Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tension Details

Details matter. In relationships, the little things can mean a lot – like offering to get something for someone in the living room when you get up and go into the kitchen, reaching for that special person’s hand while you are watching TV, hugging someone you care about for no other reason than they walked into the room, rubbing your boyfriend/girlfriend/child’s back when you know they had a rough day. Free and simple ways to show you care.

A missing button, a stain, wrinkled clothing could be read by others as a simple message that you don’t really care. If the elements happen to coincide in a perfect storm of wardrobe carelessness for a job interview or a first date, when it is assumed you will try to make a decent impression, you could leave the other person wondering what you might neglect later. It amuses me to hear people say “it doesn’t matter if they wear a … (fill in the blank – suit, tie, sneakers, etc – to the interview/date/public speaking gig because it’s the job/personality/speech that matters.” News flash – it’s a package deal. And why have people fixated on your crumpled shirt when you want them to hear your words?

If you’re charging $6,000 for accident repairs, why not go the extra step and buff the whole vehicle so the newly painted rear door and quarter panel have a chance to match the rest of the car with the five year old paint? Or offer me the option to pay the cost difference and paint the whole car while it’s in the paint shop anyway. And when I call about the paint mismatch, don’t suggest I look in the phone book for a detail shop. Guess whose repair shop I won’t be recommending to others? Details, baby, details.

It makes me nuts when an actor is carrying what we are supposed to believe is a bag of groceries, but they are moving it around in a manner that screams that all the boxes inside it are empty. Or when they are “drinking” and you can tell from the way they hold the cup it’s empty and then they don’t even pause to swallow before delivering the next line. Maybe I've taken too many acting classes. Unfortunately, these types of things jump out at me. Everywhere. All the time. Like a curse.

I attended a play recently where somebody in charge neglected details throughout. The play was set in the South, yet, every male in the cast sounded like he was from Boston. I wondered if all these characters were supposed to be geographic transplants, but nothing in the dialogue indicated it. I was willing to look past the dialect issue, but then we were presented with a character discussing the alpaca suit he was wearing, which I could clearly see was blue and white seersucker. Any wool or wool blend fabric could have passed for alpaca, but not summer seersucker. And if the alpaca reference was a scripting issue to indicate a change of season, then it totally missed the mark, because the character in a summer suit screamed that it was still summer on the set.

Another character was holding a pair of cotton pajamas, claiming they are the silk pajamas worn on his wedding night. Look, I know this is a low budget operation, but even a cheap polyester pair of PJs would have had a more convincing drape than the crisp new cotton fabric this guy was holding. A female character asked for help with buttons, and then we got to hear the sound of a zipper as the other character assisted. When the same female character stood there describing her suit in the blue color of some royalty of Egypt while wearing a pale gray ensemble, all I could do was roll my eyes. Of course, by then she was about ready to be carted off to the funny farm, so maybe it was a deliberate script issue, but who can tell, we’d already been lied to with so many other blatant inconsistencies. At least they really drank brown water in all the Jack Daniel's shot pours.

Sometimes I wonder if a lack of attention stems from a general lack of respect – for oneself, for others, for an audience. Is it an assumption (or a fervent hope) that others won’t notice or care? Or is the fact that I do care just one more reason why I was saddled with the “Miss Perfect” label by my siblings (and their friends)? But hey, I’m trying to relax. The tension of paying attention to details is getting to me, too. Maybe I can go for slacking lessons.

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