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Subtlety

February 6, 2008

…It doesn’t always work. A while ago, I had the awkward experience of someone trying to slip something into a conversation that they really felt they needed to tell me, but weren’t sure how to bring up. Beyond that, it was something they wanted to bring up in order to serve their own ends.

It was phrased in a charmingly caring and sensitive manner, just slipped in, as though it were a joke we both shared, but instead, it sat there, not so much a proverbial elephant in the room, and more like a giant toad squatting amongst the nonsensical frippery of the actual words being spoken, while both concerned parties tried to ignore this oozing, croaking mass of statement that had inadvertently been invited into the room.  As she finished her oh-so-subtle snippet, that masterwork of careful phrasing and gentle couching, I raised an eyebrow to her, unwilling to play the game.

Eye contact was held that precise amount of time, just long enough to speak volumes, then broken before it became confrontation.  I knew exactly what she’d said.  It was not news to me.  But that alone was not what was communicated.  Sure, it was an ugly specimen, an unfortunate little giblet that had haunted that group for much of the year, but one I didn’t care about, one I was aware of, and had my own opinions of.  It was of no consequence.

No, the true ugly truth, our provebial giant toad, was not what she said, but that she said it at all. It was not, as was pretended, an innocent little mishap, a slip of the tongue which chanced to spill forth during that very conversation.  Instead, it was let loose with Motive, an intent to bend me, to move my will elsewhere, to manipulate me into a setting more convenient for her.  And it was done, for all the tone and the circumstances and the flowery phrasing and the accidental slippage, with all the subtlety of a bag of bricks.

A statement with all the stopping power of a scalpel was simply swung into this conversation as though it were a large blunt instrument, in the hopes that a context to which such means were so far beyond unsuitable as to be laughable, could be merely bludgeoned into compliance.

The conversation ended shortly after, and I left, feeling more than a little insulted.  Firstly, that it had been concidered that such crass methods of manipulation would work, and secondly, that my intelligence was maligned to such a degree that she thought her “news” would be just that to me.  As though I would have somehow missed such a self-evident truth and not dealt with it, both internally and externally.

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