Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Wait Wait...Don't Tell Them"

One of my biggest challenges is keeping my mouth shut. Most people can say "one of my biggest challenges is knowing when to keep my mouth shut." For me, I said it right the first line. "Filterless"... that's what they call me at work. I've earned it.
The job is high pressure. Sure. Most jobs can be. It's not like I'm working in the ER or directing airplanes in, but it's not bowl-glazing (sorry for the "Sex and the City" reference).
And when I get stressed, I get vocal. Sometimes loud. Almost always, red in the face. Things come out of my mouth. Ask any of my co-workers who have been in strategy meetings with me. Unfortunately, most times directors are in the meetings with us, as well. And when I get rattled, I have the annoying habit of referring to myself in third person (and everybody hates that). "Well, I'll tell you what The Queer would do..." followed by a steamed, uncontrolled rant.
I have been able to pull it in a little, through advice and help from mentors. My co-workers still laugh about my first year on this job. I was a red-faced, angry wreck. And then, my poor partner would have to listened to most of the same crap at the end of my work-day. He would sit placidly and nod as I spewed the daily venom. Poor guy.
Then I decided (quite firmly) to leave the office at the office. It has made all the difference in the world.

My mouth has gotten me in quite a few tight spots over the years. When I was younger, it was mostly due to naiveté , instead of anger.
  • Like the time my sister, my cousin and I were playing near the front porch of my cousin's grandfather's house:
My sister was twirling a baton, and the Queer said to the grandfather, "I can do that better than she can."He just raised his eyebrows, smiled, and said "I'll bet you can." (He had me pegged as gay from the get-go).
  • Like the time my best friend moved into his first apartment.
A bunch of us guys were hanging at the new place, when his brother and sister-in-law stopped by to visit. We were watching soft porn on cable. The sister-in-law was former military and couldn't be offended. So when they walked into the apartment, my best friend announced "Hey, we're watching naked women on TV!" The Queer quickly added, "There's naked guys too!" The brother just laughed and said "I bet you like that..." (Again ... busted).
  • Like the time a close friend of my then soon-to-be ex-wife invited me out to meet her downtown.
And we ended up making out. I had recently come out to my soon-to-be ex-wife (hence, the "soon-to-be ex-wife"), and her friend knew that I had identified myself as gay (apparently quite a few other people had come to that conclusion too). But her friend was all over me. I stopped it, telling her that it was wrong, wrong, wrong. She told me that she had a crush on me from way back. And I told her that those feelings she had for me were wrong, wrong, wrong. And then in his bewilderment what did The Queer do? Call my soon-to-be ex-wife after the weird rendezvous and say: "You'll never guess what happened!!!" You bet she couldn't. So I told her. I trashed that friendship .... oops, DANG!

From the above examples, you can see that I went to the hard-knock school of learning to keep the mouth closed when one is uncertain or clueless how one's audience will react. Now I guess I'll just foot the tuition for the degree in mouth-control during bouts of anger.

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