Home > City mama, motherhood, Politics, the playground, Uncategorized > Well, that was embarrassing

Well, that was embarrassing

So I used to go to a Thursday morning playgroup at our library. There were lots of cool people there that I just never really connected with. Mostly nannies, a couple of moms, and two dads. One was a big black guy with an adorable older girl, both of whom were very very quiet, despite my best efforts to draw them out. The other was a super-hipster with twins who was polite but a little stand-off-ish. I always made a point of being really friendly to these two guys because I know stay-at-home dads get a lot of shit.

The hip guy eventually warmed up a little and we got to chatting acquaintances level. He was gay, I learned eventually. Then his twins got too old for the baby group and I stopped going to the older kids group when The Child’s nap shifted. So, no more super-hip dad.

Today, I popped in to get a book out of the library and stumbled on the Baby Group starting up. Trying to get out with two jackets, a fussy toddler, and a stack of books more than a foot high (all the Lemony Snickets), I heard a voice I recognized, looked up and lo and behold, there was Super Hip Dad.

“Hey!” I smiled. “How you doing? Aren’t your two a little old for Tuesdays?”

“they are,” he turned and pointed at a small boy, about 6 months old, “but he’s not.”

“Wow!” I smiled and then my brain did something… stupid. Please understand that all of this thought process took place in the time between two words spoken at normal speed. My brain said: He’s gay, so please don’t offend him by saying or even implying that he is married to a woman, so don’t use the word ‘had’ which has connotations of having actually given birth. That would be insensitive. Use some other appropriate verb, please.

So instead, I said, “Wow, you got another one.”

I could have run up my tongue and out of my mouth to chase down that word — got, like kids are something you pick up at a grocery store — as soon as I realized what I had said.  Super Hip Dad stiffened a little.

Rather than make a big awkward fuss over it, I decided (as I so often do) to try and make up for my deficiencies with enthusiasm, good will, and cheer. “That’s so wonderful! Congradulations! I’m so happy for you! I hope the girls love their little brother!”

If I had put more exclamations marks in the sentence he would have choked on them.

He responded with a real smile and nodded. At that moment, The Child opted to tug on my arm, so I made my good byes, exiting hastily with one last “Congrats!” and slunk out, my liberal tail between my legs.

There are things to say here: Things about how language fails to keep up with the rapidly changing social mores; about the politics of family; about how even someone like me, totally okay with gay marriage and gay dads, can still trip up on an innocuous comment; about how language can get in the way sometimes. But those things are all buried, right now, under a big burning heap of embarrassment.

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  1. March 1, 2008 at 12:40 am

    I’ve been there, too–and so has he; even Super Hip Dad has said something he didn’t quite mean to say before, and he probably sensed your true vibe well enough to know that you really didn’t mean it like that… My sympathies to you, nonetheless–not a good feeling. (But maybe better than the worms in your teeth as was described above.)

  2. karriew
    March 1, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    re:He responded with a real smile and nodded

    So stop worrying! He’s not upset. I do know what you mean though. I’ve said similar dumb things in those situations where I want people to know that I am liberal, friendly and absolutely, 100% ok with their alternative lifestyle–however it is defined. Ugh.

  3. March 2, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    There’s hardly any way at all to speak without offending someone. I think it’s the tone that matters most. If “you got another one” was said with a bunch of judgment like “How come you got one and other more deserving straight people didn’t?” then it’s offensive. But, if you’re happy for them and have, as you said, good will toward their joy – I’m sure they feel that and take it for what it’s worth.

    At least that’s how I hope it works because I put my foot in my mouth frequently enough to benefit from such a social arrangement.

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