6/22/08

Somebody Edit Me, Please!

It has taken me 31 years to realize that I actually do have faults. Up to this point I was under the unique impression that I was flawless (except for my handwriting, my chipping and putting, and the largeness of my left foot - which I came to accept long ago).
Aside from all the very recent discoveries I have made on this topic, I would like to discuss just one with you today.
Public Speaking. Public speaking is not my strong suit, especially in the company of strangers. Please note, I WAS exemplary in this practice in a previous phase of my life. Probably before I got pregnant, and definitely before spending my days alone with miniature first language learners for the better half of the 2000s.
Recently, I have had the pleasure of interacting with several groups of perfect strangers in social gatherings (yeah, I know I sound like I just landed on Mars and am reporting back to headquarters regarding alien life, and it feels JUST like that! And the discoveries are equally mesmerizing.).
A few details:
Friday night we invited a new family over for a BBQ. They were great, we were great, the kids were compatible, conversation flowed (as did the wine) and the evening went more smoothly than we could have ever imagined for two families who had previously spent 20 minutes in passing on the beach together. AND THEN IT HAPPENED, (DUN. DUN. DUUUUUHHHH) we waved goodbye, climbed into bed, and my mind went into movie rerun mode. I began playing the evening back in my head with the camera focused directly on me, critiquing myself, editing, analyzing, cringing. When I said THAT, did they take it the wrong way? When I said THIS, did they think I sounded cruel? They laughed...I think....Scroll back, erase, rewrite! DID I REALLY SAY THAT ABOUT MY PARENTS OUT LOUD???
Oh my God I suck at being in public. I rewound so far I was watching myself last week when I insulted my neighbor by explaining how unsanitary shag carpet is while standing in his shag carpet living room. And the next morning was even worse! I had guilt for being so chatty, so open, so loose about my opinions on GMCs and lasagna with perfect strangers. I trudged around the dining table like a shamed woman the morning after, her belongings wadded in her arms, tripping down the walk of shame in last night's heels.
So I committed myself to a vow of silence the next time I found myself in a public setting. Can't go wrong with that, right?! Just nod and smile. !VOILA! Opportunity knocked and I found myself at a neighbor's baby shower that very afternoon. I entered a room full of strangers (aside from the guest of honor whom I could call a close acquaintance at this point). I smiled, I nodded, I filtered the thoughts in my head like, "Did you know that you just described all the symptoms of a manic depressive in your boyfriend?" OR, "Hey mom-in-law, next time you announce that your extravagant baby gift for your grandson was just an auction item that nobody wanted at a fundraiser, YOU should edit yourself. No, Really." That lasted through the meal. But before you could say "BABY", I was lined up for a diaper changing relay and cracking smart ass remarks about the woman's fat head in front of me (she said it first!!!!). Replay, rewind, remove. Remove me.
So there ya have it, I am flawed. BUT, I have a solution! Aside from surgically attaching a rolled sock to my tongue to avoid public humiliation, I will just preface all social introductions with a simple disclaimer. "Hi, very nice to meet you, I'm flawed. I want to warn you that my shortcomings will offend and embarrass you at some point in the evening. I do not retain an ability to filter my inner thoughts so avert your ears whenever necessary. I have a tendency to overtalk a subject with the ultimate purpose of uttering some joke that is only funny to me and will no doubt offend you."

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