I’ve always struggled with foot-in-mouth disease. It seems that whenever I ask anyone about their other half, it is likely that they have broken up with them. After bumping into an old mate of Mr P’s at a Kasabian gig, I remarked that I hadn’t seen him for ages to which he replied that he had recently found out that his wife had been having an affair for the past year and they had been sorting out custody conditions and the splitting of their assets. That sure shut me up, I can tell you.
And it’s not just intimate relationships that get me into trouble. After asking an acquaintance who had recently been travelling around New Zealand what brought him back to the UK so soon, he told me that his father had died suddenly. Even worse, after drunkenly congratulating the father of a friend on his upcoming grandfatherhood, he had to awkwardly explain that the girl in question had actually suffered a miscarriage. Horrendous.
I’ve since learned not to ask anyone about their private lives. This is no mean feat, especially when I’m suddenly stuck with someone I only vaguely know in the pub or at a party. It’s a natural ice-breaker, plus I’m a nosy bugger.
The other day, I met The Redhead Sister and her friend, Mr D, in the pub. Mr D had recently had a whirlwind marriage, meeting a girl and literally proposing after a few months which culminated in a wedding in Las Vegas the following New Year’s Eve. I followed my rule and didn’t ask about his wife. However later on, The Redhead Sister made him show me one of his wedding photographs (he was dressed as a cowboy – stetson and all – so was ripe for piss-taking). I took this as a green light to finally ask how Mrs D was but – and you can see where this is going, can’t you? – he, of course, told me that they had suffered a messy break-up and now hated each other and to make matters, worse, were still having to live together whilst they waded through the ball-ache of selling the house and sorting out the divorce settlement. Nasty.
So, an addendum to my previous rule: don’t ask anyone about their other half, family, house, job, pet etc unless they bring it up first. I foresee a lot of stilted conversations at dinner parties as I wrack my brains trying to think of something else to talk about.