Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Insert foot in mouth...

I say alot of stupid things.

I rattle on about all kinds of events and stories about my family, youth group, friends and co-workers. I always get really excited and rush to finish my thought before another one pops up and begs to be mentioned to the people around me. I don't know why this happens, but it could be the result of being around young people the majority of my day. They talk fast, tell me things that interest them...my husband talks fast....telling me important things of his day...the youth group kids talk ALL THE TIME and I can barely understand them since they talk all at once, and my kids talk together with one starting the story, another continuing the story, one enhancing the story and one ending the story so it is like I have to shift my focus back and forth from child to child to get a complete view of what has been happening. My brain always seems on overdrive so it is really nice to sit down with grown adults every now and then and have a conversation about 'adult' things. But every now and again I talk without thinking (what a shocker) and embarrass myself and stick my foot in my mouth.

The women's guild at at nearby Catholic church asked if I would be willing to speak at their Valentine Breakfast. They mentioned that their parish priest recommended me and wondered if they could take me to lunch to discuss what exactly their group would like to have covered. ( Basically, I think they were 'checking me out' to see if I would be a good featured speaker for their group. Apparently they had some really bad speakers in the past and did not want to be burned again.) I accepted their offer and we met at a local restaurant.

Keep in mind that I had never met these ladies before.

As I walked in the door of the restaurant, I noticed two older ladies, nicely dressed waiting in the foyer. I knew immediately that they must be the ladies from the guild and I promptly walked up to them and introduced myself. We sat down at our table and the conversation flowed about all kinds of topics. I asked them about their parish and what they liked about it. I spoke of my family and work. They told me about their lives and the makeup of their women's guild. I was VERY comfortable with these ladies felt like they were "liking" me.

That's when things turned ugly.

We sat talking about the generation gap between younger Catholics who were brought up post-Vatican II and the older generation who experienced a much different Catholicism.

Me addressing the two women: You know, your generation, you know...women in their 60's...had, in my view, a much richer and deeper Catholic identity.

All of a sudden after I had mentioned the approximate age of the ladies. I saw one woman shoot a look of shock at the other. I had done it. I had said something totally off, totally wrong, totally offensive. I closed my eyes and kept on talking as if I did not see the reaction. But as I opened my eyes, I took a closer look at my new friends and saw the reality that they most probably were not in their 60's at ALL. Most likely they were younger...much younger. The only thing I could think to do was to...keep on talking.

After our meeting, I felt mortified. I called the parish priest who recommended me to the ladies and confessed my stupid mistake:

Me: (begging) Fr. S, how old are the women who came out to speak to me today? Do you know for sure?

Fr. S: Yeah, one is in her early 50's and the other, probably in her 60's.

My heart sunk. Fr. S just laughed. I knew I had probably failed my "interview" with at least one of the ladies. But it was a very good lesson for me about THINKING, or even better, LOOKING before I speak.

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