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oleaginous/[͵əuli'ædʒinəs]/ a. 油质的, 油腻的, 油嘴的 ...

What Shamu Taught Me about a Happy Marri

本文属阅读资料
What Shamu Taught Me about a Happy Marriage
海豚式驯夫术

By Amy Sutherland
何勇刚 译

文章难度:四条辣椒

As I wash dishes at the kitchen sink, my husband paces behind me, 1)irritated. “Have you seen my keys?” he 2)snarls, then huffs out a loud sigh and 3)stomps from the room with our dog, Dixie, at his heels, anxious over her favorite human’s upset.
In the past I would have been right behind Dixie. I would have turned off the 4)faucet and joined the hunt while trying to soothe my husband with 5)bromides like, “Don’t worry, they’ll turn up.” But that only made him angrier, and a simple case of missing keys soon would become a full-blown angst-ridden drama starring the two of us and our poor nervous dog.
Now, I focus on the wet dish in my hands. I don’t turn around. I don’t say a word. I’m using a technique I learned from a 6)dolphin trainer.
I love my husband. He’s well read, adventurous and does a 7)hysterical rendition of a northern Vermont accent that still cracks me up after 12 years of marriage.
But he also tends to be forgetful, and is often tardy and 8)mercurial. He hovers around me in the kitchen asking if I read this or that piece in The New Yorker when I’m trying to concentrate on the simmering pans. He leaves wadded tissues in his wake. He suffers from serious bouts of spousal deafness but never fails to hear me when I mutter to myself on the other side of the house. “What did you say?” he’ll shout.
These minor annoyances are not the stuff of separation and divorce, but in sum they began to dull my love for Scott. I wanted—needed—to nudge him a little closer to perfect, to make him into a mate who might annoy me a little less, who wouldn’t keep me waiting at restaurants, a mate who would be easier to love.
So, like many wives before me, I ignored a library of advice books and set about improving him. By nagging, of course, which only made his behavior worse: he’d drive faster instead of slower; shave less frequently, not more; and leave his 9)reeking bike garb on the bedroom floor longer than ever.
We went to a counselor to smooth the edges off our marriage. She didn’t understand what we were doing there and complimented us repeatedly on how well we communicated. I gave up. I guessed she was right—our union was better than most—and resigned myself to stretches of slow-boil resentment and occasional 10)sarcasm.
Then something magical happened. For a book I was writing about a school for exotic animal trainers, I started commuting from Maine to California, where I spent my days watching students do the seemingly impossible: teaching hyenas to 11)pirouette on command, 12)cougars to offer their paws for a nail clipping, and 13)baboons to skateboard.
I listened, 14)rapt, as professional trainers explained how they taught dolphins to flip and elephants to paint. Eventually it hit me that the same techniques might work on that stubborn but lovable species, the American husband.
The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don’t. After all, you don’t get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging. The same goes for the American husband.
Back in Maine, I began thanking Scott if he threw one dirty shirt into the hamper. If he threw in two, I’d kiss him. Meanwhile, I would step over any soiled clothes on the floor without one sharp word, though I did sometimes kick them under the bed. But as he 15)basked in my app-reciation, the piles became smaller.
I was using what trainers call “approximations,” rewarding the small steps toward learning a whole new behavior. You can’t expect a baboon to learn to flip on command in one session, just as you can’t expect an American husband to begin regularly picking up his dirty socks by praising him once for picking up a single sock. With the baboon you first reward a hop, then a bigger hop, then an even bigger hop. With Scott the husband, I began to praise every small act every time: if he drove just a mile an hour slower, tossed one pair of shorts into the hamper, or was on time for anything.
I also began to analyze my husband the way a trainer considers an exotic animal. Enlightened trainers learn all they can about a species, from 16)anatomy to social structure, to understand how it thinks, what it likes and dislikes, what comes easily to it and what doesn’t. For example, an elephant is a herd animal, so it responds to 17)hierarchy. It cannot jump, but can stand on its head. It is a vegetarian.
The exotic animal known as Scott is a loner, but an alpha male. So hierarchy matters, but being in a group doesn’t so much. He has the balance of a gymnast, but moves slowly, especially when getting dressed. Skiing comes naturally, but being on time does not. He’s an 18)omnivore, and what a trainer would call food-driven.
Once I started thinking this way, I couldn’t stop. At the school in California, I’d be scribbling notes on how to walk an 19)emu or have a wolf accept you as a pack member, but I’d be thinking, “I can’t wait to try this on Scott.”
On a field trip with the students, I listened to a professional trainer describe how he had taught African crested cranes to stop landing on his head and shoulders. He did this by training the leggy birds to land on mats on the ground. This, he explained, is what is called an “incompatible behavior,” a simple but brilliant concept.
Rather than teach the cranes to stop landing on him, the trainer taught the birds something else, a behavior that would make the undesirable behavior impossible. The birds couldn’t alight on the mats and his head simultaneously.
At home, I came up with incompatible behaviors for Scott to keep him from crowding me while I cooked. To lure him away from the stove, I piled up parsley for him to chop or cheese for him to grate at the other end of the kitchen island. Or I’d set out a bowl of chips and salsa across the room. Soon I’d done it: no more Scott hovering around me while I cooked.
I followed the students to SeaWorld San Diego, where a dolphin trainer introduced me to least reinforcing syndrome (L. R. S.). When a dolphin does something wrong, the trainer doesn’t respond in any way. He stands still for a few beats, careful not to look at the dolphin, and then returns to work. The idea is that any response, positive or negative, fuels a behavior. If a behavior provokes no response, it typically dies away.
In the margins of my notes I wrote, “Try on Scott!”
It was only a matter of time before he was again tearing around the house searching for his keys, at which point I said nothing and kept at what I was doing. It took a lot of discipline to maintain my calm, but results were immediate and stunning. His temper fell far shy of its usual pitch and then waned like a fast-moving storm. I felt as if I should throw him a 20)mackerel.
Now he’s at it again; I hear him banging a closet door shut, rustling through papers on a chest in the front hall and thumping upstairs. At the sink, I hold steady. Then, sure enough, all goes quiet. A moment later, he walks into the kitchen, keys in hand, and says calmly, “Found them.”
Without turning, I call out, “Great, see you later.”
Off he goes with our much-calmed pup.
After two years of exotic animal training, my marriage is far smoother, my husband much easier to love. I used to take his faults personally; his dirty clothes on the floor were an affront, a symbol of how he didn’t care enough about me. But thinking of my husband as an exotic species gave me the distance I needed to consider our differences more objectively.
I adopted the trainers’ motto: “It’s never the animal’s fault.” When my training attempts failed, I didn’t blame Scott. Rather, I brainstormed new strategies, thought up more incompatible behaviors and used smaller approximations. I dissected my own behavior, considered how my actions might inadvertently fuel his. I also accepted that some behaviors were too 21)entrenched, too instinctive to train away. You can’t stop a badger from digging, and you can’t stop my husband from losing his wallet and keys.
Professionals talk of animals that understand training so well they eventually use it back on the trainer. My animal did the same. When the training techniques worked so beautifully, I couldn’t resist telling my husband what I was up to. He wasn’t offended, just amused. As I explained the techniques and terminology, he soaked it up. Far more than I realized.
Last fall, firmly in middle age, I learned that I needed braces. They were not only humiliating, but also 22)excruciating. For weeks my gums, teeth, jaw and sinuses throbbed. I complained frequently and loudly. Scott assured me that I would become used to all the metal in my mouth. I did not.
One morning, as I launched into yet another 23)tirade about how uncomfortable I was, Scott just looked at me blankly. He didn’t say a word or acknowledge my 24)rant in any way, not even with a nod.
I quickly ran out of steam and started to walk away. Then I realized what was happening, and I turned and asked, “Are you giving me an L. R. S.?” Silence. “You are, aren’t you?”
He finally smiled, but his L. R. S. has already 25)done the trick. He’d begun to train me, the American wife.




我在厨房水池边洗碗时,老公在我背后生气地踱步。“你看见我的钥匙没有?”他咆哮着问,接着气呼呼地大叹一声,跺着脚出了厨房。爱犬迪克西紧跟其后,见它心爱的主人如此心烦意乱,也十分不安。
要是在过去,我会和迪克西一样不安。我会关上水龙头和丈夫一起寻找钥匙,同时老生常谈地安慰他:“别担心,会找到的。”但这样只会让他更生气,像这种简单的丢钥匙的小问题,很快就变成由我俩唱主角的一场剑拔弩张的闹剧,当然这还会殃及我们那可怜而紧张的狗。
而现在,我只注意我手中湿湿的盘子。既不转身也不说一句话。我用上了从海豚驯兽师那里学到的方法。
我爱我的丈夫。他学识渊博、敢作敢为,操一口极其滑稽的佛蒙特州北部口音,即使已经结婚12年了,我仍然觉得他的口音好笑。
不过,他也常忘事儿,办起事来拖拖拉拉,脾气反复无常。我要集中精力煮东西时,他却在厨房里围着我转来转去,问我是否读过《纽约客》上这篇或者那篇文章。他起床后总要留下成沓的纸巾。他患有严重的“配偶失聪症”,但从不会漏过我在房间另一头的喃喃自语。“你刚才在说啥?”他会大声问。
这些小烦恼当然不值得分居或者离婚,但累积起来,我对我丈夫斯科特的爱开始迟钝。我想要——也需要——让他变得更加符合我心中完美丈夫的标准,成为一个少惹我生气的伴侣,一个不会让我在餐馆久等的伴侣,一个更讨人爱的伴侣。
所以,和其他妻子一样,我抛开各种各样的婚姻咨询书籍,开始用自己的办法来完善我的丈夫。当然,唠叨只有使他的行为更糟:他开车的速度会更快而不是更慢,刮胡子的次数只会更少而不会更多,骑自行车时穿的臭哄哄的衣服放在卧室地板上的时间会更长。
我们找过咨询师试图解决我们婚姻生活中的矛盾。她根本不懂我们为什么去,反而一个劲地恭维我们的沟通如何成功。我只好放弃。我想她是对的——我们的婚姻生活比大多数配偶要好——我只能任凭心中的怨恨慢慢地沸腾,时不时对他施以冷嘲热讽罢了。
后来奇迹发生了。为了写一本关于珍奇动物驯兽师学校的书,我开始在美国的缅因州和加利福尼亚州之间穿梭。在那里,我成天看学生们做那几乎不可能做到的事情:教鬣狗根据指令用脚尖立地旋转、让美洲豹伸出爪子好剪指甲、教狒狒踩滑板。
我全神贯注地听专业驯兽师们讲解如何教海豚在空中翻跟斗和教大象画画。最后,我突发奇想,同样的方法用在倔强而可爱的物种——美国丈夫身上,也可能起作用。
我从珍奇动物驯兽师那里学到的重要经验是:我应该奖励我欣赏的行为,忽略我不喜欢的行为。毕竟,要让海狮学会用鼻尖顶球,唠唠叨叨是办不到的。我那美国丈夫也一样。
回到缅因州,要是斯科特把一件脏衣服丢进衣物篮我就开始感谢他。如果丢两件,我就吻他。同时,我会跨过地板上的脏衣服,绝不说刺耳的话,尽管有时我会把它们踢到床底下。不过当他感受到了我对他的欣赏,堆在地上的脏衣服变得越来越少了。
我用的是驯兽师称为“渐进法”的技巧——奖励学习全新行为过程中的每一个小进步。不要指望狒狒能一次学会根据指令翻跟斗;同样,你也别指望美国丈夫因捡起一只袜子受过一次表扬后,就经常捡起脏袜子。对狒狒,你先奖励它的小进步,然后是大一点的进步,接着是更大的进步。对丈夫斯科特,我每次从表扬他小小的举动开始:如开车时速慢了一英里,扔一条短裤进衣物篮,或者不管做什么事他都能准时。
我也学驯兽师分析珍奇动物一样开始分析我丈夫。有见识的驯兽师学习所有关于这个物种的知识,从解剖学到社会结构,理解它如何思考,它喜欢什么不喜欢什么,对它而言什么容易什么困难。例如,大象是群居动物,所以它有等级观念。它不能跳跃,但是能够用头来倒立。它是食草动物。
这个叫斯科特的动物不合群,却是个男人中的男人,所以等级观念很重要,但合不合群不重要。他有体操运动员的平衡能力,但行动迟缓,特别是在穿衣服的时候。滑雪对他很自然,但守时却不尽然。他是杂食动物,驯兽师称之为“食物驱动型”。
一旦我开始这样想,就停不下来了。在加利福尼亚的学校,我会草草记下如何溜鸸鹋或者让狼接受你成为它们中的一员,但我也会想,“我迫不及待地想在斯科特身上一试。”
在一次和学生们同行的实地考察中,我听一个专业驯兽师讲述他如何让非洲黄冠鹤不要降落在他头和肩上。他是这样做的:训练这种长腿的鸟停在地上的垫子上。他解释说,这叫做“互斥行为”,一个简单而聪明的概念。
驯兽师不是教鹤不要停在他身上,而是教它别的行为,这样一来就能避免不被期望的举动发生。鸟儿不可能同时停在垫子和他身上。
回到家,我为斯科特想出了互斥行为,让他在我做饭时不围着我转。为了诱他离开炉子,我让他切一堆欧芹或者让他在厨房的另一端把干酪磨碎。或者我端出一碗薯条和调味汁让他在房间对面吃。不久,我就成功了——在我做饭的时候,斯科特再也不在我身边转来转去了。
我跟着学生去了圣地亚哥海洋世界,在那里,海豚驯兽师给我介绍了“最少强化综合症”(简称L. R. S.)。如果海豚做错了,驯兽师不会做出任何反应。他静静地停几秒,注意不要看海豚,接着继续训练。这种理念就是:任何反应,无论正面还是负面,都会强化这种行为。如果一种行为没有激起任何反应,它一般会消失。
我在笔记本边缘空白处写下,“在斯科特身上试试!”
在房间里跑来跑去找他的钥匙,这种情况的出现只是时间问题,这时我一声不吭继续忙我的。我极力克制才保持了冷静,当然效果不错,可以说是立竿见影。他的脾气比往常好多了,后来像是一场来得快去得也快的风暴迅速消失了。我觉得我应该奖励一下斯科特。
现在他又在找钥匙了。我听见他砰的一声关上壁橱门,在客厅柜子上的纸里翻来翻去,沙沙直响,然后咚咚地上楼。我在水池边,纹丝不动。当然,后来一切都归于平静。不一会儿,他走进厨房,手里拿着钥匙,若无其事地说,“找到了。”
我没有转过身来,只是大声说,“真棒,呆会儿见。”
他带着我们已恢复平静的小狗走了出去。
经过两年训练,我的婚姻生活更平顺了,我的丈夫更可爱了。过去我认为他犯错是针对我的,他扔在地板上的脏衣服是对我有意地的冒犯,是他不够关心我的标志。但是,将丈夫作为外来物种给了我空间,我需要这种空间来客观地考虑我们之间的差异。
我接受了驯兽师的座右铭:“这决不是动物的错。”如果我的训练失败,我不责备斯科特。而是想出新策略、想出更多互斥行为、采用更多的渐进法。我也仔细剖析了我的行为,考虑我的行为是否不当而刺激了他。我也接受了一些行为,它们要么太根深蒂固要么是出于本能,不可能通过训练而轻易改变。你不能让獾不打洞,我也不能让我丈夫不丢钱包和钥匙。
专家提到,充分理解了训练技巧的动物们最终将这些技巧用回到驯兽师身上。我的“动物”也这样做了。当训练技巧很奏效时,我忍不住告诉了我丈夫我取得的成就。他并不生气,只觉得好玩。我讲解技巧和术语时,他相当投入,这远远出乎我的意料。
去年秋天,我步入中年,我意识到我需要牙架。但它不仅让人感到羞辱还很折磨人。好几周我的牙龈、牙齿、下巴、鼻窦阵痛不止。我不断地大声抱怨。斯科特安慰我,说我会习惯嘴里的金属的。但我就是不习惯。
一天早上,我又开始发表长篇大论说明我如何不舒服时,斯科特毫无表情地看着我。他一句话不说,也不以任何方式认同我的咆哮,甚至头都没有点一下。
我很快没了脾气,开始走开。就在那时我意识到发生了什么,我转身问,“你是不是使用了‘最少强化综合症’的方法?”沉默。“你用了,对不对?”
最后,他笑了,他的“最少强化综合症”的办法已经成功了。他已经开始训练我,美国妻子了。



irritated [5iriteitid] adj. 恼怒的,生气的
snarl [snB:l] v. 吼叫, 咆哮
stomp [stCmp] v. 跺脚, 践踏, 重踏
faucet [5fC:sit] n. 水龙头
bromide [5brEumaid] n. 老生常谈,陈词滥调
dolphin [5dClfin] n. 海豚
hysterical [his5terikEl] adj. 歇斯底里的, 异常兴奋的
mercurial [mE:5kjuEriEl] adj. 脾气多变或易变的
reek [ri:k] v. 发臭气, 散发
sarcasm [5sB:kAzEm]n. 挖苦, 讽刺
pirouette [piru5et] v. 以脚尖旋转
cougar [5ku:^E] n. 美洲豹
baboon [bE5bu:n] n. 狒狒
rapt [rApt] adj. 全神贯注的
bask [bB:sk] v. 感到温暖, 愉快或舒适
anatomy [E5nAtEmi] n. 解剖学
hierarchy [5haiErB:ki] n. 等级,层次
omnivore [5Cmni7vC:] n. 杂食动物或杂食的人
emu [5i:mju:] n. 鸸鹋(产于澳洲的一种体型大而不会飞的鸟)
mackerel [5mAkrEl] n. 鲭鱼
entrenched [in5trentFt] adj. (权利、风俗习惯、信仰等)确立的,根深蒂固的
excruciating [ik5skru:FieitiN] adj. 极痛苦的, 折磨人的
tirade [tai5reid, ti5rB:d] n. 长篇激烈的演说
rant [rAnt] n. 咆哮, 激昂的演说
do the trick 获得成功


小资料
本文作者艾米·萨瑟兰是《被踢、被咬、被抓:驯兽师高级学校的生活和教训》(维京出版社2006年6月出版)的作者,她住在美国的波士顿和缅因州的波特兰。
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