Let me set the scene (keep in mind I was a theater major). The Houston area, where fur coats appear on the "ladies who lunch" when the weather dips below 50, has been hit by an unprecedented winter storm that not only brings snow and prolonged sub-freezing temperatures, but also creates statewide power outages for millions. My extremely pragmatic sister lives in a high-rise that lost power early in the storm and, thinking quickly, secures a hotel room in Houston's only five-star hotel, which just happens to be down the street from her place. Less than 24 hours later, I too lose power, but living in a house that has a fireplace, well-stocked pantry, and a gas cooktop, just hunker down. My car's parked on the driveway so I can easily access it to charge my gizmos, which also gives me the opportunity (or really, excuse) to warm up.
And it's there, while texting with Black (who, for the record, rarely texts but at that point in time it was the only form of communication that worked), that the following conversation ensues …
|Hotel lost power|
|Sorry! What are you going to do?!|
|Give it a few minutes – may be rolling blackout|
|Back on … was only off for a few minutes … maybe room has energy conservation setting since I had not moved|
|Ok, not as funny as pink utility bills but amusing nonetheless|
So, you may be wondering, why did I find this amusing and what do pink letters have to do with anything? Well, I'll start with the pink letters …
Years ago, when we were teaching a personal finance and Life 101 class at KIPP Houston High School, Black wanted the high school seniors to understand how having money's different from being smart with money. She explained how she kept receiving mail from her electricity provider that had those clear "windows" where she could see a pink letter inside. However, she ignored them because she typically paid her utility bills months in advance, so assumed they were part of a breast cancer awareness campaign.
All was good … until everything in her high-rise went, no pun intended, black. She assumed it was a power outage. Until she went out into the hallway and all the lights were on. Long story short, there had been an increase in her utility rate, so what she had paid months ago wasn't enough. Bottom line: my sister didn't pay her bill, and after sending her many "pink letter" past due notices, turned off her electricity.
So, what does this have to do with her hotel room going dark? Except for the obvious connection, actually, nothing. But it reminded me, whether she thought the hotel might be experiencing a rolling blackout or that the bills were fundraising for breast cancer, Black jumps to a "meaningful" reason for why something happens. It's typical Black. Logical and pragmatic but also looking for a bit more "meaning" to things. Which is fine, but it often makes me laugh (to myself, anyway) knowing that in reality the truth's often (actually, almost always) simpler and something us "mere mortals" easily see.
Sometimes it's best not to overthink or overanalyze …
Everyone laughs and wants to hear the story when I mention that I was recently "ghosted" by someone I had dated. What I find interesting is that ghosting has become so prevalent in today's society (and is not restricted to dating) that there is a term to describe the sudden "disappearance" of someone who wants to avoid all future contact with you.
Going back decades, I know there have been first dates that, at the time, I thought went well. But, after getting the "I'll call you" line … I never did. As a teenager, I can remember anxiously waiting for the phone (a landline tethered to the wall – and yes, I am that old) to ring, not wanting to go out and possibly miss the call. And, being very disappointed by the silence. Now, I cannot even remember who they were.
Over time, especially once women's lib made it more acceptable for women to take the initiative when dating, I came to appreciate that it was easier not to call than to tell someone face-to-face that you did not want another date. But, it did not change the inevitable, and ghosting can be more painful than politely telling the truth. Meanwhile, given how outspoken and opinionated I was (I still am), I think they could always sense where they stood and whether our personalities were compatible.
I never intentionally misled anyone, as that is not my style. Plus, it is inefficient as it creates more work down the road to try and reverse the situation. Of course, when you get past the initial dates and learn more about each other, you may realize that you are not compatible. Then, you want to cut your losses and move on, so would break up. It did not require long conversations or detailed relationship analysis. Merely, the common courtesy to be honest.
I know that Red would try and make me understand that "mere mortals" (as she refers to herself and most people, accusing me of being a Vulcan) prefer to avoid these situations – finding them not only uncomfortable and difficult, but thinking they require full explanations. However, I am not questioning "why" people ghost.
Yes, there can be legitimate reasons for ghosting someone, although often there are not. The specific details of my situation are not relevant, but the fact we went on six or seven dates, and he made it very clear that he thought our relationship could be a long-term one (I thought it had potential but was concerned about emotional compatibility) made being ghosted very unexpected. And disappointing. Not to mention,
Ghosting is flat-out rude and shows a lack of manners. If you no longer want to date someone, tell them. Plus, it is an excellent way to practice having difficult conversations, especially as there is no downside risk. But, there can be upside potential … Besides improving your communication skills, you may realize that your decision to stop seeing them is based on a misunderstanding or extenuating circumstances.