I make jokes at the most inappropriate times possible. I think it's because as a small child, I learned that laughter is a great tension reliever... especially when your parents are fighting, or your mother is depressed, or your brother is behaving badly to get attention. Unfortunately, this is a behavioural trait that has carried on into my adult life. Believe it or not, there IS a time to laugh and a time to cry... however, the majority of the time I choose to laugh and almost everyone I know disapproves.
Inevitably, as soon as there is tension in the air, my not-so-funny bone kicks in, my mouth opens, and words come out. In normal circumstances, these words would be hilarious... but not so much at my grandmothers funeral, or at work in the middle of a crisis, or on layoff day when I said... "Look on the bright side... now you'll have more time for origami and knitting!" Insensitive right? I mean.. most of those people were worried about how they were going to feed their children, and here I was making jokes.
I wanted to get up and say something at my grandmothers funeral... but I couldn't. I was afraid. I was afraid I would open my mouth and out would come some smart-assed comment which would be delivered with good intentions... but would sound like I was up there doing stand-up instead of talking about my feelings and what a special lady my grandmother really was. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Some people like to look on the bright side of life... I like to look on the funny side. I can make a joke out of pretty much anything, and usually they are at my own expense. I try not to hurt others, but sometimes the inappropriateness of my timing is horrifying. Those who know me well will stomp on my foot, or kick my shin to let me know when I am behaving badly.
Once at a wedding with co-workers, I made a comment about one of the ladies lovely hair cuts. She was a co-worker that I hadn't seen in quite sometime. I remember shouting something to the effect of: "Why'd you cut off all of you lovely hair... I mean, you're hair cut is really wonderful, but you had the nicest long wavy hair I'd ever seen!" Doesn't sound bad at all right? As soon as I said it the entire table went silent. It was at that precise moment that I remembered that that particular co-worker had been off for quite sometime do to cancer treatment, chemo, and radiation. She hadn't cut off her lovely hair at all... it had fallen out. I wanted to die. But that wonderful women just looked at me, smiled, and said: "Sometimes your hair falls out from chemo, mine did, so I got a wig! Isn't it pretty?" At this point, I was wishing God would strike me down with a lightning bolt. There she was trying to ease MY humiliation when she could have gotten angry, (and rightly so), and tore a strip off of me. So then, I did what any self-respecting, humiliated person would do. I got very, very drunk and focused all my energy on making her laugh for the rest of the evening. She passed away a few months later, but I often think about her and her quiet, forgiving demeanor. She was probably the most patient soul I have ever met, and one of the sweetest women to walk the face of the earth.
I try to think before I speak... but it doesn't always happen. I still put my foot in my mouth far too often, but not nearly as much as I used to. I think the times when I can use my humor to cheer people up far out-weighs the times when I accidentally hurt others. I was thinking of making a t-shirt that says "CAUTION: I TALK BEFORE I THINK" But I thought that the only person who would find that funny would be me.