Proverbs 24:10 King James Version (KJV). “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” In local parlance that means don’t play mas if you ‘fraid powder.
You are here
The art of witty repartee
A politician once asked me, sneeringly, “Do journalists ever get it right?’’
Before I could chasten myself, the words flew right out of my mouth: “Read tomorrow’s story about yourself and find out.’’
He never spoke to me after that. And the next day’s story was a doozy.
In one of my less than shining moments, I was called into my editor’s office, expecting to be chewed out about a comma or dangling something. Instead, he congratulated me on my most recent article and then added, “Who wrote it for you?’’
Again, the words escaped my lips before I could kick myself in the ankle: “I am so glad you liked it. Who read it to you?’’
My mind must have been invaded by Ilka Chase, an American actress and novelist who had once subdued a sweet young thing with the same comeback, after the actress had sniped about Ilka’s autobiography, Past Imperfect.
Good thing Mr editor could take a joke.
Have you ever had one of those awkward moments when someone says something offensive, annoying or just plain stupid and you can’t think of a rejoinder until days later?
While there is truth in the maxim that a still tongue keeps a wise head, sometimes you just have to define a moment with a shivering retort. The best rejoinders are perfectly polite, and delivered with a sangfroid that would put the chill in the bones of Winston Churchill, who was famous for his icy comebacks. One of his most celebrated took place at a reception where a well-starched wife of a politician reprimanded him: “Mr Churchill, you are drunk!’’ Came the reply: “And Madam you are ugly but I shall be sober in the morning.”