a mouthful of feet

I am sure I will not be the first or the last person who would have experienced this. You blurt out something and the very next moment regret why in the bloody hell you said that. Not only the whole thing is embarrassing, but your every attempt from then on to save yourself from the disgrace can be equally embarrassing or even dangerous. I, for one suffering from acute case verbal diarrhea, am prone to such situations. And the worst one comes out when I try to make a casual conversation.

It was during my first year in US and I was at my on-campus work place. I was in the coffee bar and I, along with two employees of the plant was waiting for the coffee to brew. Since I was new there, just like all people waiting for coffee in any coffee bar in any work place, those two were chit chatting with me about what I was doing and how long I have been in US. It was a hot summer time and one of the person asked how the weather in India was like. And since I had received so many questions from curious minds in US about India, I started explaining with zeal how much hot the weather in my part of India was. “Is it this bad there?”, asked one of the two. “Its worse, that’s why we are this dark” and immediately I felt the taste of my foot in my palette and a sudden brain freeze. One of the two guys was an African American!! Since nothing I would say from then on could make it any better, all I could do was to conjure up the strength to pour my coffee and just vanish from that room forever. I was never to come across that guy again.

What made me recollect this was a similar incident my brother who was in US few weeks back. This one too, curiously enough, involves brewing coffee. He was at the coffee bar having a coffee. An African American person who was next to him spilled some coffee on his own shirt and was trying his best to clean up the stain. And my brother in an attempt to lighten up went “you should wear a dark shirt like I have; then no one would see the stain”. And that person in his broke English went “you mean….I...me…dark?” (it was his first visit to US and as part of the orientation I gave him, being the ‘more experienced one’ here, I had instructed him specifically to avoid any conversation which could be misinterpreted as racial) and immediate he too felt the delicious taste of the feet. However, unlike the not so gracious exit I made, he managed to convey it to that person that he was referring to the shades of shirt.

Though there have been other instances where I have regretted saying something, none has freaked the bejesus out of me like this one. Maybe its one of the drawbacks of having a mouth which works faster than the brain. Or maybe it as a rookie mistake made in an alien nation…or maybe it just runs in the family.