Open mouth insert foot.

I started my day on Twitter searching the #Wednesdaywisdom hashtag. I can’t imagine a better place to feel uplifted in 140 characters than on my least favorite social media site. Despite my specific search I was not looking for affirmation or tips on mindfulness. I wasn’t looking for something to inspire me…but something to mock.

As is so often the case that something turned out to be me.

Today’s tweet of choice.

When people are speaking seriously to me about mental illness or infertility I manage to keep my mouth shut and listen. I have learned not to spill over on top of their words to show understanding. I have learned that for the most part people are looking for sympathy rather than solutions.

Yet when it comes to casual social situations I am much less mindful. (See I need to pay a ton more attention to Wednesdaywisdon.)

I quickly found this helpful pneumonic. THINK. First of all this supposes that don’t use speaking as a way to find out what I think. My inner monologue is crowded by thoughts of eating. There is no time to have rich interior discourse. It is why I blog. I never know what I THINK until I say or write it. Already I am at a disadvantage when applying this particular #WednesdayWisdom.

Here are three things I said at parties four analysis. Writing and remembering them makes me cringe. Somehow though I persist with commenting on things that aren’t quite my business.

This is not the wig. Because there was no wig.

Introduced to a neighbor within two minutes of conversation I asked. Is that a wig?

(T) true. Who knows, that why I was asking.

(H) Helpful. Decidedly not. Although in my addled brain I thought if she WAS living through a medical problem that would result in a wig she might want to talk about it with an inebriated stranger.

(I) Inspiring. Yeah. No.

(N) Necessary. As necessary as that famous fishes bicycle.

(K) Kind. My motivation was to show what a straight shooter I was and give her a chance to chat about something super personal. Is that kind? No.

The outcome? It is NOT a wig. So I pretty much insulted her hair. We have managed to work through it though. Mostly because I try really hard not to speak at all in her presence. Take home: Don’t ask about wigs.

This is not the dress. Or the friend.

Greeting a close friend as she entered a party I was hosting. That dress isn’t the best look on you.

(T) I mean, I thought it was true…but I am not a bastion of fashion. I was wearing jeans and a stained shirt. In fact the same stained shirt I have on as I type this.

(H) Helpful. I mean, I thought it would help her in the future. But since she was arriving at a party presumably without an outfit change it was not particularly useful to her at that moment.

(I) Inspiring. It might inspire her to write a scathing email. (See below)

(N) Necessary. As necessary as a hamburger lunch for a cow.

(K) Kind. As nice as telling an artist that my 5 year old could paint as well as she could.

The outcome? An angry email and a slow healing of an old friendship.

My take home? I learned never to speak about dresses again. At least at the beginning of the party.

This is not the kid. The kid's injuries were much more extensive.
This is not the kid. The kid’s injuries were much more extensive.

Meeting a couple for the first time I found out that the huge red marks on their son’s face was from an accident. Did I offer sympathy? Did I ask after his health? Did I offend a huge portion of the popultation? No, no, yes. I said “I’m glad to hear he fell, I was worried that was a birthmark.

(T) True. I mean, it was what I thought.

(H) Helpful. Maybe it could help bring them into my world of judgment and shallowness.

(I) Inspiring. It might inspire them to move to other side of the kitchen island to avoid the asshole at the party.

(N) Necessary. I had to fill the tasteless joke at the kid’s expense quotient of the party.

(K) Kind. As kind as kicking a puppy. With a birthmark.

The outcome: When the dad didn’t laugh at the joke I tried it a SECOND time on the mom. Then I repeated it to the host describing that I was so out of touch that I had told the story twice before at her party. I haven’t been invited back. Or seen the lovely couple and their young child again. My take away:  I should work on some Gorbachev material.

As someone who spends a ton of time lamenting our collective emphasis on appearance I seem to comment on people’s appearances quite a bit. I think my take away should be more broad. Maybe keep my mouth shut. At least until Gorbachev shows up at a party in a wig with a bad dress one. I will totally tell him that he has shit stuck in his teeth. Because that is (H) helpful.

Maybe I should have searched for #WordlessWednesday instead. And that IS a thing.

Just not usually for me.

What about you? Do you ever step in it?

Here is a link to Emily Post’s Etiquette. I might buy it. And not just to learn how to spell it.


Published by

Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble,, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at

6 thoughts on “Open mouth insert foot.”

  1. Oh my goodness Anna! I am sitting here drinking my tab, laughing out loud, choking and coughing and just a mess (in my ratty old sweatshirt, dog walking pants with my hair in a pony/bun — but I am showered!). I totally get that this is meant to be a self-help entry, but my goodness, I can so picture each of these encounters, and while I am certain each proved uncomfortable for you — each made me laugh harder. Thanks for sharing. I do miss you!

      1. I am kicking myself for possibly sounding insensitive, I certainly feel your embarrassment over these social gaffes for both you and the (un)intended recipient; the good Lord knows I have been on both the giving and receiving end of such social awkwardness. I always hope the subject of my ineptitude is able to see past my social faux pas and not judge me too harshly.

        For the record, I do not think you “suck at parties”. I think you are not great at small talk…there is a difference. You are looking to make a connection and that is not always easy to do simply chatting about the weather or the awesome guac dip you are sampling. Of course, in the case of #2 above, that is simply a case of your filter malfunctioning…it happens to the best of us and if nothing else people leave the party with a story… 🙂

        1. I can’t believe you read that post and kicked YOURSELF. Ha! I am glad you found it funny…that was a big part of the post. I have felt super serious lately and was looking to lighten up. At my own expense. Yes. Small talk is the problem.

  2. Oh, yes, I’ve had a few outbreaks of hoof-in-mouth disease myself, not pleasant, but it happens. These were so funny to read…but I guess not so much for you to recover from! I once thanked a woman at my book signing for buying eight copies of my book. “Gosh, you are wonderful! What can I offer you in return, sugarless gum, a hair clip, how about a kidney?” She laughed and said she’d take the kidney because she was on dialysis three times a week and awaiting a transplant.

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