Friday, 12 February 2010

Evicted from a book club...a tragedy.

I didn't actually get kicked out but this is what happened........

I went to a book club for a couple of years ending in early 2004. It comprised of about eight women - half 'mums at home' and half 'workers'. I went to the first meeting with lots to say about the crap book we had read. In those early meetings the wine always flowed abundantly but we did usually consider the book - a bit.

Slowly over the months, it definitely became less and less about the books because there were always a significant fraction who had not read it (I always did). I was OK with that but I was beginning to lose interest. I didn't really 'fit in' with everyone anyway. I used to try and spice the meetings up a bit by taking things along.

It was around this time that I first encountered the Myers Briggs personality types and I took what I had along to what turned out to be my last meeting and 'diagnosed' everyone. It was actually quite hard work because people were quite rowdy (everyone was drunk) and they all wanted to be 'typed' individually. I became bored of it by the seventh time.

At the end, someone said, so what type are you Molly? I declared ENFP. I am SO ENFP. I could not be more ENFP. I ooze ENFP. ENFP sweats from my pores. To which they said, 'feeler' YOU? No way? I said, yes I am, I am driven more by my heart than my head. I am sensitive to others. I make decisions based on how I feel rather than what makes logical sense. Definitely a feeler.

This caused considerable dissent in the form of much disgruntled mumbling. There were a few more noises of dispute and denial that I could possibly be sensitive which resulted in me eventually saying,
'O.K. Who here have I offended?'

The response was four hands in the air. Five if you count the person that had left the book club a few month previous.

So I started at hand in the air number one. How have I offended you?
"The time you called me tarty." I had to be reminded of the incident and luckily I recalled that I had actually said, 'nice and tarty' and actually meant 'tarted up.' I now know not to use that word and 'you look lovely' works better. Live and learn. I apologised for any offence and explained absolutely none was intended. I had, actually, in my own clumsy way, been trying to give a compliment.

Hand in the air number two. How have I offended you?
"About seven months ago when you said I could not use the words, 'nitty gritty'." Again I needed some time and guidance to put it in context. It had been a heated debate about offensive language. I had explained that the word 'coloured' is no longer used to described black and Asian people and explained why and this caused the woman to become defensive. We spoke about courtesy and respect and she used the cliche 'political correctness gone mad.' I concede I would handle it better now. I tried to explain how powerful language can be, but several glasses of wine down, it had clearly come out wrong. What I had used as an example was the term 'nitty gritty'. Contemporary speculation had said that this term was used to describe the cleaning out of faeces and vomit from the bottom of slave ships - as in 'let's get down to the nitty gritty.' It has since been cleared up that this is not the origin of the phrase. I simply said, if that turned out to be true, I would cease using that term because that origin is vile. It is, after all, no great hardship to replace it with 'fine detail' or something.

Hand in the air number three How have I offended you?
"Just now when you accused me of being an introvert."
Oh sorry - it's just I'd already done the test so many times, I was disappointed to have to say it all over again and just wanted to be done with it.

Hand number four - still up. Waiting all this time. Probably aching. How have I offended you?
"I'm not going to tell you."
"I'm not going to tell you."
How can I apologise if you don't tell me what I have done? But she wouldn't tell.

It was in the car on the way home with the two people that had not put their hand up and the one I had called tarty, when the driver said,

"Molly. I think I might know what offended NUMBER 4."

Oh yes?

"Do you think..... was......the said to her.....

"You are a really stunningly beautiful woman, why are you married to a man that looks like Stephen Hawkins?"

A chance maybe.

I didn't go again.


  1. Please note, I have learned from experience and consider myself to be far less abrasive these days. I might be deluded of course.

  2. Hey, we could play blog commenters hand in the air counselling session! Ask anyone if you have offended them! xxx

  3. I couldn't dig my hands any further into my ockets If I tried, how can anyone find he stuff you come out with offensive, bizarre...

    Now Claire, that's a different matter ;D

  4. Hi Molly, I have also been on the recieveing end of grievous insults thatturned out to be compliments gone wrong. I am sure I must have done some myself too.

    But yeah, "you look lovely" is much, much better than "nice and tarty" which could be mistaken for "you look like a prostitute :)"

    Thank you for today's bloglaugh. Maybe there should be a blogging award for blog posts that make one laugh?

    I think that being a "feeler" is not the same as either empathic or sensitive, though. (No offence, I just think it's a different characteristic, is all)

  5. If I wanted to lose some teeth, I might say to a guy "you're a stunning good looking hunk, why are you married to a woman who looks like XXXXXXX" (Name deleted to protect the ugly)

    I can't stop laughing

  6. Great post, Molly. I laughed out loud at the last comment. Book Clubs can be treacherous places!

  7. Cogitator - I agree - there is a big difference between being empathetic and sensitive to others and sensitive about oneself and they often don't go together.

    Molly, you have both of course!!!!

  8. >>Hand in the air number three How have I offended you? "Just now when you accused me of being an introvert." <<

    Surely there must be some -- like me -- who wouldn't mind being so accused. :-)

  9. haha
    Well I'm sure you've been thrown out of better places than THAT! :-)
    too funny.
    I have the same kind of unfortunate turn of phrase myself at times. What I THINK I said, and what was HEARD are often, surprisingly, two very different things. How did that happen?
    A good laugh out loud post Molly.

  10. I hate the idea of book clubs and think that anything that someone did to liven up the proceedings could only be considered A Good Thing. It's bad enough seeing a film with a few people and you've loved it and they haven't and you feel pitied for declaring your enjoyment - well, the thought of that happening over a much-loved book is too awful for words.

    You were better off out of it

  11. Ooops! I think you're well out of it. ;)

  12. More on the feeler/thinker. I am thinker, I perceive with my head. I see feelers as perceiving with the heart. As you said some time ago Molly, feelers need to internalise/feel facts before they have taken them on board.

    But I also consider myself to be (a little) above average in sensitivity and empathy. I was once, after extensive evaluation, nearly not admitted to an operation that provides emotional support to distressed people on the grounds that I was "too sensitive" and therefore likely to be too distressed by the situations I would have to deal with.

    So I see the T/F side of MB as independent of and different from sensitivity / empathy.

    Tact arises from the interaction of empathy, sensitivity and speech planning: "what is this person likely to feel as a result of what I am about to say?"

    If one cannot accurately predict what a person is likely to feel, one lacks empathy. If one knows but doesn't care, one lacks sensitivity. If one says it, then regardless of where one scores in any of the above considerations, one lacks tact.

  13. Molly – yes you have indeed become less offensive although the odd slip up still happens doesn’t it? Many survive you and love you dearly though.

    Freddie – I have long stopped playing that game because a hand nearly always went up somewhere. I felt so mis-understood in that book club!

    Mr T – thank you!!!!!! It does turn out that I am not everyone’s cup of tea. Some pedantic, orderly and conforming people struggle with me sometimes.

    Claire’s coming along...still room for improvement. Still scares me though.

    Codgi – yes. If I offend – even unintentionally – I own it and apologise for offending. Best way – especially if you’re me. Being a concept and not a detail girl....a head in the clouds can bark out words that have a generally understood meaning (like tarty) but I have used it creatively i.e. given it my own meaning.

    Yes – some of the feelers I know are totally insensitive and seemingly unable to empathise but they are completely sensitive themselves. It’s almost manifested as a ‘lash out before I get lashed’ fragility and it’s not nice to be around. Get a feeler on the defensive and their lashing out can become horrendous and irrational. You thinkers are nice and straightforward in that department – which can make you easier to be around – unless you bludgeon a feeler’s heartfelt view with brutal logic that is. – then you’ll get the feeler on the defensive and they will bludgeon you back...but with tears. Messy business.

    As my sister says – being sensitive to others’ comments and dishing out comments sensitively are two quite different things. I am very empathic and HATE upsetting others but it doesn’t stop verbal clumsiness. My extraverted hyper-connective brain pumps stuff out like I have social Tourettes but then I feel bad about upsetting others unintentionally. Add alcohol – as in the book club – and the result was not surprising.

    PVLIF - thank you. Yes most people in the book club and I were not really meant to be long term acquaintances. I can see that. I am still friends with the tart and one of the hands down people though.

    Berowne – I apologised though as it caused her offence. Introverts are often underestimated because they share less. Einstein, Jung, Ghandi...all introverts.

    Clipster – I don’t think I have ever been thrown out of anywhere else. Or have I? That’s remarkable. Oh. I once wasn’t let into a pub when I was a student on a ‘Drunken Shits’ (the name of the society) pub crawl because 1) I looked 12 and 2) I had a carrier bag full of ash trays and beer towels had stolen from previous pubs. It was a clepto thing. I didn’t smoke or use the beer towels. I am a good citizen now though. I pick cans off the street and recycle them.

    FF – It wasn’t really a book club. It was a wine and have a tour of the house’s latest extensions club. It is still going.

    Akelamalu – yes I haven’t missed it at all. I was in a craft club once. For one week. Actually that could have been good. Go round different people’s houses and do different crafts.

  14. P.S. if you liked that....scroll down and click on 'funny' on the right hand side...I'd recommend House Fire Number 1. It's all true. I couldn't make it up.

  15. Cogitator - "speech planning" - yes, that's what Molly and I lack. Even if you don't want to upset people, the honest thoughts get blurted out. And as Molly said, alcohol makes speech planning disappear altogether! I think the F part of MB is about personal sensitiveness, not sensitiveness to others. But I'm sure you will tell me if I'm wrong Molly xxxxxxxxxxx

  16. Love the story.

    Its been a while since we did the MB thing. What was I now - ENT? PMT? no it was INTJ!

    we also did something in a similar line that determined most of us were passive resisters to authority etc (not uncommon among a bunch of scientist types)
    But that was the days of British Sugar, noones bothered analysing me in years. Been assessed by a psychologist a few years ago.


  17. Considering INTJ's are meant to be rare...there are a lot of them.

  18. I'm in a fantastic book club and amazingly...we all read the book. You would be a welcome addition, Molly and I guarantee, you'd not offend any of us!!

  19. I thought about starting an Ernest Hemingway book club. Decided not to. Sentences were too short. I think.

  20. Hi Booomer -very kind of you to say....but you haven't actually met me!!!!

    Eric - Trust you!

  21. More on thinking and feeling from Jung...

    Jung considered thinking and feeling to be rational functions. Few find it difficult to agree that thinking, to be effective, needs to be logical and rational but many have difficulty in conceiving ‘feeling’ as a rational process. This is because people confuse feeling with emotion or affect. Feeling, as he used the term, can certainly give rise to emotions but only when the feeling is powerful enough to trigger biochemical or neurological changes in the body. The feeling function’s normal use is to make value-judgements about inner or outer events to determine whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, beautiful or ugly, desirable or undesirable, good or bad etc. This requires evaluative reflection in the light of past experience and is therefore in Jung’s view a rational process. Confusion over this issue is reduced if one thinks of Jung’s feeling function as a judgemental process concerned with values: evaluating function might be a more appropriate term.
    From Jung – a very short introduction by Anthony Stevens
    ‘Feeling’ therefore is an unfortunate term...and it does not mean emotional or sensitive – although feelers might have a tendency to be more so because their evaluations are based on a gut reaction not the pure application of logic.

  22. A pub Brawl from Jung – A very short introduction by Anthony Stevens

    We all have either,

    • Sensation
    • Thinking
    • Feeling or
    • Intuition

    as out dominant function.

    Imagine one of each type witnessed the following scene:

    Two men came staggering out of a bar. They are shouting and swearing at one another. There is a struggle. One of them falls to the ground and bangs his head on the pavement.

    Each witness will respond to what is before them in a manner typical of his/her type:

    The sensation type will give the clearest account of what happened. S/he will have noted the height, build and general appearance of the two men: one was overweight, middle-aged and bald and had a scar over his left eye; the other younger, fair-haired, more athletic and had a moustache. Both were dressed casually in T-shorts, jeans and trainers. It was the overweight one who fell and it was his right temple that struck the kerb. There was a crack on impact etc

    The thinking type interprets the events as they happen, working out what it all means. The two men came staggering out of the bar so evidently they had been drinking. They are shouting and swearing at one another, so they are having a disagreement. A struggle ensues so they must feel strongly enough to become physically violent about it. One falls to the ground, so he must be the weaker (or drunker) of the two. The latter cracks his head so he may be concussed and in need of medical attention etc.

    The feeling type responds to each event in the scene with value-judgements: ‘what a sordid episode!’ ‘What thoroughly objectionable people.’ ‘that is clearly a bar frequented by louts and not a place to go to if one wants a quiet chat with a friend.’ ‘The one on the ground may have hurt himself and as a responsible citizen it would fell wrong if I didn’t ring for an ambulance.’

    The intuitive type ‘sees’ the whole story: they are football hooligans who support opposing teams. Disgusted by their aggression, the landlord told them to clear off and this inflamed them to violence. the man who cracked his head is accident prone and this is just another incident in a lifetime of misfortune. He has fractured his skull and a clot will form on his brain requiring surgery. He will be off work for weeks and his long-suffering wife will once again have to struggle to make ends meet. This is what happens to people from a disadvantaged background who have nothing else to live for but football and drink. Things like this will go on happening and get much worse because we do nothing to change society or improve the educational system.

  23. Dominant function....2nd, 3rd, 4th
    Myers Briggs type1st 2nd 3rd 4th
    ENFP or INFJ N F T S
    ESTP or ISTJ S T F N
    ENTJ or INTP T N S F
    ESFJ or ISFP F S N T
    ENTP or INTJ N T F S
    ESFP or ISFJ S F T N
    ESTJ or ISTP T S N F
    ENFJ or INFP F N S T


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