Talk is cheap, make sure it's worth something


  • Living
  • Monday, 02 Oct 2017

Just because you have an opinion about something doesn’t mean you have to express it. Photo: Visual Hunt

I’ve been writing my column for The Star newspaper for almost 20 years now. In that time, I’ve expressed my opinion in about 1,000 different articles. When I first calculated this number, I immediately thought: that’s a heck of a lot of opinions for one person to have. But when I thought about it a little longer, I realised I probably have thousands of other opinions that I haven’t shared with anyone.

Just because I have an opinion about something doesn’t mean I have to express it. Let’s face it; some opinions are probably best left unsaid.

In our day-to-day lives, we are bombarded with opinions. They can confront you at any time. Like first thing in the morning – when your partner tells you over coffee and toast that you look tired.

Note to all men: if your partner looks tired, keep your opinion to yourself, even if you are concerned about her. Otherwise, she will spend the rest of the day thinking about it. And just when you’re drifting off to sleep at the end of a long day, she will nudge you and say, “Do you think I’m starting to look old?”

You will not win, no matter how you respond.

Then there are opinions that are just plain whacko. Like the one an Uber driver expressed while I was sitting in the back of his car. I can’t remember what prompted our conversation, but according to him, Michelle Obama, the former first lady of the United States, is transgendered.

I tried to stop myself from laughing but I couldn’t prevent some of the noises coming out of my mouth.

“It’s true,” he said, ignoring a loud snort coming from the back of his car. “Joan Rivers knew about it, so Obama had her killed.”

“But Joan died during a surgical procedure,” I said.

“That’s what they want you to believe.”

It was evident that the man sitting in the driver’s seat, the same person who was responsible for my safety at that moment, had ingested a mind-altering drug or two.

Such opinions are best left for meetings of the Conspiracy Theorists Club, where you can freely talk about JFK landing on the moon shortly after bumping off Marilyn Monroe.

Over the years, my opinions have caused my column to be spiked (rejected) by my editor twice. The first time this happened, I was told that certain public figures (who will remain nameless) had a stake in a facility that I’d openly criticised, so publication wouldn’t have been without certain ramifications.

The second time my column was spiked, I had more than a hunch that it wouldn’t pass the newspaper’s moral sensitivities. The rejection made me feel like a bit of a pervert for a few minutes, but I did acknowledge that my writing was too risqué on that occasion for a family newspaper. I gave myself a slap on the wrist and began focusing on safer topics.

opinion

Then there are the readers of this column who freely give me their opinions of my opinions. I love interacting with readers, even if their opinions don’t coincide with those of my own. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know some regular readers quite well and look forward to hearing from them.

A number of readers have also asked if I would consider compiling some of my earlier columns into a book. You would think that such an activity would be straightforward, considering the pieces have already been written. Unfortunately, I discovered this wasn’t the case.

After trawling through the articles I wrote during my first 10 years with The Star, I realised some pieces that were topical at the time of publication couldn’t be republished without a long preface explaining what was going on in Malaysia at that time. Other pieces were not considered for the compilation because they no longer express my opinions today. Opinions can change with time.

The resulting book, Not Tonight, Dear, I’m Defrosting, contains tales about motherhood, my Scottish family, expatriate living, acting (both on and off the stage), and, of course, “defrosting”. From meeting an Oscar-nominated actress in a Malaysian padi field, to dropping a set of false teeth (not my own) on a bus, to the questionable male drive, to my opinions on the eating habits of the Clintons, and the dangers of Nordic Walking – these are just some of the topics that have appealed to my quirky sense of humour over the last two decades.

You can order a copy by visiting my website at www.maryschneiderauthor.com.

I would like to express my gratitude to the Star Media Group for allowing me to republish the articles in Not Tonight, Dear, I’m Defrosting.

And to all readers, a huge thank you for your support over the years. In my opinion, you’re the best.


Check out Mary on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mary.schneider.writer


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