I can be pretty absent-minded at times. I find it difficult to remember names and details of acquaintance's lives. This weekend's been particularly bad in that regard. Maybe it's the double header wedding, maybe it's that I've been so blah lately, I don't know. What I do know is that I said something incredibly stupid and embarrassing. While there were a lot of near misses - situations where I said something mildly stupid, forgot something I should have been able to recall in a conversation, mixed up details, it got much much worse.
I saw someone I hadn't seen in a long time. We knew each other as kids and several years ago he came out that he was gay (which I heard through friends of friends). More recently I heard he's in a serious relationship and so I was debating whether and how I might ask him about it, just as I would ask any straight acquaintance about a new boyfriend/girlfriend. I was speaking with a common friend when he came over to say hi. It was one of those awkward moments where I was about to give him a hug and he reached his hand out to me. We had a rather weak half-handshake and before I even had a chance to think about it I said something to the effect of, "Enough with the gay handshake, give me a hug." As soon as it came out of my mouth, all I could think was what the fuck did I just say?
As a kid I can remember using 'gay' as an adjective to mean stupid or uncool, but back then I never really thought about what it meant. Now I never use that word in that way (or so I thought).
I could tell he'd heard what I'd said. I think I tried to reverse the damage with something along the lines of, 'It's so nice to see you that a handshake seems so impersonal." He said something to the effect of, 'don't worry, I know you meant it in the nicest possible way".
Horrible! We moved on, talking about jobs, travelling, etc... I thought if I could just keep the conversation flowing, my blunder might be washed away. Of course it wasn't - at least not in my mind.
At first I couldn't stop thinking about what I'd said and how he probably thinks I'm a bigot. By the next day I forced myself to let it go. While I won't pretend I'm perfect, I'm not a bad person either. It reminds me of when I was a nursing student and I had a patient with a glass eye. One day he couldn't find his watch. When I walked in I could see he'd removed his eye and he was holding it in one hand. He asked me to let him know if I found a watch and I said:
"No problem. I'll keep an eye out for it." I almost died.
But this most recent one was worse, even though I don't think it came from a very different place. What I said was stupid, plain and simple. I just hope that my brain sharpen's up a little, cause that really sucked.