We’ve all been there. You’re having an argument with someone and can’t quite find the right response, so you come up with something less than ideal. Then, after the other person gets up and leaves with his or her glorious victory, you come up with the perfect response.
It’s gut-wrenching to be sitting there after the idea bulb lights up in your head and realize that you’re too late to really put it to use.
I too have been a victim of the “act now, think later” process. At dinner one time last semester, a couple of my fellow CN staff members were discussing attendance records and it was revealed that one of them didn’t miss a single day of school in seventh grade. Impressive? Yes. More impressive than me? Not even close.
Being the story topper that I am, I told him that I didn’t miss a day of school for the entirety of high school. I should’ve known that he’d have a cunning mind, cultivated by his hours spent in the newsroom, and would flip it on me.
He turned what I had thought was a positive into a negative by pointing out how nerdy it was that I never missed a day of high school. I was ill-prepared for this turning of the tables and could only think up a response about how my immune system is as strong as the Hulk (which can be interpreted as either Hulk Hogan or Lou Ferigno, both were pretty diesel).
Several weeks later I thought back to this event (that’s the sort of loss you never forget) and came up with what would have been a truly great rebuttal to his argument. I’d tell you it now, but I’m saving it for my big finish.
The most difficult part of the situation is finally having a great comeback, but wondering whether or not you should use it. It seems a little petty, self-conscious, and flat out embarrassing to let someone know that you’ve been thinking about that comment he or she made for that long.
Don’t worry friend. As usual, I’ve got a solution for you.
All you have to do is bait him or her into making the same comment again. Bringing up a past argument/conversation that didn’t end in your favor the first time is a little dangerous because you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to another attack. You know what they say, though: with high risk comes high reward, go big or go home, crank that Soulja Boy, etc. You came up with this comeback, you need to release the thunder.
Once you get them back on the original topic and trick them into setting you up, you drop the hammer like your name was Thor.
Here’s how I handled my situation: As soon as he made missing school a “cool” thing to do, I should have sarcastically said “Yeah, OK Ferris Bueller,” and then followed it up with some impressive statistics that actually follow his logic, but favored me. “And I guarantee I’ve missed more class at JCU than you.” Boom, tables have been turned.
All of a sudden I’m Matthew Broderick, singing in parades and sending the principal on a wild goose chase, and he’s that guy who couldn’t find another gig until “Spin City” (which was his next big role according to Wikipedia. Seriously, look it up).