“Some Things I Wish I’d Never Said”
(Note: This column originally appeared in the Fairfield Bays News on Sept. 11, 2002.)
Every so often something flies out of our mouths that we wish we could get back. But of course, it is always too late. Typically, these outbursts of inappropriate comments involve the mundane daily events and most often are directed at the one we spend most of our days with. For instance, have you ever said something like this: “What in the world did you put into this meatloaf? It tastes like dog food! Are you trying to poison me?”
Another frequent oral blast goes like this: “What did you buy this for? You needed another golf club like another hole in your head! What about our budget? Our 401k is in the toilet and you tell me that you can’t live without this new stupid stick? You’re taking us nonstop to the poorhouse!”
Over the years, such outbursts as these are seen as routine, as being part of the long accepted domestic landscape and they are ignored or quickly forgotten by the recipient. It’s not much different than tolerating a partner’s snoring: you got used to it or you would have moved out long ago. It is also very similar to having a dog that barks whenever somebody or something goes by the front of the house: a distracting noise but nothing to get excited about.
It is when a person ventures past his front door that poorly chosen comments cause their speaker moments or even years of regret for letting something untoward fly. Usually these irretrievable words are directed at some poor unsuspecting soul who is not hardened to thoughtless speech. For instance, a few years ago, I went to a funeral parlor holding a wake for a friend’s just departed wife. The newly widowed husband greeted me by saying, “Thanks for coming.” And I replied, “It is nice to be here!” On the way out, this man again thanked me and I let go with, “My pleasure!” Duh!
Another arena that is conducive for making oral blunders are Family Reunions. In a recent conversation with my struggling stock broker son-in-law, I suggested that, “…you should get a real job!” Ouch! To his wife, my daughter, I asked, “Have you checked to see if your kids don’t have ADHD? They seem to be out of control!” I didn’t know my daughter could stare so hard.
At this same reunion, I asked my oldest brother, “What happened that caused your third (of five) wife to walk out on you? She appeared to have a lot of class!” Later on, I just had to know from him if a certain son of his, “… had finally got off drugs?” Talk about stares, it might be a genetic thing that runs thru my family.
Here are a few more things I wished I hadn’t said recently:
(To my son-in-law, the stockbroker) “Couldn’t you see the 2001 meltdown coming? And why did you put my daughter’s nest egg into World Com?” He was speechless. He ought to be!
(To my sister-in-law who was hosting a dinner) “Don’t you have anything else to eat besides Cole Slaw? It tastes like Milorganite!” Knowing her, I think it was Milorganite!
(To my other useless son-in-law) “Please tell when you are going to get this patented chair of yours that has been fifteen years on the drawing board off the ground? I only have a few years left and I hope to see just one before I die!” I think with that statement he may delay its production.
(To my brother-in-law, Two Ton Tony) “Have you ever thought about going on a diet?”
(To my uncle Charley, a loyal but blind Democrat) “And you are sure that Clinton did not have sex with Monica?” He responded with a long dissertation on the verb, is.
(To a fellow golfer who is known to be a complainer) “Now would you please tell me again for the one-thousandth time, what you don’t like about our golf course? I don’t have to be anywhere for the next ten days, so let it fly!” My family members aren’t the only ones that can stare.
This list is only a sample, a tip of my verbal iceberg. I have sunk many a (friend)ship with my oral torpedoes. And this inspite of being warned by my dear mother who instructed me wisely, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything!” I guess I must have a memory disorder.
On the other hand, my problem of alienating people may resolve itself, because as each day goes by, fewer and fewer people seem to be willing to come within my range. “Am I nuts or what?” I even do it to myself!