Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Masochism or vicarious living?

Is it natural for a person to spend a 3+ hours getting annoyed, cursing, occasionally throwing object at t the floor, punctuating by expressions of joy but mainly those of frustration, but still looking forward to repeating the whole experience the next week? The answer depends on your culture.

To explain, as an expat, I relish watching my American sports, specifically baseball and football (the one with the larger athletes).  So, I reserve Sunday night at 8:00, Israeli time for the 1:00 pm east coast games, for watching sports.  I prepare properly, i.e., do not schedule any work, read the pre-game analysis, make sure there is a bottle of beer and some pistachios in the house and finish my daily telephone duty (calls to parents and daughter) beforehand.  Then, I go into my office, put my feet up, invite the cat to take a long nap on me, which he almost always welcomes, and begin the evening in the most cheerful of moods. My wife has learned to leave me alone for two reasons: I am “away” mentally; and she does not handle my emotional merry-go-round very well, whether voiced or not. Since I am a fan on the Pittsburgh Pirates in baseball and Cincinnati Bengals in football, not exactly elite teams in their sport, they are rather prone to playing poorly at times.

This is where culture comes in.  When I return to reality around 11:00 pm, generally disgusted with what I have seen, my wife looks at me and wonders why I insist on going through this seemingly unpleasant drama every week. It is clear to her to them that my behavior is irrational and possibly connected to some stupid American ingrained behavior. Granted, I have not conducted a study of attitudes among Israeli women to sport but I strongly suspect that this bafflement is the general rule among Israeli females. By contrast, if I had married an American woman, the odds are that not only would she understand my vicarious living, she might join me. To be perfectly clear, I am glad that I married an Israeli woman but still culturally mixed marriages bring out cultural differences, small and big.  In this case, my wife has no problem racking it up to background, not insanity.

So, I will continue to enjoy my Sunday nights, granted in an irrational manner, while my wife will knit away and try not to hear my mumbled curses. As we agree to disagree, the answer to the question whether it is natural or not is completely irrelevant.

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