Banks County Opinions...

MAY 7, 2003


Column

By: Phillip Sartain
The Banks County News
May 7, 2003

Essential husbanding skills: Using the look
Of all the husbanding skills that a man can acquire, the Shopping Badge has to be the most daunting. It requires skill, dedication, and a level of perseverance that most men don’t have. And don’t want. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried.
I don’t mean to sound uppity about my badges, but I think I’m something of a pacesetter among my peers.
After all, I do have the Dishwasher Loading Badge, the Pack Mule Badge, and the Garbage Badge. And, I’d point out that I earned them all in just ten short years of marriage.
Technically, I should also have the Staying In The Delivery Room Badge, but I have been informed that earning badges as a result of something you did to your wife as opposed to something you did for her does not qualify one for recognition.
At any rate, I was feeling good about my progress until I looked at the Husband Manual the other day.
As I was flipping pages, I realized that you can earn upwards of a hundred badges, but without the Shopping Badge, you can never be deemed the Perfect Mate.
According to the manual, the Shopping Badge is the hardest badge of all to earn. In other words, you can’t earn it by sitting on a bench at the mall with a bunch of other guys while your wife shops.
Instead, and I quote, “In order to qualify for the badge, the spouse must show a sincere interest in being actively engaged in the act of shopping with his wife for wife-related clothing products.”
After I read that, I almost passed out. But there was more. The rules require that the husband be physically fit enough to hold all his wife’s stuff as he stands for hours on end beside the changing room door.
And, he has to do it without looking like he’d rather be at home cleaning out the septic tank.
I gave it some thought and realized that I had in fact done that one time on a trip to an outlet mall.
At the time, I was hoping to spend a few minutes in the Black and Decker store later as my reward. Suddenly, I realized that I might qualify.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the fine print, and I read it slowly to myself, “In the course of holding said cloths, the husband shall not, under any circumstances, give any other husbands in the vicinity the Secret Husband Look.”
That’s when I realized I’d never get my Shopping Badge. And that’s because I use the ”look” regularly.
The ”look” can be used anywhere, but it occurs most often when you’ve been in the same store for a while surrounded by other husbands working on their own badge.
Suddenly, some guy will start to leave with his wife, and his whole demeanor will change from hopelessness to one of total success and victory. It means he’s on the way back home to the couch for the rest of the day.
And as he leaves, all the rest of men hanging out around the dressing room give him the Secret Husband Look, the one that says, “Please don’t leave me here.”
Unfortunately, in marriage, unlike war, men do leave other men behind.
I know now I don’t have what it takes. Fortunately, all is not lost.
Getting in touch with your strengths and weaknesses as a man is actually on the list of Badges. It’s called the Touchy-Feely Badge.
Sure, it sounds squishy. But I guess it depends on how you ”look” at it.
Phillip Sartain is an attorney in Gainesville.
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Column

By: Zach Mitcham
The Banks County News
May 7, 2003

The struggle between feeling and logic
My father told me when I was a kid that while I may feel something, I don’t really understand what I feel unless I can put it into words.
I see now that he was issuing a challenge to me to not let my emotions rule me, to articulate, at least to myself, why I feel anger, joy or sadness, to avoid saying “I just feel that way” without being able to explain why.
I think of a baby and a wise, old grandmother. Both feel hunger. Both can express it. But the grandmother can understand it, can tell you about hunger in her life and what she has witnessed. She has developed a comprehension apart from the feeling.
I’ve certainly been guilty many times in my life of letting my feelings overrule my better judgment, a flaw I will probably always carry. A differing opinion can trigger an emotional reaction in me. I have often heard a person say something that angers me, then assumed that since the person believes A, he must also be B and C. Thus, I cannot like him or respect him. In my feeling of disgust, I put the person in a category that suits my ill will and I dismiss whatever else he has to say.
In my better moments, I see this as flawed reasoning, acknowledging my own ignorance towards that person. I recognize that his years of living are hidden to me, but they do exist. And they have shaped him in ways I can never know. Thus, I can argue vehemently that I am right. But I must profess to wearing a dunce hat when it comes to knowing the years of experience that have shaped the opposing view. Even if I feel I have the better argument, I must also see that I carry a certain weight of ignorance. If I choose not to acknowledge this, I have no humility to offer.
I do not argue against passionate convictions. I have them. But I think it’s human nature to feel a giddiness in professing ourselves right and to turn a blind eye to the vacuums of logic we also hold.
I think this is evident in much of the discourse in our society at all levels, in politics, business and personal interaction.
Too often, an individual becomes a non-factor once his collective identity is stamped on his forehead. And the listener no longer listens, but fumes, ignoring his own void of knowledge regarding an individual and dressing that person in the uniform of a collective enemy.
Too often, individuals settle for the collective stamp on the head, not thinking things through for themselves.
This is true of people, both liberal and conservative. I think this is true of us all at times. We feel comfort in allying ourselves with the right and dressing down the wrong.
In our feeling of elation that accompanies being right, we fail to see that our rightness is always tempered with something else — the heavy weight of our own ignorance regarding what happens inside others.
I think we’re better off if we realize that we drag that ignorance with us everywhere we go.
I feel better about myself if I remember my father’s advice, to not just “feel that way” about those I do not know, to recognize the difference between the baby and the wise old grandmother and to strive to be like the latter.
Zach Mitcham is an editor with MainStreet Newspapers.


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