March 24, 2013

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen; Social Obligation

I can't really think of a movie title that appeals to me less than Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (Amazon, Netflix), so I was surprised when it showed up in a Netflix envelope. I read the description ("a fabulously wealthy sheik longs to bring fly-fishing to the desert"), and still had no clue why I might have ordered it. I kept it around for several weeks, watching whatever was in my second Netflix envelope.

Then last night I set up what was in my other Netflix envelope---and it was an HBO series (HBO's motto: "We're allowed to use sex and swearing---and it shows!"), which was impossible to watch with the kids around. I was going to just read a book instead, but I figured, well, Salmon Fishing is PG-13, so I'll watch it for 15 minutes while I eat my dinner, and then I can send it back and be done with it.

NO IT WAS REALLY GOOD. There was barely any salmon-fishing in it at all! It was very much the kind of movie I like, so it must be that Netflix said to me, "You know how you seem to like Ewan McGregor feel-sad/good movies and anything with accents? We have a movie we think you'll enjoy" and I clicked "add to queue" without even looking at the title or description.

There are a lot of cute earnest confident guys in it, if that's your thing. And there were a lot of funny parts. And Kristin Scott Thomas is in it, swearing at her children and IM'ing with the prime minister. I really liked it.

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I'm re-reading some of my Miss Manners books to see if she has some good ways to deal with the difficult person in a group. So far I haven't found much of use (she suggests saying "So kind of you to take an interest" in a chilly voice to someone who's being overly pushy, but I tried to imagine using that in a group of friends and couldn't picture it), but I've been having fun browsing a bunch of other stuff.

One section on a different topic that caught my eye is about social obligations: she says it's a mistake to keep inviting over people you don't like and accepting invitations back. She suggests that in many cases, the other people don't want to come over any more than you want to invite them, and are themselves acting out of social obligation. Then they have to invite YOU back over, and you go even though you don't want to, and the cycle continues---with NO ONE having a good time. If EITHER party would just DROP IT, everyone would be happier.

I think this is interesting to think about in an internet context---though again, I'm not sure it works well when I try to apply it. Like maybe sometimes we're following people only because they follow us, but actually they're following us only because we're following them, and we'd all be happier if we stopped---but it seems like more often one person wants to follow and the other one doesn't want to follow back, and THAT'S the issue.

16 comments:

azterya said...

I really liked Salmon Fishing in the Yemen too. I think it ended up on my list either because I was looking at Ewan McGregor movies, or Emily Blunt ones. It could have been either :)

Barb said...

I loved that movie, too! Have you seen The Giant Mechanical Man? Same kind of movie, with Jenna Fischer. It's really great.

DrPusey said...

Another thumbs up for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. I think the reason we got it as a suggestion is because Lasse Hallstrom directed it, and we liked Chocolat and The Cider House Rules.

Swistle said...

Barb- Adding to queue!

Nowheymama said...

I clicked on the Netflix link and it is recommended for me, too, based on my list! *adding to queue*

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

The social obligation thing is interesting. I guess on an abstract/theoretical level it makes sense. And I would like to think that if someone I had no interest in invited me over for something, I would decline ANYWAY (nicely, hopefully). But I haven't had to test that out, so I don't know how I would REALLY react. I do worry about people feeling obligated to do things with me out of social nicety... but I guess I have to hope that if hanging out with me were so awful, I'd just get a polite, "Oh I can't make it!"

Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe that's an easier "out" when it's a one-on-one thing. A couple of declines, and you kind of get the message that the relationship isn't going to move forward. But in a group, if you constantly invite 5 members of the group without the sixth member, then it seems more pointedly exclusive. Somehow. Especially if the group includes ol' sixy at all other functions. Hmmm. Tricky stuff, this socializing!

Gigi said...

Your theory of "following" is pretty spot on - from what I've observed. Although, I must admit, after a few times of following someone's blog only because they followed mine and discovering that I couldn't bear to read whatever it is they wrote, I stopped that practice. Now, I'm thrilled to death if someone wants to sign on to read my drivel, but I only follow people I enjoy reading.

jill said...

Barb, I just watched that movie and really liked it! Thanks for the rec Swistle. Will add it to my list.

Rbelle said...

I think it's an issue in real life, too. A woman from my breastfeeding support group started putting together a once a month playgroup and for two months running, I've been the only one to show up until at least halfway through. Now she wants to get the kids together for playdates outside the (not existing so much) playgroup and I ... don't, really. And it's not even that I don't like her, exactly. She's nice enough. But except for having children around the same age (although not even that close) and sharing a few similar parenting philosophies, we really don't have a lot in common, and I already have plenty of friends with whom I have similarly little in common (other than the few shared interests that caused us to become friends in the first place). I'm experiencing vast amounts of anxiety over what I will do if she really does invite us for a playdate. I am "busy" in the sense that I have various things I do throughout the week as a SAHM and like to keep to my routine, but not in the sense of having any actual conflicts I couldn't work around. It would be easy if I thought she didn't really want to get together either but she's the one who asked, so ...

brzeski said...

My go-to phrase (I suppose it's my equivalent of "How kind of you to take an interest") is "Oh, I guess every family has to do what's best for them."

It works pretty well, and doesn't seem to come across as bitchy, which is a great success because that is often how I mean it. But it also benefits from being totally true, and hard to argue with.

Do you feel like Stridentella (or as I now like to call her, Ol' Sixy) is cornering you in particular? Or are you just coming up with a just-in-case plan? Is there someone in the group you could make a rescue alliance with?

Swistle said...

brzeski- Ooooooo, I LIKE that! I can see using that! I noticed one of the other moms was saying, "Different choices, different choices" in a humorous/easygoing voice (as if reciting an in-joke) when things got heated once.

She's definitely an equal-opportunity sort of person: she'll go after anyone who raises one of her pet topics (of which there appear to be great numbers, cutting a wide swath across all categories). She went easy on me, I think, because I was new, but I'd like to be prepared in case she steps it up.

artemisia said...

I loved this movie! One of my all-time favorites.

Nancy said...

Just yesterday my husband was asking if I wanted to watch Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and I was similarly confused as to why I would want to. Thanks for the timely recommendation.

d e v a n said...

For difficult people, I usually just say, "Hmmm" in an oh-that's-interesting way, and then change the subject.

Lawyerish said...

Netflix keeps recommending "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" to me, too, and I have been avoiding it because I was completely unclear as to what it was about/what type of movie it was. So now I will have to watch it! Thank you, Swistle!

Frondly said...

I liked Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, too, though it did seem to me they just wrote a title on it at the last minute with a marker.