Only God Knows Why


Schrodinger’s Adam Sandler Movie and The Pecularities of Language
June 18, 2010, 2:16 pm
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I was standing on the train this morning when I heard a question I had never heard once before in 22 years on this earth.  I feel like I should add some mindless waffle here (see below blog posts if you feel the need for some) but since these posts are already too long, I’ll ask for your help in some choose-your-own-suspense.  If you need some pointers, why don’t you go prepare yourself the hot beverage of your choice (coffee for me, while you’re up).   You can even do household chores if you like.  Anyway, give yourself some time to ponder the wacky questions that may have come up in my morning commute.

A man on the train was talking to a woman who was sitting down.  Firstly, I already find this an objectionable situation when it happens to me.  I hate it.  It makes me feel like I’m the Queen, or worse, that they’re Yul Brenner.  As you can imagine, neither of these flights of fancy are particularly conducive to conversation.  Anyway, these two particular people found SOME way to make it work (share your secrets!) and the man was chatting about how he was planning on going to see that new Adam Sandler movie.   The Queen – I mean, the lady sitting down – then asked:  “Are you going to enjoy it?”

Are you going to enjoy it?

At first glance, it does appear to be a ridiculous question.  After all, why the hell would he be going to see a movie he didn’t think he’d enjoy?  Did she really expect him to say, “Nah, I look forward to an afternoon of intense discomfort and hatred for the corrected right-side-up image being projected upon my retinas and presented as entertainment.  Following this, I certainly hope that it causes me to projectile vomit violently throughout the night, as I suffer from flashbacks.”  (He did look like the type of fellow to over-intellectualize).

Why on earth would you go and see a movie you expected to dislike?  But look closer, Lenny, and I am reminded of something I saw just last week.

A man with a hangdog expression never fails to catch my eye, since as a singleton, I like to milk their discomfort for as much laughter as possible.  This particular hung-dog was standing in line with his girlfriend to see Sex and the City 2.

So, I guess, how many of us have done things for a myriad of reasons other than fact you might enjoy it?  (People in long term relationships, I’m looking at you.  But in truth, we’re all guilty.)

As the ride to work is inordinately long, considering I only live about 6 kilometres away, I had plenty of time to consider why I had never heard someone ask a question like this.  It seemed a very unusual use of language to use enjoy after a future tense verb.  Usually we would say, “Was it fun?”  or “Is it fun?”  but never really, “Are you going to enjoy it?”  Usually we would just wait until after they’d been to ask, for a more definitive answer.

And there you have it – definitive.  It struck me that enjoyment is one of the few commodities that can only be measured in it’s aftermath, or at least at the time (how Zen.)  After all, how many times have you expected to enjoy something only to have an argument in the car on the way and end up having the worst time of your life (People in long term relationships, I’m looking at you again.)

So I thought I’d share this question that turned into something of a ruminative Everest for me – base camp, attempted ascent, failure and return to base camp.  This IS a weird question.  Particularly given the certainty.  She could have at least thrown in a “Do you think…”  before so the guy didn’t have to stand their awkwardly trying to think of an answer at the same time I did.  It silenced the whole train, as we all stood there, pulling at our collars.

It seems that until he’s seen the movie, asking if he’s going to enjoy it is a question that’s impossible to answer.  In fact, it’s unneccessary information.  Knowing that he might tells us nothing – he might..yes.  But he might get mauled by Alsatians in the theatre and that wouldn’t be all that enjoyable, despite how much he thought he’d like the movie.

And what if commits to saying that he will enjoy it?  Does that mean he has to, whether or not he really does?  Has he over-committed to a positive emotion before the event has even occurred?  Surely it’s impossible for him to gauge and commit to any sort of perceived future enjoyment. After all, we all know that one cat had a great time inside the box and the other one, not -so-much.  Regardless of whether they both thought the box looked like fun.

Now conform, young lady!  And ask more expected questions of your date like: “Oh yeah, what’s it about?”

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1 Comment so far
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Yeah, your point about enjoyment being confined to the present or past tense seems right. In the future tense, I can be in anticipation.

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Comment by awindram




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