Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bluffing Ain't Gonna Get You Anywhere!

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I'll never forget a most embarrassing moment that was caused by my unwillingness to ask people to repeat after themselves, especially if I wasn't sure of what they were saying. As a young man, my ego had me think I was something of a "lip-reading expert."

Sometime during the late eighties, I was at a midnight birthday party in New York City. I could tell the music was at full blast because each of the four strategically-placed stereo speakers appeared to be alive with a giant pulsating heart. The party was just starting to warm up, thanks to a few people who had the nerve to herk and jerk their hips like Elaine from Seinfeld:

There I was, holding a freshly refilled glass of white wine, surveying the crowd and looking for a place to fit in somewhere. Within a few minutes, I spied a group of articulate-looking people chatting incessantly with the birthday boy across the room. They were passing dirty jokes back and forth.

"Hmmm...this looks promising," I thought to myself. Taking a deep breath, I promptly made my way over to join them.

Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the birthday boy was babbling like this guy from the Federal Express TV commercial:

Not wanting to slink away so soon and possibly draw attention to myself, I stood there, pretending to understand every word he was saying. Sipping my cocktail, I nodded, winked and even laughed at all the right moments. I was an expert at this kind of stuff. But like a Cheshire cat waiting to pounce on his prey, I was actually waiting for him to say something that remotely resembled a string of words I could respond to.

Luckily I didn't have to wait very long.

"I'm going to buy some condos downtown........"


Springing into action, I brazenly cut him off and practically screamed, "Yeah, I know where to go for that. Have you heard of a cute little shop down in the village called 'Condoms Around the World'?' Oh, you gotta go check it out!!"

Dang, I was so damn proud of myself - I had done it. I had made my mark that night.

What I didn't know was that just before I opened my big mouth, someone had turned the stereo down for reasons I'll never know.

At first, a look of surprise registered on people's faces. Then as if someone flicked on the switch, everyone degenerated into a cacophony of hoots, cackles, and wails, holding on to their stomachs for dear life. Some were repeatedly banging on the coffee table in a desperate attempt to catch their breath while others were giving each other high fives. Shocked and confused that I could be so profoundly funny over such an innocent comment, but not wanting to be left out, I joined in the chorus of laughter.

My best friend, who happened to be within arm's length, knew better than to think I understood what had just happened. He decided to be helpful.

Instead of grabbing my arm and towing me to the other room where we could talk privately, he waved at me to get my attention and then said, "Hey, that wasn't what the birthday boy said. The dude was talking about condos not condoms!"

Some friend he was, yeah.

For the first time in my life, I actually felt like I was having a hot flash if that were possible. Never before did I hope the Lord would magically float down to that living room and beam me out of there!

Food for thought: Bluffing your way through life ain't the way to live!
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