Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Yesterday on the subway en route to swimming, Little Guy was telling me about a kid in his class who was getting on his nerves. I could tell this was heading into a rant, so I stopped the tirade with a shrug and my by-now stock comment, "Hey, everywhere you go in life there's going to be at least one annoying person."

The people surrounding us laughed out loud. Guess they'd never thought of it that way. But what are the statistical odds that in any given group of people every single person is going to be pleasant? Life's a lot easier when you assume that there will always be someone in the room you'd rather not have to deal with.

I once saw a book in a catalog called How to Hug a Porcupine. I love that title. I've remembered it for over a decade, though I never read the book. There are almost always ways to get along with prickly people safely. The key is remembering that the goal is to get along with them, rather than make them go away. (Once in a while distance really is the best solution. But not always.)

Like many people, I have occasional quill-like tendencies. As a young adult, I congratulated myself on having blunted most of them. Then I had kids, and discovered I have more prickles than I'd previously imagined. Kids'll do that to you: reveal your flaws. It's one of the good things about having children.


  1. If I am prickly, how do I get along with myself?

  2. Hmmm... maybe you're just... stuck?