TACT AND OTHER NICETIES

Scales_of_Justice_(PSF)There was once a judge who always listened with great interest. First he would hear the prosecution’s case, consider the argument, nod, and say, “Hmm, you may be right.”
Then he would listen just as carefully to the defense, nod, and say, “Hmm, you may be right.”
Finally, one of the lawyers, in a passion of exasperation, blurted out, “Judge, we can’t both be right.”
And the judge thought and said, “Hmmm, you may be right.”
She likes that story because that was exactly her modus operandi. It was her way of being tactful — an answer that was no answer — a coping mechanism she discovered early on because saying exactly what she thought would hurt her mother’s feelings. When she did that, she felt guilty. So she learned all too well how not to offend anybody. The habit stayed with her into adulthood.
“What do you want to do?”
“Oh, you decide.”
“Did you like the movie?”
“It had some good parts.”
“Does this dress make me look fat?”
“The color is nice.”
When she wanted something, her request started out with, “If you wouldn’t mind, could you . . . ?”
When asked her opinion, she would begin, “Well, one way of looking at it is . . .”
When faced with a belligerent argument, her stock reply would be, “Hmmm, I never thought of it that way,” and then she would change the subject as fast as she could.
She considered herself a coward, albeit a nice one who would never knowingly hurt anyone’s feelings.
She once wrote a poem:
A chameleon placed on plaid
Will, in time, I fear, go mad.
The title was Self-portrait.
Old habits die hard, but now that she has to make important decisions by herself, she is changing. She still listens to more opinions than needed, and she will on-the-one-hand, on-the-other seesaw back and forth, but in the end, when she and she alone must live with her choices, her voice becomes clear and unequivocal. She will tell you her decisions in a forthright way. Sometimes she is even belligerent. She congratulates herself on that.
So be forewarned and listen carefully: You over here may be right, and you over there may be right, but she is also right. And she damn well knows it.
Don’t mess with her.

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4 Comments

Filed under Musings, Paula Reuben

4 responses to “TACT AND OTHER NICETIES

  1. But making a decision is great. I hate it when I ask a friend, “Where do you want to go for lunch?” and they say, “Wherever you want is fine.” At least suggest a choice.

    Like

  2. Dolores Davis

    Good stuff Paula…

    Like

  3. juliembrown8

    No wonder we get along so well! Love this piece!

    Like

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