Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Foot in Mouth Disease

I am a generally intelligent person. I am a generally sensitive person. I very rarely, if ever, say things to deliberate hurt someone else, and certainly not to their face. I'll go out of my way to avoid that, in fact. Remember, I'm Miss No-Confrontation.

But on an all-too-regular basis, out of my mouth will come a sentence of such heartbreaking stupidity and unintentional aggression that I wish I could spend the rest of my days hiding under a rock. One of my best friends in the entire world has two such stories that she takes out every now and again to torture me with. The first I deny with vehemence, because I truly don't remember saying it, but she swears I did. The other I remember quite well. We were going to a Mets game after work, she and I, and it was going to get cold. I had a sweatshirt jacket with me, but Ro didn't. So I suggested that, before we left for the game, we stop by my aunt's apartment, which just happened to be around the corner from my office, and borrow a sweatshirt for her. My exact words, I believe, were: "My aunt is obese, so you won't have any trouble finding one that fits you." Ro's exact reaction, I believe, was to stare at me in complete disbelief for a full moment, speechless.

I know! I know! You hate me now, too! It's OK; I'm right there with you. But, really, I swear, in my head it at first sounded perfectly fine. See, Ro is a tall (but not obese) woman; my family is very, very short. I knew she would be worried that anything one of us could give her would be too small on her, so all I was trying to say was that, despite being short, my aunt wears large sizes that would also fit a tall person. When it came out of my mouth, though. Oy. Amazingly, we're still friends today.

I have a good dozen other such stories, including one I think I've already told (but am too lazy to go find in my archives) about my 16th birthday party, where I unintentionally insulted my insane stepmother and she threw a plate at my head. Good times.

So, this weekend. Our old roommates, M and G (again, too lazy to look up the post I wrote ages and ages ago about them and how much I love them) knew I needed a 'grownup' night (or seventy), and suggested that I come to hear a play workshop with them, then stay over at their house for the night. (Baroy and the kids joined us on Sunday, and we decorated M and G's tree, because both of them have jobs that require them to work almost 24/7 between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But I digress.)

The workshop was a one-woman show being done by a friend of M and G's, who I also really like a lot, who has been living with them for the past two years while trying to get on her feet, financially. Recently, M and G, needing to have their space back, gave her a very specific move-out date, and I know that it's hard on her, emotionally, to have to leave, and I know that she doesn't really want to talk about it all that much, if at all. So why, then, did I decide to bring up that specific date about seventeen times over the course of the day we were together, completely unrelated to her moving out? Why did I decide to keep discussing the number of weeks between then and now (which is, coincidentally, the same amout of time until Baroy does his next marathon)? And how could I have possibly NOT REALIZED I WAS DOING IT until she had left to do errands and M and G started talking about how she kept turning whiter and whiter each time I'd said it? Sheesh. What an idiot.

And then, because clearly I hadn't pissed the poor girl off enough, I for some reason decided to get into a long conversation with M and G and this woman about both children's births, and about all the feelings that engenders, etc. And M and G (gay men) were telling me about their other friends' experiences, etc. And suddenly I look across the table at this woman, who is trying hard to hide a scowl but failing, and realize...that play last night? Half of it was about being 40 and single and childless and how painful that is for her. And that sort of pain, clearly, just cries out for me to describe the wonders of birth in moment-by-moment detail, right? Yeah, I didn't think so either. So I tried to make it better by telling some lame-ass story about how I told a coworker that she was better off not having children if she didn't really want them, because it's so hard on your marriage, etc...but even I realized how insultingly lame that sounded after what I'd just prattled on and on about, so I fell silent and wished for the earth to swallow me up. No such luck.

But if it makes her feel any better, there is a just god. Today, I am working from home. Why? Because I have laryngitis. If I wrote that in a novel, you'd sneer at how heavy-handed my use of irony is. But this isn't a novel, and frankly, I'm grateful. Who knows what would have come out of me today otherwise?

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