I’m rarely at a loss for words.
This serves me well when I’m doing some public speaking and generally in social gatherings. On the flip side, I often end up with my foot in my mouth.
Earlier today, I met my friend Liz for lunch. We hadn’t seen each other for over 6 months, so we excitedly tried to catch up over some yummy Japanese food. We covered many topics in an hour, ranging from family to the Canucks to our good old UBC Commerce days.
At one point in the conversation, I asked Liz for her opinion on a rather serious topic and I was particularly interested to get her answer from her female perspective. Unfortunately, it didn’t come out that way as I ended up saying something like “I really want a woman’s perspective AND I would really like yours as well.”
Then, just a few minutes later we got onto the topic of children and I was curious as to whether or not Liz and her husband were planning to have any more (they presently have 2 beautiful children). In affirming how good of a mother I think she is, I also tried to comment on her having plenty of time to have more children (she is in her mid-30s). But for some reason, I ended up saying “You could have more…I guess you’re still young enough.”
Thankfully, my dear friend Liz humoured me with a smile and we finished off our lunch without further incident.
But it got me thinking of my most (in)famous example of foot-in-mouth. It was from 17 years ago as I was playing the game “Taboo” with 3 of my university friends. The object of the game is to have your partner or team guess the “key word” from hints that you give them while avoiding the use of certain “taboo” words.
Things were going smoothly until one turn in which I was guessing my partner’s word. As her clue, she said to me “This is what I am.” Remember, she was referring to herself.
For some reason that even to this day I cannot comprehend, I blurted out with great conviction: “FAT!”
Have you ever said something that you wanted to take back, even as you were still saying it? Well, that’s exactly how I felt when I realized what I had just said. In fact, I recall literally reaching out with my arms, trying to pull the invisible word back in.
Needless to say, the mood changed from jovial to tense. As my friends jeered me and shook their heads, I could barely look at my partner as she exclaimed, “The word was BIZARRE.”
We resumed the game and on our very next turn I got the chance to redeem myself. My partner’s tricky hint was “I (she) wouldn’t look good in this.”
If I was using any part of my brain whatsoever, I could have offered answers such as “a paper bag”, “a clown suit”, or “a dunce cap”. But nooooooooooooooo…. I had to yell out “LINGERIE!”
Take how bad I felt after my “FAT” answer and multiply it by 1,000 or so.
One of my friends mercifully remarked “I don’t think we should play this game anymore” as she started to put the game away. And in the under-statement of the year, she continued “This isn’t the best game for Clay.”