Monday, 22 December 2008

Everything stops when you open the lid

Have you ever seen that Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Hobbes is in the washing machine? Hobbes — six-year-old Calvin's cuddly tiger - is being washed. Calvin opens the lid to check that Hobbes is OK. Hobbes tells him “fine — close the lid. Everything stops when you open it”. There's a sequel, in which Hobbes walks around for some time with little dizzy spirals above his head.

It puzzled me the first time I saw it, because it's one of those top-loading washing machines we don't have here, they only have them in America. The drum is a vertical cylinder, in which you put the washing and the soap, and there's a sort of pole standing up in the middle of it which I suppose is there to agitate the washing, because otherwise it would just nestle at the bottom. There's a steel lid on the top, which drops shut. It has some simple time and temperature controls, like a toaster, and you can open the lid while it's working to look inside.

I had never seen one of these; to me a washing machine is a much smaller, horizontal cylinder with a thick glass door, a seperate drawer for the soap, and automatic cycles based on the standard washing instructions, which you choose from using a dial. If you absolutely insist on opening the door halfway through the cycle, which you can't do accidentally because there's a timed lock to stop you doing anything so silly without switching off the machine first, you'll get water all over the floor.

Of course the cartoon wouldn't make any sense with a front-loading washing machine. Calvin might worry, but he wouldn't be able to open the door. Or, if he did manage to open the door, he would get doused in hot soapy water, and there'd be screams.

The way these machines work - quite different from the kind sold here - also explains the instructions for felting in many American craft books, which assume you have a top-loader, and if you've never even seen one, make no sense.

Anyway. I had a dance that made me feel like Hobbes being washed. Or, at least — agitated, if not very clean.

Moreover, he tried to rub his shoe on my tights (cheap ones, happily) as though he were a dog who'd found a nice, scratchy tree*, and as I withdrew my leg, tried to tell me that I should stand still because it was his turn to have some fun.

Now, that wasn't a lid I needed to have opened. Ew! Eww Ewww Ewwwwww! Eww!

* Some women like this, or so it is said; and I am thrilled to leave men who like it too, exclusively to them.

24 comments:

ghost said...

I wonder if milonga could be run akin to computer dating. As you enter you fill in your preferences - the computer sorts through the people present and then prints out a dance card of suitable partners.

i actually did set up something like this once, which I believe is still in existence. (Admitedly it was more a reaction to having guys hacking off women and so I came up with a nice clear database of 'these women like this, these don't - act accordingly', updated by the women)

Johanna said...

Interesting analogy, and pairing of subjects Ms. H. I love Calvin and Hobbes, and have owned both a front- and top-loading washer.

As for the leg rubbing... it depends by whom, and when. I've been both revolted and charmed by the move. But God save anyone who rips my stockings.

Jo A said...

My Mum used to have a top loading washing machine. The clothes would move up the sides by centrifuge, rather like a carnival motorcycle act.

Wolfy said...

Ms Hedgehog,
Lucky you, you are too young to have seen such machines! I remember them well.
My mum was the proud owner of a twin-drum top-loading machine in the 60s and 70s in the London suburbs. She opened one lid to put the clothes into the washing drum, then transferred them into the other drum for rinsing and spinning.
Americans in the US still use this ancient technology for some strange reason - something to do with protectionism an American friend once told me. (You can only buy old-fashioned US-made top-loaders - neat little European made front-loaders are difficult to come by or much more expensive. ) So, if you want to put fabric conditioner in, you have to open the lid at the right moment and pour it in.
However my mother's joy was understandable- prior to this machine she used to hand-wash everything and carry it into the garden to put it through the mangle. "mangle? what's that?" I hear you say! Ask your grandmother!

Arlene said...

Ah, I long for the day when I can afford a top loading washing machine over here. It does your wash in 15 minutes instead of an hour.
As for the leg thing, hmm. I am not convinced it is a move for men to make on women and I can't remember the last time it ever happened to me. There is definitely a sick making factor involved here. I think the woman doing it to the man is different altogether and I only ever do it if I am making a point. After all, that is why it is done.

msHedgehog said...

For me, it's a case of <Jocye Grenfell>Don't Do That</Joyce Grenfell>.

ghost said...

So how does the leader tell what the follower wants?

This is still a work in progress, so I’d value the various perspectives.

Say for the sake of simplicity that the boundaries are
Open embrace -> Close embrace
Just walking -> Everything but the kitchen sink
U -> 18

Embrace.
Lead forward ochos. As you return to walking pay attention to how close an embrace the follower naturally takes.

Or lead a sandwich and see how far she steps back.

Walking
The quick and dirty solution is to lead something flash and see her reaction.

I think there’s a correlation between close embrace and a fondness for walking. Certainly I’ve noticed a shift in the embrace with people who like walking once it becomes clear that I’m just leading walking. It reminds me of the way people who are natural huggers hold you. The physical expression of “content”.

Leg rubs
Lead a parada and give the follower space to simply step over or do adornments, or do leg rubs.

So are these right and are there better ways (other than observing the person dance / knowing them / using telepathy)?

msHedgehog said...

@ghost, I'm trying to think that through. Because to me this particular example seems a very obvious case of blatant disrespect, so that not doing it requires no more than basic consideration for the other person as a person. But to some people it's not obvious, or not even true - although it is very rare, so I take it most people agree, more or less. So I have to step back and think about it carefully.

Considering the idea of a progression from U->18, as you put it, I'd point out that the leader is leading and the follower is expected to follow. Therefore it is an abuse of power for the leader to impose any step of any such progression. He can only invite. It isn't ok to expect her to stand still while he intrudes on her body.

Any progression in ratings should be initiated by the woman, in my opinion. Obviously it's different depending whether the couple are strangers (as in my example) or know each other well.

I don't see close embrace as part of any such progression. It is completely U - just purely a matter of competence. It's still her choice, though - you're not entitled to impose it. You can invite her, and if she is confident and competent with it, and thinks you are too, she'll come. She might start in open and then close up when she realises that you can actually dance tango, and also want to.

There are probably some other options for sending signals on what kind of dance you want to dance. Like how you dress. Such signals aren't very reliable, but they're good enough for women to find them useful.

In terms of techniques, I think you just lead something and see how comfortably she follows it - allowing for maybe up to three attempts at different points in the dance - and whether she seems to enjoy it or not. That's not a U->18 thing, it's just a matter of skill level and whether it seems like fun.

ghost said...

@ MsH
“Some women like this, or so it is said; and I am thrilled to leave men who like it too, exclusively to them.”

Herein lies the problem. You’re not all singing from the same hymn sheet. So if a guy sees this being done between people who know each other and the woman is all happy and joining in – and then he’s tries it out and gets someone who does like it, he can assume it’s a Good Thing. Add to this that

a) He’s presumably been taught it in class without any warnings / caveats
b) Women who don’t like it probably won’t for the most part voice their dislike

then I can see the problem.

I’ll cynically add
c) He’s probably never had it led on him

I totally agree that him telling you to stay put was madness

And yes, I prefer an invitational style.

An added complication lies in the moves a guy can lead. It also goes back to an earlier post you made about the woman having her leg trapped. Had he done this first it would have severely limited your options.

The obvious answer being to invite moves which actually are invitations.


“In terms of techniques, I think you just lead something and see how comfortably she follows it - allowing for maybe up to three attempts at different points in the dance - and whether she seems to enjoy it or not. That's not a U->18 thing, it's just a matter of skill level and whether it seems like fun.”

Sounds good. I was thinking also in more general terms about working out what a woman wants. Maybe I need to take a bath with a hairdryer….

But being me I was wondering if there were more efficient ways. When I start a tanda with someone I don’t know I want to get to the stage where we both settle down and dance. The catch with leading a move three times - I assume you don’t mean consecutively ;o) – is that it takes a while..


PS When’s the “women are like horses” article coming? :innocent:

Game Cat said...

Some of the comments on this thread are PRICELESS lol.

Ms H - did he really tell you that it was "his turn to have some fun"? I know of at least one lady who would have left him supine and gasping on the floor.

Re the broader question of how to figure out what's U vs >18, I agree with the principle of "invite and await response" as suggested by several posters so far.

Ghost - I love the idea of a dancer personal preference database, but I suspect that for some people at least part of the fun is actually finding out on the floor what each other is capable of and comfortable doing. So long as the "invite" principle holds sway, the adults should be fine. I'm happy to trade off some efficiency in preference discovery for that. Btw, let me know how the bath with the hairdryer goes...I hear it can be dangerous ;)

Personally, the first song or at least the first lap of the room should be simple stuff - walks and demi-giros etc. Then slip in different stuff now and then to see how the lady takes them. I will avoid doing anything I don't think we could pull off smoothly (the crowd is watching after all, and you don't want them to think less of the lady just because Clod the Leader is feeling experimental, or just mental)

My BIG GRIPE is this: when I watch dancers, I notice sometimes that when a leader tries something and the lady likes it, she smiles. Of course, he can't see that in close embrace, so he can't quite tell how she's taking it. Ghost hit it on the spot but from the other side with his point (b)...she may not voice her displeasure at things she doesn't like. Any thoughts from ladies reading this?

ghost said...

@Gamecat. Yup I can see why the exploration could be fun. For me personally, there’s a different energy to each style of dancing eg simple walks in close embrace is a different “place” than Nuevo open embrace with lots of moves. So I like to settle down into one.

Having said that I was in favour of the “classical" approach you suggest of walking, demi-giros etc until I realised it’s one massive flaw when dancing with strangers. If you get a woman who’s into auto-ganchoing and you do this, in my experience she’ll start to get twitchy after about 30 seconds. Shortly after that she’ll start adding ganchos, boleos etc in as “adornments” of her own accord! Ekk. It’s in large part due to this that I want to get it sorted within that 30 second window what the lady is going to do so that if she wants to do lots of ganchos, then at least I can make sure I’m the one leading them! Having a bath with a hairdryer is a lot less scary than random ganchos with high heels, eh? ;o)

Totally agree about the smiles we miss. Some kindly women will make “Oh”s and “Mmm”s though, or you can switch out to open embrace quickly and catch the smile that way…

ghost said...

PS Just thinking a bit more, there is a style of dancing which starts with simple walks and then gradually naturally evolves into other things in an exploratory kind of way - I think that's what you're talking about? If so, then yes, I enjoy it very much, with the caveat that it's with a woman who enjoys doing it

AmpsterTango said...

Regarding the top loading washer:

That's common here in the US, along with the front loader. They come with all the bell and whistles nowadays. It washes and rinses automatically.

The reason why it stops when you open the lid is so that you can add/subtract any article as you see fit. And, to even out the drum when an imbalance during the rinse cycle occurs.

Regarding the leg rub:

There really is nothing wrong with it... IF the partner accepts.

Tango is after all, communication without words. The lead posts a question (the rub). You answer (withdraw), not positively.

He should have stopped there and moved on and do something else. However, he insisted. An imbalance. That to me (as a leader), would be a tad disrespectful.

Of course, I don't know his background. It could be attributed to lack of experience, lack of perception towards the follow, or just a big ego.

It's just me, but as a leader, I believe it be one's duty to make the dance lovely for both follower and leader. If you don't, you should do something about it.

msHedgehog said...

@Ampster - I was surprised by your take - I wouldn't have expected that that was something you felt it ever made sense to do. Because the very first step, the thing itself, is an imposition and the damage is already done.

My view is that as if I were leading I would never ever do this, simply because it's an imposition on the follower by its nature and that makes it not part of my tango.

For me as a follower I suppose the answer is a really fast and emphatic withdrawal - an instant decision to stop following, break the connection and move away. Although what, then, to do with that leg could be a puzzle.

ghost said...

@MsH - just wondering isd this a lead / follow thign or a man / woman thing?

ie if you were leading and a guy was following, who would be in charge of initiating leg rubs?

msHedgehog said...

Absolutely the follower - what I'm saying is that anything else is an abuse of power. It's not a man/woman thing, just a completely straightforward rule that you don't abuse power.

Ampster said...

To MsHedgehog:

My point of view is from the question/answer-lead/follow point of view. Lead asks a question Follow gives an answer.

Question: While it is true that the first step is an imposition, it would not have been known to be so unless it was taken.

Answer: You did express your disagreement by withdrawing your leg. He should have gotten the clue and moved on.

Since he persisted, it (to me) is quite disrespectful, and deserved of "Thank you" to end the tanda.

ghost said...

@ MsH
so to sumarise thus far; if I want my leg rubbed and indeed want to rub someone else's leg -

I should find a lady who's suitably attired (and probably bloomin' cold in this weather) and lead a move that would invite her to rub my leg as an adornment whilst allowing her the freedom to do a different adornment or simply decline the invitation altogether.

If she rubs my leg, I can then reciprocate to the same degree. I can then offer her further opportunities which she can chose to accept at the same level, decline, or up the ante. I can then match her response accordingly.

For clarity, are you considering enganches to be forcing the follower to do at least one leg rub and as such should only be led after the follower has accepted at least one declinable invite to leg rub?

msHedgehog said...

I don't think it's safe to assume there is a relationship between how she responds to an invitation to drag her shoe up your trousers, and whether it's OK to do the same to her, when she doesn't have the opportunity to issue an invitation, like you do.

(Followers are widely taught that that's the expected and only correct response to this movement; nobody who teaches this ever treats whether we want to do it as remotely relevant. They don't ask the leaders, either, but at least they have the option not to lead it.)

In other words, I think the information about whether she would like it is inaccessible to you during the dance, and therefore doesn't help you in deciding what to do.

In my opinion, that means not doing it. It matters who is leading and who is following. Some things are just not appropriate both ways. Because it's an imposition and you can't know what she thinks, it doesn't make sense to me to include this thing in what I consider good and considerate dancing.

My conclusion is the same as Arlene's, above; I'm trying to offer a general principle, or at least a coherent argument, in support of that conclusion.

ghost said...

@MsH
Hmm Arlene seems to be saying it shouldn't be led at all. Is there not an argument that it can be led on a follower the leader actually knows is comfortable with such moves?

"Followers are widely taught that that's the expected and only correct response to this movement"
Agreed, which implies that it's also wrong to lead such invitations to a stranger as to all intents and purposes it's not an invitation.

Another thought -

Legs rubs, leg traps and enganches are commonly taught in tango.

What other moves do you think shouldn't be led unless the leader knows the follower (assuming the follower is competent to follow)?

ghost said...

PS Or indeed shouldn't be led at all

msHedgehog said...

Agreed, which implies that it's also wrong to lead such invitations to a stranger as to all intents and purposes it's not an invitation.

Possibly, but I'm not convinced that tango ethics require us to compensate to that degree for thoughtless teaching. Physically, it is an invitation, and that's what matters. It doesn't feel like a grope.

Legs rubs, leg traps and enganches are commonly taught in tango.

Indeed. The student has the job of thinking it through and deciding which bits of what's on offer to adopt, and which are pointless, tasteless, tiresome, or disrespectful. I think that's what it means to get good at something, and it's what it means to do something yourself as an honest person.

What other moves do you think shouldn't be led unless the leader knows the follower

All those that are pointless, tasteless, tiresome, or disrespectful. ;) This is at least partly an aesthetic judgement - above, my attempt at a general principle to justify one instance of this judgement would, if applied generally, rule out more than one of the others as well. And I'm not likely to argue with that.

msHedgehog said...

Or:

Don't do it unless you're SURE she fancies you.

It's never good to be a coxcomb.

;)

ghost said...

Indeed. The student has the job of thinking it through and deciding which bits of what's on offer to adopt, and which are pointless, tasteless, tiresome, or disrespectful.

I’m not a big fan of the “You pull the pin out“ school of teaching that neglects to mention that throwing the thing *really* soon is rather important

I think that's what it means to get good at something, and it's what it means to do something yourself as an honest person.

True but you can only get so far mulling it over. At some point it’s wise to ask a helpful Hedgehog… ;o)

All those that are pointless, tasteless, tiresome, or disrespectful. ;)

Rofl

Take this clip though – to me it’s about playfulness and flow; there’s a strong zen influence. To my mind this is aesthetically pleasing.
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=kCVLctyJmHc

Don't do it unless you're SURE she fancies you.

Rofl – I just wanna dance

It's never good to be a coxcomb.

I do have a Harlequin’s mask though…