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The BDP Handbook, Vol. 2

February 18, 2010 | by Eileen Rosenbloom

More advice for dealing with Beloved Difficult Persons (“BDPs”) – aka the people who drive you crazy.

It’s here! Newly released from Nudnik Press! If you enjoyed the first BDP Handbook but found yourself wondering how to handle your Beloved Difficult Person (BDP) in situations other than the phone, then read on.

For starters, effective in-person handling of BDPs requires that you treat them exactly as they act. This means you must first identify the item, animal, or person they replicate. It goes without saying that they act like children, but let’s be more specific and explore outside the realm of humans.

Let’s identify and categorize our BDPs, outside the realm of humans.

The Lawnmower

Lawnmowers power ahead and cut down anything that gets in their way. They run you over and don’t look back. They’re on a mission. Nothing else matters, at least not in their world. When their ignition switch is triggered, I suggest you run for safety. Get out of the way! Just do your best to brush off any caked-on dirt or grass clippings that fly in your direction.

The Leaf Blower

Leaf Blowers create a Big, LOUD NOISE! Oooh, so scary. They yell, “I am Leaf Blower! Hear me roar!” For all their bark, they often have no bite. Still, they leave you feeling windblown. Don’t fight with them. Try to stay calm and keep your voice soft. Cooperate. Allow the Leaf Blower to fulfill the purpose for which it has been designed. How? Be a good Wandering Jew and scatter yourself to the ends of the Earth. Or at least to the next room.

The Mosquito

What’s that incessant buzzing in your ear? Oh, it’s just a pesky Mosquito. Harmless? Maybe. Annoying? Definitely. Even when you shoo them away, they buzz on back and take little nips that leave you swollen and itchy for days. Unlike handling of real mosquitoes, I do not recommend smacking, even if you really feel like doing so. Real mosquitoes are repelled by citronella oil. There’s your first clue. You want to repel your BDP? Try reeking. Douse yourself with a stink bomb. Or go with the homegrown variety produced organically by your own body. You won’t have to shop. You won’t have to shower. You’ll cut down on your water bill while your stench cuts down on your BDP. Naturally.

Coping Devices

Don’t be afraid to apply the same principles that make for effective parenting. Reward good behavior; don’t reinforce bad. Sometimes when your BDP acts out, a natural reaction is to buy peace at any cost, even if that means accommodating unreasonable demands. Over time, however, that may be costlier than you bargained for.

A widely used form of parental discipline is the “time-out.” You can’t very well impose that on your adult BDP, but there’s no reason why you can’t take advantage of this popular tool. Simply eyeball your BDP and calmly say, “If you keep that up, I’ll have to give myself a time-out.” Then do it. Go to your room! If things are really bad, you might even want to ground yourself for days, weeks, whatever it takes to learn your limits. Yes, you have limited resources in dealing with difficult people. So exercise restraint!

The More the Merrier

Time for a visit? Invite a friend to join the fun. Your BDP may be too embarrassed to ill-behave with a third party in the room. However, if you can’t even bribe someone over, simply invite your imaginary friend. Insist that Sharona is sitting right next to you as you engage her in conversation, just as you did at two years old. Do remember to be a good host and offer her some nosh.

Your BDP will do whatever it takes to get rid of your obnoxious presence, making abrupt excuses such as, “I’m sorry. I must be going. I have a sudden urge to get a root canal.” The beauty of this is that the excuses, condensed visits, and curt phone calls now come from your BDP, who is probably reading this looking for ways to deal with you.

Feeling misunderstood? Oh, really, by now you should be used to it. And, finally, it works to your advantage.

    Here, There and Everywhere

Do you tire just hearing your BDP’s voice? If I may borrow a phrase from the Sixties, this might be a good time to “tune in and drop out.” No, I’m not advocating drugs, but learning to be in your BDP’s presence and somewhere else simultaneously is a practice worth cultivating. For example, try silent praying. Or meditation. Or . . . I’ll just say it: learn to astral travel! Leave your body and visit the islands of Hawaii or walk the streets of Jerusalem with your cousins in Israel. While you’re out having a grand time, your body will appear inhabited and your BDP will praise you for being a wonderful listener.

Traveling With Your BDP

Airplanes provide a unique challenge when you need distance. You could always dash to the bathroom, but good luck vying for precious stall space while others flee their BDPs, too.

Keep your eyes open for a new product that will change flying as you’ve known it. Collaborations are underway between a well-known suitcase manufacturer and prominent fashion designer. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Luggage! looks like a vest, that is, until you release the handle at the back of the neck. Now you’re a suitcase! The front boasts a wrap-around zipper and velcroed side pockets, just like a real carry-on bag. Choose from black, plaid, or an array of designer prints for those who cope with style. Now get set to stow yourself in the overhead compartment where there’s peace, quiet, and lots of pillows.

Disclaimer: Upon release of the handle, it is necessary to remain in an upright position to avoid inflicting harm on those within close proximity. Failure to do so may result in personal injury to your BDP, including but not limited to abrasion, contusion, or brain damage . . . although if a lobotomy happens inadvertently, is that so bad?

Glad You Asked

At times, you may throw your hands in the air and ask: Why me? Especially when there are so many perfectly normal dysfunctional families.

Who knows? Maybe God has a really high opinion of you and knows your capacity for caring multiplied by your quota for patience equals a mitzvah. Maybe certain people don the guise of a BDP, but are actually some of our greatest teachers. Who knows . . .

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