Blog post # 322 “LEFT-OVERS”

Irrespective of the degree of skill and creativity employed in the creation of an elegantly presented meal, its awarded, superlative descriptions, such as “artisinal” and “gourmet quality,” are severely degraded, to the common status of “left overs,” with respect to its uneaten surplus. In response to the question, “What’s for dinner?” the occasional answer,”Left overs,” often evokes an uncalled for, and manifestly unjust, expectation of an uninteresting and tiresome meal. The subject noun, in actual fact, is not, in any way, qualitative or judgmental; it is instead, a statement of factual and quantitative import. Moreover, it is a matter of  irrefutable, empirical experience, that if the initial meal was an exquisite one, the consumption of the uneaten excess will likewise, unquestionably, be enjoyable. The obverse is also unfortunately true; additionally, there always are some diners who do not  agree that the initial meal was truly deserving of its many bestowed-upon superlatives.

Taking the liberty of generalized metaphorical similarity, the problems associated with the retrospective evaluation of any human interraction [ statement or act] is our specific  subject of interest in this note. With regard to our convenient metaphor, (our regular readers are familiar with our unrepentant inclination to use metaphoric references) the extent of individual variations in taste, regarding food, are relatively limited and usually specific, while variations in perceptive evaluation of past statements appear to be virtually unlimited, and often non-specific.

Additionally, the recollection of parties themselves, as to the actual words they personally employed in a statement, may be inexact and vary significantly. There are countless instances, where parties have a specific subject matter in mind but, despite their avowed honestly, and stated firm recollection to the contrary, just never have expressed it clearly, if at all. It is infinitively more difficult to deny, or forget a specific dish, served as part of a meal, than to deny, or be obliged to affirm, a statement made in a conversation. These indeed constitute questionable and arguable” left overs.” It is not rare to hear contrary  statements such as, “You never told me” and “I did so” or ” You said…”  and the response “I did not.” From the point of view of nuanced perception, they both may be telling the truth (as each is honestly aware of it).

There would appear to be no prescribed antidote for the prevention of occasional misunderstandings. One needs to maintain his flexibility and willing understanding, in view of individual variations in the skill of clear expression of thoughts and intentions; the resultant, “left overs” or, recollection, of what we hear (or perceive we hear) may not be the specifically intended message. In matters of significance, especially when the other party’s mode, or style, of communication is unfamiliar us, it would be useful to request further details or clarification.  When matters are especially complex or sensitive, one might even, in a  courteous manner, attempt to restate the other person’s message or point of view to him, to assure confirmance of his understanding. Of course, an additional, major complication is that, as receptors, our accurate recollection, (our personal ” left overs”) is universally challanged by our (natural) subjective perception.

Evaluating last Sunday’s dinner left overs, is so much easier.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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