It’s All in the Tone

He grew up in a family that
knew how to shame. There
wasn’t any hitting, just
shaming; it’s all in the

tone, like shaming a dog
and the dog knows instantly
— “Bad dog, Bo Bo, bad dog,”
and Bo Bo tucks his tail and

lowers his ears and slinks
off to a dark corner of the
bedroom. The difference is
that after a while, feeling

sorry for hurting Bo Bo’s
feelings, someone would say,
“It’s okay, Bo Bo, it’s okay.
You’re a good dog, Bo Bo,”

in a loving tone and Bo Bo
would perk up, lift his ears,
wag his tail and come runn-
ing for a pat on the back

and a scratch behind his ears.
That didn’t happen often in
his house. Then he moved to a
town of shamers. People

walked around with smiles on
their faces but their ears were
lowered and their tails were
tucked and he, too, knew how to

shame, how to use the tone. He
was inducted into the Hall of
Shame. One day out of insecurity
and defensiveness, he tried to

shame an acquaintance. As soon
as he sent off the messages
(yes, he could write so that
the tone came through), he

heard a voice say, “If you
don’t send it, you won’t have
to apologize for it.” He had
sent the messages and he had

apologized, but still he sat
all day with a smile on his
face but ears lowered and
tail tucked and there was

no one to say, “Good boy,
Bo Bo,” in a loving tone
and he didn’t know how
to say it to himself.

1 thought on “It’s All in the Tone

  1. A shame it was too late. I grew up in that same tone-deaf culture which you captured so very well.
    I am still she whom you’ve known, but I decided to ditch:
    ~birth name diminutive and diminishments of me (nothing to do with promo of 2017 PBS show
    ~reflexively saying “I’m sorry’ unless to one who has lost a loved one…now 7 in 7 weeks, family and friends

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