My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Winthrop, let out a loud sigh. She could see that I was not grasping the concept of the idiom that she just shared with me.
“Jael” she had said, “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” But I just was not getting it.
You see, sixth grade was a magical time. I had an amazing teacher who believed in experiential learning. Rather than teach us concepts that we regurgitated back to her on tests, she’d find innovative ways to teach us with experience. During the time when we were to learn about local government, Mrs. W allowed us to create our own town, Appleton Acres. Our town had it’s own currency, apple bucks, and we each earned some bucks by playing a role in the town. Some of my classmates were teachers, others were police officers, and others were apple farmers. I, however, had my eye on the office of the Mayor. But, unfortunately, so did Tony Marino, the most popular boy in the class and, incidentally, my very first nemesis.
Knowing that I was no match for his popularity, I did what any reasonable political underdog would do. I started a smear campaign. The campaign led to a shouting match at recess. The shouting match, in turn, led to my conversation with Mrs. Winthrop.
Mrs. W helped me refocus my campaign so that I could highlight the issues that were important to me, like the production of applesauce, rather than Tony’s flaws. And you know what? I lost. By a landslide. But I gained the respect and friendship of someone whom I had previously only seen as an enemy. In his first act as Mayor, Tony Marino appointed me as his Deputy Mayor.
Many years later, I still don’t understand that nonsense about the flies. But I do understand what Mrs. W was getting at. My friendship with Tony ended up meaning a whole lot more to me than being called Mayor Jael. But I sure wasn’t going to earn his friendship by being vinegary.
OH! Now I get it!
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