Giving The Flick

You read yesterday’s column? The one about getting the flick, and how to deal with it? Welcome to this morning, when you’ll find out how to give the flick.

Oh, for the record – the flick is a term for arrogant dismissal. It is also the brand name for a pesticide, though it is not considered a good idea to spray people with it as a form of social dismissal.

So, based upon that definition, why would you give someone the flick?

a. You are insecure in yourself and wish to appear more powerful, cool, entitled, etc than you really are. If you give someone the flick you can pretend to a superior place in the social order.

b. You are a cruel and arrogant person, and need an outlet for these traits.

c. You are frightened of someone and need to keep them away from you.

d. The flickee is a person with horrible, terrible, inconvenient, or disturbing characteristics.

e. No-one is looking at you and you would like them to. Time to show your power.

Few of these are good reasons, but they are all real reasons, as your experience in life will confirm. While this column cannot make you a better person than you are already, it can suggest ways in which you can disguise the truth about you. Not to yourself, mind, but to other people.

a. Do not flick at all. Glide away yourself from unwanted encounters with the most grace that you can manage. If grace involves jinking violently and emitting smoke, so be it.

b. Flick dramatically. Rage, scream, throw yourself on the floor. Howl imprecations at the flickee until they run terrified. Foam. Break a blood vessel in your eye. Thrash about until you have to be restrained.

It is one of the kindest things you can do for them as it will excuse them from feeling as though they were in the wrong or that they have lost a valuable friend. They will avoid you like the plague in the future, and any number of people will join them.

c. Flick in the kindliest manner possible. Set your victim down on a soft chair. Bring them tea and biscuits. Express your regret at having to leave them. Then leave them.

In the end, there is no act of Congress, Parliament, or Synod that can compel you to a friendship against your will. You are required to be civil and lawful to all, but you are allowed to set out your circle of affection to suit yourself. Draw the circle wisely.

 

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Getting The Flick

A friend once commented on Facebook about getting the flick socially, so I thought I’d address the topic. I, too, have gotten the flick on a number of occasions and can help with navigating the situation.

a. We will all get the flick at some stage of the game – regardless of how sociable, kind, worthy, honest, lovable, etc that we are. We can take some comfort in the reflection that we will also get it if we are mean, spiteful, vulgar, rude, dangerous, or smelly. The thing is not predicated upon our worth – it is independent of us.

b. We will sometimes get the flick when we are most sensitive…and we will feel it acutely. On other occasions it will pass unnoticed and we’ll be surprised by it years later. When someone cuts us but we do not wince or bleed it takes away a great deal of the significance of the act.

c. Sometimes other people notice the event and look carefully at us to see our reaction. At other times, they fail to see it entirely. The only significance of this is the encouragement it gives us not to notice the flick either.

d.  The flick can be casual or studied. If we are of no value to the flicker, it will be the first sort – if we are essential to them and they want to make sure that we are hurt, it will be the second. The deliberate flick, however, can be disguised to appear of no consequence.

Therein lies the best counter to it all. If someone essays to hurt you and you do not appear to be hurt, they are mired in frustration. Worse – if you are gracious to them, they are in a bad position themselves. Kindliness and polite attention can have roughly the same penetrating power as a 17 pounder anti-tank shell.

e. The flick only lasts as long as it is noticed. When it is forgotten it will either need to be repeated with more emphasis ( dangerous ) or lost forever. Old flicks are like the hollow shells of insects that you find under the sofa – you sweep them away without further interest.

 

 

How Much Is Your Name Worth?

If it is Elon Musk or Richard Branson, apparently quite a lot.

If it is Harvey Weinstein, somewhat less…

And for those of us in the middle? Well, it’s worth just what other people think it is. And therein lies the danger. If you have been a good person forever and are a good person now, your name and reputation will still be available for people to throw darts at as long as you are within range. You are not in control of the darts nor of their throwing arms – you can only control the range.

This is a sad thought if you are a people person. If your life needs human contact and constant approval, you are always going to be within range of the very human trait of animosity. You need not provoke it – it is there all the time ready for use. Sort of the frozen pizza of emotions. Just stand still for long enough, close enough, and there you go.

How to protect yourself from it? Either stay far enough away from others so that you never fall under their notice, or please everyone in every way all the time, or put safeguards in place. Never see anyone alone. Never say anything remotely objectionable to anyone. Never borrow anything , nor lend it. Never win a contest. Never write a book, blog, or laundry ticket. Never ask and never tell. Never know.

For those of you out there contemplating sex, forget it. Cold showers and prayer are your only recourse. Shun dating, marriage, adultery, celibacy, and strip joints. Avoid the movies, particularly if you are producing them. Do not send pictures of any portion of your body to anyone at all, ever. Avoid stimulating foods like lukewarm gruel and dry toast.

As far as finances go, remember about not being a borrower or lender. Also do not spend any money and take particular care that you are not seen to be saving it – you would be a miser.

Of course politics are a minefield of offence. Minefields are also a minefield. In fact just plain fields will get the more committed ecologist quite livid with anger. You may be wise to curl up under your desk and make no sound whatsoever.

But cheer up – do all this and you will have a good name. King Tutankhamen has been quiet for centuries and no-one has a bad word for him.

What Grade Are You In?

One of the primary questions of our childhood. It determined how we were going to be treated by the other kid – if we were a rank up, we had to be deferred to – if a year down we could be dominated. Thank goodness that sort of thing stopped when we entered tertiary education, the military, or a corporate structure and were all mature and kindly adults…

Okay, okay, that was heavy-handed. Not everything can be rapier wit around here. Sometimes the bludgeon is closer to hand.

There were all sorts of rules about school status – and this in North American public education where equality was meant to rule. God knows how it must have been for the post-war British coping with their societal changes. As it is, their adults didn’t manage so well, let alone the kids.

Now, in Australia, there is really only one effective gradation system – money. No matter who or what you are, if you have it, you advance up the ladder. In most cases there is no sense of noblesse oblige so you needn’t be concerned with being seen as good or moral at the same time. All you need is the perceived ability to pay – you’ll generally not be required to do so. That’s how money works – it sticks to the fingers that have it.

But there is one out for this – the power of money and the status it confers can only extend to those who have it and those who want it.  Outside of these two groups, everyone else can see it with a wider vision – they can live life in spite of, and despite it. And none more able than the retiree.

Retirees – as distinct from railway hoboes – are people with enough money for their own purposes, but who may have no actual purpose. They are people freed from the clock. Of course the cosmic one still ticks, and they are a damn sight closer to the alarm going off than their younger counterparts. But until then, they can look at their nominal superiors and inferiors with a mild eye. A mild tongue too, if they are not provoked.

They can converse with the multi-billionaire easily – given that there is no prospect of any of the billions drifting their way. They need pay no lip service. In most cases they have seen it all before, and in many cases it was better done. They can be prevailed upon for advice and give it freely – not having to be responsible for it after it leaves their lips. It is not that they do not care – but they may be opting for a bit of destructive experimentation. Do not ask a retiree which wire to cut…

They can be kind without fear of reprisal. No-one expects them to be competent. No-one suspects them of it either…

It is a delightful time of life, if only people would realise it.

” Dinner is Served “

a. ” I don’t eat that “.

Ah. I’m terribly sorry. I did not know. I’m afraid I neglected to prepare an alternative. And have no other food. It would be terribly rude of me to sit here in front of you and eat while you do not. I’ll just clear the plates away and we can go on to a nice discussion about Kierkegaard or BREXIT. May I get you a cracker and a glass of water?

b. ” I don’t want to eat that “.

Ah. Well, you won’t object if I do? Good. could you pass the oyster sauce, there’s a good fellow…

c. ” I’m afraid we can’t eat that “.

Ah. I know the problem. We’re restricted in our tribe as well. May I get you some fruit? Some tea?

d. ” I’m afraid I’m not allowed to eat “.

Ah. Doctors, eh? I can do you an egg…or a sandwich. Or a salad. Or a triple gin?

e. ” I’m afraid I’m allergic to that “.

Ah. Well, we’ll just pop into the pantry and see if there’s a can of something. Don’t touch the plate and I’ll get you a fresh knife and fork. Only be a minute.

Food is a minefield for many these days. It always was, to some extent, as there were people who had it and people who did not. That worked out well for the well-fed until the hungry cut their heads off. Thankfully we have fewer guillotinings these days than before, but more food intolerances.

The religious sometimes fall back on food laws to keep them from sin. The fact that the laws sometimes keep them from being comfortable dinner guests is sad, though equally, they are shielded from some pretty awful recipes. In the end, food laws are a self-punishing thing…unless someone hijacks them to demand money with menaces from restauranteurs and food suppliers – then it is criminal thuggery disguised in piety.

The genuinely allergic and/or intolerant are in a different boat. For some the avoidance of certain foods and the chemicals related to them can be a matter of life and death. Once they discover their vulnerability, they need to be wary biochemists whenever they dine. Their friends should be too.

The finicky and fussy are difficult customers. They can be so far advanced as gourmets, gourmands, or gorblimeys that any meal shared with them is an ordeal. I have sat at table with people who played the restaurant menu, the staff, and the other dinner guests like a harmonica to satisfy their own need for attention. It was painful – but not something that had to be endured twice…

For myself, there have been times when I really wanted to eat something that was forbidden me and times when I really did not want to eat another treif item. I will not tell you how I resolved the dilemma, but I did gain an appreciation of how to be delicate in those circumstances. The fall-back position was always abstinence, even if you had to push things round a plate until it was cleared. Next meal was in 6 hours, if you were lucky, and you could last for that long and do your own cooking.

 

 

No Fool Like An Old Fool

We old fools are well served by that folk saying – it has the right ring about it to let young people laugh and lose interest in us. And then we can carry on with our nefarious plans. By the time they realise how dangerous we are it is too late.

Now I don’t want to alarm people – old folks are not demons incarnate, unless you are speaking about Rolf Harris, Bill Cosby, or Hilary Clinton. Most of us are cuddly and lovable and do not make stains on the carpet. But we are dangerous enough in our own right to require a bit of caution. Above all we should not be left unattended near the bookshelf or the computer. Some of us cannot be trusted.

The young have the advantage of us in that they have stamina, health, and sex to look forward to. We have the counter in that we had sex and it was better than the stuff you get nowadays ( including the nice-crispy sex you got before the war ) and that stamina and health are over-rated. Being sick means you get to do a lot more complaining.

We are allowed a great deal more latitude than the young, but they don’t realise that in most cases we do not need it. If people are going to be so indulgent as to forgive us our foibles that is all well and good – but they fail to understand that we don’t care whether we are forgiven or not. We are content to have a good time ( before 8:30 in the evening ) and let it go at that.

Folly, as it happens, is generally a youthful activity. They can love and hate and invest and war and over-eat with little sad consequence – we have learned differently, and know that any deviation from good sense brings bad times. So we are wise in spite of ourselves. It doesn’t preserve us, of course, but it does make us quieter in public places.

I’m Offended

I’m offended:

a. That you have posted a picture of the American president. It doesn’t matter whether you love him or hate him…it just gives me an opportunity to be offended, and I’m going to take it. Had you not posted one, I would be equally offended.

I’m a double-acting scream engine…

b. That you are a different race/religion/sex than I am. And that you know it. And are not apologetic for the fact. Not that I would be prepared to accept an apology from the likes of you…

c. Because of history. Not yours or mine, as such…just history. Oooh that history!

d. That you think I am a fool. And that being a fool is somehow wrong…or foolish. I have a constitutional right to be a fool and you are required to validate my folly. I’ll sue you if you don’t validate me. And then I’ll sue your lawyer – and mine for good measure.

e. Aww, C’mon. At least validate my parking ticket. I’ve been here for an hour.

f. That you do not respect the flag. Or the badge. Or the coupon, post-it note, or phone number that my uncle wrote down on the wall.

g. Continuously. 24 hours a day all through the year. It’s a calling and a profession and I am proud to be angry at you all the time. For God’s sake don’t do anything nice or I’ll look bad…

h. That you have taken offence…at anything. Least of all, at me. Leave that alone. That’s my schtick. Get your own. You’re culturally appropriating me with your eyes. My culture is up here…

i. Because of what you said. Even if you did not say it, I read it on a Facebook meme. You could have said it. Shame on you.

j. Because all my friends are offended and it would be offensive not to join with them.

k. By statues. I’ve already got rid of Robert E. Lee and Nathan Bedford Forrest and I’ve got my sights on the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens. Friedrich the Great in Potsdam and the Sphinx had better watch out, too.

l. Because there’s a lot of good free stuff you can get if you make enough of a fuss.

m. Because there’s a lot of bad stuff you can avoid being found responsible for if you make enough of a fuss.

Note: This column was not meant to cause offence. Or, for that matter, defence. Perhaps if you are offended and defensive right now you may be reading the wrong writer.