Friday, May 30, 2008

Time to stop

The time to stop talking is when the other person nods his head affirmatively but says nothing. Henry S. Haskins, American writer and teacher, 1875-1957

I was searching for the source of another quote when I came across this one. It made me laugh, and I decided to go another direction entirely for this morning's post.

"What's so funny?" you might well ask. Well, not the quote itself, per se, but what it reminded me of.

A number of thoughts come to mind when you first read the above statement by Mr. Haskins.

Why is the other person nodding his head affirmatively?

... Perhaps he has fallen asleep. Are his eyes closed?
... Perhaps he is in total agreement with you and has nothing more to add.
... Perhaps he is in total disagreement with you, but is politely nodding and keeping silent out of friendship -- or, is too tired/uninterested to enter into a debate (you've had this particular discussion before, and he's nodding to try and encourage you to initiate a different topic).
... Perhaps he's daydreaming of a fun event he has planned later. His eyes are open, but his nods are anticipatory, only -- certainly not as any sort of response to what you've been saying.
... Perhaps his neck muscles have atrophied.

So what made me laugh? Well, I'm going to tell you. This is not a joke, and you don't have to be a bridge player to understand this story. What you do have to know, however, is that a deck of bridge cards consists of four 'suits' ... clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades. Sorting the cards into suits is always part of the very first lesson.

This particular event actually occurred in the 1970's, but it could have happened yesterday, could happen today, or even tomorrow. Timeless!!

In those years, I was working at the bridge studio part-time. Sometimes I'd be in the office doing paperwork, others I'd be either teaching beginners or directing duplicate bridge games.

This one evening I was in the office when Paul Hodge came in. He'd been teaching a beginning class, and had to leave to tell SOMEone the story before he lost it completely!

Paul's beginning bridge classes were usually filled to capacity, and this one was no exception. He had a wonderful way about him. Never felt the need to put anyone else down in order to build himself up, and always had an encouraging word. Students flocked to his classes!

The current class ran the usual gamut of eager, not-so-eager, apt, not-so-apt ... the norm. Paul was particularly encouraged by one gentleman in the class who seemed to be really 'getting it'. This gentleman never said anything, but he always paid close attention to what Paul was saying and every once in a while would nod sagely.

One evening (the night Paul almost lost it), the gentleman raised his hand to ask a question. It was probably the fifth or sixth week of class. Paul was really looking forward to his question. He thought to himself, "Boy, this is going to be a good one!"

Paul said, "Yes?"

The gentleman asked, "Paul, what's a spade?"

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