Wednesday, December 10, 2008


It's a basic rule of life that you can learn from others.

Well, no, not a rule. Exactly.

Rules all are published in books, aren't they? And each and every one of those books is a textbook. Right? And each textbook is one you have had your nosed stuffed into in grade school. Of course.

Otherwise it isn't a rule. Because rules are important. So important that they are voted on by huge committees of sighing adults, whose entire lives are taken up by the process, and who regard their doings with the utmost respect. And so keep doing those doings until they fall over from either age or exhaustion. Or sometimes, perhaps, from lack of food. So important is the process.

And each item output from the committee is printed posthaste, in a list, in a book, and that book, those books, are distributed immediately. Because of the extreme importance.

These are the rules, after all, and need to be out there.

And one of these rules, near the top of the list, is the one that says you can learn from others. Mostly, I believe, if I've got it right, if I remember it right, is that each and every one of us is required to learn almost every single thing from our parents.

You know who they are.

That's the beauty of it. Parents are handy, and they get paid to bring up loads and loads of children. Messy, loud, vagrant children, sprawling every which way and running into things and making them sticky. Parents have to deal with all this because it is a requirement of the job. And to make up for that, and because of the high rate of pay among parents as well, they inculcate us with the rules.

Of course not all of them work well. Parents. Some parents are faulty, or behind the times. Some simply don't care, or have the right tools. This is true, and this is sad, but this is life. We all live it from time to time, life. And those who live learn. The two go together.

If not from our parents then, we must learn from others.

And that brings us to Mil Millington. And Margret. And "Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About". The only real guide any man would ever need in life. To be honest about it.

Sorry, parents. But this is done better than you can do.

It is one giant web page. If you define "giant" as being full of words. Ask me, it ain't half long enough. And no longer maintained. He had a mailing list, and though I joined it way late, I still got a couple of updates, but it appears that is over now.


He has books. "A Certain Chemistry" is my only confirmed read so far. But I do have a copy of "Love and Other Near Death Experiences". The local library has been generous and has agreed to loan me the second one, now that I've returned the first. Or they didn't recognize that it was me again.

Doesn't matter as long as I have the book, and a working lock on my front door. It's mine for a couple of weeks and they won't get it back until I'm done.

And I mean that.

Meanwhile, if you can read, and if you can read with little pain and so on, try "Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About". There's a link at the end of this page. It will do you good. Your parents should rest easier knowing that you're getting honest instruction, especially if they're still alive. Because at minimum, if you are busy reading, you will have no idea which direction they took while sneaking away.

So, a sample:

What Margret and I have, essentially, is a Mexican stand-off with love instead of guns. OK, yes, sometimes there are guns too. The important thing is the mindset, though. Sure, people can argue about important issues, that's fine, good luck to them I say. But where, I ask you, are those people when you take away the meaningful sources of disagreement? Lost. Utterly lost. Let me illustrate the common mistakes amateurs might make using something that happened the other week. You will need:



A roast chicken.

We're having tea and on the table are the plates, a selection of vegetables and a roast chicken in an incredibly hot metal baking tray. Getting this chicken to the table has been an heroic race that ended only fractions of a second short of a major skin graft. Due to this haste it is, however, not sitting precisely centrally on the coaster. Some kind of weird, hippie, neo-Buddhist couple might have failed even at this point and simply got on with eating the meal. Fortunately, Margret is there to become loudly agitated that radiant heat might creep past the edge of the coaster, through the table cloth, through the protective insulating sheet under the table cloth, and affect the second-hand table itself. She shouts and wails. I nudge the tray into the centre of the coaster, but, in doing so, about half a teaspoon of the gravy spills over the side onto the table cloth. Outside birds fall mute, mid-song. Inside, frozen in time, the camera swings around us sitting at the table, like in The Matrix.

'What the hell did you do that for? Quick, clean it up - quick,' insists Margret (where an amateur would have, say, shrugged).

'No,' I reply (at the moment when another amateur would have been returning from the kitchen with a cloth), 'I'm eating my tea. I'm going to sit here and eat my tea. Then I'll clean it up.'

'No, clean it up now.'



'No. I'm going to eat my tea first.'

'Clean it up now.'

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, so a couple of semi-pros might have worked this up into a shouting match. But I am not about to stoop to childish name-calling. Instead I lift up the tray and pour some more gravy onto the table.

'OK?' I say, 'Now stop it. I'll clean it up after.'

'Clean it up now.'

I tip a little more gravy onto the table.

'I'm just going to keep doing it every time you say that. I'll clean it up later.'

'Do it now.'

More gravy.


More gravy.

This continues until we run out of gravy.

I must make it clear that my actions here seemed perfectly rational at the time. I've mulled them over since, of course, and am relieved to find that they still hold up to examination: it's pleasing to know I can make good decisions under pressure. Anyway, we eat the meal from a table awash with gravy. I am happy to have argued my point persuasively. Margret has a smile fixed to her face due to the belief (incorrect, yes, but it's only her enjoyment that matters) that I've clearly done something hugely stupid that she can bring up later in any number of arguments - possibly years from now. Everyone wins. We eat, united in contentment. I clean up the table.

Do you see? I want everyone to try this out at home and write me a report for next week.


Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About web page.
Love and Other Near-Death Experiences: A Novel by Mil Millington
Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About: A Novel by Mil Millington


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