The Board

Whenever I see someone who is extremely, I imagine them up before a board of examination. Think in terms of a tribunal or the sort of judges that you see on a television talent quest.

I can listen to what the candidate for examination is saying – and they will say it – with my ears and then to the board’s deliberations with my mind. While I am not called upon to offer my opinion I am safe – I can keep mum.

The real danger comes when someone asks what I think of something – fishing for an opportunity to argue me down or themselves up. It can be quite difficult to demur. The argumentative want the fight as much as the victory. I can be hard-pressed to slip round the corner before they build up full steam.

However, it can be done. The good old Manitoba Shuffle ( ” I’ll be darned, eh? ” ) will buy time if the arguer has never spent time in Winnipeg. If they have, you can get on their good side by expressing sympathy. Don’t, whatever you do, agree to look at the pictures they took during their stay.

” That’s a good question, and I’m glad you asked it. ” is the standby of most politicians when they want you to stand by. “Don’t, don’t you worry about that, Girlie ” is also a good ploy if you are from Queensland and is even better if you are talking to a bloke. You’ll know you’re winning when you see them edge away.

” Now we must sit down and have a good chat about that one day ” is workable if you are a person of A Certain Age. December 5th 2056 is one day and there are many more available. You need not specify which one you’ll use. You get the idea.

But back to The Board. You can make up one for yourself – Gandhi, Buddha, and St. Francis if you are a patient sort – Torquemada, Ivan The Terrible, and Judge Jeffreys if you are not. Pick one that will suit your needs and listen to them carefully.

My mental bench seats Niccolò Macchiavelli, Dorothy Parker, and H.L. Mencken. You need not take a number – they have yours already.

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