.


Gypsy at Heart said...

Chesky baby: Tell Daryl he can count me in. I'm already an honorary cheerleader for the Houston Texans so I'm sure I can handle this one too. Masoud knows the Zone D'Erotica owner so I'm sure he can work something out for you there but I don't know about the motherhood bit. :-)

Ron: I'm not making fun of Bernard. I would never! He's an old dear and as such he has all my respect. Tell Bernard I was humoring Chesca not him.

Ron Davison said...

Chesca and Milena,
I don't know whether to feel more threatened or relieved that you are about to run off with the female half of my readers. Threatened because I will miss you all (does anyone really think that Daryl and the Rockets need more people cheering for them and R World needs less?). Relieved because Sandi will no longer be raising her eyebrows and saying, "who are these women and what are they talking about?"

texasholly said...

I think an arrangement could be made to loan out the R World dancers to the Rockets on a seasonal basis. I will check my calendar between home schooling, exotic dancing and blogging I should have plenty of time...

Oh, and I tell Bernard I think he is onto something big here. And I am not just saying that because I am a girl. I think the relationship side of thing needs to include friends and acquaintances since those relationships are weighted differently when it comes to responsiveness, empathy and inspiration. That would also give him 2 more to fill up Maddie's 5 fingers.

Ron Davison said...

R World dancers?! I checked with the folks at wikipedia and guiness. I am the first blogger to have my own dancers! In fact, those other bloggers have not even realized that you should have them. If this doesn't draw attention to the topic of social invention, nothing will.

You know Chesca, I suddenly forgive you for starting this nonsense. R World Dancers. Think of that (he says, thinking of that and suddenly feeling so very important).

Anonymous said...

Dear Ron,
You are now going to have to get really creative and explain more than talk!
love, Sandi

Daryl said...

Ron, as you select your dancers remember that you can teach dance skills...

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that Ron would be great at selecting dancers... but his dance skills are best done independently. They are really very hard to replicate at any distance.

Ron Davison said...

Bernard is scratching his head, wondering how his discourse on relationships went so off course.

Dear Sandi,
This is me thinking that creativity might have gotten me into this. And Bernard says I should remember to say thanks that you signed of with "love." Love, Ron

You obviously don't know this group. I rather doubt that I could teach them much of anything.

In fact, I am not sure that even I can replicate my moves. (And it hurts to be so transparent even to anonymous readers.)