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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Totally Outclassed by that Grapefruit Guy

Ouch--I felt so outclassed (not an uncommon feeling, I admit) after reading "The Grapefruit Syndrome" by Lola Walters, a classic LDS story from The Ensign. In this story, a woman after two years of marriage has begun to develop a mental list of some minor annoyances regarding her husband. She reads an article suggesting that couples ought to have regular sessions where they discuss their grievances with one another, and she got him to agree to the idea. She begins with her list.
As I recall, we were to name five things we found annoying, and I started off. After more than 50 years, I remember only my first complaint: grapefruit. I told him that I didn’t like the way he ate grapefruit. He peeled it and ate it like an orange! Nobody else I knew ate grapefruit like that. Could a girl be expected to spend a lifetime, and even eternity, watching her husband eat grapefruit like an orange? Although I have forgotten them, I’m sure the rest of my complaints were similar.

After I finished, it was his turn to tell the things he disliked about me. Though it has been more than half a century, I still carry a mental image of my husband’s handsome young face as he gathered his brows together in a thoughtful, puzzled frown and then looked at me with his large blue-gray eyes and said, “Well, to tell the truth, I can’t think of anything I don’t like about you, Honey.”

Gasp.

I quickly turned my back, because I didn’t know how to explain the tears that had filled my eyes and were running down my face.
Wow. I just feel so outclassed by that guy, the Grapefruit Guy I call him (though I'm guessing Brother Walter might be more accurate). I'm afraid I would have become defensive or come up with my own list or some other stupid thing. What a terrific example he showed!

It will be difficult, but I'd like to be more like that. I'm not quite sure how to become that gracious and sweet, but I've got an idea on how to start. On my way home from work tonight, I'm stopping at the grocery store and buying a bag of grapefruits. Wish me luck!

8 comments:

Nick Literski said...

Don't feel too bad, Jeff. It's true that this gentleman may have been so amazingly gracious and charitable, that he literally couldn't see anything negative about his spouse. It's also true that every human being in a relationship is flawed. I don't mean to sound cynical, but it's at least as likely that this gentleman is massively passive-aggressive, and he knew the easiest way to manipulate his spouse was to reply to her grievances with "gee honey, I don't see anything negative about you!" It's quite a tactic to effectively end these "grievance" discussions. Just a thought.

Rebecca J said...

Ha. What Nick said.

Actually, my husband and I refer to this article all the time. Whenever one of us starts getting nitpicky, we'll end with, "And I don't like how you eat your grapefruit, either!" just to show that we still really like the other person even though they're driving us crazy.

Jason said...

I'm not a member of the church. I guess I am what could be called an "eternal investigator" anyways, when I prepare dinner I often listen to the Mormon Channel and last week I heard this story as it was being told on there and it stuck with me. Glad to read it on Mormanity as well.

Benjamin said...

I'm with Nick. This story is great if you're perfect; otherwise, it sets a very discouraging standard that the overwhelming majority of human relationships can't live up to. The message it has always sent to me is, "If you're ever frustrated with someone, it's your fault." That's bad advice. It leads to bottled-up emotions and resentment.

Do you need to complain about every little thing someone does that rubs you the wrong way? Of course not. But I think too many of us take the story to mean that we should never discuss our concerns.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Thanks, Nick. It would be interesting if the response I though was so classy was just a subconscious or even cynical effort at manipulation. After 50 years of suffering from manipulation, though, I get the impression that the woman writing the article was still pretty impressed with her husband. Doesn't sound like there was that much of a sour edge to our Grapefruit Guy, but life is always more complicated than you can get from a few paragraphs in The Ensign, believe it or not. Thanks for the angle!

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Yikes! Just tried out the grapefruit thing. Started eating it like an orange, waiting for my wife's reaction. She just smiled, shook her head and said, "Trying to manipulate me with feigned magnanimity? Not going to work." Drats - I think she's figured out that I blog here.

Manda said...

I remember the story from a long time ago (and I'm not even 30 yet) and liking it, and hearing it again after I'd been married a few years. Maybe it IS possible that he couldn't think of anything he didn't like about her; or that there were a couple of things, but he didn't want to make her feel bad. I believe he really was a sweet guy.

I honestly prefer to eat a grapefruit like an orange, so I can consume every tasty bit. And my husband and I get on each other's nerves, we discuss our concerns and feelings . . . and we have a wonderful marriage.

Nick Literski said...

LOL! Clearly, your wife read my comment, Jeff! Hehehehe....