Oh yes, I did.
Does it count that my intentions were good as a clearly pregnant woman and her husband sat next to me on a long cross country flight last week?
I got up from my aisle seat so that they could make it to their seats in the middle and by the window.
“You’ll probably have to use the bathroom several times during the flight,” I offered, “so, just let me know and I’ll let you out,” I said to the woman who I was so sure was about 2 months from giving birth.
“Ok,” she replied a bit hesitant. “I did go before I got on the plane, so I should be fine.”
Looking back, I might’ve picked up on the cue of her facial expression that she thought it odd I was so invested in her bathroom routine.
I did not.
No, instead, I kept on.
“How long do you have?” I asked expressing my enthusiasm for her bundle of joy.
“How long for what?” she asked, looking confused.
That was the moment. Gulp. Slam on the brakes. Cue the sound of the record screeching.
Yes, that was the moment I realized I had done what I thought I’d never do. I asked a non-pregnant woman when her baby was due.
Maybe you’ve been there? Asked the same question? Or offered up an equally inappropriate or offensive comment, not realizing what you’ve done until the words left your mouth?
It’s the challenge of what to do when you’ve released words you can never give back. When you mistakenly click “send” on a vitriolic email you never meant to leave your computer screen. When you gossip about someone via text message only to later realize you texted the person you were talking about.
How do you take words back once they’ve been sent?
In this case, my first brilliant immediate thought was to change course, maybe my new neighbor wouldn’t realize what I had put out there?
“So, where you traveling today?” I attempted to ask breezily.
No dice. This interaction was heading for a crash landing at warped speed.
“Oh, this?” she said pointing to her belly? “This is not a baby. This is from too much food.”
She wrapped her arms around her stomach and leaned over to her husband, I swear I saw her mouth the words, “That awful woman next to me just asked me when my baby is due.”
She stayed leaning like that for the rest of the 4-hour flight, back to me not saying a word. I don’t blame her. Truly, I wished I could’ve put myself in time out for being so dumb and crawled under the seat in front of me, shoved myself down there like an extra carry on bag. No such luck as that, not with the way coach seats are configured these days. We’re all packed in there like sardines. There’s no going anywhere. No running from our mistakes.
You’d think I’d learned my lesson.
You’d think wrong.
There I was in the grocery store parking lot the other day when a little boy, I’d say about four, came walking along with this mother. Even though, it was a couple weeks past Halloween there he was sporting his costume.
“Let me see that,” I exclaimed. “You are the scariest alligator I’ve seen all day!”
“I’m a dinosaur, not an alligator!” he roared back at me. I honestly think he was more offended than the non-pregnant lady who now hates me.
This one felt a bit easier to wiggle out of. “Well, turn around,” I said. “There you have it! I didn’t see your thick tale and scales down your back when you were walking toward me. No doubt about it, you are a dinosaur.”
He grunted and walked past this crazy lady holding his mother’s hand. I’m so glad those weren’t real dinosaur teeth in the hood of his costume.
By the way, I did see the non-pregnant lady from behind as well as she took me up on my offer to go to the bathroom. I noticed she was wearing one of those tops with the two ties that meet as a bow in the back.
“Classic maternity wear,” I might’ve said helping to explain my earlier clueless remark. This one time, at least, I did what can be hardest of all. I kept my words to myself.