There’s a principle in sports known as “muscle memory.” Athletes practice certain movements until performance occurs without conscious thought. In my experience, the same principle applies to speech as well. I craft responding dialogue for specific professional and personal situations and rehearse the words until they become second nature. I’m then able to seamlessly recite the language upon hearing the applicable trigger. Under the right circumstances, my listeners believe I’m a polished, spontaneous orator. Under the wrong circumstances …? You’ll have to ask those on the receiving end, I suppose, starting with the lady I conversed with this morning.
For a guy who’s never been known as a babe magnet, I spend a lot of time practicing gentle but firm rejections for imaginary women daring to hit on me. I’ve devised “thanks but no thanks” pieces for female friends who might mistake my platonic affection for something more. I’ve done the same for female doctors who might touch me in a manner not strictly necessary for a medical diagnosis. And latest, but not least, I’ve honed a polite declination for a single woman who wants me because I’m married.
I added the latter dialogue to my repertoire after hearing a divorcing client’s confession. Specifically, he admitted to an affair with a woman who dated only married men. Upon learning such a species exists, I moved the “yes I’m married, but I don’t date” speech to the top of my roster. I’ve practiced the words so many times I could say them in my sleep. Until today though, I’d never had a chance to use them.
This morning, an attractive blonde asked me: Are you married?”
Upon hearing the trigger for my rejection speech, I reflexively launched the apologetic rebuff: “Yes, I’m married. But I’m not the kind of husband who cheats; and as tempting as it sounds, I have no interest in pursuing casual sex or any sort of uncommitted relationship with another woman, no matter how beautiful.”
My listener seemed taken aback at first, but she quickly gathered herself together and replied: “Thanks for the information. But as an accountant, I just need to know if you’ll be filing joint tax returns this year.”