This week has been checkered with grievous episodes of misspeaking on my part. It isn’t a shock to those who’ve known me for more than an hour. All my life, I’ve said the wrong thing to the point of fully digesting my foot, nail polish and all. This, in particular, would’ve been a great week to be struck with laryngitis. Too bad you can’t schedule that kind of thing.
Through the years I’ve had to apologize to more people than live in the nation of Uzbekistan for insults ranging from “when’s your baby due” said to an effeminate pot-bellied man to “don’t take this the wrong way, but I think you’re a bitch. Everyone does, so it shouldn’t come as a shock.” I finally had business cards printed featuring a clipart foot-in-mouth logo and the phrase “I’m really sorry for whatever I said.” I hand them out randomly… mostly to women, especially at places where cocktails are served.
When God doled out tact and verbal filtering devices, he skipped my mother’s side of the family, including me. I’ve often thought how great it would be if one could simply purchase the character trait they were lacking…or have it transplanted from a donor. I sometimes envision a gracious and genteel finishing school teacher being mugged and murdered shockingly; the perpetrator fleeing without uttering a single please or thank you. The one bright side of the horrific tragedy is that her tact (which remained fully intact) would be transplanted to me. I, of course, would promptly get out my best stationary and write a note of genuine gratitude and invitation to tea for her remaining family members.
This week’s drama comes to us compliments of the Daffodil Drive Gardening Society, of which I’m a junior member (meaning that I’m allowed to kill a maximum of five houseplants and remain in good standing.) It all started on Monday at the flower arranging marathon. My friend Natalie and I worked feverishly competing with 10 other duos for fastest foxglove centerpiece. We’d just gotten into a groove when Shelley sidled up. “Great to see you ladies. Natalie, thanks for asking me to cater your Botox brunch yesterday morning. Melanie told me I’d get a phone call to plan the menu, but I didn’t. Thanks a LOT” Shelley tacked a cursory “just kidding” and snarky laugh on the end of her statement.” An uncomfortable silence followed.
My IQ is not much higher than my diastolic blood pressure, but I know that people often dress up verbal jabs as humor to get their point across in a palatable fashion. If Shelley were a famous chef her signature dessert would be open switchblade served in puff pastry. “Gosh, Shelley, I’m sorry!” Natalie stammered.
In attempt to rescue her from awkwardness, I said “Shelley, you and Natalie aren’t even very good friends. Are you? I’ve never seen you hang out together or heard of you calling each other. Plus, Marci the Meal Maven did an awesome job. I mean, why would she ask you? Did you ask her to perform the hair removal at your Brazilian Waxing Breakfast? Ya know she’s a great esthetician.”
The more I said; the worse things got. Natalie finally elbowed me in the ribs saying “hutt–hupp, Hanela” under her breath in a way that sounded like her tongue had been bitten off. Shelley, looking wounded and incredulous, huffed away.
“That wasn’t funny, Angela. She’s never going to speak to me again now,” Natalie whined, sounding normal again.
“Well, who in their right mind has the nerve to ask a gathering host why they didn’t use her services? Isn’t it your decision who you hire? Plus, she makes fun of you behind your back. Don’t get mad at me; I’m just the messenger.”
Natalie began chatting with Rosemary at the next table and acted distantly toward me the rest of the day. That’s the thanks I get for being honest. The human foot tastes surprisingly like chicken.
The next night, in my Mother-Daughter Banquet comedy routine which was supposed to end with a serious, reverent reading of Philippians 4:11 and devotion, I forgot my notes and butchered the text…. stammering “Uhm, Paul… or was it Phillip… said to Timothy….. or Titus or somebody…Maybe it was Jesus… that he was happy in prison…or something like that.” And then I made a crude joke about circumcision. It went from bad to worse. I could feel the audience cringing in unison. It was important that the program end on an inspirational note. I totally blew it. On the bright side, the jokes were really funny. Maybe I’ll stick to comedy clubs from now on.
It’s now Friday. Natalie and Shelley are going out tonight to revitalize their friendship…without me. The church women are having a bake sale. No one called to ask if I’d help out. Perhaps getting this off my chest, under the cloak of a blog entry will make things better….or ruin them even further. Maybe I should keep my fingers away from the keyboard as well.