Vol.XII No.IV Pg.8
June 1975

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

Friends tell me I should take the fifth on this article but, as Walt Whitman might say, I share with you my good; I share with you my bad.

We were seated in a booth at an ice cream parlor on the west coast when loud screams and laughter were heard at the front. Beauty and the Beast had entered — a beautiful lady in an evening gown, accompanied by a man (?) dressed in a tuxedo, but wearing a realistic hairy ape mask and gloves. (We wildly guessed him to be an extra from Planet of the Apes.)

As they passed between tables, he richly enjoyed leering at the ladies and clawing at the men — an uproarious time. It was all in fun and no harm done. But when he did his act at our table and then sat down directly behind me, I had what seemed at the time a great idea. Without considering the consequences, this uncouth delinquent leaned toward the apes feet and barked a reasonable imitation of a junkyard dog fight.

It embarrassed my wife; the local preacher and his wife thought I had gone stark raving mad; but that ape man almost jumped out of his skin. He uttered a short cry of terror, pulled his feet up onto the seat beside him, and looked in vain for his assailant. The whole place burst into laughter.

But jokes that hurt people, however unintentional, have no lasting appeal to me. When that fellow realized he had been taken he dropped that hairy head into his hands and laid against the table. His night of triumph had passed, thanks to a man who barked without thinking. And seeing this, I felt terribly sorry for whoever was behind that mask, and my fun was over also. He left quietly while we were getting our order, and I may never have opportunity to show him my couth and linquent side.

Would it not have been better to have played his game, laughing with him, so we both could have had an enjoyable evening? I think so. Is it good always to win over other people? I think not. In our competitive society where winning is the name of the game this is downright heresy. But winning doesnt always prove greatness, nor are conquerors the only ones who can afford to be gracious. In character building, in building for eternity, the gracious are the conquerors (Phil. 2:4). Magnanimity can not grow in selfish soil.