February 20, 2008

What Not To Mention


As this blog becomes more and more popular, it illustrates a paradox between my alter ego, Mr. Grudge, and the real me. Here, I write articles, stories, and personal essays, and no one seems to get too rankled by the content of any subject I broach. Contrast that with my social life, and the differences are glaring.

You may be surprised to learn that I have the unerring ability to stick my foot in my mouth in any social situation. It’s not my fault as I am being chastised by unseen forces in the universe which are out to get me. When my wife and I are with people we are meeting for the first time, or with family, or even close friends, predictably, I'll say something which should have been left off the table, if you will. It’s not that I want to hurt anyone’s feelings; it’s because I’m a bit of a social oaf. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy meeting others and having a good laugh with friends, but my mouth often operates before my brain has a chance to put itself into gear. As a result, I’ve had some awkward moments.

Before we go to a party or dinner with other couples, my darling spouse covers a list of things I probably shouldn’t mention since it may cause a bit of an uncomfortable situation with those who will be present. She’ll say things like “Gary lost his job so don’t ask him about work, John and Teresa are getting divorced so don't ask if they are going to have kids, and the doctors have no idea what that hairy, bulbous thing is growing our of Ron's forehead so don't stare at it, and God help you if you point to him and ask him what he's going to do about that.” You get the idea. Do you think I get the hint? Most of the time; but, there are always items which slip past even my wife who spends an awful lot of time compiling her list of “don’t say that’s” before we go to a social event.

Long ago, when we were planning our wedding, my “then fiancĂ©” and I were at a diner with friends discussing our plans. The couple we were with, Millie and Ted, knew my wife long before the two of us met. In fact, the girlfriend, Millie, and my wife went to high school together. This couple was with my wife on the night we met for the first time. It is also important to note that we attended their wedding.

I hated Millie and Ted’s wedding. The party was such a crashing bore that I counted fire extinguishers, ceiling tiles, and checked out the cute, young women in the crowd to entertain myself. I even played my favorite wedding game “spot the old bridesmaids dress” where I look at a female guest and determine if the gown she is wearing was in fact a recycled bridesmaids evening dress she wore at another nuptial as a member of the bridal party.

You know what I am talking about. These are dresses fashioned out of material which Hollywood uses for space traveler costumes in low budget science fiction films. Many of these garments have an enormous bow, which for some reason designers place on the back of each dress just above the buttocks making it difficult for the woman to sit. I guess they figure that any girl in the bridal party is going to be whooping it up on the dance floor all night and they won’t need a chair. Also, the colors these dresses come in disregard God’s natural rainbow with a defiant fist, as they are never used for any other type of clothing. They include: Burnt Orange, Apricot, Chianti, Buttercup, Dusty Lavender, Kiwi, and my favorite, Lipstick. Only a friend would wear these colors out in public for another friend. And, I don’t blame a woman for wanting to get more mileage out of a few yards of satin that she shelled out $350 for just to wear for a few hours. But, I digress.

Their wedding was so bad that even the Dee Jay they hired was appalling enough to make one uncomfortable. He was an older gentleman who not only played music from the 1940’s most of the evening; his mixing console used cassette tapes. Not CDs, not vinyl records, but cassette tapes. He’d speak into his Omni directional microphone to announce a tune, and if his head veered an inch to the right or left you couldn’t hear him. What you could hear was the sound of him plopping in the tape over the P.A. system, and then the sibilant hiss of the tape winding across the tape heads before the song played. It was appalling.

I was seated at a table with my wife and all of her friends from high school and I didn’t know a single one of them. They didn’t even want to talk to me as they laughed and giggled about their "rebellious" teenaged exploits such as when in the tenth grade they all jumped into Bobby Johnson’s father’s station wagon and went to the barn dance and drank beer in the parking lot. What a truckload of dorks. It was stories like that one which made me rethink our engagement. Nevertheless, I was absolutely writhing in boredom. My eyes held a morbid curiosity with the fumbling, unskilled, Dee Jay as he whipped out another timeless classic from "The Andrews Sisters." Incredulous, I turned to the young lady next to me, pointed to the man with my thumb and chuckled “Do you believe this guy?” Suggesting that he was some sort of clown. She leaned towards me and said, “Yeah, he’s my uncle.”

What are the chances of me choosing his niece out of an auditorium full of two hundred people to make that comment to? If I had those types of odds playing in my favor while playing the lottery, I wouldn’t be blogging right now; I’d have servants doing it.

That brings me back to two years after Millie and Ted’s dreadful wedding. The four of us were in the diner discussing our wedding plans. By coincidence, and after investigating dozens of wedding halls, my wife and I settled on the same venue where Millie and Ted had their reception. There were two options for a cocktail hour. You can host one indoors with a small band and a bar. Or, you can have the cocktail hour outside under a large awning on the side of the building. Millie lobbied hard for us to host the cocktail hour outdoors.

“Are you kidding?” my mouth said. “Like I want to sit outside under a converted car port, next to the chain link fence where the valets park the guests’ cars on the other side, and have exhaust fumes seeping into the hors dourves, and then everyone can marvel at the portable, electric, plastic, fountain which they wheel out on a drink cart and place next to the waxy, yellow, cheese dish.”

I sat back and watched Millie squirm. My wife’s head hanged low. Then Millie spoke. “We had the cocktail hour outside and it was nice.”

Oops, I forgot. I had completely erased their wedding from my memory. Lucky for me Millie brushed my comment off. She was more accommodating than perhaps I would have been if I were on the receiving end of such an ill-mannered remark.

I don’t know if I’ll change. At my age, maybe I don’t want to. After writing this post, I can make the argument that I am merely creating material for my novels and for this blog. But, we’re still friends with Millie and Ted. I’m just not allowed to mention their reception with them around. In fact all weddings are off limits. And, if I ever embarrass my wife like that ever again, she told me that I'd find myself eligible to marry some other woman who may be willing to put up with my constant slip-ups. That’s okay, as long as we don’t have the cocktail hour outdoors.


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36 comments:

Anna said...

I had to laugh on this post, funny, and hey why not. I make sometimes those remarks but I have learned to turn to my husband and comment on things around to him first, and see if it is acceptable to make a comment in public, lol. Once I ran into issue too, I learned this joke. The joke was making fun of certain nationality or people from certain region in Canada. So what are the chances that I chose the nationality same as in the joke - however she was brave enough to tell me before the joke started, yes I am from Newfoundland too. The joke did not end up being funny at all, lol. Thanks for sharing this story, lol. Anna :)

Mee mOe said...

Great story lol, thanks for sharing, I just love it when friends share their experiences...*smile*

Kristyn said...

Mike, your post made me laugh out loud. My insomniac husband is sleeping and I may have woken him up I was laughing so hard! I think I laughed because my husband is a bit of a social oaf too, but not in the same way you are. Until he knows someone, and even after, he tends to be so quiet that he makes people uncomfortable. He does his sizing-um-up act and I have to explain later that he's not a total social goon, he's just not terribly talkative. Even friends we've had for years experience the "I'm just not interested in this conversation" silence. I suppose it's better, however, than if he were to open his trap and say something completely embarrassing... sorry! ;) Of course, he and I have the same morbid sense of humor, so I'd probably just snicker at his unsociable remarks and we'd both be socially stoned. :P

My friends husband, however, is the open his mouth and say things that shouldn't be said type. We tease him and call him "Nothing's sacred Joey."

Best,
Kristyn

Swubird said...

Mr. Grudge:

Wonderful post. I hear your pain, but like you said, maybe you're too old to change, and maybe you just don't want to change. Either way, like my lazy cat - it doesn't matter.

We've all been there. I've put my foot in my mouth so many times - I have to see a dentist to shop for shoes. I once asked a lady when her baby was due, only to see her shoulders slump forward as she said, "I'm not pregnant." Mortified? doesn't even come close to how I felt. But we have to move on. It's just life. After all, you don't know what they were saying about you at that reception. What? You're not perfect? That's absurd. I believe you Mr. Grudge, but then again, we're blogger buddies.

Have a nice day.

Bob Johnson said...

Mike, LOL, I am the biggest foot in mouth person around, so much so my wife doesn't even give me a list of things to stay clear of, actually maybe that's why she never takes me out anymore, have to think about that one, very funny relateable story, just so you know all my family calls me bobby, hence Bobby Johnson, not related to the person in this story,lol.

pdwarrior said...

Now I don't feel so bad...

I have learned through the years that I can fit both feet into my mouth at the same time, and still have room to spare.

Great post.

Winter said...

That is sooo funny! I have foot in mouth disease too. But it's kind of an obsessive compulsive thing. The one thing I shouldn't say just pounds on me from the inside until I just have to make some sort of reference to it. This is probably why I am wallflower at parties. I hang out in the kitchen. Really. LOL Great post!

joderebe said...

Well Mike, judging from the comments here it seems that the " ol' foot in the mouth" syndrome is quite a common thing. And yes, I'm guilty of such a thing as well. Could we ever swap stories :-)
Well done on the story. You have the ability to hook the reader in and carry them to the end of the story. And, I've noticed how people have the tendency to reflect on their own circumstances and compare...which makes the story personal, their story also. A unique gift my friend.
Well, I'm off too work....
~JD

Kathy said...

Despite your foot in mouth disease, I still would like to hang out with you at boring receptions. You're my kind of guy. Incidentally, every wife gives the instructions. As for us, we have a huddle where I call the "Make sure you don't say...." plays and I just pray he can execute.

AntiBarbie said...

I loathe having to be hyper vigilant and walk on eggshells in social situations. I feel for you. I've done the same stuff.

1st Lady said...

At least you can talk in social situations. I'm not very good at small talk, always the quietest in the bunch (would you believe it), and the instant I meet someone new my brain says "you dont know this person and have nothing to say to them" and I clam up. Wish I had the gift of the gab like most of my friends. I'm much better 1 on 1.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Anna,
I understand exactly whay you went through with that joke. I am the master of the awkward moment and the joke which goes over like an exploding cigar at a state funeral. I think we all have this type of stuff happen to us. But, I feel I have more than my share....my poor wife, lol. Thanks Anna. It's always a pleasure to read your comments here. -Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Mee Moe!
Thank you so much for reading my post. It's great to have you stop by and read. I appreciate it, and I like to share these stories with friends :)
Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kristyn,
"he and I have the same morbid sense of humor, so I'd probably just snicker at his unsociable remarks and we'd both be socially stoned. :P"

I've learned over the years or not say such things in public anymore. BTW, nobody has a meaner sense of humor than my wife. She's been known to cut someone in half with a single utterance. I fear her. lol Thanks Kristyn. Also, I won't have time for a couple of days to do any real blogging, but I'll read your new blog when I can read a lot of it and not just give it a once over. From what I did glance at, it looks great. Congratulations. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Swubird,
"I have to see a dentist to shop for shoes."

I love that line, may I borrow it?

Yes, we are blogging buddies, Swubird. I appreciate you reading my blog...really I do.
-Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Bobby Johnson,
So, you were the one speeding around the nighborhood with a stationwagon full of beer swilling teenagers? lol.
Bob, honestly, I changed the real guy's name to protect the not so innocent, and for the life of me I didn't think I'd be singling you out by naming him Bobby Johnson. I feel foolish because I read your blog all the time. This goes to prove my basic point with this story, that I stick my foot in my mouth all the time...even on my blog! Thanks for being a sport Bobby, I mean Bob, er Bobby?

-Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi PD Warrior,
"I have learned through the years that I can fit both feet into my mouth at the same time, and still have room to spare."

Very funny. Thanks so much for stopping by to read. I mean that.I appreciate all of my readers, and I welcome you here. Have a terrific weekend. -Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Winter,
"The one thing I shouldn't say just pounds on me from the inside until I just have to make some sort of reference to it."

I can totally relate, Winter. The one thing I am not supposed to say gnaws at me too. I think it's pathological with me, as if I want everyone to think I am so damn clever...but it turns out to be a disaster. lol. Thanks for reading, Winter. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi JD,
"...judging from the comments here it seems that the " ol' foot in the mouth" syndrome is quite a common thing.

Well JD, it seems that is is common only with the folks brave enough to admit to foot in mouth disease here, lol. Look for the revised MW rules in a couple of days. We'll talk, my friend and fellow Midnight Wanderer. -Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kathy,
"every wife gives the instructions. As for us, we have a huddle where I call the "Make sure you don't say...." plays and I just pray he can execute.

Very funny...my wife just holds her head in er hands as she knows it is a failure from the get-go. lol. I'll e-mail ya back soon. Thanks for stopping by. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi AntiBarbie,
"I loathe having to be hyper vigilant and walk on eggshells in social situations.

I agree, makes thing rather uncomfortable, doesn't it? Thanks AntiBarbie.
-Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi 1st Lady,
"Wish I had the gift of the gab like most of my friends. I'm much better 1 on 1.

Aw...I would definitely talk to you at a party, and you would run from me because I cannot shut up, lol. Thanks 1st Lady, you can talk here anytime. -Mike.

Paul Burman said...

Foot 'n' mouth disease hits most of us at some time or another, I guess. Some remain blissfully ignorant and some get very embarrassed about it. The people that always give me the irrits though are those people who set out to be as rude as they can to all and sundry whilst claiming that they're speaking their mind. I don't mean the people who are prepared to be contentious or who challenge convention in an intelligent way, but those who simply set out to be rude thinking it's part of their quaint charm and that everyone else should put up with it. Often they're the ones who take offence first when dealt a dose in return. Have you come across many like this in your role as a police officer?

elaine said...

This is a funny story but I bet it would really feel awkward if you are in that situation. I am a very silent type of person, I may be silent but I hope I would be forgiven on what's playing on my mind sometimes! But my facial expressions can't really hide what I am thinking. lol

Max said...

Hey Mike,

I came through Peter...where are my manners? I should've started by introducing myself...I am Max :).

Well, I think that everybody puts its foot in the mouth every now and then lol....it's human.
I am going to confess one thing: you seem to be an amusing person, one of those people who would make me laugh...what is a social gathering without someone to tell the truth (or not, or just a gaffe) to the people present? I tell you what it is: boring.

LOL LOL your wife is a dear...my mom also does that to my dad LOL.
Oh my...I didn't know there could be boring weddings... :-o!
"my favourite wedding game «spot the old bridesmaid dress»" LOL LOL LOL this was an awesome one LOL LOL...loved it!

"Also, the colors these dresses come in disregard God's natural rainbow with a defiant fist" LOL LOL LOL so true, so true *nodding*...
ROFL on the DJ part LOL....

Ah, Mike...I had a wonderful time reading your post; you are one funny character! I shall return :)!

Cheers

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Paul,
"Have you come across many like this in your role as a police officer?

Oh yes! There are police officers who are rude as ever as they hide behind their "badge," if you will. When I worked with a rude cop, I always told them to knock it off and treat the public as you would have a fellow officer treat a member of their own family. In fact, much of the training we had centered around "courtesy, professionalism, and respect."

These are easy concepts to adhere to, and many cops do follow the guidelines, but the few who don't make an indelible impression on those they are rude to. I've always said that police are their own worst public relations representatives. I've written much of these types of conflcits in my novels which I am trying to get published.

By the way, I am very much interested in reading your new novel "The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore. I'd like to buy it on Amazon; but, it is listed as currently unavailable on Amazon, US. However, I will be checking back soon. Thank you so much for reading, Paul. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Elaine,

" ...I may be silent but I hope I would be forgiven on what's playing on my mind sometimes!

I think I may not be forgiven for what is on my mind sometimes! hehe. Thnaks so much for reading, Elaine. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Max,
It is a pleasure to meet you. I think Peter is a terrific person, and I read his blog often.

Thank you for being the only person to laugh at my little game of "Spot the Old Bridesmaid Dress." I thought I was the only person whos would look at a woman and figure out that she wore that as a bridesmaid at another wedding. I am glad I was able to make you laugh. Let me warn you, though...I am not always funny. SSsshhh! Don't tell anyone, okay? I bookmarked your blog and I am already impressed by the depth of your writing. Your article "About Satan" is thought provoking and instructive. I look forward to reading much more of your work. welcome to my blog, and thank you for reading, Max.

Elaine said...

Hi Mike,
Guess I'm late reading this post but I must admit I enjoyed it tremendously and truly laughed out loud. You have such a talent for sharing your stories in ways that makes the reader feel right there along with you.
Thanks!

Jack Payne said...

Confessions of a Social Oaf. Delightful reading, indeed, Mike.

When starting out, stone broke, fresh out of college, my wife kept me on the straight and narrow, in every way. For starters, her obsession with spending money wisely was on a par with the frugality of Scrooge. This basic common sense talent sorta spilled over into keeping me from making gouche, stumble, fumble, and fall goofs in social outing situations.

This piece was a good reminder of how I was kept on a short leash, and restrained from making a complete fool of myself in my misspent youth.

Thank you for this shot of perverse inspiration.

Kimchihead said...

I, too, have a tendency to put my foot in my mouth. Which is why I have adopted a habit of keeping my mouth shut in social situations!

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Elaine,
"Guess I'm late reading this post but I must admit I enjoyed it tremendously and truly laughed out loud.

It's never too late! hehe
I am glad I made you laugh. Also, it is always good to see that you've stopped by. Thanks-Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Jack,
"Thank you for this shot of perverse inspiration.

You're welcome, Jack. As for the short leash you mention, I'm a married man, and I understand completely. Thanks for reading, Jack.-Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kimchihead,
"I, too, have a tendency to put my foot in my mouth. Which is why I have adopted a habit of keeping my mouth shut in social situations!

That's a lesson I never seem to learn, my friend. Thanks for stopping by.
-Mike

footiam said...

Oh! I guess then there really are some uncalled for remarks; it's great to have someone to remind us of that sometimes. You have a great wife, Mike!

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi footiam,
"You have a great wife, Mike!
You are correct, sir. I do indeed have a geat wife. Thank goodeness she watched what I say! Thanks footiam.
-Mike