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I Hope He Laughs December 23, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Balance, People.

Frog-CircusWe have a neighbor who loves to play the labeling game.

His view of the world is the only view of the world.

People who don’t share his perspective (like me!) are judged, labeled, and cubby-holed.

There is no room for gray in his life.

The-Pink-Panther* When he realized I did not embrace Rush Limbaugh as a modern day sage and savior, he called me a “brainwashed, socialist, communist, liberal sympathizer.”

You know . . .

A pinko!

* When he ranted about “short-sighted and misguided” environmentalists who block progress by opposing drilling for oil and gas in pristine wilderness areas, I tried to share a few thoughts on the benefits of sustainable and renewable energy sources ~ like wind and solar.

He interrupted with a snort and informed me I was “living in a dream world” and “needed to get my facts straight” because sun and wind cannot provide the energy we need “to keep moving forward.”

Shrek3He then added, free of charge, that he hated debating issues of importance with people who argue from an emotional frame of reference rather than from an intellectual point of view.


Did he just call me stupid???

One night at a wine tasting, he and I were seated at a table for eight when someone I’d met that evening asked me, “What do you write?”

Not wanting to get bogged down in particulars, I tossed out, “Oh, lots of things ~ poems, essays, several unfinished novels . . .”

Shrek-WavingAt that point, our neighbor jumped in with a gleeful pronouncement, “You have ADHD!”

Startled at his outburst, I replied, “No, I don’t . . .”

“Yes, you do!  You just said that you didn’t finish a project that you started!”

“So?  Not finishing a novel doesn’t mean I have ADHD.  I have no problem concentrating for sustained periods . . .”

“Then WHY didn’t you finish those novels?”

“Because I didn’t want to.”


Pluto-RollerskatingWithout abandoning his initial hypothesis, he switched gears, “Why are you getting so defensive?  I was just being funny.”

I looked around the table and saw several mouths agape. “Really?  How come no one is laughing?”

“Because YOU ruined the party for everyone by becoming defensive for no reason.”

“And what was the alternative?  Letting you put words in my mouth and yet another label on my forehead?”

“No, you could have just laughed.  Your problem is that you don’t have a sense of humor.  You need to lighten up and stop being so serious.”


“If you wanted me to laugh, you should have said something funny.”

Taken aback, he sputtered, “Well, this is a free country and I can say whatever I want . . .”

“Duly noted.  But, since this is a free country, we don’t have to laugh on cue.”

Donald-Duck-MadAt that point, his wife intervened and suggested we change the subject.

I nodded my agreement.

Seeing no one jumping to his defense, our freedom-loving friend switched from FIGHT to FLIGHT and beat a hasty retreat from the restaurant, his wife trailing behind.

I apologized to the rest of the table, amid a chorus of “YOU have nothing to apologize for.”

Hmm . . .

While I appreciated the show of support, it takes two to tango and I did my part to keep the dance moving in a downward spiral.

daffy_duck_boxingI could, of course, muster all sorts of justification for the barbs I’d tossed his way.  I could rationalize that he is a bully used to getting his own way, and that fighting back was the “right” thing to do.

But I won’t.

Because I saw his face as he was leaving the restaurant.

The sadness registered there made me wish I had just laughed at his initial “ADHD label” rather than engaging in a pointless debate about “nothing.”

Oh, well, live and learn.

Mickey-OKI’ve added him to my Christmas Gift List and I know exactly what to get him . . . a Dymo label-maker!

I hope he laughs.

Aah . . . that’s better!



1. Rainee - December 23, 2015

I think it is admirable that you didn’t let him get away with it. There is a fine line between standing up for yourself and being walked over. I think my goal for 2016 will be to learn that I have the right to stand up for myself. I am too easy going and it is not humility but more cowardice on my part Well done Nancy!

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

To self-confidence and courage . . . living with HEART!

Rainee - December 23, 2015

I will drink to that! Happy Christmas to you and yours 🙂

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

Thanks, Rainee . . . hope your holidays are overflowing with mirth, merriment, joy and peace.

2. Jill Weatherholt - December 23, 2015

What a Looney Tune! He needs to cut back on the wine…his poor wife.

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

Your observations are on the money, Jill ~> drinking amps up his bluster and bravado to “the highest height” AND . . . his wife gets caught in the cross fire.

On the plus side, I haven’t had a direct confrontation with him since this night. So maybe “standing my ground” that night paid dividends.

Jill Weatherholt - December 23, 2015

Maybe he’s at home searching Amazon for your book? 🙂 What a nut!

3. NancyTex - December 23, 2015

How awkward for everyone involved, especially the bystanders. I don’t blame you one bit for standing up for yourself. I would have done the same thing.

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

Years ago, I saw some stationery with a cat standing tall, hair on end, bristling with annoyance:

“I’m Noko Marie . . . don’t mess with me!”

Sometimes “standing tall” works ~> reminding big bullies to go pick on someone their own size . . . and stature.

4. Kate Crimmins - December 23, 2015

These are tough exchanges. If you don’t “defend” yourself (and I’m not sure that’s the right word), you replay it in your head and get angry that you didn’t. If you do, there is a sense of escalating it. There is no win in one of these. Sounds like the people at the table were not amused by his shenanigans. I hope your gift is metaphorical rather than physical! He doesn’t deserve any more time. My nephew would call him a douchebag.

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

Sarcastic comments often work to defuse situations with humor. Snark has its uses! 😎

5. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - December 23, 2015

I agree that it’s a tough position, and I can see why, looking back, you would think the “right” decision was to laugh and move on, but at the moment, the “right” decision was for you not to let him slap yet another label on you. Maybe next time you will respond differently – but I think you did what was right for you at the time, and maybe it will give him a new perspective too… and while he might not find the label maker funny… I did!! 🙂

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

As he left the restaurant, I felt bad for him. But, you’re right, he might have learned something from the incident. Something that he needed to learn. Maybe the Universe wanted someone to “stand up to him” and that someone was ME! :mrgreen:

Glad you found my gift idea amusing . . . I do too! Even if it’s just the thought that counts.

6. livelytwist - December 23, 2015

… label-maker… adding pepper to the wound? 😉

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

Not sure what you mean?

The gift is intended as a peace offering ~> perfect for someone who likes to label people, places, and things. :mrgreen:

7. L. Marie - December 23, 2015

I wouldn’t have laughed either. It’s sad that he feels the need to slap a label on people, particularly that one. An unfinished novel has zero to do with being ADHD–a hardly laughable diagnosis.

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

Perhaps his unsupported diagnosis stemmed from the desire to insert himself into the conversation . . . but, instead of putting his “foot in the door,” it landed in his mouth. 😛

8. brickhousechick - December 23, 2015

Oh Lordy! It sounds like he can dish it but cannot take it. If he hadn’t insulted you earlier you wouldn’t have felt defensive and disturbed! It definitely sounds like he’s got issues. It’s hard to maintain our composure all of the time and remember that it’s not about us, it is simply their issue and opinion. I forget all the time! Enjoy your Christmas, Nancy and let’s toast to a peaceful year ahead! 🙂

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

Thanks, Maria! You are right on all counts ~ our history played a part in our “tango.”

Have a Christmas overflowing with peace . . . and laughter. _/!\_

9. Barb - December 23, 2015

Some times you have to stand your ground, and it looks like it has paid off with no more direct confrontations from him. I just feel sorry for his poor wife.
The label maker sounds like the perfect gift for him!

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

Thanks, Barb. Giving a label maker to a label maker seems like the perfect gift to me too.

Better than fueling the fire by giving him a bottle of wine! 🙄

10. Val Boyko - December 23, 2015

He reminds me of my father…. who lived in a world of right and wrong, labels and judgments. It was his way to try to feel control in the world. As he judged others, he judged himself and was disappointed with what he saw, because he could never get past the labels and high expectations. He never accepted himself. So sad.
It took me a while to understand this. I would laugh it off and hug him when I felt able to. Other times I simply left the room. I learned that there was no point in engaging when he was on his high horse needing to be right. He didn’t agree with the way I saw the world, but I know he did appreciate the love.
People like this have holes in their hearts that may never heal.

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

Until we accept others for who they are, it’s hard to accept ourselves as we are. And vice versa. And sometimes circumstances conspire and transformation occurs “in a single night” . . . like it did with Ebenezer and with The The The The The GRINCH!

Hope you’re as happy as the Whos down in Whoville on Christmas morn!

Val Boyko - December 24, 2015

Thanks Nancy!! I’ll go look up Who’s down and Whoville ….

Val Boyko - December 24, 2015

Ah Dr Suess … He didn’t really feature in the UK! We’re more Dickens folks I guess 🙃

nrhatch - December 24, 2015

I love both tales of redemption ~> Scrooge and the Grinch.

Last night, we saw “A Christmas Carol” at the Van Wezel (presented by the Nebraska Theatre Caravan). Tonight, we’ll kick back and watch The Grinch. :mrgreen:

11. wheremyfeetare - December 23, 2015

Thank goodness you’re not his wife and have to live with him. Small victory. Sadly, your neighbor sounds like a very unhappy man. I’ve known people like him and try to stay as far away as possible. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Nancy!

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

He reminds me of Donald Trump . . . except he’s got a better head of hair. Hope your Christmas stocking is filled with FUN and good cheer.

12. Don - December 23, 2015

Let him go Nancy, let him go. 🙂

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

Absolutely. We are now nodding acquaintances who steer clear of “heavy topics.”

13. Carol Ferenc - December 24, 2015

That situation is awful and I applaud you for standing your ground. He must be a very unhappy man . . . his poor wife.

nrhatch - December 24, 2015

His wife is pretty cool. I suspect that they are well suited on that score ~> with just the right give and take.

14. Under the Oaks - December 24, 2015

He wasn’t funny… he is a bully. I am not sure how I would have handled it, I am not good at standing up for myself but let somebody say something not kind about CH and I am all over them. I do think you did right in standing up for yourself. He was abusive and you stood your ground. I would hate being his wife because I am pretty sure he verbally abuses her. I would jump to the conclusion that he has little respect for women. Sorry you had to be in this situation with a bully.

nrhatch - December 24, 2015

Perhaps he’s a card carrying member of the “Male Prerogative” camp ~> with the sole goal of subjugating women and keeping them “in their place” as 2nd class citizens.

His wife is pretty cool, so I suspect he’s fighting a losing battle on that front. Women Unite!

I’m all for “Peace, Love, and Understanding” but someone had to stand up to Hitler or the world would have fallen under the weight of his prejudice. Sometimes we just must “stand our ground.”

15. BunKaryudo - December 24, 2015

I’m afraid I completely disagree with your neighbor’s politics, which rather inclined me against him even before I got to the main part of your story. And yet I must admit, I have sometimes made a quip that was ill-judged, and came across as rude even though it wasn’t intended that way.

From the way you phrased your post, I get the impression that you’re not convinced you did the right thing. I guess it really depends on what you believe his intentions were. If you genuinely feel he was trying to belittle you, then perhaps your only real option was to give back as good as you got.

If, on the other hand, you think it was probably just an unwise quip that got out of hand, then perhaps it have been better to try to summon up a polite titter from somewhere and move on.

Of course, this is me thinking it through after the fact. I have a terrible track record when it comes to actually doing the right thing at the time.

nrhatch - December 24, 2015

Thanks for your thoughtful response, Bun.

I do believe that he was trying to belittle me that night (and on previous occasions). I’m also convinced that he is a bit of a bully. Often. So I’m “OK” with what happened that night.

Since I don’t have a high regard for his opinions on politics, etc., his opinion of me matters not in the least. As Eleanor Roosevelt noted, “No one can make us feel inferior without our consent.”

That said, the sadness on his face reminded me that most of us have an “inner child” that feels lost and alone at times. The more accepting we are of others’ foibles and follies, the less often we have to beat ourselves up being less than perfect.

And last, but not least ~> life is better with laughter. So when I say “live and learn,” it’s a reminder to me to reach for laughter sooner rather than later ~ it’s “disarming.”

HO~HO~HO! Have the merriest Christmas ever!

BunKaryudo - December 24, 2015

Well, from what you say, it sounds like you really didn’t have much choice but to stand up for yourself.

Since he finds anything worthy of admiration in Rush Limbaugh (a disgrace of a human being in my opinion), I find it quite plausible that he’s a bullying blowhard.

I do take your other point, though, that most of us also have a childish, innocent side. Perhaps he’ll learn something from the encounter and in future dealings with you he’ll be civil, if not exactly warm. (I don’t see the two of you ever becoming best buddies, though.)

Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful holiday and enjoy your ham and egg nog (or whatever other delicious treat you will be having to celebrate Christmas this year). 🙂

nrhatch - December 24, 2015

Haha . . . yes!
Rush Limbaugh + Bullying Blowhards = Perfect Together!!!

We are civil with each other. And that’s as far as it’s going to go. He will never be a best bud of mine.

As far as Christmas treats ~> my sister will make a big batch of scones for breakfast (to fuel the unwrapping frenzy). Another fave ~ Macademia Nut Brittle gifted to us each year by a dear friend. Mangia!

16. jannatwrites - December 24, 2015

This is a tough situation. You don’t want to be walked on and labeled, but it doesn’t feel good to tear someone down. The look on his face you observed just might give you the insight you need to handle future interactions with him a little differently. I hope you have a merry Christmas, surrounded by people who don’t need to label you 🙂

nrhatch - December 24, 2015

Thanks, Janna! For attorneys, verbal volleys are part and parcel of most lawsuits . . . especially during trials. As a recovering attorney, I would rather not aim for one upmanship in daily encounters. I prefer congenial cooperation to competition.

But old habits die hard. When someone throws down the gauntlet . . . I usually pick it up. 😛

Have a Merry Christmas full of good friends and good cheer.

17. diannegray - December 25, 2015

It’s hard to have a battle of wits with a half-wit 😉

Okay, I know this sounds mean but I did say say that to a similar gentleman one night under similar circumstances, Nancy. He was a bully and tried very hard to belittle me in front of friends. I’m not really sure what it is, but some men find intelligent women threatening and try to put them ‘in their place’. (I’m sure women do this as well, but men seem to have an angry edge about them when they do this). This particular gentleman didn’t leave the party, but he did leave me alone for the rest of the evening 😀

I hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas surrounded by people who love and appreciate you xxxx

nrhatch - December 26, 2015

Similar thoughts have crossed my mind about the “battle of the sexes” . . . especially when I practiced law. 😛

Thanks for the good wishes ~ we had a nice day at my sister’s house with no battle of the wits (or half wits) (or dim wits). Now it’s smooth sailing until the New Year!

18. Tiny - December 26, 2015

I know him too, Nancy. He has a different shoe size but otherwise exactly the same. No laughing matter.

nrhatch - December 26, 2015

Silly Rabbits come in all shapes and sizes. :mrgreen:

19. Debra - December 27, 2015

This is such an interesting scenario you’ve described. It almost sounds like he’s fixated on you because you have confidence in your values, judgements and beliefs. He seems to feel like he has to take you on like a project. I admire how you came to question your responses, which didn’t sound at all harsh, but since you could see the sadness registered in his expression it is a magnanimous gesture to let someone troubled, as I believe he is, somewhat save face by only responding with humor. I think this is a complicated situation and I can guarantee you handled it better than I think I would! I hope you followed through with the label maker! That was a brilliant idea. 🙂

nrhatch - December 28, 2015

Now I’m “second guessing” my “second guessing” ~> oops, there goes my confidence. 😛

I think you nailed it. He wasn’t paying attention to anyone else at the table because no one else at the table challenged his “Alpha male” status. But when he saw our table mates paying attention to me, he decided to “piss on me” to “mark his territory.”

Maybe he learned not to “piss into the wind.” :mrgreen:

Still, laughing at his “joke” would have improved his night, his wife’s night, and wouldn’t have cost me anything. So, next time, I plan to just laugh if I see a man “pissing into the wind.”

20. Tammy - December 28, 2015

I have become increasingly impatient with folks like you are describing. I love to hear differences in opinions but really lack tolerance for negativity.

nrhatch - December 28, 2015

I hear ya! It’s hard to discuss issues of import with people who resort to ad hominem attacks instead of using facts to support their point of view.

21. beeblu - January 10, 2016

Although I know what you mean about wishing you’d just let it go, there is no end of people who think being humorous entails teasing, baiting and bullying, and sometimes they need to be shown the alternatives.

nrhatch - January 10, 2016

Yes. This is an issue with 2 sides. Maybe I did exactly what needed to be done to teach him not to “piss into the wind.” :mrgreen:

22. Eileen - February 1, 2016

It would have been tempting to ask him where he was on the spectrum, but that would have been an insult to those who are.
Well, at least you won’t have to listen to his long diatribes on your misguided opinions. You can always interrupt and say, “Sorry my ADHD just kicked in.” 🙂

nrhatch - February 1, 2016

I burst out laughing at your last sentence, Eileen. I’m using that line at the first possible opportunity.

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