To be fair, there are plenty of people in the world whose kinetic minds produce meaningful contributions to the world (thankfully), but I am not one of those people. In my case, a perceived acumen (whether true or false) leads to episodes of painfully awkward exchanges. I simply can't focus long enough to catch every unfiltered thought. And the consequences can range from slight to catastrophic.
Not long ago, I met a man and a woman at a party. They were standing quite near one another, so it seemed only natural to assume they were, in fact, coupled up. The woman had announced that she was pregnant. As I listened to the story, my mind was also calculating the possible number of jelly beans I could fit into my mouth at once, so I missed the obvious non-verbal cues of the pair in front of me, signifying that their relationship was not amorous. When I snapped out of my reverie, I blurted out, "This is good news, right? Or does someone need a ride to the clinic? I can only fit three in my car."
On another occasion, I was at yet another party, when I started to notice just how many exes were also there. I admit that a situation like this would vex even the most grounded individuals, but I'm fairly certain that they would be a tad more tactful than I. While being introduced to an exes's new spouse, I noticed her rather sizable ring. As I admired the dazzling gem, I asked, "Is this a blood diamond?"
It is not my intention to be so insulting. I just have a tendency to lose track of conversations, and so when I finally emerge, it is often with a mind that is still somewhat detached. Even as I type, I'm thinking about how many ways Dabney Coleman can vary his mustache.
In an attempt to catalog the minor transgressions from over the years, I'm inspired to write a short, cautionary "How to Avoid Being Perceived as an Asshole" guide (perhaps it will help others):
1. When you see an old acquaintance, it is polite to inquire about their spouse. It is not polite, however, to express your extreme dislike of this spouse, especially if the acquaintance tells you that he/she is dead.
2. If someone you know is thinking about adopting a child from China, do not remind them that many children from that country have worked in sweat shops, and therefore will have very nimble fingers that will open more than just drawers.
3. After finishing a sexual act, do not whisper to your partner, "That'll do, pig."
4. When speaking to a do-gooder about the merits of their hybrid car, do not quote statistics that undermine their resolve. They don't need to know that their car batteries are poisoning the ground water of some third world village.
5. When on a date, under no circumstance, do you tell your prospect that they'd be more attractive if they spoke less.
How cathartic; I can feel the personal growth about to happen...any moment now.