I have foot in mouth disease. Yes. Yes, I do. You aren’t shocked, if you know me. That excruciating condition of placing my idiotic, blabbermouth foot directly into my giant should-always-think-before-speaking maw.
In my time I have said and done some socially inappropriate things. I have, in no particular order:
-Asked an overweight woman if she was pregnant.
-Referred to myself as “handicapped” when I couldn’t open a jug of cream, in front of a woman in a wheel chair.
-Called a guy I knew “Cancer-Man”, because he was always smoking, just like that character called Cancer-Man from that old show The X-Files, who was also always smoking cigarettes. Yeah, and of course, this poor guy was going through cancer treatment. ( This irony of smoking with cancer was not lost on me though….)
-Asked a infertile woman if she was pregnant.
-Tried to pull a kid’s finger when he farted, and yeah, you guessed it, he was a thalidomide baby. He only had two fingers on each hand.
But you see, I have no intention of hurting anyone’s feelings, and I definitely don’t go out and purposely try to make myself look like an asshole. Yet, these truthfully passive but outrageously insulting comments and actions just come out of nowhere and bitch-slap the hell out of a nice social situation. Bitch-slaps it, farts in its face, spits on it and renders me, for the moment, a social pariah of sorts.
On American Idol the other night, Ryan Seacrest was interviewing a blind contestant, and to congratulate him Ryan tried to high five him, obviously to no avail. After I cringed and even blushed for the poor idiot, I laughed, only because I know that I would do the. same. fucking. thing.
I once worked with a woman who named my disease “Krisitis”. And, yeah, holy crap, that still makes me laugh. Good times.
Anyway, I usually end up fretting about it non-stop, constantly replaying the scene in my mind, second-guessing the whole degrading incident, horrified over and over again at my cringe-inducing behaviour. And these flashbacks tend to linger. You know, it’s been years since I exclaimed to Debbie, “Oh, congratulations! You’re pregnant!”, a sweet woman who was only experiencing the difficulty of losing 25 pounds (I only know this because she told me.) after having a couple children. As adults, as mommies, we all know that story now, how hard it is, how achingly defeative it can be for some women. Ugh. It’s like I lobbed a big old insult sandwich at her and it spewed gooey abuse all over her somewhat large tummy, all over what we now refer to as a “muffin top”. Poor Debbie. Can you imagine what it’s like when a perky skinny teenager who occasionally babysits for you asks you if you’re pregnant? And you’re not? And I wonder sometimes if she stood in front of that mirror later on and maybe had a little cry over that. I sure didn’t mean it like that though, and I constantly question where this comes from, these off-the-cuff remarks, hurtful and slicing. They fly unheeded from my mouth, these words that I never mean to be hurtful.
Maybe I have Tourette’s.
I could list multitudes of embarrassing breaches of etiquette that I have committed. Humbly, I know that in retrospect, these make some amusing stories to share with girlfriends over glasses of wine. We all have our moments. I just happen to have way more than others.
I will leave you with this. When I was about four years old, I approached a man of African descent, and, in front of my mortified mother, asked him if he was “the same colour all over.”
I have to take a deep breath and reluctantly admit that this has been a life long affliction.