Bob Garner: Johnny one-note
Sunday, May 13, 2018
I could make a case that no one has ever been more persistently argumentative than me.
Now I’m reaping what I’ve sowed, right there in the exact same weedy, thorny field known as Facebook. Yes, a troll is lurking, determined to exact a toll in the form of my agreement with his theories.
In my earlier enthusiasm, I used to imagine that “trolling” was one form of fishing for people. I’m only recently realizing that even without guile, it was more like trying to get them to “rise to the bait.”
The “luring” interpretation actually was how the term was used in the early days of social media. Then it changed to describe a malicious figure repeatedly demanding the tribute of assent.
It took me forever to catch on. God has a real sense of irony and humor, and I really have no choice but to laugh along with him. God, I mean, not the troll.
An old Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart song called “Johnny One-Note” had lyrics no doubt drawn from an even older joke — the one about the fiddler who claimed all other musicians were only searching for the perfect note, while he had found it.
“Poor Johnny one-note, yelled willy nilly … Until he was blue in the face. For holding one note was his ace.”
I once heard an eminently sensible man say, “If someone asks, or the moment seems appropriate, state your position quietly, respectfully and briefly. Once. Don’t keep on about it until they seek more, because it doesn’t strengthen with repetition.”
In the military, a subordinate may express a position contrary to that of his superior officer or non-com up to a point. Beyond that, there may be a reputation for insubordination that gray-heads of the particular service will have to settle in some unpleasant manner.
The ones who figure out where that point lies become the gray-heads.
In civilian life, it’s usually wise to choose the quiet, subordinate position in both worldview and tactics. The last shall be first, and all that.
You don’t want the Scoutmaster thinking you’re arguing during a hike about who’s right and will thus achieve the greatest rank. Especially if the leader is too far ahead to hear you audibly … but somehow knows anyhow. He might ask you about it later around the campfire. Whoa!
To use another analogy, if there aren’t enough early common interests and views for someone to agree to go out with you, it makes little sense to keep asking them on dates using the same lines. News flash: THEY AREN’T GOING OUT WITH YOU. PERIOD!
Not now anyway. Find people to date who can grasp and appreciate what you’re saying at this moment in time. See whether relationships develop with any in particular. The person you asked out earlier may come around later, but if they do, it won’t be because you waited for them under that bridge.
Relationship is indispensable. Anything else is only creepy.
The perfect amount of salt adds wonderful savor to food. Using salt without care and restraint may preserve meat and other foods, but it will grievously harm you, to say nothing of ruining many budding relationships. The things preserved into ossification could be your opinions and attitudes.
Thoughtful, balanced discussion can throw a lot of light on most subjects. But if the tongue — the voltage regulator, if you will — isn’t working right, repetitive argument produces only damaging heat, not illumination.
“OK, your superior arguments have caused me to change my mind and come over to your side.”
Said no one ever. Ha-ha-ha.
Bob Garner is a UNC-TV restaurant reviewer, freelance food writer, author of four cookbooks, barbecue pit master and public speaker. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.