Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Foot in Mouth Disease

People who know me well will be surprised to hear that I've actually gotten a little better at filtering what comes out of my mouth. If this is better, you might ask, how bad was it before?

I've erupted with some real doozies. I rarely apologize for these, hoping instead that the recipient of my outburst will forget it if I never mention the incident again.

Shortly after graduating from college, I read an article about what attorneys usually make in the first few years practicing law . . . and stupidly asked a law school friend how he felt knowing that Paul - a couple of years younger and with a mere bachelor's degree - made significantly more than he was likely to make upon graduation with his JD. Hmm. I'm not very good friends with this guy anymore. Is it because we're all grown up and married with kids now? Living in different states? On opposite ends of the political spectrum? Or just that I have a long history of saying the rudest possible things to this friend?

After Paul and I had been dating for a couple years but before we were engaged, I developed a fascination with diamonds. This was not tied to any conscious desire on my part to receive a Big Ring and get married. I was just interested. I borrowed a thick coffee table book on diamonds from the library and renewed it three times until I'd read the whole thing cover to cover. Shortly thereafter, friends of ours became engaged. They, sadly, did not know of my recently acquired interest in diamonds. And it's worth noting that they were our first friends to get engaged, and neither my mother nor Paul's wears a diamond engagement ring. So solitaires were something I had very little experience with at that age.

We went out drinking and celebrating with yards of Guinness at The Cheshire (alas! How I miss ye, fabulous pub!). I have no idea where Paul was, but I was crammed into a booth with the groom and some other friends when the bride, who'd arrived late, joined us. As expected, I gushed over her shiny new ring. And then I asked how many carats it was. Right out loud! There was, of course, an awkward silence. And the groom had to answer because the bride - being much less of an asshole than I - didn't know. She hadn't asked the value of the ring before accepting her boyfriend's proposal.

I really just wanted a benchmark, but I ended up looking like the world's biggest jerk. All those people probably pitied Paul.

Paul and I did get engaged a year or so later, and he bought me a lovely ring. (In return I bought him a very nice tuxedo.) Sadly, I soon became aware of the politics and violence involved with diamond mining (ignorance was bliss in this case, and now I have a whole extra layer of guilt to carry around). I rarely wear my engagement ring lately, though that has nothing to do with guilt and lots to do with weight fluctuation and the tending of very small children.

Thinking of weight, in fact, thinking of anything that's inappropriate to mention, I'm one of those people who can't seem to talk about anything other than what I should NOT be talking about. The harder I try to fix this problem, the worse it gets.

So I'm a walking Joe Biden, and that's not even counting all the "smaller" comments I've made resulting from misunderstandings or bad guesses on my part regarding religion, politics, relationship status, fertility, education, and so on and so forth. When I met Paul's mother, she told me that she was a nurse. I asked if she was an LPN. (She's an RN.)

I'm sure many who know me could supply even more that I haven't shared . . .

But rest assured, I rarely forget these. I just let my guilt fester silently.


Amy said...


My most recent doozie was when I was seated at a table at a University event with a woman I didn't know. She kept talking to the woman next to her about "the cabinet." I asked her if she was an interior decorator.

She was the former lt. governor.


I laugh now, but at the time I wanted to crawl under the table and die.

flatflo said...

I hate that feeling when you know you have said something not quite appropriate, and don't know how to fix the blunder. Ech. On to another subject!

I specifically wanted a sapphire in my engagement ring, as I had seen some PBS show on DeBeers and the myth of the diamond engagement ring. But I did get a whole lot of little sparklers on encrusted on my ring. For some reason I don't feel as bad about those. An upside to the unconventional center stone is that the ring cost half the price of one with a diamond!

flatflo said...

Not that we were being cheap! But we could afford to have a ring custom designed! Plus sapphire blue is both of our favorite color. So a win all of the way around.

steph said...

Heh. Me, three. And Amy? That's priceless.

Sarahlynn said...

Amy, CRINGE. I feel your pain!

Flatflo, I LOVE sapphires. And I hate that we pay so much more for diamonds for . . . no good reason. Your ring is beautiful.

Steph, I love your writing voice. Love it!