Smile When You Call Me That…
Academic Leadership - Online Journal,
Vol. 2 No. 3 (2001): Vol-2-Issue-3-March-2001
One of the very first western movies I remember with any degree of accuracy is The Virginian,
with Gary Cooper in the title role. It’s a classic, as is the 1906 novel by Owen Wister on which
the movie is based.
If you saw it, perhaps you remember the scene early in the movie when a surly character calls
the Virginian a “sonofabitch.”
Cooper turns and with a nasty steel edge to his voice says, “Smile when you call me that.” Or
words to that effect. The point is obvious: There are two ways to call someone an SOB. One
means you are an SOB. The other, with the smile, means you’re a good ‘ole boy SOB and
how ya been doin’, anyway?
Let’s leave the classic cinema for a moment and cut to an e-mail I received recently.
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