That pitcher of iced tea sure looks mighty nice
How I imagine half the population waltzes with the one person who can supply the thing they want.
Call the shoe shiner because I’m about to put myself in the shoes of someone else. Award-worthy, I know. Prepare yourself, for I’m going to put myself in the shoes of the guesser.
And I find it infuriatingly difficult to understand the guesser.
I was raised an asker. And I’ve learned that however you were raised is the way that you will stay. There is no “adapting to the other side.” What you were at 5 is what you will be at 73.
As a kid, when I was far shorter than I am now, if I wanted cereal but the box was perched on a tall shelf out of my reach I learned to ask for it. And then I would get it. And we would all move on.
I learned to ask for it because the people I was surrounded by were all asking for it. I wasn’t anything more than a sponge mimicking what I saw before me.
And so we all do. Like sponges, we copy what we see. If you were raised by guessers, you’ll become a guesser, too.
Incoming! Housekeeping alert! After a bit of a longer hiatus than expected I decided that for the next few months I’m going to write once a week, hitting your inbox on Thursdays. Some weeks it might get personal. Some weeks it might be commentary on something a politician or a corporation did. But the undercurrent will always be the things we’re shying away from. The things we’re not being honest about. The things that we maybe, just maybe, might be lying about. 🔥
The guesser sees the box of cereal out of their reach, realizes they want it, and then comments on it. “I think I’d like some cereal.” Or “A bowl of cereal sounds good right now.” Or literally anything remotely related to cereal. And then the people within earshot of the comment have to guess that the kid wants cereal. And then the box of cereal gets fetched. And then everyone can (finally) move on.
If you’re an asker I know you can relate to the blood boiling madness that ensues when trying to figure out what someone wants when they don’t say what they want. We need a map! We need a code! We don’t speak the guesser language!
However, the guesser’s shoes have been shined, and I’m sticking my feet inside of them.
HELP IT’S HOT IN HERE LET ME OUT!
Ha. Jokes. I’m no quitter.
If I were raised speaking the language of the guesser, and spent my whole early adulthood surrounded by guessing culture, I can imagine that the hardest aspect of meeting an asker for the first time would be feeling misunderstood. Or not feeling heard at all. As if being raised speaking English without the knowledge that other languages exist, only to speak to an English speaking person and be confronted with the fact that your language is not theirs.
Because to me, an asker, an asker who has recently been desperately trying to understand a couple guessers, it is a taxing experience interpreting guessers because no interaction feels neutral anymore. But maybe that’s how y’all have lived forever and I’m only just joining the party.
If I were raised speaking the language of the guesser I’d feel offended when people would ask me for things. If I’d never been asked before, my first experience being asked to take out the trash might cause me to sulk for weeks. As if the person doing the asking did not trust me enough to have the idea to do it myself. As if I were only waiting for the dance to begin. And the beat had only just dropped.
Because it is a dance, isn’t it? Guessing culture. Asking culture is a salute. It’s a chore. And the speedier it finishes the better. But guessers have turned the quotidien into an art. The act of getting a slice of cake isn’t a one-way ticket to sugar town. It’s a waltz between the one who wants the cake and the one who can supply it. It’s not until after the two have spun into each other and divulged both of their vices that the cake can be supplied.
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I guess that’s what they mean by southern hospitality.
If I were raised speaking the language of the guesser I’d be sadder, as if I were being forced to conform to the askers. Because the askers dominate the cultural landscape. Becoming an asker is the apex for who our culture tells you to strive to be in your relationships, in your career, in your life. Ask for what you want. Be direct with people. Go after it.
I’d be mad as a guesser. I would wonder why the askers never stop to appreciate the intricacies with which we live our lives. I would wonder why the askers never stop to dance.
I would wonder if the askers can hear the beat dropping and are only ignoring it. Or if the tinging high-note is tuned to a frequency their ears will never experience. The tinging high-note that signals a dance is about to begin. The tinging high-note sounded by a fellow guesser to signify that they want something only I can supply.
I would wonder if the askers have ever experienced the tinging high-note and categorized it as something else. I would grow concerned for the askers. But not for long.
Because I’d learn to stay on my wraparound porch, far away from the sizzling knife of the asker, surrounded by the comfort of other guessers. Sitting with a smile, I’d sigh. I’d turn to them. A tinging high-note would ring through our ears. And I’d say, “that pitcher of iced tea sure looks mighty nice.”