Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Missing: Tact Gene

When people want my advice or start to vent about personal problems, I usually have a pat answer, which works in most instances. “If you don’t want my real opinion, please don’t ask me for it. I don’t have a gene for tact.”

At this point, some talkers are stopped in their tracks. They realize they should ask their questions to their reflection in the mirror and vent into a tape-recorder. They really are not interested in the truth unless it’s what they want to hear.

Now and then, someone in that category still presses the issue. Recently a friend asked my opinion of her new hair color – orange with blond highlights. I repeated my pat response. She told me, if she didn’t value my opinion, she would not have asked. She lied.

I told her I don’t like hair color that isn’t natural looking, but it’s her hair and she’s the one who needs to be happy. My response got up her ire. “I should never have asked you. You live with old people and have no clue about what’s in. I teach high school, so I do. Purple, blue, and pink streaks are “very in.”

If living with “old-people” prevents me from thinking clown-like hair for women broaching 65 is “in,” I’m glad I reside in Seniorville. The entire episode made me think of a hairdresser incident many years ago. He was cutting my hair when another customer stopped to ask what he thought of her new hairstyle. “Your hair looks great,” he replied.

When she walked away, I told him I would never value his word again. “She looked stupid. It’s puffed out like cotton candy. It makes her face look awful.”

“Listen carefully,” he said. “I told her that her hair looked great. I didn’t say she looked great.”

He had a skill I’ve never developed - tact. That’s why if you want the absolute truth as I see it, ask me.

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