Condominium blues


If he doesn’t get his way, expect one outcome only.

By: Elaine Luti/The American in Italia

There’s a man in my condominium complex who has decided he’s the boss of the place. He expects everything he wants to go his way. What he doesn’t propose, he resists or undermines. He’s admittedly done a lot for the building, which might be regarded as helpful or controlling, depending on your viewpoint. He talks a lot and you’re likely to see him hanging around on the stairs, in the courtyard, in the immediate neighborhood. I have an irregular schedule, which means I can come and go several times a day, but I almost always run into him. His strategic lobbying, or lurking, gives him plenty of time to get to know everyone in the building, chat them up, make jokes, and get them to like him. At each condo meeting he comes armed with deleghe — proxies signed by residents to allow him to cast their vote.

Though I’m largely allergic to such meetings, I do make an effort to attend if major decisions loom. The man, naturally, is omnipresent. If things don’t go his way, he uses his booming basso voice to cow people into changing their minds. If he doesn’t get his way, he usually storms out.

I say he has hysterical attacks, which may sound odd since hysteria is usually associated with fluffy women who exaggerate distress to draw attention to themselves. It wreaks of high soprano voices, and perhaps a bit too much makeup.

The word hysterical derives from the Greek for uterus, “hystera,” an organ once thought to wander around and lodge in some part of the body causing what today would be called conversion symptoms. Personalities who responded to stress in a volatile way were called “hysterical.” They were seen as overly reactive, tending to exaggerate emotional expression in an effort to be seen and admired. The condition was once considered exclusive to women, but Freud was the first to propose that men were just as susceptible.

Despite my therapist vocation, I don’t often use diagnostic terms, and I certainly would never use one as a weapon (which happens all too often, even by people who should know better.) At the same time I admit to being strongly tempted to do so, particularly in the presence of a man who dismissively talks over women, yelling at them as if he’s the smart man who righteously refuses to recognize silly and hysterical female thinking.

It’s admittedly rare to call a man who expresses booming emotional opinions as “hysterical,” and yet that’s just what he is. Sadly, he often gets his way because loud-mouthed aggression is often considered authoritative. In this paradigm, foghorn macho is “good” while the needy expression of emotion is “bad” (if not stupid or flat-out pathological.) Yet they’re the same thing.

I have plenty of businesswomen as patients. Corporate work, medicine, law, even professional cooking all share a certain macho mentality. As my patients acquire self-confidence, many begin moving up the career ladder. That upward path frequently puts them at odds with old boys’ networks, and subtle or not-so-subtle efforts to put them down. I tell them to think of these critics – men but also women who have risen to top positions — as needy children of a sort. A needy child will use any means possible to get what it wants and needs. Adults turn to bullying, including loud voices and body language, to assert a similar kind of superiority (much like a dog). The best defense is to refuse intimidation and to deal with such posturing outside conventional “top dog” rules. Turn it on end and apply maternal sympathy. “Oh, poor boy, you can’t get your way? Let me know when you finish your hysterical fit.” If you’re lucky, the condo meeting disrupter will just storm out.

Published by CityFella

Big city fella, Born and Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lived in New York (a part time New Yorker) for three years . I have lived in the Sacramento area since 1993. When I first moved here, I hated it. Initially found the city too conservative for my tastes. A great place to raise children however too few options for adults . The city has grown up, there is much to do here. The city suffers from low self esteem in my opinion, locals have few positive words to say about their hometown. visitors and transplants are amazed at what they find here. From, the grand old homes in Alkali Flats, and the huge trees in midtown, there are many surprises in Sacramento. Theater is alive is this area . And finally ,there is a nightlife... In.downtown midtown, for the young and not so young. My Criticism is with local government. There is a shortage of visionaries in city hall. Sacramento has long relied on the state, feds and real estate for revenue. Like many cities in America,Downtown Sacramento was the hub of activity in the area. as the population moved to the suburbs and retail followed. The city has spent millions to revive downtown. Today less than ten thousand people live downtown. No one at city hall could connect the dots. Population-Retail. Business says Sacramento is challenging and many corporations have chosen to set up operations outside the cities limits. There is vision in the burbs. Sacramento has bones, there are many good pieces here, leaders seem unable or unwilling to put those pieces together into. Rant aside, I love it here. From the trees to the rivers. But its the people here that move me. Sacramento is one of the most integrated cities in America. I find I'm welcome everywhere. The spices work in this city of nearly 500,000 and for the most part these spices blend well together. From Ukrainians to Hispanics and a sizable gay community, all the spices seem to work well here. I frequently travel and occasionally I will venture into a city with huge racial borders, where its unsafe to visit after certain hours. I haven't found it here. I cant imagine living in a community where there is one hue or one spice. I love the big trees, Temple Coffee House, the Alhambra Safeway, Zelda's Pizza, Bicyclist in Midtown, The Mother Lode Saloon, Crest Theater, and the Rivers. I could go on and I might. Sacramento is home.

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