It’s funny how many titles are assigned to people throughout their or your life. Some people are called pretty or handsome while others are given unkind names referring to their appearance. Individuals could be labeled as mean or disrespectful while still others are thought of as kind and considerate. As a society we seem to love labels. When they are accurately applied they tend to stick. That’s actually not the point of this blog, although it seems like it could have been. There are few people in my life I hold in high esteem. My father happens to be one of them. He has many labels but there is one that his children, relatives and former colleagues would universally use on him. It is a label surprisingly used little in our society. My father is wise. To be fair, he is extraordinarily intelligent as well but the things he taught me over the years fall more in line with wisdom. One afternoon in particular changed my life. We had a few giant black walnut trees in our back yard and some of the limbs had died. One of considerable size came down in a storm and thankfully missed our garage but my father and I went out there to saw it into firewood. I was 18 and would be leaving for college in a month. I knew everything about the world and nothing all at the same time. My father asked no questions but instead started teaching as we worked. He said there were some simple lessons to learn and if I followed them I would have a long, prosperous career with good friends one day. The first thing he said was, “If you want to keep your friends, never talk about politics or religion.” I tried to protest but was cut off repeatedly. “But…” “NO.” “But…” “Never!” The point was made. Next he said, “You see a pretty woman. How do you compliment her?” Was this a trick question? I was an 18 year old boy with raging hormones. Still, I focused. “Um…I could say her shirt…” “Wrong answer. You were just slapped, fired or both. Try again.” I thought hard. “Her smile. Tell her she has a pretty smile.” “Wrong again. Not only are the first two things happening but you might be getting sued as well.” “So what can I say?” He tilted his head to the side and looked at me. Then he said, “Did you do something different with your hair? Then wait for a response. She will always say something. Then finish with ‘It’s most striking.” I was hooked. “What else should I know about work etiquette?” He continued to saw and every little while would give me a nugget of gold. “Never drink with your boss no matter how much they ask. As hard as you try, you will end up saying the wrong thing and the next morning your boss will wake up only remembering what you said. If you must go be the designated driver. No one can say anything against you for that.” “Don’t accept gifts from vendors doing business with you unless your boss tells you it’s alright. You might see it as a poinsettia at Christmas but the company might look at it as a kickback.” “When you eat a business lunch, never order anything that comes with sauce. You don’t want everyone spending the day looking at the spot on your tie. Also never order pasta. There is no way to eat it without someone being offended in a group.” “Find out if your boss drinks and give them a bottle of their favorite alcohol for Christmas. Make sure to wrap it so they don’t look like a lush. It’s rare to find a person in authority who doesn’t like to let off a little steam at home. This way when they do it, they’ll be reminded of you in a pleasant way.” “Try never to date a girl who is friends with an old girlfriend…they talk and if one is your old girlfriend, there’s probably a reason she is. You’re already dead in the water with the new one.” So I asked, “In a non-work setting like say college, what’s a good way to compliment a woman without getting slapped or blown off. My dad laughed. “That question is as old as Adam and Eve. What I always found worked best was this. At your age the girls love to wear perfume. Be sure you smell something before you say anything and then say, ‘Pardon me but what fragrance are you wearing?’ Whatever her response is you say, ‘Ah, it’s very subtle.’ After she thanks you then you introduce yourself. If you want it to work better, go to the perfume counter at the department stores and ask what the best sellers are. Then get samples for free and go home to memorize the scents. If you can name them it has a powerful effect.” I went to college and memorized nearly 50 different perfumes. I could walk up to a girl at a party and say, “Pardon me, is that the perfume ‘Poison’ you’re wearing…It’s very subtle. By the way my name is…” It worked EVERY SINGLE TIME. After that I could do no wrong. I became “The Icebreaker” for my friends at parties. I don’t believe he meant my powers to be used for evil but he also left me with a warning. “Son, there are a lot of girls out there. Just remember a difference. There are girls you bring home and there are girls you bring home to Mom. Stay away from the first group.” Like I said, what a wise man.
Fantasy fiction is my passion. This series embodies my love for a good story and action. You will find it to be many things, but not boring! Read what you love and love what you read...