McKeithan Column

Published 7:39 am Friday, February 22, 2008

By Staff
Role-playing necessary in ’Coon dog world
How to be the boss at home
In the theater of life, we play many different roles.
As William Shakespeare famously said, “’Tis wrong to go ’round acting like a ’coon dog if’n you ain’t got no sense ’nuff what to stop chasing your tail.” For those of you who aren’t versed in the classics, this means that fine hunting breeds lose the respect of other dogs, and cats, when they got no sense ’nuff what to stop chasing their tails.
If only everything in life could be this simple.
Whether you like it or not; you must act according to different roles, depending on the audience. If you’re the boss at work, you’re very unlikely to be the boss at home (if you have a wife, and/or children). This is a long-accepted theory among psychiatrists, efficiency experts and divorce attorneys.
The way to be the boss at home is by asserting your authority. You must take charge. Let me show you how this works. When your wife says, “take this cloth and go clean the baseboards.” You say, “Heck, NO! I’m going to use MY OWN cloth to clean the baseboards!” Similarly, when she tells you to shut up, continue to make talking noises with your mouth closed. You’ll show her.
The key to success in life — I read this somewhere — is figuring out which role you must play, and when to play it. Most of us “normal” people are forced to take a subservient role, depending on the situation. At work, you must answer to either your employer or your customer. In other phases of life, your accountant, nutritionist or parole officer may place limits on your conduct and actions.
No man is an island, entire of itself. (I made that up*.)
There are a few independent souls in this world who refuse to play the game of life. Such a person might not be an island; but you’d think he’d rather be on one … alone. He is true to himself — only. (The rest of the world be darned.) This personality type is usually reclusive, has a significant weapons cache and displays the Tasmanian Devil sticker on his truck window. If such a person should ever converse, it’s usually to complain or threaten, or to vote on a motion at a county commissioners’ meeting**.
Of them, people often remark, “Yeah, so-and-so is a real jerk, but at least you know where you stand with him.” Call me crazy, but I’m OK with not knowing where I stand with you. If you can be civil and polite, even though you’re thinking, “Ray’s an ignorant, no-writing, whining, little gnome of a man,” that works for me.
You will always be perceived, and treated, differently by your immediate family than by those with whom you work. In my case, I seriously doubt I have the “Sweet Li’l Ray” moniker among the folks at the newspaper. I’m not in the little brother role, here. It takes leadership, decisiveness and focus to do my job. I have used all of these skills to effectively run this newspaper (into the ground. Thankfully, the employees here are capable of quickly offsetting any harm that I cause. Yet, still, I blame them for all problems.)
Experience and wisdom come with knowing how to define your role on any stage. Those who are successful find contentment. Those who are not, watch Dr. Phil every day.
I’m convinced “The Great Circle of Life” is merely a metaphor for folks like me struggling to reconcile their different life-roles. We go ’round and ’round chasing our tails like a ’coon dog that “ got no sense ’nuff what to stop.”
* Not really.
** That’s my last county commissioner joke. Promise. (Fingers crossed.)
What I’ve learned this week: