A buddy of mine called me the other day. A local college baseball coach, he was sad that a woman he liked and had dated twice told him the dreaded four words: “Let’s just be friends.”
“Oh bro…never a good thing,” I said, as I settled into the couch, awaiting the gory details.
“Friends. That should be right next to the other “f” word as a curse.”
“She was too young for you, anyway.”
She was frickin 44!”
“As I said, she was too young. Hate to break it to you, but we’re considered old-timers,” I said, trying to impart some compassion…and reality.
“I don’t know what I did wrong,” he said.
“You didn’t have to do anything wrong. It’s chemistry, man. Just wasn’t a good mix.”
“Ah, the hell with it. I just needed to talk to someone before I headed out.”
“Where ya going?”
“To a bar in Studio City. It’s cougar night.”
“Yeah. Gonna see what kind of biology and chemistry mix I can stir up with some of the shorties.”
“Well, you do know you’re at cougar age yourself, so they uh…umm…”
“Will be looking for someone younger? Jeez Kramer, kick me when I’m down. Stomp on me why don’t cha?”
I texted him a little later.
“Look at it like this: Being told “no” gives you knowledge. Puts you in the know. You’re that much smarter for your next woman.”
No comment from him…he must have been on the prowl. But I glanced at that line I wrote: “No” gives you knowledge.” And then a more discerning look at the word, knowledge.
Take a close look at the word. What’s the first thing that jumps out at you? “Know”, right? It’s right there in the beginning, staring you in the face. Daring you to argue. Stuck in the middle of the word is our favorite word, “no.” No escaping it folks.
To be told “no” puts you in the “know.” You may not agree with hearing “no” but in some sense if offers up an education for you if you follow up with the ever popular rebuttal, “But why?”
And then you’ll hopefully become more informed…unless the “educator” has turned his or her back on you and walked away as an exclamation point to the “no.” Still with me? Please don’t tell me, “no.”
Let’s examine the second syllable of knowledge: “ledge.” Another three-for-one there. “Led”, “edge” and the all inclusive, “ledge.”
Hearing “no” shouldn’t mean that you’re led to the edge of the ledge with the theoretic and dramatic jumping off a cliff threat. Maybe the negative response will lead you to the edge of your breaking point…I dunno. Just keep it in check, and learn from it so that the next time someone comes to you with a differing opinion, or your kid wants to go swimming right after eating, you can put them in the know by saying, “no. Feels good to have that kind of knowledge, yes?
Breaking the word down further: the word “owl” is in there. So is the word “ow”. Yes, sometimes it hurts to be told no but in the long run it wises you up like that wise old owl perched on the ledge of the knowledge tree.
I have a dry erase board in my office and my buddy came over the next day. The ol’ baseball coach had struck out at Cougar Night.
“Just wasn’t in the game, man,” he said, as he popped off the top to a Snapple Iced Tea and slumped on the couch.
“Hey, sometimes you gotta ride the pines…take a night off from playing the field.”
I loved my analogy. He didn’t. “You been saving that one, huh?” he asked, as he rubbed his eyes.
“Well, I thought it was clever. But I got something better: check this out.” I bounded over to the dry erase board, picked up a marker and peered at him over my shoulder. “I think you’re gonna love this, coach.”
I spoke the words as I wrote them, tapping some of the key words for emphasis just like my teachers used to do if they thought something was really, I mean really important. And I guess to keep the students’ attention.
Anticipating his acknowledgment of my discovery, I wrote down my breakdown of the word to the smallest parts, the nuances, the words that might help him…and me – if I really pay attention to my deciphering of the word.
After admiring my work for a few seconds I turned to look at my “student” for approval. And what I saw was what countless other teachers have seen in their lives: A student fast asleep. Only this one was on a couch with an empty Snapple Iced Tea on his lap and a little bit of spittle dribbling down his chin.
Frustrated that he wasn’t listening to my lecture, I placed the marker down, threw a blanket on him, and sulked out of my office. I was now in the know as to what it felt like to have me as a student all those years ago…and bummed to be in the know with that knowledge.