Humorous self-help from the author of The Art of Mingling (not reviewed).
Your boss wants you to work late but you have tickets to a concert. Your boring next-door neighbor is regaling you with the latest doings of his charmless child. You don’t want to go on that blind date your aunt is striving to arrange. What is to be done? In the age of the new assertiveness, you can just flat-out say no and let the chips fall where they may. But that, argues Martinet, would be rude, hurtful, and possibly bad for your career or health. Her suggestions form this brief but amusing ode to the social white lie and those who can dispense it gracefully, the polite evasion that she fears has been replaced by blunt rejection and other pain-giving alternatives. She suggests instead dodging, which she defines as “navigating smoothly around life’s minor obstacles.” To that end, she schools readers in arcane arts of deception that range from the outright lie to the careful insinuation, from faking illness to blaming your spouse, lover, roommate, or business partner. As befits a properly raised Southern lady, Martinet dispenses this wisdom in a genteel and gentle tone, even offering a series of ethical do’s and don’ts to guide the would-be dodger in seeing when to invoke her teachings. Although Martinet occasionally strays into silliness, she is generally grounded in a certain psychological realism that makes her not only funny but genuinely useful. Perhaps she is right when she claims that “becoming more proficient in the art of dodging will actually make you a nicer, more socially evolved person.”
At the very least, your excuses for missing deadlines will become more inventive.