I’ve Got The Measure of You

It’s a great phrase, ‘I’ve got the measure of you’.  And it’s a marvellous idea too; being able to stand back and assess someone – head to toe – with the professional eye of a Savile Row tailor, and come up with the formula as to what makes them tick.  Instead of inside leg, waist, and shoulder measurements, your critical eye is able to size up their nature, character, and temperament.  But can we really do it?  Is this unscientific measurement (much of which comes from one’s gut feeling) in any way accurate?  Besides, any measure we think we may have of someone else is usually made according to our own values, culture and background and therefore not fully rounded.  And you can always rely on people to surprise you by acting outside of the character you’ve drawn for them.  You can be sure, when you get to know them better, that the person you had christened an ‘air-head’ will send you back to the drawing board by revealing an astonishing inner-life that had been invisible to you.

Last week I shared a house with a dozen strangers, all of us having taken ourselves far from the madding crowd to write in semi-isolation.  By the end of day one I thought I had the measure of each of them.  By day two, I re-cut everyone’s cloth, and each day thereafter out came the scissors as I snipped, tucked and made adjustments to my initial (wrong) impressions.  There was the one who couldn’t meet my eye when we arrived but by day three was holding eye contact and grasping my shoulder when he wanted to emphasis a point.  There was the one who made light of life, took photographs of rainbows and told jokes over lunch, yet she spent her week, I was to discover, writing sad, dark poetry.  By day six I consciously abandoned what had begun as an unconscious act of sizing up these dozen chameleons.

However, I do think that trying to work people out is wholly natural – I think it’s an instinctive act.  Friend or foe? Guard up or guard down?  We began the practice in the playground, aged four, our little radars beaming out and picking up signals, seeking out birds of a feather, forming alliances according to primitive reactions and responses.  We can warm to someone standing in a doorway, who hasn’t yet spoken and we can recoil from others who have given us equally little to go on.  Sometimes we’re right and sometimes we’re wrong.  Like Carly Simon, who clearly felt duped by that infamous vain man she fell for when she was still quite naïve only to get the measure of him too late.  Do we ever have the measure of someone?  Could he really have been all that vain?  I’m not at all sure.

You’re So Vain, Carly Simon

You walked into the party

Like you were walking on a yacht

Your hat strategically dipped below one eye

Your scarf, it was apricot

You had one eye on the mirror

And watched yourself gavotte

And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner

They’d be your partner, and…

 

You’re so vain

You probably think this song is about you

You’re so vain,

I’ll bet you think this song is about you

Don’t you?

Don’t you?

 

Oh, you had me several years ago

When I was still naïve

Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair

And that you would never leave

But you gave away the things you loved

And one of them was me

I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee

Clouds in my coffee, and

 

You’re so vain

You probably think this song is about you

You’re so vain, you’re so vain

I’ll bet you think this song is about you

Don’t you?

Don’t you?

 

Well I hear you went to Saratoga

And your horse, naturally, won

Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia

To see the total eclipse of the sun

Well, you’re where you should be all the time

And when you’re not, you’re with some underworld spy

Or the wife of a close friend,

Wife of a close friend, and

 

You’re so vain

You probably think this song is about you

You’re so vain, you’re so vain

I’ll bet you think this song is about you

Don’t you?

Don’t you?

5 thoughts on “I’ve Got The Measure of You

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s