Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Last Lick; Kathy Style

Yesterday, I published an article written by Rev. Tom Butts entitled “The Last Lick”. It reminded me of a personal story of my own on this subject.

I was raised in a highly verbal family, led by two very intelligent quick-witted parents. So, it is really no mystery that my siblings and I were also well-versed in quick witted replies. Lively conversations were quite common, with zingers flying fast and furious through the air.

 I think that my mom and I were the worst.

 “You two just go at each other sideways,” my father said one day. And on another occasion, she and I were going at it, and he announced that he was leaving for work. We continued with our debate, (which of course, is a polite word for argument), without slowing down to bid him adieu. He repeated this statement two or three times to no response from us, when he finally said, “Well, aren't ya’ll going to tell me to be careful?!” We  stopped arguing, I mean debating, looked at him and burst out laughing. We chimed in telling him to be careful and enjoy his night. Satisfied that he had stopped the lively exchange and gotten some attention for himself, he departed. The altercation was over. Well, it is hard to be mad when you are laughing.

Home wasn't the only place that we learned our quick verbal self-defense skills. School was another place that this art was honed. “Cut down wars” were a favorite past-time at lunch and before and after school. We were good at them, and it wasn't unusual for our teachers to jump in, or even start them. “You people have diarrhea of the mouth and constipation of the brain!” one teacher liked to tell us. We were used to it, so we would laugh with her. Recently forgetting that everybody had not had Mrs. Carden’s seventh grade English class with me, I said that about someone else recently and he was highly offended. I really didn't mean to insult him terribly; I was just joking around with him like Mrs. Carden used to do with us. Oops!

I was always quick to pop back at someone who would try to insult me and my personal motto was to get them worse than they had gotten me. Such was the case one evening at work when I worked in a foundry. A number of new supervisors had been hired in anticipation of opening a new plant. Then, the bottom dropped out of the economy, orders were scaled back significantly and we were unable to open the new plant and had to cut back on production at the existing plant. The obvious result was that supervisors would have to be laid off. ( Which is a polite word for fired).  We knew that some of us would get the proverbial ax  and were discussing which ones of us it would be. Just for the sake of luck, I made the comment that it might be me. (If I didn't think it would be me, then Murphy’s law says that it probably would; but as long as I could admit my vulnerability, then maybe it wouldn't be me. That was my thinking anyway.) Then, one particular supervisor, whose name I won’t divulge said, “No, just because we don’t like you doesn't mean we can all vote to get rid of you!” I had a quick comeback to that very rude statement, but was unable to deliver it, because he hurriedly walked off. Not to be outdone, I waited about half an hour to give him time to forget, and then approached him. I said, “ I might be the one nobody likes, but at least I’m not the one on my third marriage!.

Feeling superior, I looked at him and saw that he had a look on his face that looked like I had just slapped him. I thought he was going to cry. Immediately feeling terribly, I realized that I had indeed crossed a line that I shouldn't have. He didn't say a word. He had no comeback for that, but actually I felt so bad and was so sorry that I had said it. I regretted saying something so cruel.

Actually, what I didn't know, but later found out, was that he was on his third marriage, but his current wife was about to leave him. And not only was he divorced twice, but both times, his wives had left him and filed for divorce. This story seems so horrible to me now, that it is actually hard for me to write.

And I had never been married at the time; no one can give parenting advice like the person who has never been a parent and no one can give marital advice like the one who has never been married. Once I got married, like 75% of marriages today, it too ended in divorce. Having this experience now has taught me not to throw stones at others.

He had hurt me with his cruel words, but I had hurt him much worse, and no claim to winning an argument was worth that. I decided then to never say anything like that to anyone again, even if it meant that I would lose an argument, or look dumb or stupid or any of those things. There are some things that mean more in the long run. I have held to that decision for the most part. There are of course some exceptions, but leaving people with their dignity means more than being one-up on someone.

I realized too, that the words not said are words that don’t have to be retracted. My newer motto is “ I've never had to apologize for something I didn't say.” And that holds true. Whether it is physical or verbal, Rev. Butts is right. Sometimes, it is just better to let the other person have the last lick.


Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare

Today, I am thankful for:

347. The cold weather
348. Successful surgery for a friend
349. The amazing recovery of Joyce Boelsche
350. Psalm 91.
351. Love
352. 24-hour grocery stores.
353. The birth of healthy babies.
354. My readers

opyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

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