Choice of words
“I wish I knew as much about me as you think you do.” He talks into his coffee—it ripples in response. She snickers, supercilious, convinced she is right. Margaret walks around the butcher block island that separates them.
“Be careful what you wish for.” She too, talks into her coffee. By now both cups need a little sugar. “If I’d woken up somewhere else, today would be different.”
“Really, I thought you were supposed to be a genius,” Ron quips, raising his brow.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Doesn’t matter where you wake up—you’re still there.”
“Being with me isn’t my problem.”
Ron studies his toast from several angles. His lips curl up on one side as he says, “Bingo, you are indeed a genius.” He starts to chuckle. Margaret readies herself. Ron catches her eyes, wanting to savor the moment and says, “You are right…Margaret, being with you is only a problem for everybody else.”
“You bastard!” she snarls. “I’m going to work.”
Ron leaves the kitchen, heads down the hall, turns his head and yells back to her, “Have a nice day. "Pick up some milk.”
This type of interaction could be from any story where there is festering relationship discord. In my medical thriller, Broken Cure, the hospital administrator, Ted Beaumont is a flaming narcissist who breeds explosive contempt. The kind that could get him killed.
Contempt is just plain awful. As a matter of fact, I’m sure you haven’t noticed, but there is way too much contempt flying around our country. Well, not just our country. Contempt is a late-stage sign of a badly damaged bond. My deep thinking recommendation is—avoid it, just say no, or at least save it for those idiots who don’t believe in Santa Claus.
How do we rid ourselves of contempt? I don’t really know, but since it takes a while to develop, it probably takes a while to get over it. In the example of Ted Beaumont, it doesn't end until he does. But for the rest of us; start locally, like within your own household. So after a tense moment, when the smoke clears, and the blood dries, pull out these newly developed skills for the greater good. So how do you do it? If it were humanly possible, becoming a solid ball of unconditional love might do it. Since that won’t happen, try humor, not sarcastic humor like mine, but genuine silliness. Let’s take a look at Ron’s introductory statement.
“I wish I knew as much about me as you think you do.” Margaret could have said, with a smile, “Oh honey, you give me too much credit…you know I don’t think.” That response may not bring on a love-fest, but it doesn’t shoot up the contempt meter like, “You better watch what you wish for.” Right?
Now let’s give Ron a shot at it. What if when Margaret said, “If I’d woken up somewhere else, today would be different,” and Ron replied with, “What if you woke up with a beard and I woke up wearing a tutu?” What could Margaret say to that…besides something like; “I’d take a picture and send it to your boss?” Chances are it would stop her in her tracks. I’ll bet they’d run back to the bedroom, Ron would put on his tutu and they’d hop in the sack and go at like they were newlyweds.
I’m not going to get into politics, but let me throw out one example of how our humor distraction technique can minimize contempt. Ok, lets say that you are a conservative, and you are having lunch with your old friend who is a liberal. These friendships are few and far between. Women with hairy knuckles are more common. Please, spare me, and know that I contribute yearly to the Women with Hairy Knuckles Equality Fund. So, your liberal friend says, “That Trump is sure an idiot.” One wrong word…yup, you guessed it—shredded body parts. Armed with your new dialogue tools, you don’t take the bait, instead you say; “Yeah that was pretty dumb of him to get caught shagging Nancy Pelosi.” It’ll take him a few seconds to recover. Before he reels in a response—change the subject to; “Hey, how bout them Titans?” No matter how tempted, Ms. Conservative, do not say; “Let me try a bite of your ‘made for flakes’, fru-fru gluten free, non-GMO, free range, organic, dumb-ass supplement packed JELLO. There, friendship saved!
In summary: If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem. For some reason, it’s just so much dang easier to be part of the problem. Humans—we are a wonderful mess. Ok, ok, except for you perfect ones.