Sunday, February 06, 2005

How To Win Friends and Influence People.

Anyone can be tactless, but I take it new levels. Let’s call it…Macro-tactless. Pan-tactless. Just-drink-strychnine tactless. And, along with the inability to go braless or finish a sentence, I can attribute this to giving birth. Not that I was the Princess of Protocol before conception, you understand. Far from it. At least four times a year, since I was capable of holding a pen, I have written some variation of the following letter:

Dear Blah,

Please forgive me when I said blah. I meant to say “Blah”, but it came out “Blah”/I had no idea that you had a blah in your family/ were briefly married to a blah/had a blah surgically removed last year. If it is any consolation, nearly everyone I know thinks that I am a big blah.

Yours apologetically,

But, somehow, since having the Best Kid in the World, my ability to insult people has taken on a complusive energy. I don’t know whether repeating myself comes from having spent the better part of three years needing to say things like “Put the vase down. Put…the…vase…down. Down. Put it down. In your hand. Put it down.”. But now, apparently, anything worth apologizing about is worth saying several times.

Case in point:

This school year, I made an offhand comment to my daughter’s pre-school teacher that I thought another child was behaving like Satan (Oh, stop looking at me like that. If you knew what this kid did, you’d have blurted it, too). Turns out, this sweet woman took some offense, what with my having referred to an innocent (ha!) child as Lord of the Underworld, and the teacher being a devout Christian and all. I apologized, sincerely. And I meant it. So, could someone please explain to me how, since then, in every conversation with this teacher, I cannot stop talking about sin, and sin-related words? And I’m talking small talk.

It goes like this...

Teacher: Wow, you were almost late today for pick-up, you never are.
Quinn: Yeah, well, that Godless traffic was really Hellish today.
Teacher: Really, in mid-afternoon?
Quinn: Completely evil. And Godless.
Teacher: At least you got here in time.
Quinn: I think that Satan was running the stop lights.

See? Somewhere in me, some piteous little voice is screaming to talk about anything but the forces of light and darkness. Her new skirt, the stomach flu outbreak in the class, construction paper, something. But, no, somewhere in my brain, I have concluded that the best way to atone for a prior faux pas is to keep making larger and larger ones.

The other problem with my conversational skills right now is that I have none. Politics depress and frighten me, I don’t understand any of the major sports (Want to talk fencing?), and I haven’t seen a single reality show that is currently on the air. Not one.

“C’mon,” you say, impatiently. “You must have seen Survivor”.


Apprentice? Even once?”.


America’s Top Bulimic?”

Please don’t take this as a judgment against those people who live and breathe for any of these shows. Nor am I a member of some incredibly minor cult. It’s just that I saw four seasons of The Real World -- including those tumultuous Puck in San Francisco episodes -- and I have come to realize that reality shows make me feel as if I've eaten two pounds of Jelly Bellies in one sitting. [Unfortunately, I can speak of that sensation firsthand]. So, there is one less topic I can work into adult conversation.

I’m mildly pleased with the amount of information I have accrued on the subject of raising and entertaining someone born in or after the year 2000, but it’s not an area of expertise that lends itself to sophisticated banter. My opening gambits are:

1. So, what pre-schools have you seen?
2. What time does your kid go to bed?
3. I can get gum out of hair in under three minutes.

Or, of course, I can offend you.

This is why I am found at most social gatherings standing near the chips with crumbs dribbling into my cleavage. We all know people shouldn't talk with their mouths full. And I’ve decided that chewing (and its resultant hours on the stair-master) takes less energy than writing all those notes of apology.


Blogger Unknown said...

I love this post. Just discovered your blog via the most recent Maron WTF episode. I think this is what I've been waiting to read for a long time

3:35 PM  

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