Between the ages of 12 and 14 the game of last-touch was always the final episode slowly played out between kids and kids as well as kids with adults as friends who came over for a visit had to leave. Sometimes it was boisterous; that usually found us sliding around in the dust, diving for cover and corners, and some not so gentle touches. On other occasions the game was subtly played with light touches that were intended to be a “touch without knowledge of a touch”. Everyone was involved and in many ways it made the parting a bit easier because it was a way of saying “I love you” and “I’ll miss you” without going through the public display (never cool for a thirteen year old boy).
Starting at the age of eleven, maybe in my case it was nearer the age of six or seven, the verbal equivalent of last-touch came onto the scene. The motive and reasons were as far from the first game as one could get. Having the last word never came because we were expressing just how much we loved each other, it was always because one wanted to ensure in the game of verbal jousting that your strike was the final one. In the back of the my mind I always added that my final thrust ended the conversation with my adversary lost for words, conceding that I had been right from the beginning, and asking me for advise on how he or she could make restitution.
There were many occasions that I can remember arguing a point that even I knew did not make sense! In those moments some of the people who taught me the most did an incredible thing – they just walked away. No words, no expression in the eyes, just turned and resolutely walked away.
“Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool; you’ll only look foolish yourself.” (Proverbs 26.4)
Having the last word is addictive. I find that experiencing mercy and grace is even more compelling so the last touch is all yours!