A cautionary tale about trying to explain away ‘unfortunate’ utterances.

We’ve all had those moments in our lives where we say something which doesn’t quite come out right, something which just pops out without filter or which sounds perfectly fine in our heads but turns disastrous the moment it passes our lips. The twitter-sphere is a veritable weather map of such utterances and the surging reactionary waves they inspire.

We often have people in our lives who are infinitely, and gleefully, capable of hearing any and all statements in the worst possible way. My circle of friends has long referred to this as ‘splooshing’, the sound made as the mind cannonballs into the gutter. With these kinds of companions around no comments are ever truly safe.

And we sometimes have people in our lives who are virtually incapable of ‘splooshing’, who never seem to sense anything amiss no matter how off-color or ‘unfortunate’ the utterance. Even when someone reading off a list of meat substitutes from the back of a vegetarian cook book suddenly proclaims in wonderment “Oh, there’s no substitute for beaver” these ‘non-splooshers’ simply blink confusedly around at everyone innocently wondering what all the fuss is about. They are rare but such folks do exist.

Despite our best intentions there will inevitably be times when we step in it and say something truly unfortunate. When this happens the best thing to do is simply shrug, endure the ribbing our comment deserves, accept that our loving friends will never let us live it down, and simply move on. The inexperienced and uninitiated will sometimes try to explain it away, stammering through desperate attempts to offer context which will supposedly erase the ‘unfortunateness’. Those with wisdom and experience know better.

Once we have said something ‘unfortunate’, once it is out there, we can’t take it back or explain it away. Further comments will likely only worsen our situation, trying to dig our way out only makes the whole deeper. As the saying goes, when you can no longer see day light stop digging.

An example.

During my last year of high school five of us were driving back from the store having made a snack run on game night. I was driving, my best friend Kip was riding shotgun with Doug, Ray, and George filling up the backseat. We weren’t far from the store when Ray noticed his running shoe was untied. Asking Doug to hold his drink Ray handed him his bottle of pop and bent down to deal with misbehaving lace.

Apparently not taking into account the potential effects of condensation which can form on bottles of cold liquids Doug, with his hands already full, tucked Ray’s pop between his knees in order to keep munching chips without hindrance. Once Ray was finished with his shoe he reclaimed his pop bottle at which point the following statement was issued from the back seat into a car full of teenagers.

“Aw, thanks a lot Ray. Now I’ve got a wet spot between my legs.”

It is worth noting that at this point in his life Doug was already no stranger to the ‘unfortunate statement’ phenomenon. Having uttered such other immortal statements as “Man, shaving is a pain in the butt” he was already fully familiar with the consequences of tying to dig oneself out. He should have known better. However he decided to break out the shovel in response to slow-burns turning towards him from the front seat.

“No, no. It’s from Ray’s thing!”

Eyebrows were raised both for the original comment and also for the ill-advised shoveling.

“No, no, no! He asked me to hold it for him!!”

Ray, who just to be safe had been inspecting his other shoe lace and thus not really paying full attention to the conversation, promptly chimed in with genuine concern.

“What? Is it leaking!?”

At this point Doug finally abandoned the shoveling he should never have started in the first place. And I felt it best to pull the car over to the curb before the serious laughter got started.

The morals of the story :

-always account for the moisture which condenses on the outside of beverage containers

-be ever wary of bursting out proclamations into small spaces filled with teenagers

-if you’re ever tempted to dig your way out of an ‘unfortunate’ utterance, don’t

Written by

A professional dancer, choreographer, theatre creator, and featured TEDx speaker with an honours degree in psychology, two black belts, and a lap-top.

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