Although many of you did not know my father, those of you who did will remember that he liked to tease people and to play practical jokes. He and Uncle Herman would surround themselves with laughter as they teased back and forth.
As I began to do a little growing in those canons, Dad taught me about teasing and how to tell when he was teasing.
When I was old enough to begin to understand a little about life, Dad explained the importance of teasing in the event I really wanted to learn about people's reactions to life.
I watched him as he met all sorts of people and saw how his teasing allowed those with whom he might be visiting to relax. After he became sheriff, I was privileged to watch him interview prisoners. He would ask direct questions first to test the person's feelings. If the person seemed tense, Dad would make some light conversation, tease the person about something he had done in the past, and watch the prisoner relax. After that, he could usually get the necessary information without anger or unnecessary threats.
Dad also told me to watch people very carefully if I planned to do any teasing. He said that some teasing just might be too close to the truth for some individuals to tolerate. He said those individuals might react by showing anger because the truth can be painful. He explained that such reactions might just tell us more about the person than we really wanted to know, but that such knowledge could be helpful because it would help us to understand behavior of that individual more in depth.
As many of you know, I was privileged to have a little college education and to study about human behavior. During those years, I read more books than I can begin to remember and worked with many people either as students or as clients. No matter how many courses I took, I always relied on Dad's early teachings when working with people or when just visiting with them. He taught me to be an observer in a way that no professor even came close to teaching. He also taught me to incorporate humor even during serious situations as it would usually relieve any building tension.
When we would be together in a crowd, Dad would just look at me, and I would know he was getting ready to begin a tall tale or to play a trick on someone. Even it we didn't make eye contact as he was beginning a story, I could tell by looking at his lips that something was about to happen. Most people who tease have facial expressions that will give them away even if they may not be aware of them. If they are going to tell a tall tale, they will give themselves away with the first few words. Let's just keep our senses of humor and enjoy visiting with each other.
Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 575-461-1952.