I don't mean to be rude. Really, I don't. But perhaps my New Year's resolution should be to cut down on inadvertent rudeness. Because in the past month alone, apparently I've been accidentally rude to a number of people.
There was the friend, who I asked to get me the contact information of friends of hers who had a certain skill, because I needed a job done. Doesn't sound rude, right? Well, this friend also had the same skill, but I hadn't asked her to do the job. I realized this later and sent another email, but it was a little late.
Another friend of mine was having a personal crisis, and I thought a mutual acquaintance of ours would have good advice for him. So while all three of us were present, I said, "Hey, do you mind if I share your personal issues with this other friend so they can admonish you?" I guess, technically speaking, this might be rude.
Last week, at my annual Heathen Hullabaloo, a friend had driven hours after a long week of holiday festivities, and when she finally arrived at my party, I greeted her by saying, "You look tired." Apparently, this is not an appropriate greeting.
And just tonight, I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in years. I hadn't recognized him because he had grown facial hair, so when he revealed himself, I immediately said in astonishment, "Wow, you look much older!"
Admittedly, some of this may be rude. But believe me when I say it wasn't intentional. You can tell, because I didn't say the two magic words: "No offense."
People only say "No offense" when they are planning to offend you. A few months ago, I was walking with a friend of mine who said to me, "I like going to reunions and seeing that my classmates, who used to be more popular than me, have gotten fat and bald -- no offense."
I wasn't offended until those last two words. (I wasn't offended afterward either, since I already know other people in the world are also fat and bald.) But you can tell that someone knows they are being rude when they say, "No offense."
My mom never says "No offense." The stories we have of her unintentional rudeness, however, are legendary. What you have to understand to appreciate these stories is that my mom is possibly the nicest, most generous person in the world. Growing up, we sometimes had strangers at our dinner table, because my mom had invited them. Examples could fill this whole paper. She is, quintessentially, a kind person.
She also, on returning from a trip to Vegas, told a friend that the gambling seemed disgusting and she wondered who would waste time doing this. The friend, as it turned out, was a huge gambler.
When dissatisfied with grade inflation at a local school, she complained to a friend that so many kids had high honors, you'd have to be dumb not to make honor roll. The friend may have been related to someone who had just flunked out.
But again, you have to understand that she only has kindness in her heart. Which just makes the rudeness funnier. So if there's one thing I can say about my unintentional rudeness, it's this: I come by it honestly.
Seth Brown is a humor writer, the author of "It Happened In Rhode Island", and hey Mom... no offense. His work appears weekly in the Transcript, and weakly on RisingPun.com.