Recently I have had to enlist the art of fence sitting. No not actually sitting on a fence, which is not as easy or as comfortable as it looks on TV. No I’m talking about the art of keeping your opinion to yourself to preserve a friendship, relationship, family ties and so on. Unless your friend asks for you opinion and you can’t say something in the positive, please don’t give your opinion out loud.
Even if the rear end self-bedazzled pants she is wearing in grand style which you know would surely attract lightning bolts from miles around, is dangled in front of you. Knowing she is waiting to hear what your opinion is of the design that is making your head swim and your tummy do flip flops, please don’t offer up one word. Just sit on the fence about it.
Unless you truly want to never again have a sane relationship with your neighbor do not tell them that they seem to be too noisy, smelly, trashy, too popular with the opposite sex, do not do their gardening right or have the wrong type of car. In other words keep your nose on your own side of the fence. Even if it is an imaginary fence.
Let’s face it we love to give our two cents worth. But how many of us like to get that same two cents worth laid on our door steps? I’m betting not one. Sure when shopping with friends you might have been asked when your best friend steps out of the dressing room smiling what you think of the hot eye popping yellow blouse that would blind the sun and that is a bit snug as the buttons leave gaps wide enough to see her grand canyon. Or of the hat when your friend really does not have a hat wearing head. We all have seen non hat head people who when they wear a hat, it just looks like a raccoon is sitting there waiting to be put out of its’ misery. Don’t offer up that the blouse looks like the yolk of an ostrich egg was thrown at you friend or the hat looks like the dead road kill you passed on your way to the shopping mall. The correct answer just might be, “Well… What do you think of it?” All the while you are smiling. It is important that you do not nod in the positive or negative, just smile. That my friend is the art of fence sitting.
I learned about one type of fence sitting when we were participating in what at the time seemed to be very important State legislature business. Today I remember it as only a few days of seeing what politics can or more often cannot accomplish. As I am sure you can sometimes agree it truly is a miracle that there was only one color of ink at the signing of the Declaration of Independence or we would still be waiting for the politicians to agree on black. Anyway…
During that political experience I saw a man roam around in room full of people who were unequivocally on two different sides of an issue. He for some reason gave out apples to everyone, agreeing wholeheartedly with each person. We still talk of that fence sitter. Just think; from Johnnie Appleseed going tra-la tra-la across the country dropping apple seeds, then over years of cultivation, growing trees, buds flowering spring after spring giving way to luscious red apples that grew bigger and redder by the day, ripening in crisp fall air in orchards farmed with care by farm families for who knows how many generations, to being used by a man to put himself in a light that only he saw was bright. The rest of us saw him as just a fence sitter.
Fence sitting is designed to keep peace in the valley of your life. So give out all the apples you want, just do it because you know that giving a friend an apple a day will not only keep the doctor away it will keep their mouth full so they cannot answer you when you ask if the pants you are wearing make you look fat! They just smile as they sit on their fence, crunching away with gusto.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and comments with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.