Making Friends & Influencing People


I thought it might be worth mentioning that not only do I embarrass myself privately with activities like hawking a loogie on my calf, I also go out of my way to embarrass myself publicly and apparently at least one of my children has the ability to do the same.


I know, I know, you wish you were a part of my family. Who doesn’t? Opportunities for humility abound around here!


If you’d like to pull a copy-cat maneuver, I’ll tell you the secret to putting your foot in your mouth:


1. Go visit your husband’s workplace, just as he’s getting off work.

2. See his boss’s wife.

3. Show off your new baby.

4. Make small talk.


Oh, that doesn’t sound embarrassing? Let me fill in the details. The pertinent part is at the “make small talk” step.


While you’re talking nicely to the kind woman, mention that it’s been awhile since she saw a child as small as yours, as you know her son is in his 30s.


Watch while her face changes and she inadvertently gives you the stink-eye while quickly telling you she’s only 40, and that guy you’ve been assuming is her son because she’s married to the kid’s father… well, he’s only 8 years her junior and definitely not her son.




I back-pedaled as quickly as I could, apologizing for my misunderstanding and joking I just thought she was aging well.


She didn’t thaw and the stink-eye remained, a mean-spirited gesture of nasty condemning me for not looking closely for wrinkles and relying too heavily on the miraculous powers of hair dye as a pseudo-carbon dating process.


I crept away with my figurative tail tucked between my legs and have been praying ever since my husband won’t get fired because I insulted his boss’s wife.


That’s not enough embarrassment for one family in one day… it gets better! I’ve gifted at least one of my children with the ability to insult acquaintances at will!


A renter came into the office. We were catching up on what’s been happening in his life during the last month when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Dos slinking around.


This is not uncommon at this time. All of our girls are quick to introduce baby Bubby to anyone who comes around and they spend their time sticking as close as possible to the newcomer to make sure I don’t give him away to the first person who offers me a full night of sleep in exchange for the infant.


When I saw Dos moving like a shadow behind and beside the renter, I didn’t worry, this behavior, though bizarre, is par for the current course.


What I did not expect was for Dos to encroach upon his personal bubble, virtually crawl into his pocket, and begin to pet his arm.


For the sake of random sharing, I’m going to rabbit trail down the path of personal space. The personal bubble varies culturally, but here are a few findings about people in the U.S.:


In the U.S., people prefer to be more than 12 feet away from a stranger in public and approximately 4-to-12 feet from “intimate strangers,” i.e. workmen in their house, the postman, shopkeepers, new employees at work, etc.


Those participating in social gatherings such as office parties, social functions and friendly gatherings tend to stand 18-to-48 inches from one another, while lovers, parents, children, close friends, relatives and pets typically observe a space of 6-to-18 inches apart.


Not surprisingly, areas that have the highest human population density also have the highest crime and violence rates.


Based on that statistic, my dear second child should have been either the lover, parent, child, close friend, relative or pet of the renter… or the victim of a random outburst of violence as she — clearly — was in his “stranger danger” zone.


Did I mention she was petting his arm? Her legs were practically wrapped around his knee as she climbed his body to reach his arm.


The man, justifiably startled, looked down at his new pet four-year-old with a freaked out, questioning look.


And my dear, sweet, totally unfiltered child batted her green eyes at him and whispered, “You have very hairy arms!”


She rubbed her fingers through his arm pelt again and looked at him admiringly.


The renter? He had no words for a long moment, then apparently decided to cut his losses.


“Um… thank you?” he offered.


After that the conversation stalled and he excused himself quickly. He’s been scarred forever.


And I have nothing to say to my child except to encourage her to keep her petting fingers to herself, no matter how tempting the hair on anyone’s limbs may be.


Do you have a good story of how you put your foot in your mouth? Have your children been awkward for you? I’d love to hear it in the comments!

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