The Pros and Cons of “Smotheration”

In waiting for the game to start last night … (I was at a bar. I am very much looking forward to next week when I don’t spend literally HOURS every night in a bar). Two guys were sitting next to me. They were friends, obviously. They both had on backwards baseball caps, and they were chowing down on a plate of buffalo wings. From comments they dropped, I gathered they were Yankee fans, and just couldn’t get enthusiastic about the Series.

I admit that I eavesdropped. Blatantly. I had to hold myself back from taking out a pen, then and there, to transcribe the whole thing.

I will just list the facts here, as in: here is what they said. I will do my best not to editorialize or interpret. Although I will probably have to add little notes indicating HOW they said certain things, my interpretation of their tone.

For whatever reason, this male-bonding conversation really got to me. It touched me. It seemed quite deep – although, being the type of guys who wear backwards baseball caps and eat a pile of buffalo wings – they aren’t going to speak in psycho-babble, or over-analyze themselves, or be touchy-feely. But it was DEEP SHIT, nonetheless.

I had to restrain myself from leaning over and saying, “I have been listening to this whole thing, and I just love both of you. I wish you both well.”

From what I could gather, here’s the situation:

These guys are old close friends. And one of them has started to date a girl (whom I will refer to as Katie) – and it looks like it’s getting pretty serious – and so … there seemed to be some issues around this. But remember – they’re old close friends.

I tuned into their conversation at the point where the friend was saying, “Listen, I really like Katie, but …”

Try to follow it if you can.

“Listen, I really like Katie, but … and … I probably have no right to say this to you … but …”


“I guess I feel like … Listen, she’s great, okay? I just …” (long silence – My heart went out to the guy speaking – I thought: Come on, dude, just say what’s on your mind. Ooops. I’m editorializing. I’ll stop now.) “I just guess I feel like she smothers you sometimes. Like … there’s some smotheration going on.”


“You know what I mean?”

“Yeah, man, I know. I know … I guess I kinda like it, though.” (Silence.) “Like … it’s just so nice hanging out with her. It’s so nice … I can relax with her, you know?”

Then came a conversation about the problems Katie may be having with another friend of theirs – who is a girl. Possibly an ex-girlfriend? I don’t know.

Guy dating Katie said, “I’ve tried to explain to her that … Heather is just a friend … and … we never … You know. Heather and me never …”

“Of course not. No, it’s like … Yeah, I get what you’re saying.”

“Like – she doesn’t need to be … nervous about Heather.”

“Right. Like – you’re not gonna cheat on her or whatever.”

“No. Totally.”

“Like I said – that’s kind of what I mean. And I like Katie too, I really do – she’s a lot of fun – but it’s the smotheration thing.”


Guy dating Katie said, “I know. I know.”

“Cool. Just so long as you know.”

“Still, though – it’s just that – if I have to choose – and I hope it doesn’t come to that – but if I have to choose – I choose Katie. Because … yeah, I know, she kind of smothers, and stuff … but I’m tellin’ ya – it’s just so nice being with her.”

(I thought to myself: I bet he ends up marrying that girl.)

His friend thought about this for a long time. Then said, quietly, “I’d like to have a girl like that.”

Later on … they came back to the “smotheration” issue.

The friend (the one who was concerned about the smothering) started talking about HIS love-life. Which sounds very frustrating.

He had gone on a couple of dates with one girl. And that day she had emailed him, and all the email said was: “Do you think I’m totally empty inside?”

Jesus. I have a message for women who send emails like that: DON’T.

The guy said to his friend, “What the fuck am I supposed to say to that? ‘Do you think I’m totally empty inside?’ What? I was going to email her back with a bunch of question marks … but then I thought – fuck it, I don’t even know what the hell she’s talking about. I mean … I’ve called her a couple times … but – I don’t want to deal with that shit.”

Long pause. They both sat there, thinking. Not speaking. Then the same guy said, seriously, “What do you think that means – ‘Do you think I’m empty inside’?”

Friend (the one dating Katie said): “Oh who the fuck knows. One of her friends probably said something to her about whatever, and now she’s all fucking dramatic about everything.”

“Yeah, but what the hell do I have to say about her being empty inside? Jesus. She’s nuts.”

Then the same guy started talking about a semi-“relationiship” he was having with some other chick named Meg … and I felt bad for him. (Especially in light of the revealing moment when he said to himself, “I’d like to have a girl like that.”) The situation appears to be: he is really into Meg. They have a great time together, whenever they get together. But it’s really difficult for them to hook up, there’s a lot of phone tag, etc.

He said, “Like … she’s really really busy.” (Like my friend Jackie has said to me before, “No one’s ever that busy. If they’re into you, they’ll call you, they’ll make it happen.”)

He said, “I respect the fact that she doesn’t have a lot of time … I don’t want to push or whatever … but still … I guess it’s that she’s really really independent.” (I’m thinking to myself: She’s giving him the “I’m really busy and I’m really independent” line?? Poor guy! He deserves better, he definitely does.)

Meanwhile, he’s talking to his friend, who is currently being “smothered” by his girlfriend – but his friend obviously likes it – and doesn’t feel “smothered” at all. What his friend feels is taken care of. This girl gives a crap enough to let him know she’s interested, she’s available, etc. She doesn’t leave him out hanging.

Okay. Interpretation over.

The guy kept talking about this Meg person, “And whenever we hang out – it’s great, you know? It’s totally great. But for the past couple weeks – I haven’t been able to see her – but she text-messages me all the time. I got one from her last night … it’s just kind of frustrating … cause I don’t want to be … like … I respect the fact she’s busy and all that.”

(I wanted to lean in and say, “No one is ever that busy. If she’s into you, she’d find a way.”)

But then came the coolest part:

Katie, the famous “smothering” Katie, arrived. Her boyfriend got up, gave her a big hug, a kiss … and made her sit on his bar stool. She struck me as a cool woman. She didn’t just talk to her boyfriend, she also engaged in conversation with his friend.

And then – the boyfriend left to go make a phone call or something – and Katie and the other guy started talking.

And within 2 or 3 exchanges, he started telling her about this “independent busy” woman. Like … he may think Katie smothers his friend, but there’s also something in her that he can trust. I LOVED that.

Sorry. I am interpreting this like a fiend, I realize. I can’t help it!!

Anyway, I heard him saying the same things – only it was a tiny bit different because he was talking to a girl, and not a guy.

“I don’t know … she text messages me and stuff … and keeps saying she wants to get together … but … Do you think that means she doesn’t really want to see me?”

Why did I find all of this so touching? I was bored waiting for the game to start. I got very emotionally involved.

Katie took kind of a hard-line. “Pick up the phone and call her. Say to her, ‘I want to see you.’ Just do it! You say you really like her?”

“Totally. You met her that one night we went to blah blah blah, member?”

“Wait … which one?” Katie thought and then said, “Oh! Right! Yeah, she was great! Okay, so be persistent. Call her. Do it.”

(Go, Katie. You tell ‘im.)

Katie and the boyfriend eventually went out to put their car into a parking garage, I believe … leaving the friend by himself at the bar.

And I shit you not: the guy dialed someone on the phone. I wasn’t paying attention anymore … the game was almost started.

But then I heard him say, “Meg – hey.”

I thought to myself: Meg! Oh! He’s calling her right now!! The famously “busy” Meg! Katie’s words helped him make the call!

And, BLESS HIM, he leapt right in. “Listen – I’d like to take you out to dinner this week. Would you like to do that?” He listened to her response. “You would? Great … uh … how about Thursday? I could pick you up after …” Meg made some comment. “Great. 7:30 it is.”

Good work, my good man. Good work. And I can see why Katie is beloved by her boyfriend, even though she might “smother” him. A common-sense girl, that one.

I probably haven’t described why I eavesdropped on this … why I found it so wonderful to listen to. I guess I ended up having great affection for all of the people involved (even “busy independent” Meg, even the girl who thinks it’s appropriate to send an email to a guy she’s only gone on a couple of dates with asking if he thinks she’s empty inside” – yes, even her.)

It was a brief glimpse into a friendship, a situation … and I liked it. I liked them all.

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16 Responses to The Pros and Cons of “Smotheration”

  1. Linus says:

    I love this entry. Thanks!

  2. Steve says:

    That’s really cool. Better than a 30-minute sitcom, that was.

  3. David says:

    I don’t even know what to say about this post. I have become so emotionally involved with every one of them. How hilarious would it be if one of them stumbled on your blog!?

    The person I love most is the crazy woman eavesdropping and basically sharing that story with us and making it into a piece of theatre.

    I mean my god, this post is why I love acting, and movies, and plays. People pretending to be completely unaware that they’re being watched (in this case they actually were) and letting us in on their deep personal struggles (in this case they had no choice). It was complete with well-timed exits and entrances and ending in the protagonist being changed and having a monologue on stage.

    Sheila, you are the single most amazing human being on this planet.

  4. Mr. Lion says:

    Daym, I’m going to have to check my six for notpad-weilding redheads at the watering hole from now on… ;)

  5. Great Post, Sheila.

    I could use some smotheration myself. Is that in the yellow pages?

  6. red says:

    Mr. Lion …

    heh heh heh heh

    God, the joys of eavesdropping and people-watching. Most of the time, you just overheard boring things … but once in a while, you get a gem!!

  7. red says:


    ha!! As far as they were concerned, I was deeply deeply DEEPLY engrossed in the World Championship Poker Match on TV.

  8. red says:

    Scott J:

    You’re not kidding. I am long overdue for a bit of smotheration.

  9. red says:

    David – maybe the two of them will be there tonight, even though they’re Yankee fans. I’ll keep my eyes peeled and point them out.

    Can’t wait to see you guys!

  10. Carrie says:

    Man, if you can do that in a blog entry, I can’t wait to read your book. My heart swelled for the guy when he rang Meg. :-)

  11. red says:

    Carrie – I know!! He did it! He faced his fears and did it. Go, man, go!

  12. Ken Summers says:

    Smotheration? I knew Mom always liked him best.


  13. CW says:

    That is a very touching story red…

  14. ricki says:


    All the “Survivor” and “Apprentice” fans can have their “reality” tv – I’d rather hear a real conversation like this, with its apparently-happy ending, any day.

  15. jean says:

    Loved this story. Love these people.

Comments are closed.