There are times when I geniunely say thing I oughtn’t. Yeah, I know. We’ll all do.
But let me give you an example of my version of this gaffe. Back in college I worked at the local grocery in the photo lab. Most of the people I dealt with were students, usually sorority girls dropping off last night’s drunken formal shots. One of my flirting techniques was to say…
How are you doing today?
Just fine? It’s not like you have cancer, right? Wait… you don’t have cancer, right?
Ha ha. No!
Good. Because if you had cancer you’d have a legitimate gripe. Things are good!
Now, please don’t jump on me. It was fifteen years ago and I was just trying to make women laugh. I wanted dates. It was a lonely period. Strangely, the joke always worked. It doesn’t read like it would, but if you’re sort of smiling and laughing during it, it lands fine.
After doing this same bit over and over it dawned on me. I’m batting 1000 on making women smile with this bit. But one of these days I’m going to say this to some poor girl who either lost her parents to cancer or who has cancer herself. And I will feel terrible.
Cancer just isn’t something to joke about. I was young and immature. But I was smart enough to stop saying extreme things to get laughs.
Well… most of the time.
A few months back, at BlogHer, I was in a session with thirty women. We were in class for several hours and then went to lunch. Since I didn’t know anybody, I just sat with the people in our group. Somehow the topic of strippers came up. I can’t remember why, but I said…
Strippers are great girlfriends as long as you’re not allergic to body glitter and getting knifed.
I thought that was pretty safe considering we, as a society, have judgements about strippers being damanged. I’m not saying they are. I’m saying we generally believe they are. Everyone laughed. It was a solid joke.
Then one of the women from a few chairs over said, “You realize you’re talking to a sex worker, right?”
The color drained out of my face. Holy crap. I just said a horrible thing about a stripper to a stripper.
So, I backpedaled.
Oh, ha, I was just joking. You know, strippers get a bad rap, and I knew one and she was really cool, and all that nonsense about drugs and daddy issues, it’s just nonsense, and I’m sweating right now, and I just think women should be able to exploit sex from men, I mean you ladies have it hard enough, you know?
Then I asked her what kind of sex worker she was.
“Oh, I’m a dominatrix.”
Wait a sec. A dominatrix is a sex worker? I thought you just kneed guys in the balls or stepped on their dick with high heels.
A dominatrix is a sex-worker.
No, not really. You don’t even have sex with the guy, right?
I deal in sexual activity.
Okay. Sorry for offending you with the talk about strippers.
Nah – I was just kidding. Strippers are nuts.
She got me good. I was just grateful I hadn’t offended her. I asked about the business and she said married dudes were the best because they had the most to lose and usually kept their mouth shut. That helped her safety from crazy wives. She also tried to convince me that her sons were normal since they all had good jobs and owned houses. I wanted so badly to ask about how the whole thing works, but I chickened out. I’m just too vanilla and probably would have fainted.
She tried to convince me that one of my good friends was probably seeing a dominatrix. I’m looking your way, Jerry.
After that near-miss, I’m more hesitatnt to make jokes that contain judgement. Which means I had to throw out a post I had ready to go called, “Old People Smell and It’s Time To Tell Grandpa.”
Actually, you know what? No old people read my blog. Screw ’em! They suck!
Just kidding. I’m sure your Grandfather rocks. Even with all his stank.