Recently I was invited to dinner at some friends’ place. It was a special occasion and they reminded me twice.
I turned up a day late. Whoops….
I said I would bring a bottle of wine.
I know nothing about wine so I selected a bottle that I thought looked “them.”
It was very “them.”-It was in fact the same special and expensive bottle that they had specially tracked down and purchased from interstate and given me the last time we caught up for dinner.
Ever had one of those really embarrassing moments where everything just sort of freeze frames and you feel like the proverbial deer in the headlights? Where there is a terrible deafening silence and your brain screams “Nooooooooo?!”
It is in this seemingly infinite cavern of emptiness where you have to decide on whether to:
A) attempt a cover-up (e.g.: “Oh, I liked the wine so much that I imported a whole carton to share-such a stunning drop!)
B) all pretend nothing happened (e.g.: “Oh, cough, cough… So, who painted that gorgeous picture on your wall?”)
Or C) laugh hilariously at your own stupidity (“Seriously, what a clown I am! I am so sorry. It reminds me of the time I…”)
I generally opt for (C), probably because I never seem to be able to pull off the other two (plus I have an encyclopaedic collection of other “stupid mistake” examples from which to entertain even the most mortally offended.)
It reminded me of one of the most boring dinner parties I had ever been to where our host spent aaaaall night talking ad nauseam about himself and his just-as-boring job in endless, mind-numbingly minute detail.
After years of “hearing children read”(I use the term loosely ) I had cultivated the ability to look completely engaged and interested whilst at the same time skipping gaily through the fields of my own imagination. (My friends and family have all cottoned onto this unfortunately…)
Anyway, after hours of verbal diarrhoea Mr Blah finally stopped talking long enough to inhale some dessert and there was a silence that was of sufficient length to wake me up from my four-hour coma. The sudden silence shocked me into the realisation that I had not made any conversational contribution for some time so, without thinking, I piped up brightly “So Mr Blah, tell us what you do for a living?” In the following deathly silence, broken only by a couple of nervous laughs, I suddenly had nine people all looking at me like: a) I was a lunatic, who: b) had obviously not listened to one thing that was said all night.
Both of which were perfectly true of course…
They never did invite me to dinner again. (That was a bit of a shame…. No, I mean it, sort of…)
What happens when we get those “social niceties” all wrong?
I guess we have a couple of choices-we can be mortified and beat ourselves up-
(I’ve met people whose cheeks still flush with shame years afterwards and seriously believe that people still care that they “ruined the entire wedding-(in 1979)- by forgetting to thank the lady who made the cake..”- Yep, I bet that lady still wakes up each morning and thinks “I’ll never forget that wicked, evil bride- I’ll NEVER forgive her…”)
Or, we can have a bloody good laugh at ourselves and look forward to telling yet another “You’ll never guess what I did this time?!” story.
It’s how we choose to look at them that makes all the difference in our worlds…