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What is the meaning of lifestyles?

Me: What is your lifestyle?

You: What?

Me: Your lifestyle?

You: I have no idea what you're talking about.

Me: You've got some lifestyle, don't you? I mean you have a certain way of life which is different from the ways other people have.

You: A certain way of life? Different from other people? I don't know. I lead my life just as everyone else does it in the neighborhood. I'm not different from them. I don't want to be different from them. They are my friends, my neighbors. I don't know what you're talking about. Is that one of your fancy words again? Lifestyles? Funny word. As if life would need any style. Life is life. It doesn't need a style, does it?

Me: Well, do you say that your way of life is the same as your neighbors'?

You: What do you mean by "the same"?

Me: Are you doing, feeling, thinking the same as your neighbors do?

You: Of course not. Everyone is different from everybody. I mean, I'm wearing different shirts than my neighbor does.

Me: Do you like the Chicago Bulls?

You: No. Not at all. They're too big. No, I don't like big things.

Me: Does one of your neighbors like the Chicago Bulls?

You: Why do you want to know? They can like whom they want. It's none of your business.

Me: I don't investigate, I just want to know whether there is someone who likes the Chicago Bulls because I want to talk with you about lifestyles.

You: What have the Chicago Bulls to do with lifestyles? It's a basketball-team. Nothing to do with lifestyles.

Me: I'm not sure, and maybe you will recognize that they've got something to do with them. So, please, just tell me: any fans of the Bulls in your neighborhood?

You: Of course. I mean, anybody would be stupid not to be a fan of Michael Jordan. Sure, there are lots of Bulls-fans around.

Me: So, you're living your way of life in a neighborhood in which there are friends and neighbors who don't share your preferences regarding the Bulls?

You: Nobody has to share my preferences. We don't live together because of preferences.

Me: Are you sure?

You: Of course, because we live together, because ...

Me: You like each other?

You: No. Not necessarily. I mean there's some people I don't like at all but they're living here because they ain't living somewhere else.

Me: Why don't they live somewhere else?

You: I don't know. Maybe, it's convenient here. Maybe, they can afford to live here but not somewhere else. Maybe, they like it here. Well, probably not because of this because some of them we don't like very much and they still keep living here. Yes, I guess it's because it's convenient here.

Me: You mean, people live here because they can afford living here and not somewhere else?

You: Maybe they could live somewhere else, but here, it's convenient for them for whatever reasons.

Me: Money?

You: Certainly.

Me: Similar background?

You: What do you mean by "background"?

Me: Perhaps they have similar jobs than the rest of the neighborhood.

You: Some of them have.

Me: So, this is the kind of lifestyle they can afford.

You: I don't understand what you mean by "lifestyle". They're living here, I don't like them. For them it's convenient. But I don't reject them either. So, that's it. Nothing to do with lifestyles.

Me: You talk with them?

You: Of course, they're humans, aren't they? We speak the same language.

Me: Language?

You: Sure. None of them would talk about lifestyles. Nobody uses this word. It's strange, kind of upper-class. Yeah, it's the rich folks' language. We don't talk that way. We don't have lifestyles. We live.

Me: So you speak the same language?

You: Hm.

Me: Then you share quite a lot.

You: What do you mean?

Me: Those who speak the same language share the same culture. They have a lot in common. They see the world through similar eyes.

You: How many beers have you had?

Me: Why?

You: You're talking strange things.

Me: I just said that you share a lot. We don't seem to share a lot. You don't seem to understand me.

You: I don't understand you? Oh no, boy, I understand a lot of you. You're a talker. You're this health-talker. Always putting on people.

Me: I'm not putting on people. I just talk with them. But it's difficult to understand each other, isn't it?

You: No wonder. You don't live here. So how can you understand me? I mean, we speak the same language but the same language is different. Different meanings, different ways to think about everything. We're not health-talkers here. We're people. Real people.

Me: I'm a real person, too.

You: Are you?

Me: Do you say, I'm not real?

You: Unfortunately, you're very real. You're a real pain in my neck.

Me: Why?

You: Because you don't understand me although we speak the same language. You use it differently. You talk in strange words. You don't feel how I feel. You just approach me and start talking. You don't seem to know that we don't like to be approached this way. Anyway, you've got a different style.

Me: Aha, style!

You: Yeah, style.

Me: I thought only rich folks are into styles.

You: To me, you're a rich folk.

Me: But I'm not.

You: Well, then you are somebody else. Probably an academic or so.

Me: I'm a health worker.

You: Oh, come on, nobody is a health worker. There is no work in health. It doesn't make sense.

Me: Let's get back to styles. You said, we may have different styles of talking, right?

You: Sure.

Me: Maybe, we've got different styles of thinking.

You: Certainly. I can't think the way you do - too far out.

Me: Perhaps, we've got different attitudes.

You: Of course.

Me: And different beliefs?

You: Sure.

Me: And different educational backgrounds?

You: And different girl-friends, different cars, different houses, different salaries, different tastes, different kids, different neighborhoods, and so on. Yeah, we're different.

Me: We've got different ways of life?

You: You lead your life and I lead mine.

Me: They're different?

You: I hope so because I can't stand your style.

Me: My lifestyle?

You: Correct.

Me: So, you know what a lifestyle is?

You: Well, if it's what we just talked about, then I probably know what this term means. But it's not a term we use here.

Me: O.K. Accepted. However, just for the purpose of this talk, let's using the term for a while, o.k.?

You: Well.

Me: There's people who think that smoking is a lifestyle. What do feel about that?

You: Smoking? A lifestyle? I'm not smoking all my life. I mean, if you smoke you just do it once in a while. You can't build your life on smoking, can you? Why do people say that smoking is a lifestyle? I don't see any reason in it.

Me: Well, they say, smoking is a lifestyle because it's part of your life if you are a smoker.

You: Then laughing is a lifestyle, too. Or bathing, eating, watching TV. You mean, everything of you is a lifestyle?

Me: That's what some people say.

You: Who are they?

Me: Epidemiologist.

You: Epi-What?

Me: Health researchers.

You: Your friends?

Me: Colleagues.

You: Must be confused people. If you talk about lifestyle, you don't want to talk about sitting on the toilet. You don't want to know about eating. I mean, if you want to get to know how I live, you've got to move in my neighborhood and find out about all the kinds of things we do, or say, or believe. Then you'll get to know a bit about me and my neighbors.

© Copyright by Eberhard Wenzel, 1997-2001