I knew it the second it slipped out of my stupid 18-year-old mouth. There was no way to bring it back, it had already been said, it had already been heard, and I was awaiting the consequences. My dear old mom was riding my case (and appropriately so) about something that I did or didn’t do, and I had been mouthing off to her. Her anger was building up like one of those late summer thunderstorms, and I knew I was on the edge of her nerves. She told me something like “you must think that I am a real idiot.” My idiotic response? “You said it, not me.”
No amount of beatings with a chancla or grounding could ever have been as bad as the look on her face. She did not have to say or do anything that made me feel worse than I already did. Oh, I got hit, just not immediately, but the damage was done.
I was remembering that incident the other day and I thought, how many other things did I say (or almost say) that I immediately regretted? Unfortunately, there are more than a few.
I had this amazing math teacher in High School, Ms. Debra Little. She taught us pre-calculus and analysis. She was passionate about math, and it showed. Since I have always been a bit of a math whiz, I did really well in her class. She suggested that I consider majoring in math in college. The words out of my mouth were tragic. I said “what am I going to do with a math degree? Something useless like teach?”
Keep in mind that I was still that cocky 18 year old when I said it. Her response was silence. That hurt look in her eye said all that needed to be said. I saw her several years later at the courthouse as she was getting ready to go to jury duty and I was preparing to go in for a hearing. There were not enough words to apologize to her for what I now understood to be hurtful words. She smiled, said thank you, and went on her way. I am not sure if she forgave me, but then, I am not sure I have forgiven myself.
We were sitting around with my cousins from Georgia and were playing cards. As guys are destined to do, we started picking on each other. The problem was that it wasn’t just us guys at the table, my cousin’s wife Cathy was playing cards with us too. Insults kept going back and forth to each other, and before long, it was getting out of hand. I am not sure how it started, but I looked at Cathy and made the comment “Yeah, it’s because you have cerebral palsy, right?” My cousin Darrell’s eyes immediately became the size of a softball. I mean he was really shocked.
Cathy very calmly said, “I do have cerebral palsy.” It didn’t stop there. I missed the not so subtle clues, so I continued, “right, and I bet you have one leg shorter than the other, too?” Calmly she said, “That’s right!” It was only when I looked at Darrell’s face and realized she wasn’t kidding that it hit me. I bet I apologized for the next several days because of my stupid comment. Cathy is one of the sweetest people I have ever know, but there it was.
I no longer ask young ladies how many months along in their pregnancy they are, because more than once I have been told, “I AM NOT PREGNANT!!!”
I was watching a movie at a theater with my high school girlfriend. When the movie was over I threw my cup and popcorn on the floor. She looked at me and told me I needed to pick it up and put it in the trash. And what did old dumb ass do? I told her I didn’t need to do that, because that’s why they pay janitors for, to do all the dirty work. The tears in her eyes surprised me until I remembered that her father, my future father in law, worked as a custodian at an electronics plant.
When I worked at the DA’s office in Laredo, I was sharing with the receptionist at our office my opinion about one of the district judges. The judge had just given me a rough time in court, and I proceeded to tell her what an idiot I thought the judge was and made a remark that his family must be all inbred. She remained totally silent. It was one of the DA investigators who witnessed my diatribe in the office that told me a short time later that the receptionist was the judge’s sister. I am thankful that the judge had a great sense of humor. He summoned me to his office, made me wait outside for 3 hours and then called me in. Luckily for me, he also happened to be my bosses former law partner. He laughed, asked me if I felt better getting that off my chest, and asked me if I learned anything. I could not resist. I said I learned that everyone in Laredo is related to everyone else, so I should be careful when I say something. After about 15 seconds of dead silence, he started laughing and told me to go back to my office. There was never any other mention of the incident.
Sometimes you just miss saying the dumb thing. As I entered my courtroom to start a hearing, the bailiff did his usual thing and announced “All Rise!” I noticed one guy just sat at the table and never bothered to rise. Just as I was about to say something sarcastic or snarky, he rolled his wheelchair from around the table. Wow, that would have been awkward.
I heard or read somewhere that we must always remember to engage your brain before you pop the clutch in your mouth. It’s a lesson that I am still learning.