My former classmate has insulted me for 30 years

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a man in my 70s who works part-time. I’ve been insulted by a former classmate over the past 30 years or so.

It started at a dinner engagement of the board members of a parent-teacher association. I saw him, a high school classmate, for the first time in many years. Recalling my school days with fond memories, I walked up to him, but he loudly said all of a sudden, “Ladies and gentlemen, this guy is a womanizer and a pervert.”

I was so shocked that all I could do was sit there. The PTA chairman said to me out of sympathy, “Shall I ask him to leave?” I declined the offer, thinking I would just have to endure.

I still see that classmate at alumni reunions held once every several years. Each time, he says something slanderous or insulting about me. His behavior makes me so angry, but I’ve always endured it without complaining. However, whenever I recall what he said, I feel so frustrated that I sometimes can’t fall asleep.

I think I’ll shoot back with something if I’m insulted again. However, I’m aware it will just make people present feel embarrassed. I may be regarded as someone who has done something wrong by former classmates who know nothing about the situation. So I’m reluctant to do so. How should I cope with this?

Y, Wakayama Prefecture

Dear Mr. Y:

How can your former classmate behave so shamelessly, although he is old enough to be expected to act as an experienced, mature person? I’m shocked.

The best thing for you to do is to just ignore him. However, you don’t seem to be able to do so by nature. A man of this type is hopeless, as the more nervous you look, the more excited and cocky he becomes.

This man doesn’t stop teasing you because he totally looks down on you. He knows you won’t get angry at whatever he says about you.

On the other hand, however, if you get angry, it will turn out just as he wishes. So I suggest you simply agree with him.

If he says, “You are a womanizer,” you should answer with a smile, “You’re right. It bothers me.”

You should never talk back. Sooner or later, he’ll become discouraged before eventually abandoning it, as he won’t feel motivated anymore.

I think others present can correctly discern which of you is behaving absurdly. How you speak and look openly conveys a person’s dignity. People tacitly understand, even if you don’t explain.

Tatsuro Dekune, writer

(from June 20, 2017, issue)Speech

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