Today’s topic is one which is near and dear to me, as it regards an affliction which affects me daily. ‘Foot-In-Mouth’ disease is an innate ability to say inappropriate things at usually inappropriate times. Now, ordinarily, these comments are meant to be nice, or at least constructive. However….sometimes, things just don’t come out right.

Allow me to illustrate my point. A number of years ago, I was at the post office. It was about 3 to 4 days before Christmas, and I met someone inside whom I had known for years, and had known his parents for even longer. (I’ll call him ‘X’ to protect his identity). And as you know, Christmas is a time of year which often brings out the best in us. As I saw ‘Mr. X’, I felt this need come over me to console him, as friends should. ‘X’ I said, ‘it must be difficult for your father and your family at this time of year, what with your mother passing away and all.’ When X looked at me with a puzzled expression, I realized: a) his mother had NOT passed away, and b) the person who had passed away was about to receive a Christmas card and a bouquet at their door.

Aw crap. To this day, X and his family love to rub this in, but all in good, if not excruciating, fun.

Without being malignant, we sometimes say things that haunt us for years. I have learnt, for instance, not to ask ‘When is the baby due?’ anymore, especially when, in one case, I had to duck to avoid the can of peas flying at my head at the grocery store (the lady had gained ‘some’ weight, and was decidedly NOT pregnant). I try not to ask someone how their spouses are, because, often times, they either a) passed away or b) they wished they had passed away. ‘How’s Jim these days?’ I innocently would ask, only to be met with a baleful look, or would hear expletives muttered under their breaths.

Gone are the days when I could innocently ask if ‘the carpet matches the drapes’, if the beard had ‘somehow lost its grey’, ask ‘when did you get front teeth?’, or even ‘did you always wear tent-like clothing?’. Woeful days these have become indeed.

I once inquired of a friend where their dog was, as I hadn’t seen it in a while. I innocently ignored the furtive looks I was getting from the obviously distraught parents of the suddenly crying children, who’s dog had been run over by, ironically, the dog catcher who was on his way to ‘catch a dog’. Well. They haven’t called me in a while. I wonder if it is a coincidence.

I have learnt not to ask how someone is feeling lately, especially if they are in a body cast, or crying incessantly while saying, over and over, ‘If only we bought the extended warranty!!’ It would appear that tragedy manifests itself in many forms.

One thing I have definitely picked up on: stop talking about whatever it is I’m saying to my wife, Anne, when I get ‘the look’…. Come on, guys, you know which ‘look’ I’m talking about. The expression they have when you’re saying something like ‘did you get your hair done?’ when it’s been a week since it was, or ‘did you fart?’ when it is patently obvious that, since you are the one who ate the beans, she is not the one who dealt it.

Have any of you ever answered the phone, and spoken to a person for a couple of minutes before realizing, much too late, that you have been addressing this person as ‘sir’ when it has now become obvious that it is a lady? I have. Awkward!! How do I look him/her in the eye now? Does he/she harbor ill will upon me? Likely, in his/her case, the answer would be a resounding yes. Can’t say that I blame him/her.

Rejoice, all of you who are afflicted with this disorder. You are not alone!! We can beat this!! With help, lots and lots of help, no longer will others be inadvertently insulted by us. They will be free to wear those ugly pants, get that terrible afro, free to walk with toilet paper sticking out of their skirts, or even have bed head, all without fear of our ill-placed comments!!

  1. mickovich says:

    Nice work! I genuinely enjoyed this article.. I understand a lot more about myself and why I constantly find my mouth full of Tinea!! 😉

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