Foot-in-Mouth Disease

“How do you think I played, Daddy?”
“I’ve seen better.”
Wrong answer…again. If there is one consistent dominant characteristic in my life-long pattern of inconsistencies, mistakes and erratic behaviour it’s my unfailing and remarkable ability to continually say the wrong thing at the wrong time. It ranks right up there in my Personal Book of Weaknesses with continually forgetting people’s names and not catching onto new societal trends until they are well on their way to being passé.
The current scenario was my daughter’s provincial Bantam hockey finals played in Toronto last weekend. As we climbed into the car after her opening game victory she asked me my opinion as to her play. My mistake whenever I’m asked a question is twofold:
1) people really want an honest answer
2) that they are interested in anything I have to say.
Which I usually have. To the above question my answer was threefold: Rachelle took no shots on goal, she was not strong enough on the puck, and her skating, usually her strong point, seemed a little off on this day. What was the matter with her ? I didn’t say everything I was thinking, as I didn’t want to be too hard on the poor girl.
The trip back to the hotel was highlighted only by its awkward silence. And by my thinking that I’ll have to keep my mouth shut from now on. And that that’s the reason that I have a blog; even if no one ever reads it, at least I’ve got it off my chest. That’s good therapy. Now that I’m retired, my premiums for medication go way up.
My good intentions lasted all the way until breakfast the next morning. We were in the hotel dining room and Rachelle was sitting at another table for some reason. But that didn’t stop me. I was cursing out the Ottawa Parking Authority, or whatever they call themselves, for my latest ticket for parking on the street in front of my house. Whatever you can call me, being a slow learner is not one of them.
“I’ve paid enough parking tickets in the last fourteen years to finance that subway system they always say they’re building. The only efficient civil servants are those meter- maid Nazis.” I quickly realized that I might have offended any female listeners by implying that the object of my wrath had to be all women. I quickly covered my tracks. “No offence if there are any civil servants here.”
Which made a lot of sense considering that Rachelle’s team was from Ottawa. At least Patty at the neighbouring table was gracious.
“The next time I’m sleeping at my desk I’ll murder you in my dreams,” she said with a smile. Except that her smile reminded me a lot of my wife’s when I commented that the colour of the kitchen cupboards she had picked out reminded me of the walls of a public latrine.
It was left to her husband Jeff to put me in my place later that afternoon at the quarter-final game when I yelled what I thought was positive, encouraging feedback at one of our player’s backchecking efforts.
“Good effort, Sascha,” I shouted. I was very proud of myself.
“That’s not Sascha, you idiot,” Jeff, who was sitting behind me, corrected my error. “That’s Erica.”
I looked back over my shoulder. Erica’s mother was sitting right beside Jeff. I thought I recovered very nicely. “I always get those two mixed up.” Erica’s mom recognized who had made the error in identification and smiled tolerantly, like a special -education teacher would do for a student with a particularly lengthy Individual-Educational Program, or whatever they are calling those things today.
“So do I,” she nodded. And smiled.
Thank God the world is full of gracious people. I need it to be.

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