Avoid entrapment by conversational predators

Published 11:14 pm Friday, January 11, 2008

By Staff
Introverted columnist issues call-to-arms
Writing a column is, by its very nature, a narcissistic endeavor. By choosing to do so each week, I have made a vain assumption that people will actually care what I have to say (uh, write).
Believe it or not, I’m a very private person. I am shy and introverted, but I hide it well. I think it is a coping mechanism born of necessity. (Have I mentioned I’m the youngest of six?) As much as I would like to say criticism doesn’t bother me, I must admit to skin as tough as soap bubbles.
Yet, still, I write. And, still, you read (heartfelt thanks to all three of you).
So what do I care? Each week that passes and I’m not stoned or fired only emboldens me. I’m getting in touch with my inner self here. I’m exorcising demons, I’m settling scores, I’m tellin’ it like it is and takin’ my message to the people, baby!
So, to answer your question; the reason I’m willing to mock myself is because I know — even as flawed as I am — there are many of you who are like me. (Cue overly-orchestrated music swelling to a dramatic fanfare … on three … one, two …) “Let us now rise together and stake our claim in this world. Well-disguised-introverted-shy-folks-of-the-greater-original-Washington-area, UNITE!”
(I sense an awkward moment for us all.)
Onward … .
Have you ever been approached by someone who already knows all of the answers to questions they are about to ask you? Their intent is to catch you in a lie. Like a sneaky trial attorney, they set you up with a series of questions to entrap you in conversational quicksand.
The following is an imagined conversation with a fictional person. “Mrs. Forthright” is a composite of people I have encountered throughout my life. Like a trooper behind a billboard, she’s a predator in hiding, ready to bust you when you least expect it.
(I use a church setting because it is a common frame of reference for many, and because it seemed to work well for Dana Carvey years ago.)
Yes, I’ve missed a couple of weeks.
No, I was here three weeks ago, but sat in the balcony …
Well, I didn’t realize anyone was counting, Mrs. …. Who are you?
My salary is none of your business.
Uh, excuse me?
I’m tempted, but would never strike a woman, especially in church.
Ma’am, I don’t think I’m the one who needs help.
Lady, you’re way out of line!
I know what that must feel like now.
You are making me very uncomfortable, lady. I’ll have you know that when I can’t make it to church, I have time alone with God at home.
As expected, my brothers had a few choice words about last week’s column that portrayed them as jealous, crybaby siblings.
Good one, bro’. Why don’t you write your own column — for first-graders?
Ray McKeithan is associate publisher of the Washington Daily News. If you have questions or comments about operations, policies or content in the WDN that can be addressed in future columns, please send an email to: ray@wdnweb.com or call 252 -940-4205.