What NOT to say after you say hello…
Most if not all of you realize that I am playing off Eric Berne’s seminal text’s titled “What do you say after you say hello?” If you are one of the few that has never read it I encourage you to drop everything, cancel your day’s sessions (if you didn’t already once you saw that I had published this blog) and read it cover to cover; if for no other reason than that it may make this blog title and blog itself all the more humorous. Go ahead, I can wait (Looking at my Ingraham pocket watch that was made right here in Bristol CT back when we didn’t send every job to China)…
What follows is a short list of things that I have overheard in the not too distant past. As all these things were said in public, they must be by definition “public domain.” I will of course not share the names of those involved out of respect, plus, when it comes to accidental humor, a writer needs to protect their sources.
While most of us have learned ways to have effective communications with others, there are many many of us who still glean their ideas from old sitcoms. This should be avoided about as much as writers avoiding the use of references to old books in their titles or body of work. Thankfully, there are enough who ignore these suggestions to provide plenty of fodder. Please note that the aim of this blog is to educate; it seeks not to bully, embarrass nor harass; simply to enlighten and possibly entertain. As I said, all these nuggets were culled from the recent past, some you may have overheard yourself or seen them on “the you tubes” or perhaps read on “the internets; it’s a series of tubes don’t cha know;” others were locally grown around my town and those that surround them.
“So, you knocked her up. Good for you!”- This Gem came from a local politician who was greeting a friend at a family friendly event. I was not part of the conversation but it was said loud enough that I heard it across the room. The person, who received this, appeared a bit taken aback. I won’t begin to describe the look on his wife’s face. It would appear that he was not voted into office for his charm. I would however like to give him credit for hiring the writers of ‘All in the family” for writing his small talk. They have not had much work since Archie Bunker died.
“You know who else did that; HITLER!” Yes, it would appear that this one came right out of charm school (it’s no wonder so few exist these days). It seems that many feel it is totally appropriate to compare anyone they dislike or disagree with to Hitler. I mean, they cut you off at the intersection, support gun control, and support universal health care or feeding poor children. Maybe they feel that deficits don’t matter, or there is no need to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. I think Hitler may have once supported Head Start programming, I mean he DID once do water colors and many artists tend to lean liberal don’t they (yes, I am aware that Hitler was not a liberal but once was liberal leaning before the whole Syphilis, Dictatoring and “Holocaust thing”). I think it is fair to say that anytime you compare someone to Hitler and they have not killed millions of people, tried to take over the world and build a master race, you are probably going to look like a fool at best and a hyperbolic partisan hack at worst. We get it; you don’t like someone but are they really like Hitler or are you just upset because “your side” lost? And why do we have sides in politics anyway? Do we really need more labels to divide us? Why not get rid of lapel pins and parties and make everyone stand alone, list their ideas and vote accordingly?
“Big jugs!” (When a single person was asked what they are looking for in a potential partner). Um, yeah, as I clarified to the person I had posed that question to, I was referring to qualities in a person, you know, likes, dislikes, hobbies, carriers, education, humor etc. When one gets that type of an answer to this question unless it was done in jest and in the right context, it leaves little to wonder why you’re currently single. Tact in relationships and in life is usually looked upon as an asset.
“I can’t believe he asked me to drive my car.” This is an oldie but a goodie in my “Say What!?!” file. Now it’s been many years since I was single and things may change but I have found this one which I first heard back in my dating days to still be relevant today. The setting is typically thus: Two people are actively engaged in a hot and heavy sexual and it would be assumed emotional relationship. One of them, typically the male in my experience, asks to drive the car of the other, either during their date or alone and they receive that response. Many times it is followed by the explanation that “I just don’t feel that I know you well enough to trust you with my car. I mean, its worth a lot and it’s not like I could just get another one if you crashed it.” I have always shaken my head at this. They are in a heavy sexual relationship, sexual relationships by science are the leading prerequisites for sexually transmitted diseases, hence the name. Otherwise they would be called something else, maybe vehicularly transmitted diseases IF they were contracted by such things as loaning one’s car to another, or perhaps, “Sam’s disease” if for no other reason than I like that name. So they feel they know the person enough to give them their most precious possession possible (I.E. Themselves), potentially exposing themselves to STD’s but they are not yet at the emotion level to let them use the rusty POS that they bought on Craig’s list for a few grand. This says a lot about their value systems and self esteem and is in my opinion clinically significant.
“(Laughing) let me get this straight, you know me well enough to have wild unprotected sex with all the time but not enough to drive your car? Man, you need help.” Although this may be true, this often leads to a few cold showers and canceled dates. It also shows a possible lack on good judgment on your part.
“All women are b*tches, they don’t want good guys like me, they just want a$$holes who will treat them like a piece of meat and dump them.” Now, I have never been a “fancy word guy” but this did not appear to be all that effective for getting dates, at least not the half a dozen or so times I saw something like this play out at get togethers. I get it, you liked someone who liked someone else who then treated them badly yet they stayed, got dumped or whatever and still did not like you (hell, that is practically the core theme to most songs). Yeah, there is a term for that and it is called “life.” To me, the real question is whether or not you would want to date someone who that line worked on or who would date you out of a sense of pitty? I am guessing for the most part the answer is a clear and resounding “no” but what do I know? If you have no qualms getting pity dates, carry on good sir.
The examples can go on and on ad infinitum but sadly there is only so much space in a blog. Making a first impression that is favorable is to be hoped for but what do you do to make it? The common wisdom is to be yourself and while that is true, which self do you want to be? I mean, let’s be honest, while we hopefully are always being ourselves, we usually have a different sets of standards that help guide us based on the situation. We typically use different words when relaxing with friends than we would when behind a podium or when we are in session. I can honestly tell you that to my knowledge no client has witnessed the stream of um, let’s say consciousness that is emitted from my mouth when my hands are freezing cold, the wrench slips and my fingers become fodder for the steel parts of the tractor. I may say many things but “well, that was quite painful and unpleasant now wasn’t it” are not among them. So many folks know the business or friend me, but they may be surprised to hear the words that I say when no one but me, the tractor and my pulsing swelling hands can hear. There is a time and place for everything but not everything works all the time.
When working with clients it is helpful to help them understand that their reactions while normal in some situations can lead them to much difficulty in others. Helping them to see things not just from the surface but from all sides, top, bottom and what lies beneath can be the difference between a successful outcome and continued treatment that does little more than leave them treading water. We do not advise, we help them explore their options fully, we do not lead them, we gently help guide them to that place that is not made by our own hands but instead can only exist in their minds before being made by them in their own lives. If we do our part they will not just learn what to say after they say hello (any parrot can do that) but they will learn what things are best left unsaid. After all, our main job is to make ourselves no longer needed.
See you at the farm.
Warren Corson III (Doc Warren) is a counselor, writer and the clinical & executive director of Community Counseling of Central CT and Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm (www.docwarren.org).