Me and my embarrassing mouth

Did I really just say that (image source:

Did I really just say that (image source:

The thing about karma is that it revels in pulling people off their high horse and giving them a good spanking. Only last week I blogged about how annoyed I was in the way I was spoken to on a health visit with my son. Well this week karma decided some payback was in order.

It happened on the way home from collecting my boys from school and pre-school. We needed a few items for dinner that night and had popped into the local supermarket. Now my two year-old only needs to hear a name once to remember it. It’s a great skill to have. I think he’ll grow up to be a politician; with his memory for names to go with the usual self-centred and slightly sociopathic tendencies of all toddlers he’ll be perfect.

Anyway, he was very tired this day so I was chattering away to him, using distraction so he would forget the tantrum he’d just had on hearing we had to go shopping. I asked who he thought we’d see at the shop and he immediately said John,* a young guy who usually works at the deli counter who always makes a fuss of my youngest.

As we walked down each aisle I would ask my youngest if he could see John. It was a great game which meant we completed the shop without further tears. Then, as we got to the checkout, my youngest started shouting “John” at the top of his voice, and a slightly embarrassed young man waved back from behind the till. So far, so normal.

When it was our turn to pay, John served us, but my little one kept pointing to the next server, a man also called John, saying “Two Johns, two Johns.”
“Oh,” I said in a sing-song voice. “You’re right. There are two Johns. How funny. I wonder how people tell them apart? Do you think they have nick-names or something?”

Costume for my next shopping trip (image source:

Costume for my next shopping trip (image source:

It was one of those occasions where I clearly wasn’t thinking, just talking to keep my son occupied, because as soon as the words had come out of my mouth a feeling of dread hit me. You see, one John was white, the other black.

I looked up to see “white” John give me an odd look, as if to say “was that a racist joke?” I stood there for a moment, my sense of discomfort increasing exponentially as I failed to think of a get out, my silence compounding the perceived crime. Meanwhile, “black” John looked across as if to say “did I hear you right?” I could have died.

The good news is that I didn’t compound the error by trying to talk my way out of it. Instead, I continued as if nothing was amiss, despite my scarlet face, and the moment was broken (at least I hope it was). Still, it got me thinking. Could the nurse from last week have been thinking the same thing? We can all be so quick to judge people, yet with one unthinking, innocent comment I could have understandably been mistaken as a rabid racist. I think I may owe that nurse an apology, or at the very least the benefit of the doubt.

Karma can be a complete bastard sometimes.

*Name has been changed to protect the innocent


13 thoughts on “Me and my embarrassing mouth

  1. Oh, I feel your pain. We’ve all been there. That sinking feeling you get when you realize you’ve just royally put your foot in your mouth is terrible. I think in your situation, you did the best thing by not trying to explain yourself. That would have likely made things worse. Bet those Johns will remember you in the future… 😉

  2. Oh, that’s wonderful! A real laugh-out-loud moment (for the reader… the reader…). I too feel your pain. I agree that pretty much anything you said next would only serve to increase the depth of the hole you had dug, or plunge your foot further into your mouth. The thing is – and I hesitate to pass such an overtly sexist remark, especially in light of your last post – but if you’d been a woman in charge of a small, truculent child, a shopping list and a trolley full of provisions, you could plead “mummy brain”…… As a man, you’d better not play with that one! I envy your little boy, by the way – remembering names is a true gift. Politician or not, people will love him for it.

    • I envy my little boy too. My wife can never understand how I can remember the names of the Great West Indian cricket team of the 1970’s yet not remember friend’s names that we have known for years. I’m glad my discomfort has had some use in making people smile. It almost makes it worth it.

  3. The present Mrs Kirk was in Starbucks with Lord Barchester (3) recently when he piped up that the man behind the counter had “…the same face as Tong-Tong’s Daddy!” – Zetong being one of the boys he plays with at nursery. She started to explain to the little chap in a McCartneyesque fashion that people are the same wherever you go but, wary of causing the sort of offence that occurs when you mistake Canadians for Americans or a Kiwi for an Australian, paused fatally when trying to remember where Zetong’s father had said they’d moved from. “Yes, that’s because he’s from….” she faltered. “Chelmsford?” piped up the grinning Barista, helpfully.

  4. Oh Dylan, I feel your pain! Still, if it had been me I would have made it so much worse by continuing to talk to try to make things right and ended really putting my foot in it, completely unintentionally and innocently! Thank goodness you didn’t!!

    I did have to laugh though as you told the story. Why do the most embarrasing things so often happen when we are out with the kids??!!

    As an aside, I wanted you to know that I’ve nominated you for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award. Don’t worry, it’s yours if you want it but just know that I am thinking of you and thought that an award with a lovely, colourful picture of a dragon on it might be the very thing!!

    Here’s the link:

    Have a great day 🙂

    • Hi Sherri. Great idea, I’ll blame the kids 😉
      Thank you for the nomination. I tend not to accept blogging awards but I truly appreciate the sentiment (and I love the picture).

      • No problem Dylan, and you are very welcome. I just knew you would love the picture 🙂
        (and yes, always remember you can blame the kids when you get in a sticky situation in the future – it works like a charm!!)

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