A Couple-Watcher’s Guide

It’s springtime, and love is in the air, choking its victims with its vile stench and sucking the life out of every living thing it touches. So perhaps it is time to examine the various types of couples you’re likely to encounter during this love-filled time of year. I have gleaned this knowledge not from having had actual relationships myself, but from seeing my roommates have them, because they’re always having them right in front of me.

• The Phone Couple. This is a relationship wherein the guy and girl do not ever actually see each other, but instead spend 24 hours a day on the phone. I don’t know what there is to talk about; if they never see each other, how much reminiscing can they do? (“Remember that time yesterday when we were talking on the phone?”) And since they never leave their apartments — they’re always on the phone, after all — how much can be happening in their lives for them to discuss? These are the questions that plague me but which seem to be of no consequence to the Phone Couple.

• The Whisperers. Some couples, for reasons known only to themselves (or, perhaps, to no one), do not speak in normal tones to each other: they only whisper. I know a couple like this. I have never heard them have a conversation out loud. Once — I swear this is true — I overheard her whisper to him, “So I’ll make dinner at about 5, then?” Why does this require secrecy? Everyone knows she makes dinner for him sometimes (i.e., all the time). There’s nothing WRONG with that per se, except that it’s kind of subservient, and what does he ever do for her, you know? But still, why not say it out loud? Why act like it’s a big mystery? “Oooh!” people will say. “There must be some deep inter-personal relationship stuff going on if she’s whispering to him like that! They must be serious!” When all they’re doing is talking about food. I talk about food all the time, but it’s always out loud, unless I’m at the movies and I’m quietly whispering for whoever I’m with to pass me some of whatever they’re eating.

• The Touchers. Some couples, no doubt fearing their relationships hang by a thread, feel that if they are in the same room, they MUST be touching. Many mature, solidly grounded couples are capable of being in each other’s presence, carrying on a conversation, and actually not having any physical contact. And yet there are many for whom this is impossible. You see these couples walking across campus together, with their arms around each other, blocking traffic because they’re walking slow (it goes without saying that if you have your arm around someone, you HAVE to walk slow), and you think, “You know, would it kill you to take your hands off each other for FIVE MINUTES?!?”

• The Lucky Ones. These are the couples where you can tell it’s a good thing they found each other, because you can’t imagine anyone else wanting to date either one of them, either because they are physically unpleasant, or because they have the personalities of washcloths. These couples make normal people jealous, because they think, “That girl’s a freak. Why does SHE get a boyfriend?”

• The Inseparables, aka The Couch Couple. I seem to get a lot of roommates like this. It works in this wise: My roommate gets a girlfriend; she comes over; she never leaves again. They park their butts on the couch and stay there for hours at a time, and it goes without saying that they touch and whisper and say shmoopy things to each other. Sometimes they’ll take naps together there on the couch, which leads to serious questions of etiquette when you want to watch TV, but basic common courtesy dictates that you avoid waking them up. But then, it IS your living room, too, and it’s not like they can’t go take naps together somewhere else, like at a park or a bus station. But then there’s the issue of, Why do they have to take naps together anyway? Normal people get together so they can talk, or go on dates, or watch something. Who plans a sleeping date?

I saw a pair of Inseparables (I assume they were also a Couch Couple) in my biology class a couple years ago. The girl was actually in the class; the guy would come just to be with her. (Bear in mind, I was enrolled in this class, and I hardly went.) They would sit there, holding hands as she took notes with her other hand. They appeared to be freshmen, and I thought their love was kind of sweet, though obviously misguided, since he was probably about to go on a mission and of course there wasn’t a chance she’d actually wait for him.

And then I saw their hands: They were wearing rings on their wedding fingers. They appeared to be married! As freshmen! And then I looked closer and saw that their “wedding rings” were nothing more than CTR rings. Evidently, this couple was so positive they were meant for each other, they were wearing rings on their wedding fingers to show to the world their devotion to one another. And I just wondered how far they were taking this pretend-marriage thing (if you know what I mean), and if they had a pretend-divorce when she dumped him for an RM two weeks after he left the MTC. (Actually, I think these may have also been Lucky Ones, so maybe it lasted after all.)

* * *

This is the last edition of “Snide Remarks” for the summer. The column will return this fall. In the meantime, I’ll be sitting by the pool, watching the couples and smelling the love in the air. Or maybe that’s smog. Whatever it is, I’m smelling it. See you in September.

Was I referring to any specific couples with this column? I'll never tell. If I was, I think they know who they are.

This column is noteworthy for one reason: It is against Daily Universe policy to ever mention the MTC (Missionary Training Center), due to some stupid demands the MTC made many years ago when the Universe mis-quoted someone from there, or something ridiculous like that. Seriously, if the MTC were to burn down, The Daily Universe would describe it as "an LDS Church-owned facility north of BYU campus." I'm not kidding -- we DO NOT mention the MTC, in any context. Period.

And yet, in this column, nestled snugly in the next-to-last paragraph, is a reference to the MTC. I was very, very proud that I pulled this off without anyone noticing.

There were several reasons for my taking a few months off after this column. For one thing, The Daily Universe tends to be much smaller in the spring and summer, because with fewer students around, fewer people want to advertise in the paper, and fewer advertisers means fewer pages. This meant that nearly every week, we were bumping legitimate news stories, written by hard-working Communications 333 students, in order to make room for "Snide Remarks." I felt bad about this, having been a Comms 333 student at one point (although it was called Comms 312 in those days), and remembering how it felt to have a story bumped. I felt even worse when those Comms 333ers would tell me they enjoyed my column. It was sort of like when you kick a dog in the face, and then it licks your feet and fetches your slippers for you. I felt awful.

Also, I was struggling to get things done on time. You'd think I'd have MORE time to write in the summer, since I didn't have school to deal with, but this didn't turn out to be the case.

Also, I had been writing every single week since September, and I figured I was entitled to a break.

Also, I needed to get to work on the "Snide Remarks" book, which I was supposed to have ready for the publishers by the end of June, a deadline that was approaching much faster than I thought it would.

Also -- and this is probably the best reason -- no one was reading the column. With only one-third of the student body around, and who knows how many of them actually picking up the paper on Wednesdays, I could tell my audience was getting smaller by the minute. I found myself writing good stuff and thinking, "Wait a minute. I don't want to waste this on a SUMMER audience. I'm savin' this for fall, baby!" Which wasn't a very productive attitude to have.

So, in short, I took a hiatus. Life went on without "Snide Remarks" for a few months, I'm sure.