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lace handkerchief analogy


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The training session had reached a point where the co-facilitator was encouraging delegates to define boundaries between situations that were bad or acceptable. 'To help decide, I find it useful to think about whether a handkerchief is clean or dirty', she offered. I'd been paying close attention all along; now I focused even more, particularly as the co-facilitator then pulled a perfectly-laundered triangle from her pocket to emphasise her point: a white handkerchief bordered by generously-wide pink lace. To her evident disappointment, there was no direct response from the group. 'Last week's group could see the usefulness of the analogy, and engaged in some lengthy discussion about it', she offered by way of encouragement, before deciding it was a lost cause. Wishing I'd been in last week's session, I was close to initiating the discussion but something held me back; with hindsight, I should have gone for it but the moment passed

Some time later, we were in breakout groups, and the facilitators were briefly in conversation with each other behind where I sat. From that direction, but totally out of view, a huge snotty nose blow suddenly dominated the room. Without pointedly turning round and, in all probability, walking over to see, I couldn't be sure which facilitator it was; obviously I wanted it to be the female one using her lace handkerchief!

A week later, and part two of the training: circumstantial evidence to the owner of the previous week's snotty blow was forthcoming. In full view of everyone, the facilitator pulled an identical-looking, cleanish but crumpled, lace handkerchief from her pocket and inflicted it with a massively snotty blow sounding remarkably similar to the one of seven days earlier. It might have been the same handkerchief as week ago, or she may have had several identical ones. For sure, though, if it was the same handkerchief she must have washed it during the intervening week: no way would it have looked so respectable on the second occasion if it got that kind of treatment constantly!

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Forgot to share here a further thought on how anyone with their wits about them (so not me at the time, unfortunately!) may have replied to the co-facilitator. Unless it is absolutely clean and unused, I guess deciding whether a handkerchief is 'clean' or 'dirty' is pretty subjective, but it probably includes factors such as: how many times it's been used; has it been used for dabbing and sniffing, or big snotty blows; how large the handkerchief is, and is it re-folded after use to mimic cleanliness. Good grief, there's quite a conversation to be had on this: more than ever, I can see why the co-facilitator was disappointed that flaunting her lace handkerchief in front of her trainees to make that analogy didn't stimulate discussion!

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Yes, there could have been quite an opportunity there for nasal and handkerchief related discussion!

Funny how you thought you could tell it was the same nose-blower just from the sound. I guess whether it's sneezing or nose-blowing, many of us have our own distinguishing characteristics! (My own nose-blows are probably easily identifiable from the other side of town... 🤣)

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The odds were quite good that it was the same nose-blower, at least 50:50 in fact, as there were only two facilitators and the owner of the lace handkerchief(s) was the only one who blew during the second session!

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