This next explanation is more of a genesis of how Callemonit came to be. It will be followed by my fictional story “John and Karen: Life on a Rollercoaster,” in which I introduce a variety of Callemonit scenarios. Click this link if you want to skip to it: STORY
For many years, I was a handyman. It’s the sort of trade that programs you to notice flaws in everything and gives you the confidence to think you can fix them…well at least, that’s what happened to me.
When I was in a customer’s home, I focused on the specific job I was hired for, like a leaky faucet in the bathroom. But while I was there, I couldn’t help but notice the sticking door, the toilet that keeps running, the water stain on the ceiling, the outdated peeling wallpaper, and the loose vanity cabinet handle.
I would fix the leak, call in the customer, “Ok, all done, no more dripping. By the way, the handle on the cabinet was loose…I had my tools out…only took a second to tighten.”
There would be the typical response, “Oh perfect, that drip drip drip all the time was driving me crazy for months, and that handle…I’ve been meaning to fix it…thank you…”
Then they would take a deep breath, open their mouth to speak, pause for a moment to muster the strength to acknowledge the obvious, then continue, “…I guess it’s just that…well…you know…come on, look at this bathroom. It’s a complete wreck, something out of circa 1980, with the metallic wallpaper and gold fixtures. It needs a complete makeover…and when guests come over, I feel so embarrassed…I mean, we would love a new bathroom, but where do you begin with something like-
I would interject, “Well, for starters, I would probably address that toilet that keeps running. I can’t image that’s good for your water bill.”
Customer: “Yeah, you have to jiggle the handle…and I don’t know how many times we forgot. Last summer, we went on vacation, and my mother-in-law stopped by two days later to get the mail and water the plants…it was running the whole time.”
Me: “Oh boy.”
Customer: “You’re not kiddin’…that bill was ridiculous.”
Me: “I bet…but about that handle and the jiggling and all…what you’re really doing is moving a part inside the tank that doesn’t close and seal properly.”
Customer: “So…you know how to fix that too?”
Me: “Sure…actually, to be honest…I could redo the entire bathroom…but first I would have to figure out what’s leaking from the bathroom upstairs, causing that stain on the ceiling here.”
Well, you get the picture. A leaky faucet would turn into a lot of work for me, and a lot of headaches gone for the customer.
I would say to my wife, “Hun, it never ceases to amaze me what people are willing to live with, even when it annoys the heck out of them…I mean, when the repair or renovation is complete and the stress is gone, do they kick themselves for not addressing it sooner? All they had to do was speak up…help was just a phone call away.”
She would conquer with, “Oh yes Honey, you’re quite the superhero…now go fix the belt on our clothes dryer…or I’ll be kicking myself for not speaking up and calling an appliance guy.”
All kidding aside, I became obsessed with the notion that speaking up when something bothers you is much better than remaining silent and learning to live with it.
And I was no longer referring to leaky faucets and running toilets. How people treat each other, relate to each other, communicate, and problem solve became my focus.
What if we adhere to the honesty is the best policy approach with all our relationships? Specifically, when you feel there’s behavior that needs to be addressed and fixed in your marriage, when dating, with your children, in friendships, at work, and even occasionally in public, then go ahead, speak up, say something, Callemonit.
And keep in mind. It’s not meant to be angry confrontation. Nobody likes angry confrontation. You get nervous, heart raises, voice quivers, and tears aren’t out of the question. And the payoff for all that anxiety is usually zilch. The other person(s) will likely go on the defensive or tune you out entirely.
Callemonit is meant to be CaLM Communication. You calmly explain what’s bothering you, and you emphasize a willingness to commit to a happy and productive resolution. You Callemonit, because you care.
My goal of the Callemonit Lifestyle Movement is to encourage people to find the confidence to Callemonit in all aspects of their lives, from a minor incident when your $40 lobster tastes like it came from a food truck, to something as major as, you’re heading for a divorce, because you and your spouse have stopped being honest with your feelings.
Consider the following story, “John and Karen: Life on a Rollercoaster.”
They have been happily married for five years. They have two young children. A normal day is filled with long hours of work, trips to and from daycare, runny noses, and generally putting out fires…you get the idea…probably sounds familiar.
John comes in the front door. Karen just got home as well. It’s their Anniversary. John walks in the kitchen. Karen’s at the sink, standing in her stocking feet with heels kicked aside, already preparing her husband’s favorite meal. He comes up behind her, holds her waist, leans around, and kisses her cheek, “Put the vegetables away…I called your mom to watch the kids…I’m taking you out to that seafood restaurant you’ve always wanted to try.”
Now mind you, John and Karen make a living, but they can hardly afford to deviate from their budget. Karen reminds John of how a $100 dinner seems like a waste of money. He appreciates her thrifty mindset. Her influence has gone a long way to keep them financially afloat over the years. They’re a real team, always willing to talk it through.
But this time, Karen isn’t going to win. John figured a way to pick up some overtime, and he’s not going to take “no” for an answer.
Karen looks him in the eyes, puts her hands on his face, “What a romantic man I have.” She kisses him, “Just give me a minute to freshen up.”
At the restaurant, wait time, atmosphere, drinks, and appetizers were all wonderful. The problem came with Karen’s lobster. It was a hard sell for John to even convince Karen to get the lobster. She would have willingly opted for the evening’s less expensive fish special. But John knew the story of how Karen has only had lobster one other time in her life, at their wedding, and she raved about it for days.
The lobster is placed before her. She reaches out for John’s hand, “This was very thoughtful…I love you.”
But the mood quickly changed after her first bite. Karen did her best to disguise her disappointment. From her memory of the wedding lobster, the succulent white meat just melted in her mouth. On the contrary, this lobster was somewhat tough and chewy, clearly overcooked.
John reached over to try it. He agreed, definitely not what was expected.
Now, here’s where it gets a little tricky. Everything was going perfectly, even with timing. You see, John wanted to surprise her and make a left, instead of a right out of the parking lot. He had planned on taking her to the movies, a thriller she always comments on during commercials. Complaining about the lobster, waiting for them to cook another one would really throw a wrench in the system.
And Karen was doing her best to assure him that it wasn’t too bad, “Hun, there’s hardly anything to a lobster anyway…plus the potato and green beans are delicious…no big deal.”
John half heartedly added, “You sure…I could just grab the waitress and explain?”
It’s gut check time, and why avoiding Callemonit shouldn’t be an option. Karen is a wife and a mom. Her skin is thick, and she has a back like a duck when it comes to matters of perfectly prepared food, the sound quality of a car stereo, or if there’s a bleach spot on her bedroom slipper. She weighs it out and moves on.
But John can’t dismiss so easily. Rest assured, if he doesn’t speak up and Callemonit, he’ll phony smile Karen the whole rest of the night and end up making her miserable too. He might as well throw their tickets in the trash the moment he gets them.
Wait a minute…John does make the right decision. He pretends to go to the bathroom, asks the bartender if he could get the manager, and then explains the situation.
When he returns to the table, all smiles and proud of himself, Karen giggles, “Boy, you really must have had to go…you look quite relieved.”
John laughs, “Actually, I am relieved and happy to say, I spoke to the manager…this meal has been comped, and he gave us a voucher for another free meal…crazy huh…so glad I said something.”
Now that’s a Callemonit success!
(And by the way, John’s courage to Callemonit helped the restaurant as well, bringing needed attention to issues in the kitchen.)
Now it’s time for divorce, or rather the potential for divorce.
We all love John and Karen…what a couple. But let’s fast forward ten years.
John comes home, their 15th Anniversary, and he’s an hour later than usual. He walks past a darkened kitchen and into the living room. Karen is sitting stretched out on the couch, glass of wine in hand, and scrolling through Facebook.
John bends down and gives her a kiss, “Sorry I’m late…work was ridiculous.” He reaches in his back pocket and pulls out a card he just bought from the dollar store, “Happy Anniversary Hun.”
“Ahh, thanks Hun…I’m sorry, I didn’t get a chance to get you a card, but I planned on making you a special dinner…and well…it’s been one of those crappy days…Jon-Jon needs new sneakers…said his feet hurt…and your daughter is a hot mess, literally…her and her friends came across some do-it-yourself glitter makeup hack online…looked like she was ready for the pole…and the dog decided to eat-
John interrupts, “Gotcha-gotcha…so what’s plans for dinner now?”
She looks up from her phone, “Uh, how ’bout we order pizza?”
“Sounds good.” He heads to his man cave, right for the beer fridge and turns on the game. He yells through the floor, “I’m gonna check out the first period…give me a holler when the pizza comes.”
John gets involved with the game. Karen finishes a bottle of wine. They eat separately and go to bed at different times.
So you’re probably wondering, “Where’s the Callemonit opportunity this time?”
And my reply is, sometime from around Anniversaries 8 to 15.
For some reason, John and Karen stopped communicating. And guaranteed along the way, there were dozens of situations in which one of them said or did something that…well…bugged the other one.
Likely in years 6, 7, even 8, they sat down and hashed it out. But in recent years, they tired of fighting for their marriage. It’s not to say they’re definitely heading for a divorce. Let’s just concede the fact that a snapshot of Team John And Karen from 10 years ago, looks nothing like the glorified roommates that exist today. And that’s sad for them.
John and Karen might go the distance, and chalk it up to that’s just what happens when you’re getting old and comfortable in your marriage.
Or, they can buckle down for the possibility of what’s next when John looks for attention from a secretary, or Karen an Ex, and then the kids start acting out to get attention of their own – drugs, alcohol, sex.
You see, a willingness to Callemonit in a marriage, or any relationship for that matter, is not an admission of failure to pick the right person. It’s saying, You’re human, and even though you love each other…you also want help with the kids, time together, responsible spending, the toilet seat down, etc. And you’re willing to keep bringing it up and Callemonit, time and time again, for the sake of the union, not the detriment.
I hope you read through this site, then leave a comment, suggestion, or advice. For this page, there’s a Comment Box below. The most important contribution to this blog is the sharing of experiences, so others can see the value of having a Callemonit Lifestyle.
Also, if there’s anything you want to say about what you’ve read so far regarding the concept of Callemonit, John and Karen, anything…please feel free. Thank you!
“John and Karen: Life on a Rollercoaster” continues in the 7, Cure, and Pin Pages (found in menu).