Sunday, May 22, 2005

the right thing to say

I was reminded of this story by the following piece by Chuck over at “Burst Transmission”, though he actually posted it on KBB’s “What Middle America Thinks”. They are both excellent thought-provoking blogs, as my post goes to show.


Of all personality traits, I value loyalty the most.

I will admit that I make certain caveats to my value of loyalty. My loyalty to someone ends to a great extent as soon as I feel that person has not been loyal to me.

I don't tell secrets people expect me to keep - especially those most damaging to a person's life. I expected to be treated the same.

I expect my friends not to publicly side with others in arguments. Friends will surely disagree from time to time, but true friends stand together in public and handle their differences in private.

I have more thoughts on this, but for now I'll pass the subject to the readers. What constitutes and doesn't constitute loyalty for you?

You can’t spend 12 years going out with/married to someone without a few of their personality traits rubbing off on you, no matter how bad the break-up was. One thing I inherited from my ex-wife was a tendency to do the exact opposite of what Chuck claims a friend should do as described above. If we were in company and I launched into a certain point of view with which she disagreed, she would put forward her point regardless of how it would make me (and us) look. This never actually bothered me at the time, though you won’t be surprised to learn that it does now. It never occurred to me to say to her even when we were alone that maybe it looked better if we presented a more united front when in company. Who knows, maybe the people who witnessed us constantly disagreeing saw the demise of our marriage coming a mile away. I sure didn’t.

One fine Sunday my fiancee (the debate whether to precede that with the word “current” still rages in my head; these parenthises provide a stop-gap compromise) Sandra and I spent the afternoon in her mother’s house, which we often do. Due to the good weather we brought her golden retriver Jessie down to the local park for a bit of exercise. One good thing about this tale is that it gives me a chance to post this picture yet again :

This was taken by my mobile phone on a different bout of Sunday dog-walking when my kids were with us. The blurred nature of the pic makes it look like a painting and in my opinion it encapsulates what sunny Sunday afternoons are all about.

ANYWAY – on the day in question it was just Sandra, myself and Jessie. We went all the way to the far side of the park and sat on a bench for a while, shooting the breeze while the pooch regained her breath. Jessie is about 12 years old so obviously she is not as lively as she may have been before.

So there we were resting, minding our own business, when two middle aged ladies jogged by. They were passing a good few yards ahead of us, and for some reason, when they came into Jessie’s sights, she decided to bark loudly. She didn’t pounce, she didn’t run towards the women, she just barked. As Sandra has always maintained, she is a gentle sort that wouldn’t harm a fly.

Both ladies were scared out of their wits. Sandra admonished the dog and apologized to the pair. Seemingly my partner’s remorse was not as contrite as it could have been according to one of the ladies.

“That bloody dog should be on a leash for God’s sake!” she exclaimed, her faced bathed in red from a combination of anxiety and jog-induced exhaustion.

Then, from out of the blue, someone retorted :

“Oh yeah? Well maybe if you weren’t so goddam ugly she wouldn’t have barked in the first place!!!!”

I chuckled to myself : Who the hell said that? Whoever it was, fair play to them, for while it may have been unnecessarily cruel, the lady could have at least accepted the apology.

With that the pair put their noses in the air with perfect synch, and proceeded to jog off at a pace understandably more brisk than before.

Once they had gone, Sandra nearly fell off the bench with laughter.

“Jeff, that is the funniest thing I ever heard! I really thought you were going to give out to me in front of them!!!”

Surprise hit me on two fronts – first, that it was actually me who hurled the insult, and second that yes, indeed, it would have been more likely that I would have publicly scolded my partner in the past.

Sometimes the right thing to say just isn’t the right thing to say.

I was delighted to discover that at least one of my ex’s legacies had been banished for good. I wonder if she in turn is getting over a habit of getting Pringles crumbs all over her computer keyboard?

Click here for a full list of the "Lifeslice" stories


Mr. Middle America said...

Defintely sounds like the birds got what they had coming to them!!

That pic is kind of painty-dreamy!

Thanks for the out-shout!

Buffalo said...

You Irish!

shandi said...

My personality changed drastically when I left my ex. I purposely did things that would have irritated him....just for the simple fact that I COULD. It's liberating.
Good for you!!!!
The ol' bitties deserved it anyway.

Anna said...

While I don't recall my partner ever scolding me publicly, I don't recall him ever standing up for me either. Good on ya!

Gaye said...

I completely agree on a united front in public. Watching two people disagree can be very uncomfortable for the onlookers--even if it doesn't get "heated"--it's still awkward for everyone else. And then there's usually that one doofus that will side with one of the disagreeing parties only making it worse. Your remark to the "ugly lady" was classic--I would've been rollin' in laughter on the ground!

Heidi said...

Loved this post! Good for you!

Chuck Hollis said...

Thanks for the link!

Enjoyed the post.