Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Keepin the yap shut

If I have an achilles heel--hard to believe but I do--it would be the big mouth God blessed me with. Don't get me wrong, it has been a blessing (like the time I stuffed 32 grapes in my mouth only to be beaten by my oldest sister who stuffed a whopping 52 into hers), but it's also been a curse.

Let me give you a few examples:

We were living in WyView housing across from LaVell Edwards Stadium at BYU. We were assigned some new home teachers. On their first visit, we were visiting with them and asking the normal get-to-know-you questions. Somehow it came up that one of the home teacher's father had passed away. Please learn from my mistake: when death comes up in conversation, never ask how the person died. So brilliantly, that's what I asked.

Me: "Oh, how did your father die?"
Home teacher: "He was murdered."
Me inside my head: "Murdered? What the heck?! Seriously, murdered?"
Kulani sitting next to me: (Holding my hand so tight as if to say, "If you ask any more follow-up questions, I'm going to squish you like a bug.")

Followed by awkward phrases, silences, and me saying something like, "Can you believe this weather? I don't know about y'all, but this heat is killing me, I mean, uh, it's hot. Hot to trot. Trot, as in horses trot. Did you see that movie about the horse and the little boy?" Nice cover-up.

They should provide classes for key phrases to say when you've found your foot in your mouth.

If I know I have a difficult conversation that I will be facing, I try to practice my dialog beforehand. Recently, I had a conversation with a family member concerning another family member's destructive behavior. The conversation was from love and concern and it was an SOS distress call, but it really helped to think about what I was going to say beforehand. Otherwise, with my mouth, the conversation could have turned to so: "I'm not kidding you. This is the craziest stuff I've ever heard of. You've got to get down there and bust a skull."

Kulani has often warned me to not bring up politics or religion with people. After being burned 1,000 times, I think I've finally learned my lesson. How does Linus put it: "I've learned there are three things you don't discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin."

While in Hawaii, I made the mistake of asking our fishing guide, who was professing his born-again Christianity, what his thoughts were on the Rapture. I'd just watched an interesting documentary on it on the History channel. That led to him asking me what my religion was, and after I answered Mormon, it was all over but the fishing. I had to endure hours worth of dialog about why Mormons aren't Christian, why Joseph Smith was a charlatan, and why I'm going to hell. If only I could swim better; I was tempted to jump off the boat in the middle of the ocean and make a swim for it. He finally managed to calm down, and we ended up having a pleasant conversation about the change from within, and how his impetus for change was having a child die.

I'm a journalist by trade, and I like to ask questions. If I happen to enter my personal thoughts into the dialog, it's only to spur additional thought and conversation. The truth is, when I ask questions, I'm interested in dialog and discussion.

However, what I have finally realized is that the question can be as igniting as the discussion. So it's enough. I'm out. I'll talk with you about movies, books, music, family dynamics; maybe not pets--some people think pets are people too; weather, yard work; not so much your views on schooling; weight-loss solutions, the correct way to clean granite, your favorite brand of sneakers, kids, dentists, body odors, old teachers; not Oprah--she's a surprisingly igniting character; your favorite SNL skits, favorite Brady Bunch episode, etc. So as you can see, we still have lots to talk about. But I'm gonna bust your skull if you say your favorite brand of sneakers is Nike.


Aundrea said...

A girl after my own heart:) I have a ginormous mouth too! (I started squirming in my seat reading about your HT conversation)

*Hate it when people think pets are people!
*Nike: not my favorite brand!
*I wish I had granite in my house so I could discuss cleaning options.

Leo and Jill said...

I always have a foot in my mouth as well. Leo is always telling me that I need to just be quiet. example: We were at Leo's cousin's wedding and her brother and his new wife were telling us about thier new house and after them telling us the address the first thing I said was, "Holy crap that must be scary living in the HOOD."
What I should have said was that is such a nice area you are so lucky!!
As for family issues I always tell whomever what I think they should do causes all sorts of riffs.
This problem must be genetic!!

Mrs. Flynn said...

So what is wrong with Nike? Living here in Portland I get a lot of cheap nike stuff and Phil knight is donating 100 million for cancer research to the med school here. Is it child labor or quality?

go mom go said...

I'm not a huge fan of Nike shoes either. I hate the fit and I can't run in them. I'm not saying they aren't a great company, though. So what is your favorite Brady Bunch episode?

Morkthefied said...

Great comments! I don't often respond to comments, but that changes today.

I don't really hate Nike, but like Angela, I've just never found a pair that fit me that great. And it's the whole snobbery thing--me being the snob. Nike is so ... basketball. Runners wear Mizunos or Acsics or New Balance. See, isn't this a great topic?

Favorite Brady Bunch episode...well, there are so many to choose from. I really want to get Marsha's new tell-all book. I read Greg's already. But concerning the actual show, I loved the Hawaii one a lot. I think I love all of the two-parters. I also loved the Christmas one wear Carol loses her voice. I love the very first show where the Bradys get married. I could go on. The show makes me feel warm inside.

Aundrea, I'm the one who thinks pets are people ... just kidding! And the correct way to clean granite around here is to get the dirty rag from the sink and wipe off the counter. When I know people are coming over, I'll also use a final cleaning of Windex on the top.

I'm really comfortable with these topics.

Jill, ain't nothin' wrong with the hood--that's where we were raised, girl. Right in the middle of Heyburn ID. Word out to my homies in Hey (my new nickname for Heyburn).

mariann and Tory said...

You are so funny! I visit teach a gal who the first meeting I put my foot in my mouth about my opinion about home school and immunizations.(She asked my opinion so it was a trap!) Come to find out she is an unschooling mom, and doesn't immunize, has home birth, and doesn't circumcise the boys! WOW! TMI!

mariann and Tory said...

You are so funny! I visit teach a gal who the first meeting I put my foot in my mouth about my opinion about home school and immunizations.(She asked my opinion so it was a trap!) Come to find out she is an unschooling mom, and doesn't immunize, has home birth, and doesn't circumcise the boys! WOW! TMI!

Morkthefied said...

See what I mean, Mariann? Even the question can be igniting! Seems harmless enough: what are your thoughts on schooling and immunizations? Well, you send your kids to school and you give them shots. What else is there to this discussion? Oh, so much more. So much. That's why I'm out. I thought of one more great subject that's cocktail-party friendly: the death penalty. Just kidding. Mariann, ask your brother Brad about me and the death penalty. It will send him into a rage. Tell him I've learned my lesson.

Anonymous said...

I agree against Nike. Can't wear them ever. They kill my feet. But maybe that's because I too have my foot in my mouth all too often. Shawna

Mr. Flynn said...

My Dad was going on and on about immunizations and this big conspiracy last week...ugh.

The worst part about people like that is that you can never prove them wrong even if you wanted to. It wouldn't matter how much evidence you had...there is always some reason why they are right and you or me are just being either (1) naive, (2) ill-informed, or (3) on the path to hell. In my case I often seem to be all of these in conversations with these passionate ideologues like my Dad. I just try to not feed the fire so that I can escape with the bare minimal amount of exposure necessary to unwind myself from their frothy fervor. And often agreeing is worse because then they want affirmation from a kindred spirit or what they think is a kindred spirit. I usually just try to keep my responses to nothing more than, "yeah" or "uh huh" or something else similarly vague. Yep, the title of the post is usually the best way to go.

And Brooks, we do Brooks running shoes in this household.

Amo said...

Never afraid to give my two cents on the important topics of the day: I buy whichever shoes B.J. tells me to. No problem, no controversy. WOuldn't it be nice if you could have someone like that for all topics?