The Pre-nag. Conversation’s elegant skewer


Do we all leave ourselves so wide open to that most deadly of conversation assaults; the pre-nag? The pre-nag is a seemingly innocent question that no matter how you answer, the follow-up will get you. Let me demonstrate. When my wife asks innocently, “Brr, it’s a little chilly. Are you cold?” Whatever I reply, ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘a little bit’, I am screwed as the next line is “Did you leave the garden door open again after taking the dogs out?” This sin of course is something she has clearly already noted. Checkmate. Of course we both know I left the door open. But to prolong the ticking off, it is much more satisfying for my beloved to make me squirm a little first, knowing the initial question is a set up for the killer blow. My life is littered with pre-nags. “Have you heard from Bette-Anne?” When I have forgotten to give her the message that her friend has rung and has clearly rung again, spoken to my wife and told her I had failed to pass on the message. “Have you got your glasses?” when we are in the taxi, she having already picked them up from the table at the restaurant we were eating at: “Have you been recently been on Facebook?” when an old flame has contacted me.

...and another thing

These pre-nags come in all shapes and sizes, even outside domestic bliss.

The garage mechanic,

“Have you had the car long, sir?” when I bring in my newest toy for its first service and about to be hit with a huge bill.

The Custom’s official asking me

“Is this your bag, sir?” when there is a shotgun shell inside it, inadvertently left there from the previous week-end’s shooting.

The Banker

“I see you are just waiting for a substantial deposit,” when you are approaching your overdraft limit

The pre-nag is almost impossible to avoid, made worse by knowing that what follows is the knockout. It’s like having a left jab smack you on the nose, whilst watching the right hook coming in slow motion from two time zones away to flatten you…. and you can do bugger all to avoid it.

So next time you have something direct to say, stop and think. Can you turn it into a pre-nag?

PS I love you, my wife. Don’t you think that the truth should never get in the way of a good blog?

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