Don’t Argue With Me, Dude!

“You shouldn’t argue with me, dude.”

“I disagreed with your position. That’s different from arguing.”

“Now you’re arguing with me about arguing.”

 

English: The Big Show arguing with referee Sco...
I wouldn't argue with him!

 

“Oh, geez, can’t we disagree?”

“Not when I’m right.”

“Why do you always need to be right?”

“I don’t. But when you’re right, you’re right.”

“Now you’re arguing with me.”

“No, I stated a fact. I don’t always need to be right.”

“You don’t need to be right about being right?”

“Hey, dude, don’t get so hot under the collar.”

“At least acknowledge my gender with dudette.”

“I wouldn’t want to meet you in a dark alley.”

“Do you even remember what we were talking about?”

“You mean arguing about?”

“About the best route to Jack London State Park.”

“I’ve lived here longer. I know my way around.”

“I’ve lived here 6 years.”

“Are you going to hit me?”

“I’m tempted.”

 

Clearly I, and my interlocutor, have difficulty communicating effectively. She wants the upper hand. She has a need to control the conversation, and the space around us. She circles me, as if we’re in a boxing ring.  She looks around, furtively, as if someone will overhear us. She lowers her voice to a whisper. We live next to each other on a rural stretch. No one can hear us. Vineyards spread out in ruler perfect rows in all directions.

 

English: Vineyards in Napa Valley. Français : ...
Vineyard symmetry for miles..

 

I  don’t need the upper hand, but her behavior puts me on edge. I’m irritated, maybe feeling a little sorry for myself. I abhor confrontation, but I also don’t like to be shoved around. Who does?

Sometimes you meet people with whom you speak the same language, but you can’t understand a word of it. They might be speaking Hindi for all the sense it makes. Most often this lack of understanding occurs between men and women. Scratch that, most often it occurs between politicians. Oh the pompous spin!

In my case, it’s between two people who push each other’s buttons. People who travel with too much baggage they should have dropped at the door, or in the middle of the vineyard.

Baggage Yak, 1870s

 

A wife tells her husband she had a tough day at work. He offers suggestions as to what she might have done about it. Hackles rise at the back of her neck. Annoyance sparks. He’s mystified. He thought he offered her his support. But all she required was his acknowledgement of her tough day. Men want to fix it. Women thrive in community.

 

Maybe what we all need is a debate coach to teach us how to get our message across in a succinct and effective manner. A good debater knows how to engage her audience, in a charismatic manner, to win support for her position. A good debater comprehends both sides of the subject matter. A good debater has valid evidence, she knows how to reason, she’s quick on her feet. Clearly, that does not describe me, nor my interlocutor.

I need the help of Thomas Freeman, Ph.D. Dr. Freeman is a debate coach, and philosophy professor. He works 12-hour days. He eats lunch at his desk. Sounds like a typical workday for many. But, here’s the twist. Dr. Freeman is 92 years old. He hasn’t missed a day of work in 63 years at his position with Texas Southern University in Houston. Phenomenal.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a student of his, as was Barbara Jordan, the late Texas congresswoman. Admirable credentials, to say the least! Dr. Freeman trained the cast of Denzel Washington’s 2007 film, The Great Debaters. In a multiday “boot camp” the actors defeated Dr. Freeman’s own students. A testament to the potency of Dr. Freeman’s teaching skills.

The Great Debaters

 

With his team he has traveled far afield, from Hungary to South Africa. For TSU, he has won first place at the International Forensics Association Tournament 3 times in the past 10 years. His team has made it to the finals in every tournament for the last 40 years!

Married for a whopping 57 years, Dr. Freeman and his wife have no trouble communicating. Or maybe over the course of their 57 years together they have debated the value of clear communication, and both were declared winners.

Dr. Freeman’s next international debate competition will be held in Rome, in March. At 92 years old he’s still in the game, and loving every minute of it.

 

On my return from the Park my interlocutor pops out of her house. She’s built like a barrel, her muscles taut, supple. She hustles toward me. I brace myself.

“Dude, it was shorter, wasn’t it, to go my way?”

“I didn’t go that way.”

“Dude, that was a mistake. You should have.”

“Have you ever even been there?”

“No, but I know how to get there.”

“My Smartphone navigator app seemed to have the most direct route.”

“Miss fancy pants with her Smartphone.”

“Do you call everyone fancy pants who has a Smartphone?”

“I wouldn’t want to meet you in a dark alley.”

“How about the alley of a vineyard?”

“Are you going to hit me?”

“Yes.”

 

Thanks for listening!  Do you imagine yourself working into your 90’s?

3 thoughts on “Don’t Argue With Me, Dude!

  1. I really, really, hope I’m not still working when I’m in my 90’s! lol I do love what I do, at least most days, but I don’t want to do it when I’m old. I hope to retire and travel the world.

    I’d want to hit someone like that too! lol

    1. Hi Paula. Thanks for the response! You know, I have to agree. I don’t want to be “working” in my 90’s. I hope I still enjoy whatever I might be doing then but I don’t want to call it work. And, like you, I want to wander the world.

  2. Nice post. All of us could use a little help now and then with our communication skills. It’s nice to read something positive for a change. Keep ’em coming!

Comments are closed.