In today's world it's very important to be careful not only of what you say but of how you say it. One misplaced syllable or unguarded inflection and the most innocent comment can be completely misconstrued. Take yesterday at work, for example.
I was just wandering around the produce department with my little cart, stocking the fruit displays when a man whom I know only very slightly came in and just such a misunderstanding occurred. What I said was, "hi, how are you?"
What he apparently heard was, "tell me all about your wife's explosive diarreah."
People, trust me. This is not something I am ever, ever, ever going to ask.
I am not unsympathetic. If you or one of your loved ones is sick, then naturally I wish you well. I just don't need the details! Now, I could understand what was going on. Here was a man who is used to being cared for and cossetted by his wife and suddenly he found himself in the position of caretaker. Not only that, but the role had led him out of the safe confines of his living room into the scary wilds of a great big, huge, gigantic, incredibly-small-town Wal-Mart almost-but-not-quite Supercenter. He wanted recognition of this fact. He wanted to be patted on the head and told that he's a Good Boy. I can do that! The conversation goes like this:
Me: Hi, how are you?
Him: I'm good, but my wife's sick.
Me: Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that.
Him: Well, I'm taking care of her. I came to get her some medicine and things.
Me: Aren't you a nice husband!
Him: Yeah. What aisle's the chicken soup in?
And then I tell him and he finishes his shopping and I stock my fruit and that's IT! If he absolutely can't help himself he can ask me for directions to Pepto Bismal instead of chicken soup or even, if he MUST, Immodium AD.
I'd really rather he not ask about the Immodium AD, but doing so won't make me be mean to him in my blog. But that is the very LIMIT to what I am willing to be told about any infirmities suffered by himself or his family or anyone whose existence he is aware of.
I do not need to hear that she is "spewing out both ends like a volcano"! I do not need to know about the plastic trash bag she has to carry with her or that she "can't get off the pot without leaving a trail to help her find her way back"!
The banana girl does not want to know!
I do not discuss such things with my nearest and dearest*. If you are a relative stranger to me** then not only do we not need to talk about this, but the term "spewing like a volcano" should not ever, under any circumstances, enter any conversation we might ever have with the sole exception of if we are in fact talking about an honest-to-God actual volcano.
Is all that perfectly clear?
*The small handful of people I can stand.
**Even stranger than my relatives.