A well-dressed, handsome suitor decided to treat his lady love to a leisurely rowboat ride across a clear, green lake on a fragrant spring afternoon.
She basked in glorious, butter-colored sunshine and in his attention. He placed a cushion on the seat for her and made sure there were cool drinks and nibbly bits of things to eat. Her comfort was his utmost concern.
Languidly, she stretched out her legs and kicked off her sandals. He engaged her in conversation about myriad things and laughed at her witty comments. She enjoyed his company and thought, I could spend the rest of my life with this man.
No sooner had that thought crossed her mind than a shadow passed over his face, and his mood shifted like a thundercloud passing over the sun. He fell silent and didn't engage in her attempt at small talk.
Increasingly alarmed after a few minutes of stilted conversation, she leaned forward and asked if he felt ill.
Without words, he glared at her. Yanking the oars back in, he stood while the little boat rocked precariously. He bailed. He leapt out, causing a great splash, then fully clothed, swam toward the middle of the lake, not the distant tree-lined shore.
Stunned, she gripped the splintered sides of the heaving vessel and called out, “Are you okay? Are you hurt? What is wrong?”
He curtly shouted,“I’m fine! Aren’t I allowed to go for a swim? Must you mother everything I do? Can’t I just be myself?”
What should she say?
What should she do?
The threatening thundercloud of his mood had changed without warning into a full-on squall with thunder and lightning. In shock, she questioned herself rather than him.
Did she misunderstand his intentions?
Maybe she misread his loving care all these weeks past.
Maybe he didn’t want to be with her after all and his mother made him do it. What kind of a remark was that anyway?
Maybe she smells bad.
While the drifting would-be lover floated and kicked and mumbled, his lady love took charge.
Removing herself from the cushioned seat, she tossed a life jacket in his direction and maneuvered herself onto the middle plank.
Gripping the oars, she checked for the closest shore to get away from his floundering self.
Her suitor angrily slapped the water on both sides of his bobbing body.
“What’s the matter?” he yelled. “Do you always have to be in control?”
This little story could end one of two ways.
#1: Looking in surprise over her shoulder, dripping oars suspended over rippling water, she replied, “Oh! I’m so sorry. Your jump was unexpected! Honestly, I'm not trying to control you. I thought you were mad at me for some reason and wanted to give you some space. I shouldn’t have second-guessed you. Please forgive me. Here, I’ll help you get back in. I’m so sorry. You take the oars of the boat and our relationship.”
#2: She flung a ferocious glance over her shoulder while she pulled hard at the oars like a woman on a mission. Sweat trickled down between her shoulder blades underneath her Egyptian cotton-covered back. Rather than yell, she let the breeze carry her strong voice, “Stuff you, Jack! If my father knew what you’d just done, he’d tan your worthless hide. You are 'allowed' to do anything you want to. But not with me. Swim home on your own, buster.”
Which would you choose?
"Flattery is like cologne water: to be smelt of, not swallowed."
Josh Billings (1818-1885)
"In all things there are three choices: yes, no and no choice, except in this — I either choose the truth or I am deceived."