Thursday, October 6, 2016

Found Money and the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense

I didn't plan to be online today...until I found the money to buy the bottomless cup of coffee I'm now sipping, lying in the street. There's a story about those coins.

As I walked down this street on Monday evening, I heard a couple having an angry conversation. Classic male Blamer and female Placater Modes. (The Amazon book link below explains more about the five modes of speech people use in times of stress, and why both Blamer and Placater Modes are generally good ones to avoid.)

With editorial substitutions for words that would violate this web site's contract, it went like this:

Man: "...that lily-livered reptile..."

Woman: "X is not a lily-livered reptile."

Man: "X is! X is a flaming flipping four-flushing lily-livered REPTILE..."

Nobody wants to listen to that and I, thank goodness, didn't have to listen. I walked briskly along. However, when I walked back, it was after dark, but a street lamp was gleaming on a coin in the road. I picked up the coin, noticed other gleams in the road, but didn't take the time to investigate whether they were more coins or just pale-colored pebbles.

I walked past the same house again on Wednesday afternoon. The sun was really glittering on coins...lots of coins. Some of the coins were chipped and bent from having been run over by cars. More than half of the coins were pennies but there were enough quarters and dimes to add up to $1.69.

I suspect those coins belonged to the couple I overheard quarrelling.

I suspect that the hurricane a few hundred miles to our south had something to do with the quarrel; quite a few people in Virginia have relatives in South Carolina, and the friend who failed to connect with me on Tuesday explained yesterday that she had a lot of unexpected visitors from South Carolina.

I suspect that others suspected something similar, which could explain why the coins were left in the road all through two sunny days.

I know the couple use the Internet. So I thought I might as well use the coins with which they were so careless, in their anger, to (score off them, and also) let them know that there is a Better Way.

No matter who X was (I heard pronouns not names), in our town it's illegal to shout the words I've translated as "flaming flipping four-flushing lily-livered reptile" on the street. Even in towns that have not criminalized the words the young man actually said, it's also dangerous. A quick temper is both a symptom and an aggravating factor in classic male-type cardiovascular disease. Thirty-five, or whatever the man's age is, is older than some guys were when they had their first heart attacks. And no man should ever form a habit of yelling at, or otherwise physically intimidating, his wife and children.

No woman should ever form a habit of aggravating her husband's anger with sugary, sanctimonious counter-arguments like "X is not a lily-livered reptile," either. I winced when I heard her say that. In the sound of her voice, loudly projected, on a higher than normal pitch, but deliberately slowed down for emphasis, I could hear the phony smile on her face and the whole nonverbal communication pattern that just absolutely screams "I'm right, and you're wrong, and that's because I'm a better, nicer, more rational person than you are!" I've known women who talked to their husbands that way who got results that were worse than a mere divorce, too.

So, suppose this couple had read the two books to which I've linked and were practicing the techniques I'm here recommending they practice. (My husband and I practiced them--it's actually fun.) In that case a person walking down the street probably would not have overheard a conversation something like this, supposing (in the absence of positive evidence) that the quarrel had something to do with Hurricane Matthew evacuees.

Woman: "My cousin in Charleston has just been advised to leave her home because of the hurricane. She said some of her neighbors were coming to Gate City in a van, so of course I told her to join the car pool and get out at our house!"

Man: "Your cousin...Jane Doe? The one with the poodles? And the hyperactive two-year-old?"

Woman: "Yes, and one of the poodles is diabetic, but she said the Joneses said they could fit into the back of the van, so..."

Man: "I do not want them in our house. I do not want them around our kids."

Woman: "I don't either, actually, but what else can we do?"

Man: "Send them to a motel and live without cable television for a month or two. It's worth it. A diabetic dog! Why don't you reserve a room and I'll put some plastic in the back of the car now."

(Those who like kissing may imagine it taking place after these chores are done. Repeat: Anger Busting and Verbal Self-Defense are fun...especially for couples, although they can also be fun for teenagers and their parents.)

I do not actually know, nor would I publish the information if I did, what the couple were quarrelling about...but I will apply the $1.69 toward their purchase of the books, if they're willing to use them. If they work the programs I guarantee it'll be the best $1.69 either of them has ever spent.