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Bonnie Brown: The Relevance of an ‘Argy-Bargy’

I enjoy reading my horoscope.  Yes, true. It’s something I’ve done for as long as I can remember.  It was usually placed next to “Dear Abby” in the newspaper so that’s probably why I started reading it.  I have a system that if it is appealing and positive, I go with it. If it’s negative and ambiguous, I ignore it.  

This morning my horoscope read thusly, “You may be correct in the belief that certain people have their own agenda, but to get into an ‘argy-bargy.’ “  Wow! Argy-bargy! I had to look this up. New to me. It seems that argy-bargy means argument, dissension, debate, noisy quarreling and has Scottish/British roots.  Yes, my astrologer is British.

So ‘argy-bargy’ seems to perfectly describe the tone of the country here of late.  Everyone is taking sides, everyone is in a most disagreeable mood over everything. The ‘argy-bargy’ is about anything and everything—politics, religion, global warming—you name it.  I’m sure I could get a good argy-bargy going about whether puppies are cute or not. Honestly!

My friend Becky Brown shared a post that read in part “Always be kind; always remind people of their worth; just one small act of kindness could mean the world to someone.”  Those words really captured the way I want to live. I try to think of others. I hold open doors (even though the person who came through it bee-lined past me to get to the counter to place her order ahead of me).  I allow people to merge into traffic, I offer a smile to those I encounter, I offer my place in the check-out line to a young mother with children, another person with only a few items. I take the time to acknowledge the kindnesses extended to me.  I bake cookies. I say “I love you” often.

I’m far from perfect.  I’m judgmental, I speak too frankly, I always want to “fix” it—whatever “it” may be—rather than listen and help with a solution.  I’m bossy. I’m too demonstrative. I could never be a good poker player because my expressions and body language betray me. I’m often disapproving when I should be encouraging.  I’m a human mess! As we all are. I should be more forgiving, more tolerant and yes, take a step back and ignore things that I find irritating. That judgmental thing again!

My mother was a good role model for kindness.  She was active in the community and always took the lead to help whenever she could.  She was the first to arrange for flowers or food when there was a death in our neighborhood.  She respected my father’s role as the provider for our family. She didn’t want us lying around when he got home, tired from a long day’s work.  She wanted us up and ready to greet my dad. Mom had a knack for pointing out how others might be feeling. She taught us empathy through her actions.  She was a good referee for sibling squabbles. She would make us hug! How awful, especially when you really wanted to do otherwise. Perhaps she would have made a good global ambassador with her ability to settle disagreements by forcing you to be kind to one another.  

John F. Kennedy’s famous words from his inaugural address “”ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” might need an explanation today since so many feel entitled.  That was another thing my mom was good at—giving is better than receiving. And trust me when I say that we were poor.  That didn’t prevent her from giving small, homemade gifts of jams and jelly, applesauce, apple butter, etc. whenever she saw an opportunity.  Who doesn’t feel better when they share? And this was long before Pinterest!

It all sort of comes down to Robert Fulghum’s  All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.   Here’s an excerpt, or what I would call rules for life.  So much better than an ‘argy-bargy!’

  1. Share everything.
    2. Play fair.
    3. Don’t hit people.
    4. Put things back where you found them.
    5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
    6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
    7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
    8. Wash your hands before you eat.
    9. Flush.
    10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.


Bonnie Brown is a retired staff member of the University of Mississippi. She most recently served as Mentoring Coordinator for the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy.

For questions or comments, email hottytoddynews@gmail.com.

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