I try, but I’m not always a shining-star of heartfelt caring. To wit:
I’m visiting Georgia, and on Sunday I visit the church I attended while living there. It’s the social center of any Southern town, you know. A young woman and I meet eyes. She’s giddy and smiling walking to me, and noticeably limping to the right. Like she’s drunk on a boat.
“Hey, Gimpy!” I say.
Her smile fades a bit. “Hi,” she says. Did she force that out?
“What’s with the leg? Why are you limping around like a wounded deer?”
“Oh,” she says, still smiling. Less eagerly. “I’ve got a degenerative bone disease. I probably won’t be able to walk in a year.”
I felt as tall as that space between your thumb and forefinger. What the hell was I thinking? Good gawd. How about “Hey! Good to see you!”
The Short Bus
Here’s another one.
My oldest boy and I are at the grocery store, and he is irritating me. What’s new? He’s probably ten or so, and I say something like “Maybe you should start riding the short bus to school.” We both think this is pretty funny.
I turn to the cashier and pay, and she just stands there, stone stiff and staring at me like I’m an insect.
“My boy rides the short bus to school,” is all she says. I don’t even try to apologize. There’s nothing I can say to redeem myself. I slink off like the insect that I am.