Friday, July 15, 2011

Hurtful Humor

I've hurt another friend's feelings with what comes out of my mouth. I'm sorry, but I'm worn out by making amends for my lifetime of mistakes. I hope she will forgive me and we can move on.

The first rule of humor is to know your audience. The inside jokes that I share with my son make some people itch, but I don't necessarily know who these people are or what offends them until they begin scratching. As a class clown, I sometimes step over the lines into what some think is inappropriate. Most people can't seem to define what they find inappropriate ahead of time, but they know their own boundaries when someone steps on them. As a woman, I'm apparently supposed to already know these things.

A true friend will tell me they are offended and move on to the rest of our relationship. If I value the friend's feelings, I will attempt to change my behavior while with that person. This doesn't become a matter of right and wrong; it is a matter of valuing each other's feelings. It may limit the occasions in which we relate, but it will hopefully not adversely affect the underlying relationship.

I grew up with boy country cousins my age, four brothers, and a Cajun culture on my daddy's side. These were earthy people who used humor to cope with all the scary things in life. I really embraced this coping strategy; it seemed preferable to hiding in my room like my older sister or being angry all they time like my almost twin.

I did have to learn some modicum of decorum when I was raising a sweet, gentle daughter in the Bible belt, but it sweetness never came naturally to me. I looked forward to getting old because old people can get away with almost anything...until their children have them declared incompetent and send them to nursing homes. I was so sure that moving back to my baudy beginnings would provide the atmosphere I needed to truly be my most brazen and baudy self, but it seems the only hope for me is to hang exclusively with men. Most of them seem to be immune to my indiscretions, but even this leaves me in a quandary.

There are still many who believe that a woman can't truly be friends with a man without the threat of a physical relationship. And, at least in the south, there are still people who think that men and women can't have a discussion in the same room. I had so embraced the whole women's lib movement because I thought it would bring down those barriers, but boy was I wrong!

My problem is in finding how to put the genie back in the bottle after five years in the forest with my man who grew up on a farm and went to all-boy boarding schools. Until I get my mind back into motherhood mode, I guess I'd better keep my lips zipped. Either that or the rest of my life I'll be doing penance for the hurt I have placed on other people.

1 comment:

  1. Yvette, Some folks just seem to walk around with their feelings stuck out on their shoulders! I have to admit though, the Cajun way of greeting a friend sometimes sounds awful to un-trained ears. Its a cultural thing that people just have to come to understand. Be yourself!