Monday, May 6, 2013

Converstation* (for Conversation*)

They say communication is the key to a successful relationship, but let's be honest now (pretend you're under oath): many people (I'm talking to you, guys!) don't always like to do this all the time. For that reason, it might be a good idea to have certain rules and boundaries in place in order to govern both the mundane chitchat and the inevitable arguing. And maybe even a special place in which to do all that—a "converstation" (if you will). I confess I'm somewhat partial to judge shows and find myself rather entranced by the pixie-ish Lynn Toler, the current diva of daytime TV's Divorce Court. She's funny and fierce, and can rock a chunky-looking necklace or Wilma Flintstone-style choker better than anyone I've ever seen (although she says she has sensitive skin and only dons the jewelry under duress). Maybe it's the stark contrast with the black judicial robes, sort of like a Muslim in a burqa with designer sunglasses or fashion stilettos on. I almost feel like tuning in just to see what she's wearing, if not underneath, then just above that unvarying attire. But there's so much more to her than that. The other day she was commiserating with a man whose irritating wife had left him for another woman, and then tried to sue him for some confabulated prior abuse. He mentioned "conversing" with his ex, whereupon the judge interrupted him to say: "Thank you for not calling it conversating. I really appreciate that!" Lynn Toler has a lot of empathy for women who suffer at the hands of abusive men, but she is just as unstinting in reverse if she thinks the woman is at fault. She often talks about her own difficult childhood in Columbus, Ohio, and claims to have had her "first nervous breakdown" at the tender age of ten or so. In 2007, she published the book My Mother's Rules: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Emotional Genius. Choosing wisely what to say—and how, when, and why to say it—is very important. But let's also not underestimate where. It never hurts to be comfortable in these scenarios, no matter what one's station is in life. As one fan noted on the judge's blog: "The chair behind you looks comfy enough for a nap!" Judge Toler has got a knack for putting both of her litigants at ease, often facilitating constructive conversation in the courtroom, and hopefully later on between the sparring spouses. There were seven cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 101 in WorldCat.

(Exhibit A, your Honor, taken of my own TV screen.)

Carol Reid

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