August 29, 2011

The Mother of All Analogies: Part 1

So, I've been on holiday. And during the quiet times of the holiday, I was very philosophically inclined. And I thought about writing a bunch of stuff down- to post about later.

Like really heavy, serious stuff.

And then I got food poisoning… and with the meals I threw up, I think the ideas escaped too. And the faintest of memories of how I used to write.
I got 'barf-erial amnesia'.
A rare but potent disease found to be the most dangerous in those whose brains are apparently connected to their stomachs- in more ways than is biologically obvious.

Like a deep friendship between the two organs.
Like my stomach said to my brain: 'I'm emptying myself out… you wanna give it a shot buddy?!?'
Brain: 'Eh… why not?! If you're in, I'm in.'
Yeah. I know.
My brain is quite experimental.

Anyway, a part of the recovery process involves trying to do the things you forgot even if you don't remember how anymore.
So here goes.
Bear with me.

I have this theory. The theory of eating.

Having tested it on myself a gazillion times, I'm quite convinced of the universality of it's applicability.
Unless we are dealing with the annoying, will-powered, self-controlled kind of people.
You'll see what I mean in just a minute.

Setting: You're quite famished. You've worked hard and worked up a good appetite. You're at the dining table. The food is being brought out. It's your favorite food.

My theory states that there are four distinct stages in the eating procedure that follow. These are listed below.

  • The first few bites (FFB)
  • The bites after the first few bites (BFFB)
  • The bites after the bites after the first few bites (B2FFB)
  • The bites after the bites after the bites after the first few bites (B3FFB)

These abbreviations perform the dual role of aptly naming the different stages in the theory and feigning smartness and complexity.

It did take some time for me to come up with something this brilliant.
Thank you for noticing.     

The FFB stage
You gulp down half chewed food to satiate the hunger. Even broccoli tastes good at this stage. Taste buds take a back seat, as do your teeth and tongue. Your throat is working overtime to serves as a smooth, wide passageway from your mouth to your stomach. Your vision is blurred and it's like all your body's processes have either shut down or are geared towards one thing and one thing only: Food.
More food. 

You have been deprived and hunger satiation is your top priority.

The BFFB stage
Your vision becomes clearer. You emerge from this trance-like state, feeling a little light and ethereal. Slowly, your other senses come back to functioning normally. Little by little, you begin to discern the different flavors in your meal. Your taste buds take centre stage. This stage is where most people begin the moaning about how darn GOOD the food is. The food starts playing it's role as the comfort provider.

The B2FFB stage

You now enter 'The dark side of the table'.

Or the meal.

(Cue morose Adams Family music)

You're getting full. In fact, you kind of know you're full.

You know you don't need to eat anymore.
You're quite comfortable.
Your pants fit exactly right.
You know that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that you're full.
So you really should stop.

But something- like an invisible hand is pushing each mouthful from your plate to your mouth.

Spoon by spoon.
Or fork by fork.
Or Spork by spork: A hybrid of a spoon and fork.
Or Sporf by sporf: Hybrid of spoon, fork and knife.
I'm not making this stuff up.
I promise.

Your brain conjures up images of people in Somalia not getting food, tricking you into feeling guilty about stopping with the eating. Images of good food rotting away in trash cans. Images of the waiter looking with disdain at your half finished meal.

Basically, you come up with a hundred excuses to keep eating.
And that's what you do.
Keep on eating.

The marginal satisfaction derived from each additional spoonful keeps falling-
yup, I'm an economics student- but you keep eating.

I postulate that the intensity of the hunger before the FFB stage is directly proportional to the length of the B2FFB stage.

The hungrier and more deprived you were before you start eating, the greedier you will be for more food- and the longer stage 3 will last.

This explains the phenomenon of binge eating immediately after a particularly strict diet regimen.

I know.
The geniusness of the above observations is enough to make me blush with pride.
I thank God for my geniusness everyday.

The B3FFB stage
You give up and leave the remaining food on your plate, to be taken away.

I might add that a very few people actually reach this stage.
Whether or not you do reach this stage, depends only on one thing.
The size of the meal on your plate. The amount of food given to you.

And of course, if you're that annoying will powered, strong willed person I mentioned earlier.
And you know when to stop.
We are ignoring you for the purpose of this theory.
In this theory, you are like a fictional character.
Like unicorns.
Or maybe, you're extinct.
Like dinosaurs.
That makes more sense.
You know?!?
You're like T-Rex- towering over all us lesser beings.

This stage involves letting go of your plate.

It doesn't count if you do it because you're sick of eating. If you can barely breathe because you're so full and your clothes seem to have shrunk. If you have to wait for sometime before even getting up- because you don't think your knees will be able to take your bodyweight.

God knows- I've been there. I've done that.
Let me tell ya.
Doesn't feel good.
This stage is one of the foremost causes of 'barf-erial amnesia'.

It doesn't count if you let go of your plate after you've made sure your plate has been polished clean.

It counts if you do it because- you're a dinosaur.
You've had your fill and don't want anymore- ready to part with any remaining food on the plate. Without even a shadow of regret in your heart or a tear in your eye.

Also, if you're at a restaurant, you can't doggy bag the leftovers.
There are no loopholes in my work, dear reader.
No loopholes.
Well…  very few, that you will never see, anyway.
Because I don't see them.
Or I don't let you know that I see them.
Or I make you think I don't let you see them but I do.
See them.
Or don't.
I'm officially confused.

Moving on.

You will now witness a flabbergasting intellectual leap from this simplistic theory of eating to the existential problem and responsibilities of our generation.
The mother of all analogies.
The queen bee of metaphors. 
Hold your standing ovation for the end of Part 2.
We'll… okay, fine.
We can have some of it now and some of it later.
If you insist so vehemently.
You're too kind really.
Too kind.

The Mother of All Analogies: Part 2

Here's the theory in it's pictorial form.
After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Unless - they're my words.
In which case it's worth…  well…. this whole post.
Precisely, 1,119 words or 5,160 characters, so far.

I've just re-discovered the word count tool.
Haven't used it since my Master's dissertation in university.

I missed you, Word Count tool.
You have stayed up with me all night, telling me how much more work was needed.
And when I'd done too much.
You have been a true friend.
I dedicate this post to you.

So here's the analogy I was talking about in Part 1.


I, initially wanted to study a LOT further and corroborate my theory with historical facts and how different stages relate to the evolution of human society like industrial revolution and so on - to increase it's impact and intellectual appeal.

But research and Pious Hippie-ness don't go together.
I needed to stay true to my principles.
Baseless claims with impunity.

Our grandparents generation was born into the FFB stage. They had tough lives. Money was hard to come by, and the little that was available had to be shared.

Unless they were crazy rich then… which would mean you're crazy rich now.
So this theory would make no sense to you.
Go buy a couple of Ferrari's- you silver spooned squirt.
I don't like you.

Anyway, technology was not as advanced then, and there was scarcity of resources and facilities. Epidemics, wars, independence struggles, civil wars and hardships were the order of the day. They earned money to subsist- to provide necessities for their family. They earned money to satisfy their hunger.

To use my Theory of Eating terminology:

"Taste buds take a back seat, as do your teeth and tongue. Your throat is working overtime to serves as a smooth, wide passageway from your mouth to your stomach".

Our parents, thanks to the efforts of the previous generation, were born into the BFFB stage.

More or less.

Their necessities had been fulfilled. The baby-boomers of the world, the post-war generation emerged from the necessity of money for bare subsistence and began earning money for the comforts it offered.

They aspired to attain a certain standard of living- for their families.

A comfortable car, a house with a backyard, good education for their kids etc. Some went beyond just a comfortable standard, some achieved just that while others are still trying.

The pursuit of money- was more for it's comforts- and the doors it opened.
Basically, they existed at the time when every additional penny coming into the household brought with it greater satisfaction.

This satisfaction was the incentive to pursue greater wealth.
And why not?

It was the BFFB stage.

"Little by little, you begin to discern the different flavors in your meal. Your taste buds take centre stage. This stage is where most people- begin the moaning about how darn GOOD the food is. The food starts playing it's role as the comfort provider".

And then comes our generation.

The 'Children of Abundance'.

Thanks to the previous generation, our every necessity was taken care of. We were given every comfort through our childhood. Protected from all the hardships of the FFB stage of our grandparents and skipped the stage where we had to work for our own comfort.

We were born in the B2FFB stage.

The dark side.

I can't stop gloating about how happy I am with the impression of smartness these stage name abbreviations impart.

It's just so darn cool.
Or should I say- it's JSDC.

Maybe not.

Every additional penny we are given gives us less and less satisfaction.
That's why when our parents led a good life in about $X a year, now even a salary of $10X + 10 isn't quite enough for us to be comfortable.

Okay so a part of it is inflation and what not.
But how much of it is greed?!?
And how much conspicuous consumption?!

We are in the stage where, we know we don't need more. Thanks to the previous generation, we are never going to need money i.e. we're independent of the pressure of money.

But our generation ironically seems to be the one that's the most crazy about it.

A car isn't enough. It has to be a Maserati.
A house isn't enough, it has to be a penthouse in downtown Manhattan.
A weekend off isn't enough, it has to be a luxury cruise on the Black Sea-
seven times a year.

In Eating terminology:
"You come up with a hundred excuses to keep eating.
And that's what you do.
You keep eating".

I know you sense a round of yuppie bashing coming up again….
But I'm going to resist the temptation.

Just a quote though, from the book I'm reading right now:

"I have always been taken aback at the high number of people in whom an astonishingly high income led to additional sycophancy as they become more dependant on their clients and employers and more addicted to making even more money".
-Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  The Black Swan

"You know you don't need to eat anymore.
You're quite comfortable.
Your pants fit exactly right.
You know that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that you're full.
So you really should stop.

But something- like an invisible hand is pushing each mouthful from your plate to your mouth".

And like I said about eating, the intensity of your hunger is directly linked to how long this stage will last. (Which means) If you led a less than comfortable childhood, the drive for amassing wealth and pursuing luxuries beyond reasonable comfort levels is going to be greater.

I totally sound like a scientist now.
My mom's right.
I should totally get a PhD.

I think it's an unbelievable stroke of luck to have been born in the B3FFB stage- but (ahem) with great luck comes great responsibility.

I know I've used the Spiderman line before, but I checked all the other superhero stories. None of them had uncles or aunts or anyone else, that imparted more true words than Uncle Ben.
Uncle Ben was a wise man.
We have much to learn from him.

We can't use the yardstick of success that was used by the previous generation.

A certain lifestyle and bank balance, was the finishing line for them because they're start line was at the level of subsistence. But their finish line becomes our start- and to spend our time in pursuing the same things they did- is a colossal waste of the opportunity they've given us.

Using Nassim Taleb's terminology, albeit out of context, we were born in that stage of wealth accumulation where the phrase "F*** you money" can very easily be a reality.

Okay I gotta admit.
This is where the brilliance of my theory ends.

Because if you ask me - what our finish line is- I draw a blank.
The most I can say is - it's taking risks.
And doing what we love.

Technically, the finish line is doing something great
But that's kinda vague.
Uh… okay.
I can do great.
I think.
Uh, great's easy.
Mental Note: Never read this blog ever again.
She's a freak.

But if we do something we love- we will automatically do something great eventually.

It's like this father wrote to his daughter- going off to college:

"Don't get caught up in talk on campus about which majors are the best stepping stones to financial success.

You'll hear plenty of that from kids who want or may be under pressure to get a quick return from their education. Forget them. Many of those kids will end up disliking their jobs and muddling through so-so careers.

(Notice here that he didn't say they won't be rich. They'll probably be rich, but that's not important).

You can make a great living doing almost anything, as long as you love it.

So take risks.
Switch majors.

Get your head out of the books and do something surprising.

There's time.
But find your bliss and pursue it.

Go ahead and get fluent in Spanish and study abroad if that makes your heart sing. Your knowledge and experience will pay off later on, I promise—just as you'll be rewarded for the joy you bring to tasks that excite you".

I'm speechless.

Okay…  not completely speechless.
That's NEVER happened.
Except when I see Ryan Reynolds on TV, but for completely different reasons.

The last stage has not been addressed, yet.

The "Eating to Generation" analogy would be people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who are those will-powered and self-controlled 'Dinosaurs' who know when they've had enough- and after ensuring a reasonably comfortable standard of living for themselves, have decided to send the food left on their plates back. In other words, given away so much to charity.

I don't have specifics but I hear Buffet gave each of his kids $1 billion to do charitable work only.

"It counts if you do it because- you're a dinosaur.
You've had your fill and don't want anymore- ready to part with any remaining food on the plate. Without even a shadow of regret in your heart or a tear in your eye".

Our generation's Gates of Buffets are still probably in the B2FFB stage and only the coming years will show if they ever move beyond it.

I wasn't kidding when I said not many people reach this stage.

So this is it.
My thoughts on our generation- its fortunes and its responsibilities.

You can complete the standing ovation left over from Part 1.

Thank you.

Hey…  you…  at the back…
Don't think I cant see you from up here.
You got a problem with standing up?!?!
I don't care if you have a knee injury…..
Some people… I tell ya.
The envy of others is a by-product of glory… that's all I can say.

August 5, 2011

The 'Gift' of Gab

Yesterday a wasp entered my room.
The orange kinds that are bitter and like stinging people because they are sadistic and mean.

This one saw that he was no match for me, my tireless screaming and the wooden chair I was waving around at it.
So he decided to leave.

He tried to escape through the shut window.
Wasps may be sadistic and mean and everything, but they aren't very sharp.
So he spent the better part of an hour hitting his head against the glass.
When he got tired, he caught his breath and then tried again.

At some point, I put my chair down and started watching the little sucker.
With every bump against the glass, my hatred for the creature dissolved and was replaced by pity.
Maybe they weren't completely sadistic.
Maybe they were given orders to sting people without provocation and he had to follow orders.
Maybe he had decided he had had enough and wanted to go home and quit 'Sadistic Wasp Squad Inc.'

I wanted to help him but I knew every step I took towards him, he's going to misconstrue as an attack. And he'd sting me in self-defense.
No, I haven't specialized in wasp psychology but that's what I would do if a giant stepped towards me.
And if I had a sting.

So I watched helplessly.
His strength waning with every bump against the glass.
I thought of his family, his wife and kids waiting for him to come home.

If only I could tell him somehow- ask him to not sting me while I opened the window for him. If only I could show him an alternative route.

'Why God? Why didn't you allow us to talk to animals?!? We'd be able to help each other out. And the world would be so much more peaceful… '

Pat came the reply:

'You humans haven't been able to attain "World Peace" in the last like gazillion years despite being able to talk to each other, what makes you think adding animals into the whole big mess is going to do any good?!?
You just concentrate on not killing each other, I'll take care of the animals.
Thank you very much.
Stupid Hippie.'
Aggression warranted.
Point taken.

I never though of it that way.
It's so true though.
Most of the problems everyone experiences is because they don't get along with other people. Disagreements, arguments, spats, conflicts… all because of what?!?! The 'gift' of communication.

How dare she say that to me?
Why did he just say that?
He could have been more sensitive and said it differently, you know?
Did you hear her tone? Who does she think she is?
I'm gonna make him take his words back.
She talks before she thinks and puts her foot in her mouth. That's the problem.

I just read about the Tower of Babel.
Basically the story starts at that point in time when everyone spoke the same language. Right after the great big flood of Noah, apparently the people of the world united in this place called Shinar and decided to build a great big building- the Tower- where everyone could live together.  So they worked together and built this awesome structure. And then God came to visit.
And He got insecure.
And He was like 'These guys speak the same language and look at what they've been able to build by themselves. If they continue like this, nothing's ever going to be impossible for them.
So I'm thinking… NOT GOOD.
I better scatter them all over the earth and then confuse their language.
So then they'll be stuck'.

Little did He know that He had no reason to be afraid.
If he would have just waited patiently, they wouldn't have gotten along anyway.
Then most people would have moved out of the Tower of Babel because they couldn't get along with their neighbor. And they needed more space for the kids and whatever else.
The scattering and the confusing of the language was unnecessary after all.

Who would have thought that animals are actually better off for not being able to talk?!? Take dogs for example.
They bark so much as it is… imagine what would happen if they actually knew what each bark meant?!?

Which brings me to the subject that has been bothering me for some time now.
When someone says something to you in bad taste- what should you do?

I've generally been a non-confrontational person- by default, not by design.
More often than not, I let people say things to me and walk away- not because I don't want to start a fight, but because I can't think of something witty and hurtful to say quickly enough.

So in high school when my 'best friend' put me down, I'd generally laugh it off because my brain would shut down and stop working when I'd try to force a witty response to the insult.
And little by little, that became the norm for me.

I'm not sure that's the right thing to do. It's not ALL bad but it's not that great.

So I decided to list out the pro's and con's of the two possible responses and maybe come to a logical conclusion regarding the superiority of one.

As I always do in my analysis, I start with a stimulus:

Scene (True story, by the way):
Year: 1998 or 1999.
Location: Dubai.
Phase in life: High School.

My 'best friend forever (BFF)' and I are standing on the sidewalk waiting for a cab. We're going to watch a movie. Cabs are hard to come by, when business is booming in Dubai.
Recession time is cab galore, but during the boom cycle, not so much.
I signal to one but it passes us by. My 'BFF' signals to the next one and it stops. While climbing in, she looks at me as if she's going to say something really smart- and says,

'Cabs only stop for pretty girls'.

Thirteen years later, I've made some real friends, and thrown her out of my life, but man, that still hurts.

At fifteen, the only sound I could hear was a faint buzz in my ears and an 'Uhhhhhh….' in my brain.
I hear ya.
I was a dork.

There are one of two things I could do.
Well… assuming I don't do the third thing.
Which would be allowing her to get into the cab first and before she got her hand out of the way, slam the cab door real hard on those pur-ty little fingers and ask the cabbie to floor it.
So assuming that's NOT an option…

The two responses are:        
  1. 'Hee. Hee. I know, you should do all the cab-calling from now on! Hee. Hee.'
  2. 'Too bad you aren't any prettier otherwise we'd get the cab ride for free. You conceited little *%$#@'

The first answer is obviously non-confrontational.

At first glance you're going to think- that's stupid. Why would anyone say that?
I agree it is stupid if that's your default answer. But if it's deliberate, it's a mistake to dismiss it. Here are the pros of the non-confrontational method:

  • You obviously know that the other person is wrong, so you're deliberately saving yourself the trouble of coming up with a fitting reply.

What trouble?!?
Ask my brain. It goes into over-drive and then shuts itself down when I ask it to come up with something at the spur of the moment.
Handling itself under pressure isn't something my brain does very well.
  • When you don't honor the remark with a reply, you get your revenge anyhow. Because then, the girl lives her whole life under the illusion that her good looks will get her through everything. And every time they don't, she's going to get what she had coming to her all along. The universe has a nice way of balancing itself. So you don't even need to worry.

  • You can be smug and know that you were the bigger person, the better person, the more mature person. The smarter person. The person who doesn't believe in tit for tat. A person who doesn't want to hurt anyone back.
You will be the one God chooses to have in heaven.

  • If you're in public, you could say something nasty and spoil the environment for everyone. When you laugh it off as a joke while making a note to deal with it later, you show mind boggling control over your emotions and avoid being the party pooper for everyone. Someone is bound to notice and be very grateful to you.
The cons are quite obvious. Those who are generally aggression prone (not in a bad way) have these on the tips of their tongues anyway.
  • You get tagged as a weakling.
By the lesser beings. Obviously.
  • You might feel bad that you didn't stand up for yourself. Specially if being the bigger person isn't your cup of tea.
This is unlikely, since the assumption is that you chose your response.
But it's a possibility.
Human brains are flaky.
  • Since your response doesn't do anything to prevent a future attack, there's a good chance that there will be a further attack and eventually, sooner or later, you're going to hit your 'bigger person' threshold and flip.

Now the confrontational approach. I have a feeling that this method has more takers. It's the natural approach to take, for most. The one that's dictated by common sense more than abstract concepts like eligibility for heaven.
I, myself, feel that in the short run, this really is the best way to go.
The pros, as obvious as they are, are:

  • It feels good to stand up for yourself.
After your debilitating retort, you can walk away with imaginary rock music playing in the background, metaphorically bloody faced and with that triumphant swagger. The swagger of a warrior. The swagger of a winner.

  • It sends out a strong message to everyone- that you cannot be messed with.
You WILL not be messed with.
You will annihilate the mess-er.
You will pound him to pulp with your words.
Your mess-er will rue the day she decided to mess with you.
You get the picture? Or do I have to punch ya in da face?
Sorry. Got sucked into the zone. 
I'm okay now.

  • You save yourself the anguish of kicking yourself later, for not saying anything. The kind of anguish that makes you remember one line  said to you thirteen years ago and makes you write a blog post about it even though the person who said it has long left your life.

The cons, are contentious. Mainly because this method is espoused by those with a strong aggressive streak. And they don't take too kindly to criticism.
Let me inform you guys, if you try to hurt me, my ghost will track you down and haunt you. 
So call off the snipers. Do it. NOW.
I have to take my paranoia medication.

So, the cons are:
  • If the main motivation of the stimulus is to get you all twisted up, then you're walking right in to the trap. The more upset you get, the meaner and nastier your responses get, the greater is the pleasure derived by the perpetrator. So this method not only allows but encourages the stimulus to just keep on going because she's getting instant gratification with your every retort.
If you think people like that don't exist, think again.
They may not openly admit to the fact that they enjoy seeing you get all wound up, but secretly you're taking them on their favorite ride in the amusement park.

  • You might not go through the 'kicking-yourself-for-not-saying-anything' routine that follows the non-confrontational response, but there's no guarantee that you won't go through the 'I should've also called her a @#&* and a &*$#@. I should've challenged her to a duel and poked the living daylights out of her. The next time I'm gonna pummel her and ….(so on)'. Basically, you might go through the mental anguish that comes with not saying enough.

  • Sometimes, giving it back to the other person just doesn’t feel that good.

The last point is my main beef with this method.
Let me tell you why.

There is a personal story coming up. If, like most sane people, you have no interest in the blogger's stories of childhood trauma at the hands of her 'BFF' -which involves painful detail of incidents picked right out of the last cheesy high school movie you watched- you might want to consider skipping this part. But if you do so, you will hurt the Pious Hippie's deepest, innermost, profoundest feelings and might feel bad all day.

So the Pious Hippie, pretending to be the third person narrator, suggests you act like you're reading and skim through the details and get the gist of it. And no one will be any wiser.

You're welcome. 

Having spent most of my final years in high school being told:

'You're not pretty enough'

' You're not really as smart as everyone says you are. The only reason you get better grades than me is because the teacher hates me.
I'm actually smarter than you'

'You really didn't deserve to get nominated for Captaincy*'
*Long story. Something to do with the school leadership development program.
Not important for the purpose of this post.

'You need to come out of your shell. Bookish knowledge isn't as useful as your parents think.'
I'm sorry, I'm trying hard to avoid making this post my personal ranting outlet but I have to take this one on. I just have to. Mainly because I took the non-confrontational approach 13 years ago.

For a person who's obliviously lived her whole life in the Dubai bubble, it's priceless she wanted me to come out of my shell. The second part of her statement- on thoughtful parenting- is justified, though, considering she had the experience of bringing up like 138 kids at the age of 15.

Okay, I'm done venting.
My apologies again.
I'm not going to repeat this ever.
Pinky promise.

The point of all this was basically to illustrate the intensity of my feelings.

So last year, when during my short stint in Dubai, I agreed to bury the hatchet and accept her invitation for coffee, old skeletons were forgiven not forgotten.
To be honest, it was a bit like a rubber match.
That's boxing terminology for the match that decides the ultimate winner.
I'm going to be using boxing jargon a LOT in the next few lines.
Just a warning.

The first part of the conversation went as expected, with her claiming her superiority over everything I've done in the last few years.
The pitty-pat punches.
But remember, I had practiced my moves a few million times in the mirror.

My palms were sweating when I saw the conversation leading to the exact time I would pull out the stops and let one of my well-rehearsed lines rip through the air and hit her in the face. And I did.

The whir around me slowed down and I could almost see my metaphoric boxing glove pierce through the rippling air, Matrix style, and hit the target- bulls-eye. The jaw got displaced, the lip was distorted in slow motion, her eyes rolled in her head and she fell *thud* onto the floor.
I had sucker punched her.

And then I saw my victim's face.
It was sheepish. It was defeated.
I was waiting for the counterpunch.
But it never came.
She was down and out.
She had kissed the canvas.
She had thrown in the towel.

And then I waited for the wave of triumph to sweep my insides.
The eerie silence. The sound of my heart beating and my own deep breaths.
The beads of sweat dripping from my forehead.
The first round of applause followed with cheers from the crowd. The flashes of the cameras.
The rock music in my head and a shot of my face bloody but triumphant.

You know what?!?
The feeling never came.

Instead, when I saw my opponent in that helpless state, immediately a voice inside my head said,

'That wasn't a very nice thing to say. What is wrong with you? What have you become? 27 years of a wonderful life and this is what you have to show for it?'

I tried to protest.
'But she started it…'

'So what?!? Like you didn't expect it? Do you want to become like her?!'

'Um… no.'

'Then do some damage control. Right now. Shame on you. Don't you ever do that again.'

Dang it.
This wasn't the way I was supposed to feel.
The confrontational method instruction manual says nothing about dealing with the annoying inner voice.

This incident cemented my belief that one method really isn't superior to the other. It all depends on the kind of person you are. And how you feel after you employ one or the other method. The only caveat is to make sure it's by design, not default.

If you're actually a non-confrontation-er then employing the confrontation method is going to leave you feeling shameful and confused. And if you're a confrontation sort of person, NOT saying anything could turn you into a pressure cooker and you could go insane.

So now I try to fine-tune my own strategy that works for me.

If someone said to me today that cabs won't stop for me because I'm not pretty enough, I'd probably smile and pity her inside my head. Feel bad for her sense of insecurity. And depending on the intent behind the statement, plan to evict them from my life. And then forget about it.

It's my 'Smile and wave' method of non-confrontation- adapted from Madagascar, the movie. It even comes in handy with people you can't thrown out of your life- and have to put up with.
Call it the weakling approach, call it gut-less and lily-livered.
Call it what you will, but it works for me.  

When my threshold is reached, I say just about enough -to balance both my self-respect and my conscience. It doesn't need to be nasty. It just has to show that I disagree but have better things to do than fight over it with an imbecile.
Okay fine. It might be a little nasty.

But that's what fine-tuning is about.

Redoing the parts of your responses that make you feel bad and building on the parts that make you feel better.

And to think fine-tuning our response strategy would be completely unnecessary if God would have just given us a few more non-renewable energy resources  instead of the 'Gift of Speech'.

But I don't know. You can't put it past us humans to invent something new if God hadn't allowed us to talk. Maybe like a Morse code with the blinking of eye-lids.
Or a language of claps.
One clap means 'Thank you'.
Two claps mean 'You're stupid'.
Three claps mean 'Your pants are on fire'.
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The Pious Hippie by Ms. Pious Hippie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.