“Prepiquette,” by Commander Zero

“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” -Proverbs 17:28

-or-

“It is better to close your mouth and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” -unknown

-or-

“What need not be known should not be known.” -me

I am, to put it mildly, a socially awkward man. It’s easy to come across as glib and breezy from a keyboard, but in person unless I know you well – and sometimes even then – I am often alternately tongue-tied and ratchet-jawed. I seldom know the exactly right thing to say or do and sometimes careen wildly between nothing at all and the exactly wrong thing. I was virtually made to be a desert hermit. Cary Grant, I ain’t.

This trait unfortunately comes to the fore when faced with personal questions. I was an extremely private person even before slipping off the radar – now, I probably break a handful of federal and/or local laws before breakfast on an average day. I am strongly in favor of keeping the details of that to myself*.

But in social contact with other like-minded people, awkward questions and situations sometimes arise naturally. It’s nice to know that otherwise relatively normal people have these problems: They’re excruciating for me.

You’re a survivalist, Im a survivalist, we’re survivalists. And although we’re on the same page on a bunch of things, one of the things we really need to be on the same page about is privacy and not being offended when someone leaves you out of the loop, to a degree, to protect their privacy.

Example: I’d had some back-n-forth online with a fella for a while and we agreed to meet for lunch one day to talk about guns and generally get to hang out with like-minded individuals. As we wrapped it up and we were leaving the BBQ place, it turned out we were both walking in the same direction to our vehicles. And walking. And walking. And…walking. See, he didn’t want to get into his vehicle and have me know what he was driving (and, presumably, catching his license plate info) so he walked past his vehicle. And I walked past mine for the same reason. And…kept walking. We still laugh about that.

That situation would probably make no sense at all to normals. But normals are lame. Having done similar things myself, I laughed out loud.

The Commander offers some specific suggestions for conversation etiquette, to which I have nothing to add.


*Yes, yes, let’s have no undue fuss about how inconsistent that is with running what amounts to a lifestyle blog. While I’m throwing quotes around, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Since “Consistency” is actually my watchword, you could say inconsistency is written into my every day. :)

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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5 Responses to “Prepiquette,” by Commander Zero

  1. Fairly sure that was Mark Twain who said it was better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool.

  2. Joel says:

    It does sound like him. But the quote is attributed all over the place.

  3. jabrwok says:

    Consistency is a good thing. I don’t know how Emerson intended his statement to be interpreted (and he probably didn’t expect it to be mis-quoted to the degree that it is), but I’ve always read it as “being consistent when consistency is not warranted is foolish”. Frex: green means go, but going just because the light is green is stupid if one doesn’t look both ways.

    Of course you’re quite likely aware of all that, but I like to explicitly state it sometimes in case people haven’t thought through what the quote means. Plus I’m a bit pedantic:-D.

  4. Norman says:

    There’s nothing wrong with having some “canned” responses, and being in practice with them, to deflect questions one doesn’t wish to answer, and while it’s more awkward in real life than movies and TV, a poignant silence is no sin (claiming a hearing impairment compliments that, actually having the impairment makes it easy). There’s an art to controlling the conversation, a skill few of us are strong in, and reasonable cause to exercise caution when it is encountered.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So I read this , said to self: “Yep”, and chuckled for 5 minutes.

To the stake with the heretic!