In my own little way, I would like to contribute to civilized discourse by declaring Friday, September 13, to be National “Just Say Touche” Day.
“Touche,” of course, is defined by the Collins English Dictionary as “an acknowledgment that a scoring hit has been made in a fencing competition” or “an acknowledgment of the striking home of a remark or the capping of a witticism.”
Perhaps some of the rancor and stalemate of modern life (in Washington and Main Street alike) could be counteracted by occasionally releasing a heartfelt “touche!” at the appropriate time in an argument.
True, this goes against human nature. Most of us harbor a macho “never let them see you sweat” mentality. (This was apparently borrowed from a Gillette Dry Idea antiperspirant campaign. I guess it beats an “I am stuck on Band-Aid” philosophy.)
We can’t give an inch, show an ounce of weakness or give anyone the benefit of the doubt. We have to treat touche (or “good point” or “I can’t argue with that”) as being as abhorrent to utter as “I love you” or “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”
The standard game plan is to increase our volume, totally ignore inconvenient facts, change the subject or dredge up irrelevant distractions.
Let’s say someone has breathlessly demanded the construction of a budget-busting new school, twice as big as the current one and able to hover in air like the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier in the Avengers movie. You calmly point out that the state auditor has determined that your school-age population and tax base will both decrease by 50 percent in the next decade, and that absolutely no one wants to buy bonds from your community.
You can expect one of these answers:
• “...and then for our next, more ambitious project...”
• “REPEATING, WE NEED A SCHOOL TWICE AS BIG THAT WILL HOVER...”
• “Oh, swell — you’re going to give more credence to your so-called experts than to the throbbing in my left big toe!”
• “Can’t afford it? How about that time you swore you were broke and found two quarters under the sofa cushion, huh, huh?”
• “You homophobe!”
Judging from all the medical case histories I’ve examined, no one has ever died from swallowing his pride. No one has ever ripped his rotator cuff by tossing the other side a bone. Being magnanimous and giving the other side a modicum of credit has never diminished anyone’s self-worth.
A little humility could work wonders in solving stalemates, both public and private. If we demonstrate that truth and logic matter to us, perhaps others will be more willing to give us useful input and an open-minded reception. Many a costly game of one-upmanship could be avoided.
On September 13, start an annual tradition of interjecting “touche!” into a debate, and making the world just a little bit nicer and more productive.
I didn’t schedule the date this way on purpose, but it would be a nice way to honor my late grandmother, Minnie Adams.
(“I haven’t seen any proof she’s your grandmother.” “I’d like to discuss this further, but ...uh, I think I left the iron plugged in on the Helicarrier.” “You Islamophobe!”)
*Sigh* Anyone for “Just Say Touche” Year?
Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”.