"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." Anaïs Nin

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Inappropriate Response

Many years ago, the man I was once married to and I were invited to dinner at our new landlord's home. They were an older couple, rather proper, but very kind and welcoming. We had just arrived in Savannah, GA, and being new, we were happy to be making friends with our new neighbors.

The dinner party was the same day as my husband's processing at the new base. While being processed, he had to have a series of immunizations, one of them for typhoid fever. We found out later that night he was seriously allergic to this particular vaccine. After being processed, we had a late lunch at a restaurant near our home. During lunch, he started feeling ill. By the time we got home, he went directly to bed to see if a little rest would help.  I was hesitant to leave him home, but he encouraged me to go to the dinner and just let him sleep. The dinner was at the home next door to us, so I wouldn't be far away if he needed anything.

There were other guests at the dinner, a Sargent from the base with his girlfriend who were sitting across from me. The host was telling me about how good his wife's bar-b-que was. I was not familiar with southern cooking, and when I saw how unappetizing this particular food looked, I didn't want to be rude or ungracious. I asked the hostess if she could just give me a very small portion since I had a late lunch with my husband and I wasn't very hungry.

The Sargent sitting across from me asked, "Where is he at?"

I simply answered, "He's at home in bed."

An odd expression crossed the man's face. The he looked as if he was trying to keep from laughing, perhaps a little embarrassed, too. His girlfriend looked rather surprised. When I looked at my hostess, she looked quite cross. Her husband didn't look very pleased, either. Everyone in the room stopped moving and stopped talking. Most of them were looking at me like I had committed a heinous crime.

Something wasn't right.

I looked across at the Sargent and I asked, "You did ask me 'Where's he at?' Didn't you?"

"No, I asked, "What did you have?"

My response, "He's at home in bed" was totally inappropriate. I heard his question wrong!

The problem with not being able to hear or not distinguish what little you do hear is that often you think you are following or reading a conversation just fine..only to find out later you really didn't. I know I'm not the only one this happens to. I'm sure many of you have interesting stories similar to this, some just as embarrassing, perhaps even more so.

Has this happened to you?



  1. I have worked for years in a extremely noisy enviroment and just retired. I don't have a inappropriate response story however I like to listen to talk radio. I am always hearing something on the radio that is very wrong. After thinking about what I think I have heard the little light bulb in my brain comes on and I then realize what was said. Sometimes I think I have heard really silly things. Most of the time I laugh at myself but then sometimes my problem has a more serious side. :-)

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Neil. I know what you mean! Some things are laughable, some not so much.