Are you a great listener? I hope you are, because one of us should be, and I can tell you, "It ain’t me!" I want to be a great listener, but talking is so much more my style. Listening is hard work; talking is a breeze. Listening is letting someone else have control; talking is being the one in control. You already know I’m a take-control-kind-of-guy, so you can see why listening gets a backseat in my world. Yes, indeed, listening better would be a great skill, if I could just learn it.
If I could learn to listen better, I could avoid looking like an idiot. Recently, I was at a dinner party where the host asked me to make a toast. The person dining to my right — a great listener, herself — heard the request, turned to me, and said, "You should say something really profane." Well, that shocked me! I’ve given my fair share of "For he’s a jolly good fellow" toasts, but I didn’t know there was a new requirement for insults and slander. My goodness! How society has deteriorated. So, I thought up some hot zingers, and I turned to my dinner companion and tried out one of the more salacious ones. Well, you should have seen her face. She got so indignant; I had to remind her it was her idea to say something "really profane." She looked at me and said, "Really profound! I said, ‘you should say something really profound.’"
"Oh," I said, "That’s different." Well, it’s a good thing I ran that toast by her before I said something nasty about someone else’s parental lineage. See what I mean about looking like an idiot?
I could go on, and on, and on with other examples of my poor listening skills, but I’m not too excited about giving you any more shameful confessions. Besides, you’re different. I’m sure most of you are great listeners. But, maybe there’s just one reader out there who really needed to hear this message. If so, then exposing my shame has been worth it. Maybe this little story will keep one of you from getting a champagne glass shoved up your nose at a fancy banquet, as your dinner companion screams, "You are such a boron!" Boron is a chemical element and a really odd thing to call someone, but I’m pretty sure that’s what she said. I wasn’t really listening that closely.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.