It’s the Pitts by Lee Pitts
The Slip-Of-The-Tongue Incident
There are two facts readers need to know to fully appreciate this story.
Number one is my wife usually drinks a Diet Coke for lunch, and number two is she is as fit as a fiddle and has kept her perfect shape all 51 years I’ve known her.
She’d be the last person one would think would need Weight Watchers, intermittent fasting or Keto diet gummies.
So here’s the setup – I took my wife to lunch at one of our favorite haunts, and a familiar server waited on us. The place was packed, the servers were busy and our server noticed my wife’s Diet Coke was almost empty. She practically yells across the room at my wife so everyone in the place could hear and says, “How’s that Diet coming.”
YOU COULD HAVE HEARD A PIN DROP!
Everyone in the joint looked at my wife to see how humiliated she must be because the server was talking about one thing – her Diet Coke – and all of the patrons thought she was talking about her diet, as in the Atkins or Mediterranean.
When our server realized what she’d said, she turned 15 shades of purple and apologized profusely. We just laughed a lot and advised her perhaps in the future she might want to alter her vocabulary because another customer might not be so forgiving.
The rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say, was we didn’t see our server for two weeks after what is now known all over town as “the Slip-of-the-Tongue Incident.” We were afraid she’d been fired or she figured she wasn’t cut out for waiting tables after all.
Can one imagine the field day a human resources officer would have had if the restaurant had been part of a large chain?
We finally asked another server who assured us the perpetrator of the Slip-of-the-Tongue Incident figured it might be a good time to slip out of town so she took a long vacation.
I too have been victimized by a troublesome tongue.
Coincidentally, the setting just happened to also be in a restaurant, and my wife and I were having lunch with my wife’s mother and stepfather, who just happened to be a trouble-making jerk.
He considered himself quite the wordsmith, and we were just talking about how one innocent word could mean different things to different people, when all of a sudden he almost screams at me, “I’m gay, aren’t you?” as he points to me.
What I heard was, “I’m happy, aren’t you?”
But what the rest of the folks in the restaurant heard was, “I’m a homosexual, aren’t you?”
I’m sorry to say even I, who has made a living with words, have had vocabulary issues in the past. I’ve previously told the story about living in Australia and attending a cricket match.
I turned to our hosts that day and asked in a fairly loud voice, “Who are you rooting for?”
This is innocent enough, right? How was I supposed to know “rooting” in Australia is akin to our “F word.”
Open mouth, insert foot.
It turns out there are quite a few instances where one might want to clean up their vocabulary when in the presence of foreigners.
A visiting Britisher once came up to me and asked, “Do you really have people in this country whose job it is to wash gullies?”
It turned out he’d been listening to me tell a friend we really needed a “good gully washer” – as in a three-inch rain.
There are other words one might want to eliminate from their vocabulary if they are visiting the United Kingdom (UK).
I cannot even bring myself to tell readers what the word “dork” means in the UK. I’m too embarrassed to say, but if one gets a good British slang dictionary, they’ll find out for themselves it’s a word not to be used in the presence of women.
Common phrases can get one into trouble too.
When I was younger, I told my grandpa about a mutual friend who experienced a bankrupting cattle trade and his banker practically, “Had a cow.”
Grandpa looked at me and said, “Well at least he knows a little something about the cattle business then.”