Have you ever had one of those moments?
You know the ones…you open your mouth to say something benign and out comes something completely horrifying? Or maybe just lightly embarrassing.
Either way, I happen to be an expert at these embarrassing faux pas.
The speech impediment:
I was seventeen—the same age as my girls—and working at the local racquet club after school. I remember the day vividly. It was a beautiful afternoon, not a cloud in the sky, when a woman in her forties came into the club with a big smile. She bounced up to the desk and announced loudly (and with an exaggerated lisp) “ithn’t it a nithe day?”
I smiled back at her, and without as much as pausing to think, I replied, “yeth it ith!” I thought she was being playful…just pretending to have a lisp.
You may think I would have learned my lesson from that embarrassing moment, but you would be wrong.
The same woman came into the racquet club on my shift several months later and quietly asked if she could have, “a towel pleathe?”
With our last encounter all too vivid in my memory, I was desperate to redeem myself in her eyes. I gave her a wide smile and blurted, “Of courthe you can!” It just came out of my mouth, I have no idea how.
But I am not the only one in my family cursed with this horrible habit of sticking a foot into my mouth. My sister has had her share of moments. One in particular comes to mind.
The new towels:
My younger sister worked at the racquet club too, and she was working the front desk on the same day we finally got a shipment of brand new larger towels to replace the threadbare, small towels we had been handing out to members. The old towels hadn’t even been swapped out on the day in question, but the new ones were at the ready should anyone come in requesting a towel.
Early in my sister’s shift, a very overweight woman had come in for her evening aerobics class. She requested a towel, and without thinking, my sister reached for the old towels, handing it automatically toward the woman. But before the woman had a chance to grasp the towel, my sister snatched it back, suddenly remembering the new towels. If she had just changed the old towel for a new one without saying a word, she may have been ok, but not my sister. She looked at the woman and said, “oh wait…I’ll get you a BIG towel.”
Of course the woman thought my sister was referring to her size rather than the existence of new larger towels.
But we both come by our “foot in mouth syndrome” naturally.
I remember a time we were at a restaurant, celebrating some major occasion where dessert was absolutely required. As the overweight waitress approached the table carrying a tray heaped with ice cream sundaes, multi layered cakes, and other assorted calorie rich treats, my father exclaimed, “Here comes fat city, heading right for us!” He was, of course, referring to the desserts, not the waitress…but I don’t think she got that inference.
Certainly not if her facial expression was any indication.
I suppose I should see the positive in this family trait…it does make for a lot of laughs. And laughter IS the best medicine.
Until the next time…I’ll be laughing myself to sleep!