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Sunday, July 25, 2004

Note from a 'slow idiot'

It’s Saturday night and I just finished reading a humbling comment that an old friend left on Thursday’s post (‘Traction’). In her comment she thanked me for writing about the painful subject of infertility (with which she’s had some experience), and for not being “an insensitive clod”.

Heh…. That’s funny. Mostly because this journal (aptly named ‘treppenwitz’) got its start as a place for me to jot down all the stuff I should have said (or refrained from saying) in ‘real life’ but was too brain dead or insensitive to act on in ‘real time’.

The truth is, I have been ‘an insensitive clod' on too many occasions to count.

I have learned from bitter experience not to ask women about their ‘due date’ unless they are actually in active labor. Suffice it to say I am not so good at judging the difference between advanced pregnancy and a little weight problem. Not good at all.

I have also experienced the yummy taste of shoe leather over the delicate issue of divorce/separation: "Hey, great to see you... where's your wife/husband?”… [long uncomfortable silence]. Note to self: It is, perhaps, never good to assume everyone else is as happy as I am.

If I write about something here in my journal, it is because I needed the time to sit and quietly consider it from a few different angles. Simply put, most anyone can sound wise, or witty… or even sensitive, given enough time and a good spell checker.

Please don’t assume from anything you read here that I am some sort of super-dad, wonder-husband or sensitive Renaissance man. The combination of ‘time’ + ‘multiple revisions’ + ‘long conversations with my wise and patient wife’ = ‘a person who is slowly developing the ability function in polite society’.

There is a great line from an old Kaveret/Poogy (one of the truly timeless Israeli rock bands) song that translates, “It’s not good for an idiot to be fast.” Truer words were never spoken or sung.

In short, I'm far from perfect on the whole sensitivity thing... but I'm [slowly] learning.

Posted by David Bogner on July 25, 2004 | Permalink

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I still contend, and I am after all a witness, that you have LONG been able to function in polite society! :-)

Posted by: zahava | Jul 25, 2004 9:30:47 AM

Kaveret!!!!

[renaissance men where sensitive? can you elaborate this point? you're about to kick me into deep crisis over my studies. and i have to hand in research papers soon. argh.]

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Jul 25, 2004 12:55:59 PM

"renaissance men where sensitive? can you elaborate this point?"

Don't worry... your thesis is safe.

By today's standards, the men of that period were probably not very sensitive. However, the term 'renaissance man' as I've heard it used today, often suggests a broad range of knowledge and abilities.

By extension (and this could be my own take), since the men of the renaissance were more involved in the pursuit of knowledge than the warlike men of the dark ages... they appear to the observer to be more sensitive.

I know... I'm reaching now. :-)

Posted by: David | Jul 25, 2004 1:44:15 PM

you mean like saying that Birthright trips were meant for those born into Judaism?
:-P I think you're not as much of a social misfit as you think you are. Relax. :-)

Posted by: celestial blue | Jul 25, 2004 5:12:52 PM

Exactly my point! Now why didn't I think to use that as an example?!

Thanks for pointing that out. :-)

Posted by: David | Jul 25, 2004 5:20:47 PM

Hey David, we all have learning to do!
One of the wonderful attributes that makes us human is that we do have the choice to adapt, change, and learn from our mistakes. Believe me, I think we all have had those "foot in the mouth" moments.

I still remember the time when I was relatively newly-married, and asked a woman I had met when she was due - She told me she's just fat - OUCH!. I felt pretty stupid.

I also remember when I was engaged, I met a couple who was never able to have kids naturally, and had recently adopted a baby. I made comments that basically implied that since they had been childless for a long time, they must have so much money! Believe me, after experiencing infertility myself, I know how hard on the wallet the experience can be, and I also know to make no assumptions.

However, there is a positive end to this latter stupididty of mine: Recently, I still remembered my comments to her, and though we became close over the years, my stupid comments that I had said to her when we first met were always remained in the back of my mind, and I felt so bad. So finally, after 5 years of guilt, I apologized to her for my stupid comments of years ago - she had long forgotten the incident and promptly forgave me. But as this had been on my mind for years, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

I have also since adopted a policy not to assume someone is pregnant unless they tell me to my face. (and even then, you have to be careful!)

My point is that after you make a mistake once, you remember that "sinking of the stomach" feeling, and try not to repeat that experience. The mark of a caring person is that once you are aware that certain comments/questions may hurt someone, you make a concerted effort never to say such hurtful things again.

I guess the positive thing about treppenwitz is that even though we "flunked" once, we sometimes are given the opportunity to repeat the test, and perhaps, we'll pass it with flying colors on the second time around.

Here's hoping...

Posted by: Chavi | Jul 26, 2004 6:19:59 PM

Yes, I'm an insensitive clod as well. The "When are you due" question has passed my lips at inappropriate times as well. Just remember, you can take the man out of the cave, but you can't take the cave out of the man. (We can keep trying, though.)

Posted by: Jim | Jul 26, 2004 6:32:32 PM

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