Monday, November 07, 2005

Bigmouth Strikes Again

Sometimes, I'm amazed that anyone wants to hang out with me because I feel that, verbally, I am the equivalent of a bull in a china shop. I've stuck my foot in my mouth so many times, it would probably be most efficient if I just left the damn thing in there.

I realized my tendency to do this in the 3rd grade. I had a friend back then named Cynthia. But I really only hung out with her because my best friend Kim had moved away and, being a nerd, friends were in short supply for me. Cynthia was plenty happy to talk to me. And talk. And talk. And talk. And talk. And ta-- Sweet baby Jesus, she never shut up. My old friend Felix and I had a routine we said we always wanted to do for people like that: "You know, I find you...just...so (long inhale, and hold, hold, hold, exhale) exhausting."

But I guess that was the shaky foundation of our friendship: I needed someone, anyone to hang out with and she needed something other than a wall to talk to all day.

One day in the bathroom, I ran into another girl in my class. Somehow, we got to talking about Cynthia and I complained that she just talks too stinkin' much and I was getting kind of tired of it. I think you know what's coming next. A toilet flushed, and Cynthia emerged from her stall. She glared at me, left the bathroom and never talked to me again. Ahhhhh. Finally, some peace and quiet. I went back to reading my Ramona Quimby books at recess. Oh, sure, I felt a little bad. But my headache disappeared.

Keeping secrets is not a problem for me. Whenever someone shares one with me, I'm always so pleased to be entrusted that I will never spill it. At least I have that going for me. But I could still stand to keep my mouth shut once in awhile.

I've got this obnoxious tendency to blurt things out that sound funny in my head but are actually maybe a little bit mean. All the warnings in my head will be flashing "Inappropriate joke! Inappropriate joke! Abort abort!" and I'll just plow right on through.

Earlier this year, I was talking to a guy at work whose daughter was getting married this fall. He was telling us how he was feeling bittersweet about it. I thought this would be a good time to point out, "Aww, well sure. Your little girl is leaving home and never coming back!" Trust me, it sounded way different in my head. But seriously, what the hell is my problem? Why didn't I just get out one of the plastic forks in my drawer and grind it into his heart? As soon as I said it, I wanted to die. He must be a good actor, because he seemed to take it pretty well and since he still comes over fairly often to chat, I assume that he continues to like me. I really don't know why, though.

I've had plenty of repeats of the Cynthia Incident over the years. The most recent one was this summer at a neighborhood barbecue. The night before the barbecue, I heard an unfamiliar bark that continued all night and into the following morning. I dragged my now-cranky ass to the party, where I ran into George, our neighbor two doors down. "Did you hear that freaking dog last night?" I asked. "I haven't heard that one before. And damn, that is one annoying bark! It kept me up all night!"

I was this close to launching into an imitation of this bark for maximum effect when I noticed George's eyes getting a little wider as I kept going with my rant, and I'm like, "What? What's wrong?"

He whispers, "Greg and Trish are watching that dog for a friend. I think he's going home tonight."

Who are Greg and Trish, you ask? Oh, you know, they're just the new neighbors who live around the corner from us. And they were at the party. I'm sure they heard everything I said, so I was amazed that they actually talked to me later on.

But even with my foot in my mouth, I still managed to whisper back to George, "Well, thank God, because that dog is obnoxious as shit."

See? I can't help myself.