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What Time Is It? Inane Dialogue Time!

I've been giving the gamelan one last try this quarter, in a desperate attempt to reconcile the fact that I love playing it and hearing the music with the fact that it's run by a collection of jerks -- last spring, for instance, there were some remarks made to me that didn't qualify as anti-Semitic mainly because the person making them wasn't smart enough to understand how they could possibly be offensive. But I'm trying to hold out at least for this quarter, partially to keep playing, and partially because . . . well, it's a good idea for the Music 102 TA to be involved with the gamelan.

But boy, when I have to deal with inane dialogue like this, I wonder if I'll be able to hold out through December.

We were working on a short, simple piece. I was playing kempul and gong. It's not a difficult part; the piece never goes too fast, the 'pul plays only one beat out of every four, mostly the same pitch, and there's plenty of time to get everything done. It's the sort of 'pul part I can play in my sleep. Then, this dialogue happens . . .

Gamelaneuse: Pony, is that 'pul part too hard for you? Would you like someone else back there to help?
Me: Well, actually, it's a pretty easy part. I'm not having any trouble playing it on my own, but if someone would like to come back here and play along, that would be perfectly fine with me. But I'm not dying for lack of help.

Pause. Clearly, this answer does not compute.

Gamelaneuse: But . . . but . . . would you like someone to come back and help you?
Me: Um . . . it's an easy part, and I don't need help to play it. But if someone wants to come back here, that would be perfectly fine with me.
Gamelaneur #1: I don't want to come back there if I'm not welcome.
Me: Well, it's fine with --
Gamelaneur #2: Do you want someone back there to help you?
Me: Do I have to take a gong beater to someone's head?
Gamelaneur #3 (semi-seriously): But tell us how you feel!
Me (mostly just as semi-seriously): *makes a famous hand gesture at Gamelaneur #3*
Gamelaneur #3: Okay, that's pretty clear!

I mean, seriously. Was I suddenly speaking Urdu or something? What part of "I don't need help, but it's fine if someone wants to come back here anyway" did not get through to them? Maybe it actually is that they just asked for the sake of saying something, and never had any actual intention of actually listening to my actual answer.

It's just till December. I can take this for another month. Right?



( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 28th, 2009 06:14 pm (UTC)
LOL. You apparently gave the wrong answer. It was a test question and you didn't know it. Mr daw occasionally does that to me, so much so that our son laughs and identifies "test questions" the minute he hears them.
Oct. 28th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
So, what, I fail Lame Dialogue 101?

Oy vey.

This is the sort of thing that's funny in the right kind of book, but not in real life.
Oct. 28th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
Wow, talk about snarky. Yeah, it would be hard for me to take that. Pity there isn't another group you could work with. Or start yourself.
Oct. 28th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
Yeah, so maybe I was a little snarkier than the situation might have warranted. On the other hand . . . being asked the question a third time after I'd given two identical answers . . . nah, totally appropriate snark levels!
Oct. 28th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
No, I meant the other guy. Do you need help? My first response would have been, "no do you need a kick in the butt." That 'do you need help thing is just too backhanded to me. I get immediately defensive about it.
Oct. 28th, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
One iteration of "Do you need help" is fine with me. Sometimes you need to check in when you're first learning a piece, and it's easier to assign two people to kempul earlier rather than later. Two iterations annoys me, and three iterations bring out the hand gestures.
Oct. 28th, 2009 06:38 pm (UTC)
Are you at all familiar with the Next Generation episode Samaritan's Snare? What you're describing reminds me of great exchanges like this:

Riker: What brings you so far from home?
Pakleb Cptn: We look for things.
Riker: What sort of things?
Pakleb Cptn: Things we need.
Riker: Can you be more specific?
Pakleb Cptn: Things to make us go. We need help.

In that show, the aliens turn out to be smarter than they seem (though still quite dumb). I wouldn't give your groupmates that much credit... *winces in sympathy*
Oct. 28th, 2009 06:44 pm (UTC)
I think I vaguely remember that episode.

And that dialogue does sound very much like the way this gamelan runs. Sigh. Whoda thunk I'd wind up being Commander Riker, of all people?
Oct. 28th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)

Yeah, I don't get it either. A real Twilight Zone moment.

Start your own underground gamelan group with non-idiots!
Oct. 28th, 2009 09:55 pm (UTC)
If I won the lottery, I might spend a million bucks on a gamelan of my very own from Java and a translator to name it the Javanese equivalent of Gamelan Smart People.
Oct. 28th, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
you weren't giving the answer that would make gamelaneuse feel needed and welcome--you were supposed to act desperate and grateful.

in a way, it's a mirror of a problem that i have with G. she frequently frames coming over to sing treble as helping me--i wish she would cut it out. if she wants to sing treble, she should sing treble but i don't think i need that much help, and if i did want help, i would ask for it, and have.
Oct. 28th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)
you were supposed to act desperate and grateful.

Sorry; I hadn't completely gotten into character for "desperate and grateful." But really, I think you're right. Much of Gamelaneuse's self-image appears to be built around being The One Who Really Knows And Will Occasionally Visit The Unworthy To Dispense Wisdom. Based, of course, on her childhood as the daughter of missionaries in Indonesia, which probably explains a lot.

Alas for her, I don't perform Desperate and Grateful unless I'm getting paid.
Oct. 29th, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
People don't do ambiguity. You left things open for someone to follow their own free will. From now on, simply order them about and everyone will be much happier for it.
Oct. 29th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
Rawr! I shall become the Great Dictator! Ph33r me!
Oct. 29th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
Oy! Indeed. I'm blunt enough to give a straight "No, thanks" to questions like those, but then that question falls in my "why do they call it love when they mean sex?" category. I mean, the guy was clearly meaning that he thought you weren't perfmorning to his standards -or just wanted to provoke you- but wouldn't want to initiate the conflict - aka lacked the balls to say it. I long ago gave up wasting snarkiness with less intelligent species and began stunning them with short, blunt anwers that are not in the books and thus disconcert them.

BUt I do hear your pain. PIty. I know you enjoy playing that, but if the comapny is so narrow minded...
Oct. 30th, 2009 02:49 am (UTC)
I don't think it was that I wasn't performing to their standards -- I'm one of the better 'pul/gong players they have -- but I can definitely see passive-aggressive coming from Gamelaneuse. She is a royal bitch and a half.
Nov. 1st, 2009 02:28 am (UTC)
I like what gwynhyffar said. Your answer was too nuanced. Perfectly accurate and amiable but too nuanced. A "yes" or a "no" was expected. It's mostly a "yes" or "no" world, and we who think between the extremes confuse other people.

Maybe they won't ask you anything else for a while!
Nov. 1st, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)
Sigh. This is what I get when I try to do subtle. I don't know why I bother trying any more.
Nov. 2nd, 2009 04:30 am (UTC)
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )