I'll never forget the look on Ronda's face. Her expression was one of fearful anticipation -like the face of a nervous person watching a slowly-opening door that will reveal a scene that would either scare, or tickle. Her face grew tenser when I leaned forward to bring my nose to within inches of hers. Having been introduced to me only minutes earlier, she must have wondered how skilled I would be. We both knew that if I performed well, we would be energized, and the rest of the evening would be much more comfortable. I looked deeply into her eyes and, infusing as much strain as possible into my voice, I sneered, "I love you," through clenched teeth. Our acting class exploded with laughter. I remember the teacher jumped up to yell, "Bravo!"
Our assignment had been to perform a scene in which we would convey a message of "I hate you," to our assigned partner. A seemingly impossible stipulation limited our dialog to only the words "I love you." That evening, couple after couple succeeded in slinging "hatred" at one another while, ironically, using the phrase "I love you," as a weapon. It clearly demonstrated the superior power of nonverbal communication over the literal meaning of words.
Since that eye-opening acting exercise, years ago, I've been able to better recognize the twisted meanings of frequently used terms.
Let's take the term "Computer Guy," for example. I suppose this is term applies to me, since I make a living by helping people with their computers. Because it's my profession, I'm often in an office where I hear the term "Computer Guy." I can infer just about any meaning from it.
My Computer Guy[Overheard on the phone] "Hi, Joe you want me to have my computer guy take a look? I'll send him right over to you when I'm finished with him."
The real message here is "Hi Joe. I'm sending you something I have." This is a bit possessive -like property. But I don't mind if people to refer to my skill in this sense. My bill will be their property too. I'll "send it right over to them when I'm finished with it."
Some Computer Guy[Overheard from across the room] "Say, who's that working at your desk, Nancy? Some computer guy?"
Here, I think the message is intended to belittle. The word "some" implies that computer guys are nothing special -or common. Yet, with the right tone of sarcasm, this phrase can make us feel weird at the same time. Genius! This is a clever double-whammy.
A Computer Guy[Upon entering an office] "Thank goodness a computer guy is finally here... we've needed you for weeks."
In this instance, "a computer guy" is a compliment and probably spoken by a person that was raised with some good home training. It says, "I appreciate what you can do." This sort of welcome often leads to a "real name" introduction.
The Computer Guy
"Are you the computer guy?"
The message in this question is almost always: "I need you to help me unscrew something I've screwed up on my computer and since you are carrying a screwdriver and look "computerish," I'm taking a guess that you can help me."
You Computer Guys
"I don't know how you computer guys know how to do all that crap."
Note: It always makes us feel warm inside when people refer to our expertise as "crap." The message couldn't be clearer: "Since I can't learn what you know, I'll degrade it to nurse the wound my 'lack' makes me feel." This message doesn't annoy me anymore because these are the people that buy the most "crap" from me.
Hey Computer Guy
"Hey Computer Guy -I need you over here!"
This message clearly falls into the "my-problem-is-more-important-than-your-name" category. A person that barks such a phrase won't realize that "fetching" a computer guy in this way is usually the longest route to getting help.
I realize that my inferences may be not always be accurate, but my favorite thing in life is when people say one thing and mean something quite different. It's especially fun when my name is ignored altogether. I wish that would happen all the time. I can't get enough. I love it.