Blame it on a slip of the tongue, a brain lapse, blunder, blooper, or some other clever term, but it never really seems to help when you find yourself wondering, “Did I really just say that?”
It happened to me just the other day when I ran into an old co-worker whom I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. I had heard that she was recently retired so my brain wanted to say, “So, I hear you are footloose and fancy free.”
But my mouth blurted out, “So, I hear you are “FAT-loose and fancy free.” I immediately switched to damage control, convincing myself that she didn’t hear what I’d just said, and kept on talking nonsense until I could break away, get in my car, and bang my head against the steering wheel.
The last time I’d done something like that was when I was in a gallery explaining to an interested bystander why I thought a particular piece was overpriced and under-whelming. The person I was addressing turned out to be (you guessed it) the artist.
I try to give myself a little break here because I have learned from some of my past verbal malfunctions. If a woman in her 8th month of pregnancy met me in the grocery store, sporting the latest in maternity clothes, and holding on to her bump, I would never, ever mention the b word unless I knew for sure, beforehand that she was in fact, expecting. I NEVER, EVER ask, “when’s your baby due. Been there, done that, been burned before, haven’t you?
I also try to ease my conscience by recalling other people who have a similar tragic character flaw. I was at a wedding once when the best man was toasting the groom and his new bride, Amy. He spoke of how Amy was just like a sister to him and how happy he was that his best friend had found Amy. Problem was, Amy was the name of the grooms ex-wife. The bride’s name was Carolyn.
The all-time humdinger of a screw-up occurred at a business dinner a few years back. A fellow fool was addressing the entire dinner party, going on and on about the last time he had seen one the couples at the table. He described seeing them from a distance and thinking how great the wife looked. He said he remembered wondering how much weight she had lost and thinking how much younger she looked until they came closer and he realized it wasn’t her.
Next time, “Lord, help him think twice before he speaks once”.