The Subtle Art of Changing the Subject

There are few things about which I could teach a lecture that would possess any academic merit. I am the classic jack-of-all-trades, master of none. I do basic home repair, car maintenance, and rudimentary technological patchwork. But I am first level support – the kind you typically get on the phone after twenty minutes of pushing buttons in answer to rudimentary questions until the annoying voice finally says, “Please wait for an operator.” I don’t know enough to be the operator.

I am, however, an expert at changing the subject. This gift is something I discovered in my teenage years. I found it handier to change the subject than actually deal with things that a teenage boy might be doing that could potentially be frowned upon by elder members of the home, who had likely once been teenagers but have long since forgotten the fun things that can happen if done without the knowledge and consent of the elder members of the home.

Gather round children, I want to tell you the key. This instruction will take you far in life. The first step to change the subject in any conversation is to LISTEN – not necessarily to the words being spoken, but listen for the opportunity to insert a more favorable alternative topic. Once the insertion point arrives, there are several approaches – I want to highlight those I relied upon in my early years: Read More

Where I stand (Flip-Flops & Blue Jeans)

Sometimes, a seemingly insignificant event shows you exactly where you stand. This happened to me Sunday as I dressed for church.

As a male in my late forties, fashion eludes me. I could lie and say that I used to be on top of the latest trends, but photographic evidence would sell me out. Even though I see the genius of old-man high-waist pants and I yearn for the day when Sansabelt makes a comeback, I keep those opinions to myself and try to blend in. That’s my wheelhouse and my fashion goal – Not Standing Out. NSO makes me feel like I can make the women in my life happy.

NSO starts with the purchase decisions. The women weren’t there for buying of the kilt, two dozen Hawaiian shirts, or impact ties and the aforementioned items are strictly verboten. I still keep them in my closet, but if I want to wear them I have to low-crawl out of the house to escape notice. (Low-crawling in a properly worn kilt can cause distinctive carpet burns.) Most of my purchases get disgusted looks and upturned noses from the daughters. Every once in a while I get raised shoulders and an ambivalent “meh” – which I interpret to mean I have struck fashion gold. I live for a “meh”. Read More