Saturday, November 27, 2010
There are some things that need to be said, some things that must be said, and others that inevitably, one way or another, will be said. It might be important (‘Your hair is on fire’), it could be informative (‘Your dress is tucked into your underwear’), or perhaps it’s interesting (‘They didn’t find out they were related until after they got married’). But far more infamous and unfortunate are the things that are Better Left Unsaid.
Exhibit A: Compliments are awkward enough to take when they’re clear. So what about when they’re bewildering? A relative stranger had this to say to Peta during a recent Saturday night.
Stranger: I’m not hitting on you or anything, but you’re surprisingly pretty.
‘Surprisingly’? Really? How does that work exactly? Did you view her from afar, and upon closer inspection find yourself shocked? Did someone say ‘Hey, there’s Peta’ then you turned to discover Peta was female (understandable, her name is her curse), to your astonishment? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you were hitting on her it was a swing and a miss.
Needless to say words uttered on a Saturday Night make up their own sub-category in the Better Left Unsaid department. Another grouping, which is something of a niche field for me, is Attempts At Humour that are Better Left Unsaid.
While on the phone to my boss one day I made a vintage entry into this cannon. We were discussing a beloved and respected colleague’s latest achievement. It was a spirited conversation in which I closed out with what I felt was the perfect punch line, mimicking the voice of said beloved colleague while uttering words he would never dream of saying.
Me: Suck on that bitches.
Boss: (delicate pause on the other end of the line) The 7 year old in the back seat of the car is rather amused by that.
Yes, I was on speaker phone. That old chestnut. Clearly declaring ‘suck on that bitches’ in the presence of the boss’s children goes into the Better Left Unsaid file.
Nervous quipping is also a constant source of unfortunate phrasing. A medical professional was preparing to take a blood sample from me at the doctor’s surgery just the other day. Needles make me particularly anxious, which is the only excuse I can come up with for responding to his question about the origin of a bruise on my arm with…
Me: Probably from some violent sex game.
Let’s be brutally honest, that one-liner’s not even funny when you know it’s not true. For a stranger it’s just going to be awkward and creepy. For a humourless stranger holding a needle it’s an excuse to be in no way reassuring or communicative.
To round out my most recent top 3 Attempts At Humour that are Better Left Unsaid I turn to a drunken, ill-conceived, ill-managed exchange with a potential client of Sister Lawyer when I was introduced to him at a little soiree Mother Painefull threw last night.
Mother Painefull: Blah Blah, this is my youngest daughter…
Blah Blah (of the Carolina Blah Blah’s): Pleasure to meet you… (holds out his hand politely)
Me: (offering my clenched fist) I prefer to bump.
Pause to allow crickets to chirp mournfully in the background.
Blah Blah: What?
Mother Painefull: She’s joking.
Just so we’re clear, white, middle-aged businessmen don’t prefer the fist bump. They also don’t appreciate fist bump humour/won’t understand what you are offering. Another fun fact – a boozy Christmas work lunch, followed by a boozy family event = innumerable things that are Better Left Unsaid (among them, inexplicably, the bellowing of the phrase “I’m 25, I don’t get hungover!”). When those things are said through a mouthful of bread and laced with more expletives than a Mark Latham rant, in the presence of some of your parents oldest, dearest and kindest friends you will get mocked mercilessly the next day. The mockery is deserved. So is the death via embarrassment.
Some things cry out for verbalization. Sometimes I suspect I may actually specialize in all the other things, the ones that are clearly Better Left Unsaid.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Romance isn’t really dead, it’s just not returning my calls and pretending no one’s home when I drop by unannounced. That may seem like an extreme statement, exaggeration perhaps, but sadly it’s true. One of my friends has taken to (accurately) referring to my residence as The Nunnery.
A little while ago several work colleagues turned their laser-beam gaze upon me and asked about my love life for the first time (apparently 4 months into any job is the point when one is contractually obliged to share) and my response was so disappointing they seemed to think I was lying. Wouldn’t it be a better lie if it involved someone genuinely lusting after me? Aren’t lies meant to be comforting… to someone… somewhere?
Me: Oh me? No. Love-free… loveless…
Colleague: Come on now…
Me: No, really. Nothing right now. Nada. My love life is a vacant field – occasionally tumbleweed blows through (but the tumbleweed gets embarrassed about being seen there and moves on quickly).
Colleague: Oh, you’re boring then.
Don’t think my mother hasn’t noticed my barren spell, she recently took the left-field strategy commonly know as ‘When Are You Planning On Having Kids?’. I think she wants to avoid getting stuck in the mud of my single status (we’ve already had the earnest conversation where she assured me she could handle a gay daughter, if it came to it) and is going for the long con that if I become clucky I’ll start a desperate man-hunt. She’s had to stop telling me about her friend’s cute sons now that they’ve all gotten married. I have responded with my own gambit entitled ‘Random But Pointed References to IVF’.
Not to sound like Katherine Heigl playing yet another shrill, workaholic in a badly written Romcom, but there’s still time. I’m 25, so not only is there still time, but my vacant womb hasn’t exactly started running down a clock on me.
There’s also other things in life. I am not simply trying to reassure myself, I do have interests. And yes, in time, should it be necessary, I will simply buy some cats (before I do that, I’ll figure out a way to find cats endearing).
It could be worse, I could be in a relationship, let’s not pretend the commentary doesn’t stop there. I totally understand that for many women getting married is really important. It’s all… special, and… best-day-of-my-lifey. Some women even set themselves deadlines (not that there's anything wrong with that, I am not here to judge people’s life choices, I’m open-minded, I just don’t like seeing it in public).
When it comes to romance I might not win any awards, but there are always some to hand out.
The No-Surprise, Surprise! Award (aka If Katy Perry’s Married It’s Probably Time Dear…)
Kate & Will
I’m sure there will be a part of the impending 12 months of royal wedding mania I enjoy. It will probably involve any discussion of wedding cake, and the moment when the guests start arriving at the big day and you see just how small the gene pool is for European royalty. For Kate Middleton it will be the relief of knowing that now the tabloids will stop focusing on her ring finger and sullenly unmarried looks, and instead move on to obsessing over her weight and whether she has a bun in the oven.
As a side note, people have got to stop calling it a fairytale wedding while playing vision of Diana and Charles… I don’t know that that marriage should be a template. For anyone.
The Come On Now, I Swear You’re Just Out Of Nappies Award (aka Bieber-fied)
My nephew David
He’s in Year 5, and he just updated his Facebook status to ‘In a relationship’. Apparently the girl in questions is ‘really hot’, and they do regular Couple Things like hold hands and hang out. Did I mention he’s in Year 5? His Facebook announcement received a comment from someone so equally junior that they had to do a follow-up comment just to ‘lol’ the fact that they had used the word ‘whom’.
Yes mum, he probably will get married before me. Them’s the breaks.
Finally The Seriously? That Was You On A Date? Award (aka Jennifer Aniston Will Never Be Truly Alone)
Some Random from RSVP.com
He attempted to seduce my friend Peta (a girl, who’s seen every gender mix-up gag there is) while on a first date at a bar by telling her she was too tall and demanding she take off her heels, and begging her to take her hair out so he could see how long it was, after which he couldn’t help but point out that she had a few split ends.
Thank you, Random from RSVP.com, for reassuring women everywhere that yes, they can do better. Oh, and stop emailing and messaging Peta to try and set up another date. I can’t imagine how you could possibly top your first attempt.