“Right of Pre-emption”, as it applies in law: The right to acquire certain property/shares etc in preference to another person, i.e. you have the right of first refusal.
“Right of pre-emption”, as it applies in relationships:
Me: “I’m having dinner with my friend tomorrow (Friday), so do settle your own dinner plans.”
Mr. Cinical (wide grin): “Yes!”
Me (suspicious): “Why are u grinning? You had plans already? Who are you meeting? Where are you going?”
Mr. Cinical: “Oh, I was just thinking about the concept of the “right of pre-emption”. See, it’s a default that I’ll have dinner with you on a Friday night and that offer was on the table. But since you refused to have dinner with me on Friday, it means that I’m free to make my own plans.”
As part of work, I attended the launch of the book “Economic Diplomacy: Essays and Reflections by Singapore’s Negotiators”.
Foreign Minister George Yeo was the guest of honor. He said (and I paraphrased):
“The growth of civilisation was possible because of the division of labor. With division of labor, there is a need for trade to send things across to one another. Trade is the lifeblood of civilisation.”
I’m rejuvenated by these words. Somedays, I just need that bit of inspiration to push me on.
At some point in the relationship, the dreaded question surely is asked:
Me: “Do I look fat in this dress?”
Mr. Cinical: This is a question that has to be approached with sensitivity. It’s like asking me whether we have an independent judiciary*?
Me: I want an answer.
Mr. Cinical: (pauses for a long time) Answers to both questions are, I love you and all our judges are intelligent people.
*If you google “Singapore + independent + Judiciary”, I’m certain that a number of articles will come up arguing one side or the other.
Mr. Cinical had invited me to volunteer as a witness for his trial advocacy class. Hmm, a way to demonstrate my theatrical talents of acting as an 40-year old house-husband who happened to see the accused walloping some poor chap with high-heeled steel Manolo Blahniks. He was going through with me the procedures for the witness examination.
As he went on, I realised that there’s a lot of similarities between a Court case and a Couple’s quarrel. Really.
The Prosecution is expected to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the accused indeed was the person committing the crime.
Defense Counsel will then create reasonable doubt that the accused did it. Depending on which side Counsel is on, the questions and the points raised will either credit or discredit you as a witness.
The Prosecution (person who starts the quarrel) will always go, “Why do you ALWAYS do this? Refer to this time (a), this time (b) and this time (c).” or “You NEVER do this! Refer to that time (a), that time (b) and that time (c)”
Whilst the Defense will immediately react, “No, you forget about this time (d), this time (e) and this time (f)! You are UNREASONABLE.”
But unlike a Court case where a Judge listens to both sides and makes a binding judgement, the couple’s quarrel often ends with one side apologising (note, this does not equivocally mean an admission of guilt of either’s part).
And that’s probably why a couple’s quarrel typically revolve around the same unresolved issues. Such is life.
Mr. Cinical: Let’s go downstairs to grab dinner. We need to have a quick bite, if not we’ll be late for the event.
Me: Oh, but I want to eat at this place. It’s on the way right?
Minutes passed – argument as to where to eat.
Mr. Cinical: Ok then, let’s go with your suggestion. Argh, it’s like I’m a minority shareholder in this relationship. You are the epitome of what I call “the tyranny of the majority”. It’s oppression.
Mr Cinical: I learnt today that all corporate decisions should be taken in the interest of the company as a whole. Do you know it means?
Me: Oh yes, in the interest of the majority of course! We need to assume that the majority does make decisions in the best interest of the company. Like in this relationship.