Well, ok. Maybe stupid is a bit strong. Let’s say “insensitive,” or “thoughtless” or even “rude.”
Yes, rude is better.
I often try to give people the benefit of the doubt-sometimes to my detriment-and excuse inconsiderate remarks or inappropriate questions. But sometimes it is just too much.
Want to know where all of this is coming from? Read on …
I climbed up on my “People Say the Rudest Things” soap box a few weeks when a fellow American, who has been living in Calabria for about 40 years, stopped by with her husband. Before she even walked through the door we had this conversation (in Italian, no less!)
American Woman: ” Ciao, Cherrye. We called last month but you were in America. Your dad was sick?”
Me: “Yes.” (Sad face) “He died.”
AW: “He what?”
Me: (Deep breath.) “He died.”
AW: “How is he?”
Me: Thinking seriously have to say this again, “He died.” (Very sad face.)
AW: “And now?”
Me: He’s Dead!
AW: Finally realizing my poor Dad’s fate. “Ahh, I’m sorry. Was he young?”
Me: “Well, no. He was 80.”
AW: “Eh. Oh well.”
-or if you understand Calabrian dialect, she actually said … “eh, vabbò!”
I guess I don’t need to tell you how the rest of our conversation went. But it got me to thinking. I don’t believe this woman-however insensitive she must be-is actually a mean person. She said a stupid thing-like most of us have at some point or another. She probably thought we had a wonderful, friendly conversation and wondered why I put salt instead of sugar in her coffee (ok, I didn’t really do this-but it makes me feel better to pretend I did).
If you feel yourself getting the cold shoulder and you don’t know why, maybe you made a proverbial slip of the tongue. Here are two more things people say-or ask!-that are downright rude.
** If you married your high school sweetheart you might not get this, but trust me, it is rude to ask a single woman if she is dating someone. And I’m not the only person who thinks so.
My worst did-she-really-just-say-that moment was just before I moved to Italy three years ago. I saw an old high school acquaintance and we briefly exchanged hellos. She immediately followed up with, “Are you married yet?”
I smiled and shook my head, “Nope. Still single.”
A shattered look followed by a grim smile, “Well, Don’t. You. Worry. It will happen for you, too.”
Then, she got out as soon as she could … scared my singleness would rub off on her, I’m sure.
You don’t have to ask her if she is dating someone or is married. If she wants to tell you, she’ll bring it up.
** This “downright rude” comment is so natural, so easy to ask and is oftentimes as harmless as a chickpea out in the grass. (Yea, ya’ll. I’m from Texas.) But it is also a sensitive topic for many would-be mommies.
Sadly, I have a few friends who didn’t-or can’t-get pregnant as easily as they’d hoped and have watched them get flustered and embarrassed and awkwardly answer the, “When are you going to have children?” question.
I know it is hard not to ask, because you want to show your friends that you are interested in their lives, but those two little words-no kids?-can ruin a good woman’s day.
What about you? Are you guilty of uttering any of these conversation killers? What other things do you think people should never say or ask people they don’t know well?