Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

A(nother) Matter of Perspective

Many years ago, a friend told me something his little cousin said whenever someone called the kid a drip. ‘Drip’ is not big on earth-shattering scale of insults, at least not now; even then, it was pretty uncommon. Still, I guess the kid heard it enough that he had this pat phrase, just in case:

“A drip is a drop, a drop is water.
Water is nature, nature is beautiful.

Thanks for the compliment!”

I don’t know about you, but I just heard that in my head in the sort of sing-songy voice of an 8-year-old. I digress.

I imagine at the time I kind of chucked over the phrase, but as “drip” is really not in use anymore, I never had occasion to use it myself. It just sort of got incorporated into my memory, to resurface once in a blue moon just to let me know it’s still there if I ever need it.

The phrase–it’s not really a phrase, I guess, but I’m not really sure what to call it–came to mind again yesterday after an exchange with another friend. He’s a sarcastic sort of person who forces you to watch your every word. He will take you quite literally just to prove a point. He’s a lot of fun to be around, though he can also be quite exhausting.

He’s been volunteering to help set up an event that my organization is running this week, and he was giving me the business over me spending “a disproportionate amount of time” with someone who dropped things off. In explaining why it took me so long to extricate myself from this person, I said, “I don’t want to come off as an….”

“As a what?”

Now, lots of people might not think the word ‘asshole’ is a swear, but it’s also not a word I throw around in conversation with everyone, everywhere. I was hesitant to use it, even though my friend had used the word “fuckhead” just the day before in relation to a common acquaintance. I tone down my language considerably among some people and in some situations. But I said it.

“I don’t want to come off as an asshole,” I said.

“Why not?”

This pretty much stopped me in my tracks. Was he really asking this question? Seriously? It took me a second to answer, because I was looking for the hole I was undoubtedly about to fall in. Finally, I just said, “Who wants to be seen as an asshole?”

He said, “You don’t want to be indispensable? Reliable? Efficient? I would think it would be quite the compliment!”

“I never thought of it that way before,” I said. It seems we can put a positive spin on just about everything, doesn’t it? Have a nice weekend, all.

6 Responses

  1. Haha context versus definition. His is a valid point about the definition, but context is king–especially if your audience isn't knowledgeable about the definition. So, I guess you could education people like he did you. 😉

    That quote about drip is something I could hear a mother telling her child as a shield against the world. Made me think of Forest Gump and that phrase "stupid is as stupid does".

    Have a good weekend.

  2. He has it right. (He does sound like he'd be a bit exhausting though.) Name-calling only bothered me when I was very young (1-3rd grade). After that, I ignored it. I guess I grew to trust my opinions more than others'.

  3. Sounds like word-twisting lawyer-speak. 🙂

    (And, if you're curious, I turned down that offer. Got an invite by choice #1 to do a R & R instead, and I took it.)

  4. -Nick: Good one!
    -Donna: On the other hand, if I ever used it, I can imagine a quicker with than me responding with "Oh, you mean uptight, smelly, and full of shit?"
    -Lexa: He can be exhausting. On the other hand, I also 'get' him on a pretty regular basis, so I suppose I can be tiring, too.
    -L.G.: I think you made a good choice!
    -Cherie: Indeed. Thanks for coming by!

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