(Cell Phone vibration):
Arthur: "Wusup Jud?"
Jud: "Whatupppp? Whatchoo doin tonight?"
Arthur: "Not much; well I've gotta go to this party with a friend of mine."
Jud: "That sounds like fun. Who all is going?"
Arthur: "I'm not real sure. It just one of those thangs; you can probably come, if you want."
Jud: "I dunno; call me when yall are leaving."
Arthur: "Aight man; will do."
Do you recognize this dialogue? You should. It is something, in one form or another, we all do. This is the Friendly-Shady.
In respect to the above example, two things are obvious: 1) Jud didn't have much going on for the night and was down for whatever. 2) Arthur had plans that didn't include Jud and he meant to keep it that way. What wasn't so obvious, but is implied, is the mutual respect each of them had for both themselves and each other. Notice how the dialogue didn't go:
Jud: "Hey, what are you doing tonight?"
Arthur: "Going to a party with another friend."
Jud: "Cool. Can I come?"
Arthur: "No; you won't really know anyone there, I'm a second degree invite, you'd be a third degree invite and I don't want to have to end up babysitting you all night."
Jud: "OK. Thanks for saving me from a night full of awkward non-versations."
The conversation didn't happen like this because that isn't how we communicate; it's much too direct. Instead, we speak more like the first one as Arthur subtly conveys his shadiness in a friendly way. Had Arthur not been friends with Jud, he probably would have just lied to him about what he was doing and said that he'd call him tomorrow. Of course he'd have no intention of calling. It's just one of those things we say.
I, for one, appreciate it when someone friendly-shady's me. It's kind of like when someone cuts you off on the interstate, glances over and smiles and waves. What they're really saying is, "I'm not sorry, but I appreciate your position. No offense, but I've got to get where I'm going and that place doesn't include you."
Communication is so much more than the literal words we speak. Instead, it is an elaborate orchestra of cultural gestures that link us from our individual separation.
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...For a further look into the dynamics of "The Degrees of Invitation", visit my new Blog at www.mysecrestvocabulary.wordpress.com.