“I argue very well. Ask any of my
remaining friends. I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent.
People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their
great respect, they don’t even invite me.” — Dave Barry


This self-disclosure prompted Curious George to check
around to see just how closely the quotation aligned with reality. The first
step was to check with a couple of Barry’s remaining friends. Let it suffice to
note that a second step was not possible, due to an inability to complete the
first. CG confronted Barry, “As it turns out, no one will admit to being your
friend, remaining or not.” To that, Barry turned red in the face and said, “I
for sure have three remaining friends. I used to have more but it has gotten to
where three is all I can afford. Your not finding them is hardly my fault.
Never attribute your incompetence to mine. Remaining friends aside, I can still
win an argument on any topic, against any opponent; and if you want to push the
point, we’ll just take it outside.”


CG was tempted to get it on with Barry but remembered Dale
Carnegie’s advice, “Why prove to a man he is wrong? Is that going to make him
like you? Why not let him save face? He didn’t ask for your opinion. He didn’t
want it. Why argue with him? You can’t win an argument, because if you lose,
you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? You will feel fine. But what
about him? You have made him feel inferior, you hurt his pride, insult his
intelligence, his judgment, and his self-respect, and he’ll resent your
triumph. That will make him strike back, but it will never make him want to
change his mind.”


CG just smiled at Barry and calmly said, “Hey Dave, taking it
outside would do nothing but make us feel inferior, insult our intelligence,
our judgment, and our self-respect. We are diplomats, not parking lot brawlers.
Besides, it’s raining out there; and although you’re already all wet, I’m
definitely not; and I plan to stay that way.” On that note, CG quietly walked away.


It was a few days later and Barry was hanging out at the
library, by himself, of course. The friend thing really had gotten way to
expensive to bother with anymore. He was just randomly flipping through first
one book and then another when he ran across the words of Caskie Stinett,
“Diplomat: A person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you
actually look forward to the trip.” He smiled to learn that it was Bisaac
Goldberg who said, “Diplomacy is to do and say the nastiest thing in the nicest
way;” but the smile became a chuckle when he discovered these words from the
famous Anon. “Diplomacy: The business of handling a porcupine without
disturbing the quills.”


As Barry closed the book and left the library, a quote from
Aesop kept flashing back, “He that always gives way to others will end in
having no principles of his own.” He thought to himself, “It’s also true
that he that never gives way to others will end in having no friends; but
that’s not a problem for me. It costs far less to be a simple porcupine
handler. Even better, I’ll get new business cards that say, ‘Dave Barry:
Diplomat’.”