Being Smart About Quick Wit

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We’ve all been there.  A bully picks on you and you’re too scared to fight back even with words.  Maybe a bit of repartee would put them in their place.  Those witty catch phrases and/or put-downs written in scripts and books alike turn the tables on any situation for the opponent.  If only we could think like those writers or easy-whited acquaintances in our lives.  Ever had a “DANGIT, if only I thought of saying this or that!” moment?  That would have showed ‘em, right?  Except sometimes playful banter doesn’t go over as well as it does in your head once it’s out in the open.

If you have read over my previous posts or my blogs (or know me at all), you know I can bring out the funny, but writing out a silly comment or personal story does not do justice to my quick wit.  Mostly because my mouth doesn’t shut when I’m around those near and dear, or when I’m SUPER uncomfortable.  Here are a couple examples:

Cursing in front of your mom isn’t the best idea.

My parents raised us knowing we’d get foul mouths eventually, but we didn’t need to show them off in front of them.  My mother complained when I said something was “freaking” awesome because it sounded too close to another F word.  Somewhere down my high school years when my sister, mom, and I were having dinner,   I apparently retorted to my mother  , “Well I didn’t say ‘crap,’ and that would have been better.”  Ooh that stern, “what did you say” look on her face still burns.  I had to give her a hug to apologize and pretend like I wasn’t crushed over that look.

Don’t ask me about my height if you don’t want to get wit-slapped.

Years ago, my mom was on a plane sitting next to a really tall young guy who had the best comeback for tallies like myself.  We get asked all the time if we’ve played basketball, volleyball, etc..  According to this quick-witted young man, all we need to do is bounce back this question:  “Do you play miniature golf?”  GENIUS!  Who is this fellow and how can I send him a hug over the Internet?   Occasionally I hate this tired joke, but I usually love it to death and back again.  But is it really worth those few seconds of table-turning?  That five-foot-nothing guy who asked me about volleyball just may be self-conscious of his own height.  Using this tired, tall joke is another way of hiding our own insecurities about our heights.

Most of what comes out of my mouth is for my own enjoyment in the moment than legitimate hate or bullying to society’s expense.  I’m only human when I admit I’ve had those “that would have shown ‘em” moments inside and outside my head.  Sometimes keeping your mouth shut only to fantasize that great comeback later seems less satisfying at the end of your fantasy.

Most likely, in a society where we sue for anything and petition for everything, taking offense will occur.  Typing out that joke online with no way of deducing intention can bite back through internet trolls.  That backhanded compliment was probably best kept to yourself than unintentionally insulting the easily-offended who blow things out of proportion.

“But it’s just a joke, they’ll get over it.”

If they were you, sure.  Where’s the perspective?  Bringing out a tired joke on new ears can be fun, but it’s almost always just for your benefit and you may look silly at best and mean at worst.  Sometimes your brain works so sharply that you don’t even know how hilarious you can be until the reaction you receive reveals a second thought was in order.  It’s all in the timing, the forethought, and the courtesy of others.  Will insulting your boss’s mother in a meeting turn out bad?  Probably.  Will a bit of light-hearted banter hurt everyone?  Probably not.  There’s always a line, and every line is different for everybody.  That brain of yours can be quick, but that doesn’t mean it’s always sharp.

About Mandy Norman

Mandy is a content manager and designer by day, and crafter/hobby writer/thinker by night. Her relationship with her cat, giraffes, music, and caffeine are borderline unhealthy, but nothing stops her from speaking her mind and “making things look pretty.” She mans two blogs in her spare time, whatmandythinks and whatmandyloves. See All of Mandy's Posts

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