March 1, 2024
2 mins read

Signals are crucial to our wellbeing.  They govern our decisions, tell us when to approach, when to withdraw, when to swerve to avoid disaster, or to desist from making a bad situation worse.  It behooves us, therefore, to recognize them and (hopefully) learn from our missteps.  

Take business etiquette, for example.  An experienced job applicant watches for signs.  When the man behind the desk rises to his feet and extends his hand, it means the interview is over.  That’s the applicant’s cue to stand as well, shake the interviewer’s hand, and bring his business spiel to a tidy conclusion.  He ought to know that forcing the conversation into double overtime after the meeting has officially ended will NOT win him additional points, and may, in fact, cost him the few he’s already earned.  Some believe that dogged persistence shows strength of character and opens doors.  However, unless you’re super confident or super motivated (I’m neither), your safest bet is to follow protocol and mind your manners.  When it’s time to leave, LEAVE!  If you’ve made a good impression, there’s always a chance the man will invite you back.  If not, move on.

In matters of romance, the same basic principles apply, but they’re often difficult to discern, still harder to accept. Case in point: When your old college flame, whom you’ve traveled an inordinate distance to see, spends the better part of the weekend with her hair rolled in Campbell’s soup cans, gabbing on the phone with some dude you’ve never heard of, it’s a not-so-subtle indication that the relationship, affair, or whatever you thought you had going for you, has gone south. And that the chick who was positively nuts about you back in the day, has long since sobered up and seen you for what you are. (Sorry, guy!) 

Turning a blind eye while you’re being dumped on only invites further abuse.  An objective observer would advise you to walk.  And if you have any sense and wish to maintain your self-respect, you should do so without whining.  To stubbornly appeal to the girl’s kinder nature at this point, or demand an explanation for her behavior and insist that she acknowledge the colossal injustice she’s perpetrating, is crass and undignified. Once you see that a prime “position” has been filled, or that you’ve been replaced by an applicant, or suitor, worthier than yourself, that’s your cue to make like a dog and “BOW-OUT.”  Failure to do so when your time is up is tantamount to leaving the job interviewer standing by the door with an outstretched hand, while you rattle on and on about your qualifications.  Not cool!   

Listen: Parking your sorry butt in the proverbial threshold, once the door has closed on you, will NOT reinstate you into anyone’s affections.  I learned this lesson the hard way, so I’ll try to make it easy for you.  Don’t play the chump.  Don’t overstay your welcome.  Don’t embarrass yourself in front of the people you’re trying to impress. If you’re as special as you want them to think you are, they might just offer you a second chance. They MIGHT. Unless, of course, you piss the hell out of them the first time around and give them no reason to do so.  In that case, bid them “Ta-ta!” and be gone. Lick your wounds later.

When the future Mrs. G. graced my life some 45 years ago, everything about me changed. For once, I understood what love was…and unconditional acceptance.  I began clearing my cache of old habits, putting other’s needs before my own, embracing happiness instead of defeat. I purged all associations with my former life, even learned to LIKE myself! So I’m still not perfect. Who is? But this much I do know: That clueless, insensitive sap that sabotaged my life has never darkened anyone’s threshold again.

Ted has been a regular contributor to FT since 2010. His pieces have also appeared in The San Jose Mercury News, The Monterey County Herald, Wilde Times, The Gamut and The Fringe. Born in New York City, the former stage actor and retired postal worker lives with his wife in Seaside, California. So far, he has authored two volumes of fiction and a collection of essays, which are available on Amazon. Copies of his works have been flying off the shelf! Unfortunately, they all landed on the floor and had to be picked up.


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