Written by Frank Cotolo
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Wednesday, 23 June 2004

Opinions, it is said, are like elbows—everyone has two. Well, perhaps there are a few more one-armed men or women out there who have one, but that is the business of fictional characters like Richard Kimble, not me. I am concerned with criticism and you should be, too, because it usually doesn’t amount to a hill of beans what other people think of you. Let me spin a story for you that exemplifies this.

There was a businessman waiting to board a plane at an airport. He suddenly decided to perform an experiment. He walked up to a well-dressed gentleman and said, “Since you have never seen me before I'd like for you to look me over and give me an honest opinion about my appearance.”

"Well. Since you asked here’s what I think,” the stranger told the businessman. “First off, your glasses are outdated. People don’t wear that kind of thing any more. Next, what’s with that tie design? Lose the colors and go with solids, they would match your hair color better. Speaking of hair, did you just get out of bed or what? Run a comb through it now and again. And I see you have a bulky watch. You think you impressed me with that imitation piece of crap?”

“Thanks for your opinion,” the businessman said.

“I’m not done, pal. Look at those shoes. Thom McAnn have a fire sale? Couldn’t you spend a few more bucks and get a pair that wouldn’t make people vomit? Hey, get caps; your teeth are crooked. And don’t read magazines aloud, it annoys people around you.”

“Thanks, I appreciate …”

“You don’t know how to appreciate. I bet you swindle people, lie and smile at the same time. You probably ignore those destitute people who come up to you and ask for a dime while white stuff drips down the sides of their mouths. I’ll bet you kick dogs and sell crack to little kids…”

The businessman wound up and socked the stranger in the mouth. Teeth flew out, the stranger toppled to the ground, a crowd gathered and security guards rushed to the scene. The businessman said to the security guards, “That man is a pickpocket,” and they believed him and dragged the stranger away screaming.

So, don’t go asking any strangers what he or she might be thinking about you. It’s probably bad enough what your friends and family really think about you.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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