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Dave Barry: Diplomat

“I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don’t even invite me.” — Dave Barry

This self-disclosure prompted Curious George to check around to see just how closely the quotation aligned with reality. The first step was to check with a couple of Barry’s remaining friends. Let it suffice to note that a second step was not possible, due to an inability to complete the first. CG confronted Barry, “As it turns out, no one will admit to being your friend, remaining or not.” To that, Barry turned red in the face and said, “I for sure have three remaining friends. I used to have more but it has gotten to where three is all I can afford. Your not finding them is hardly my fault. Never attribute your incompetence to mine. Remaining friends aside, I can still win an argument on any topic, against any opponent; and if you want to push the point, we’ll just take it outside.”

CG was tempted to get it on with Barry but remembered Dale Carnegie’s advice, “Why prove to a man he is wrong? Is that going to make him like you? Why not let him save face? He didn’t ask for your opinion. He didn’t want it. Why argue with him? You can’t win an argument, because if you lose, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? You will feel fine. But what about him? You have made him feel inferior, you hurt his pride, insult his intelligence, his judgment, and his self-respect, and he’ll resent your triumph. That will make him strike back, but it will never make him want to change his mind.”

CG just smiled at Barry and calmly said, “Hey Dave, taking it outside would do nothing but make us feel inferior, insult our intelligence, our judgment, and our self-respect. We are diplomats, not parking lot brawlers. Besides, it’s raining out there; and although you’re already all wet, I’m definitely not; and I plan to stay that way.” On that note, CG quietly walked away.

It was a few days later and Barry was hanging out at the library, by himself, of course. The friend thing really had gotten way to expensive to bother with anymore. He was just randomly flipping through first one book and then another when he ran across the words of Caskie Stinett, “Diplomat: A person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.” He smiled to learn that it was Bisaac Goldberg who said, “Diplomacy is to do and say the nastiest thing in the nicest way;” but the smile became a chuckle when he discovered these words from the famous Anon. “Diplomacy: The business of handling a porcupine without disturbing the quills.”

As Barry closed the book and left the library, a quote from Aesop kept flashing back, “He that always gives way to others will end in having no principles of his own.” He thought to himself, “It’s also true that he that never gives way to others will end in having no friends; but that’s not a problem for me. It costs far less to be a simple porcupine handler. Even better, I’ll get new business cards that say, ‘Dave Barry: Diplomat’.”

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