Help me get my foot out of my mouth.
June 10, 2007 10:47 AM   Subscribe

I put my foot in my mouth at a wedding. Help me get it out.

I contract at a part-time job that I enjoy a lot. I'm hoping I'll be getting on their payroll soon (they're telling me this is possible). So one of my co-workers at this place invited me to his wedding, and I felt it was important for me to go. This guy has been training me and spending time with me off the clock, and he's helped me so much and is just the greatest person ever. So even though I was quaking at the thought of this thing, because my people skills are awful but especially bad in groups, and I've always dreaded parties, I knew I'd have to gird my loins and just get through this.

We greeted the bride and groom and they even chatted with us for a bit, though there were so many people. The groom asked me to hug him and I felt so warm and fuzzy!

We went to the reception, where despite being very tipsy, I manged not to fall down, break anything or insult anyone. And every minute was like an hour to me, because I'm horrible in these situations and have never figured out the mingling thing (I know there are some threads on here about that), but I soldiered on. So finally my husband and I were ready to leave, and as we were walking back to the car we were pretty full of ourselves and congratulating ourselves on how great we'd done, because we hadn't screwed up in any major way (he's also a bit shy and tense at these affairs).

And then another guy from work who was arriving late--I'll call him Jack--spotted us on the street and started chatting. I was very drunk by that time because I'd had shots and a bunch of wine at the party (not including what we'd imbibed at home), and I just started talking off the top of my head. My husband later told me that I said something to Jack about thinking the bride was a man. I can explain it, however. Her name is Asian, although she's not Asian, and for whatever reason I thought it was a masculine name. And there were other indications that my co-worker might be gay, and so I just assumed he was going to be marrying a man at a gay wedding. I've had other friends who did this and there was nothing odd about it, except that it turned out to be the wrong assumption. For weeks that was my honest-to-goodness belief. I discovered my co-worker was marrying a woman only a couple of weeks ago.

So anyway, now I'm worried that Jack thinks I'm a freak for stumbling up to him and talking all of that shit about the bride being a guy or looking like a guy or acting like one or something. It's not what I meant, but who knows how he took it? And the thought that this might get back to my co-worker and his adorable new wife makes me sick to my stomach. Jack is a quiet, very discreet guy, and if he even remembers what I said, it's not likely he'd repeat it. But I'm worried. And I'm full of self-loathing for having thought at age 40 plus that the best way to get through a party is by getting soused beforehand. I'm hating myself for doing that and thinking that, and it's devastating to me to think that I've grown so little in life that I'm still unable to face social situations without being in a fog of inebriation. (I rarely drink otherwise--it's mostly a utilitarian pursuit for me, so no threat of a drinking problem on the horizon as far as I can tell).

Anyway, how can I stop beating myself up over yakking drunkenly and having let something slip that I probably should never in a million years have even referred to? Should I go find Jack and find out what he thinks I said?

My sweet, supportive husband thinks I should stop worry about it, but I'm miserable right now.
posted by frosty_hut to Human Relations (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
1) Stop drinking at very important functions. Just because there's an open bar doesn't mean you need to take advantage of it.

2) I wouldn't say anything. Worse comes to worst, you can just chalk it up to being drunk. Or if it comes up, you should just be like, "no, i didn't say that! I said that the bride was lucky to have such a man!" or something like that.

Agonizing over all this is only going to make it worse. You're going to feel like a bigger idiot when you tell Jack- nothing you tell him is going to make him change his opinion on you. If you go talk to him about it, he's going to know that you know what you said and that you're talking to him about because you feel embarrassed.

Since the comment wasn't about him and didn't pertain to him directly, he probably took it light-heartedly and just realized you were being drunk. leave it at that and move on.
posted by unexpected at 10:54 AM on June 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Maybe see it like this event did you a favor, by telling you once and for all that the way to handle difficult social situations is not to drink too much? Isn't one sign that does indicate drinking problems the over-indulging and then feeling terrible about yourself afterward?

I wouldn't worry about Jack at present. I mean, who hasn't been at a company event and seen a colleague drink too much and act a fool. Maybe an opportunity will present itself to say something to him along the lines of "I was so nervous at this large gathering that I drank more than I should have and I learned from that and made some changes.." but I don't know if this is a good idea or not. no doubt others here will have better advice on that front!
posted by citron at 10:56 AM on June 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

he probably took it light-heartedly and just realized you were being drunk. leave it at that and move on.

Seconding. Sounds like you came across as tipsy, not-mean, and a bit random. (Or not, maybe Jack understood why you thought he was marrying a man -- it sounds like the kind of thing I might have understood.) In any event, Jack has long since put it in the delete pile. Just leave it there.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:59 AM on June 10, 2007

Weddings are so dangerous and tense they bring out the 'step on a crack, break your mother's back' in everyone.

OK, you stepped on a crack-- but your mother's back is fine. Just keep walking.
posted by jamjam at 11:01 AM on June 10, 2007

I've always found that 'Least said, soonest mended' is true. I doubt that Jack is going to repeat anything to the groom, much less the bride.

If you're really worried, talk to Jack about it in a friendly way, like "Wow, that second margarita really got to me. My husband tells me I was babbling some weird stuff, did I say anything strange to you about aliens landing or how much I love Britney Spears?" If he's a cool guy, he'll probably tell you what you said, you'll laugh it off, and things will be fine. Don't bring it up a second time.

As for the drinking to get through social functions, I'm kind of shy too, so I understand why you'd want a bit of liquid courage - but now that you've seen how that can backfire, try to find other ways to deal. Not staying as long, for example.
posted by Liosliath at 11:02 AM on June 10, 2007

It's not a big deal. Don't worry about it.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:08 AM on June 10, 2007

You didn't make an ass of yourself. You got a little drunk and said something that might have been misinterpreted. Big deal, that's life.

There's something I said at a wedding, far worse than what you said (because there was no way of putting a positive spin on what I said), that still makes me blush every time I think about it. But really, that's just life.

Don't worry about Jack repeating it ... can you imagine any civilized person telling newlyweds, "I ran into Frosty-Hut outside the reception, and can you believe, she said she thought you were a man!"

And I agree with everyone who says that Jack has probably already forgotten about it.
posted by jayder at 11:09 AM on June 10, 2007

I have done many, many worse things than that. Sometimes without even realizing it. I remember one time when I accidently blew a surprise party for a 21-year old and his 50 buds. I was looking for my boyfriend and his friend told me that he was at some party down the street. So I showed up as some stranger was walking up to the door. He looked at me and said "what are you doing walking up to this door?" and I said, "Oh, I'm just looking for my boyfriend and my friend said he was at this party here, who are you?", as I walked through the door FIRST. Needless to say, it was his house, and his birthday. Boy, was I surprised.

Sometimes shit happens.

As somebody who is clumsy, socially awkward at times, drinks a bit (but I'm told that people can never tell, so they never chalk it up to tipsiness), but who tries to be a mature, put-together, social networker—I can relate to your story.

You did nothing nobody will remember or care about but you (unlike my story, above). You sound like you're disappointed because you let yourself if things were going great and the you blew it. Which is not how it is! There is no "lesson for you to learn" here.

You went to a social gathering and you kicked ass 99.9% of the time you spent there. It is unfortunate that at the very END you did something that might (in your eyes) have tainted the whole experience for you. But it didn't. You were successful for the ENTIRE time, blunder and all.

Someday you're going to look back and say to yourself "remember that time we went to that party and we were being so great and social and then RIGHT AS WE WERE LEAVING I told Jack (who I later found out was drunk at the time and didn't even remember) that I thought the bride was a guy!?!?!" And it'll be FUNNY because it's precisely not representative of who you are and what you think of people. You just need some time for the sting and insecurity to wear off.

(I think the story is great, btw. Especially since you sound like such a sincere, empathetic and caring person! Context matters, people know this.)
posted by iamkimiam at 11:26 AM on June 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I honestly think the situation is kind of funny and Seinfeldian in a way. It's not like you said the bride looked like a man, you just thought, because of her name, that she was a he. If I was Jack, I would have been amused and then probably forget about the incident.
posted by pluckysparrow at 11:31 AM on June 10, 2007

It happens. Only the most gossipy of people would go tell the groom or the bride what you said; Jack is quiet and discreet, he almost certainly did not repeat it, and he has likely forgotten all about it.

Say nothing, but perhaps be a little nicer than usual to Jack.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 11:32 AM on June 10, 2007

n-th'ing the statements that you did nothing wrong and don't have anything to worry about. If you want some reassurance, just tell yourself that what you were really doing when you were talking with Jack was making a joke, you know, "Oh, what an odd name, for a moment I thought he was marrying a man, har har." If Jack took it seriously then that's his fault, he should have known better, you were just trying to be entertaining. It was just a little good natured ribbing for the groom. Remember, nobody has to know that that's what you actually thought for a while.

Also, I think the biggest problem here is that since you were drunk you probably don't remember exactly what you said and precisely how the other person took it, so the element of uncertainty is killing you more than anything else. You're freaking out because you think that the person might have misunderstood the tone -- but in reality, anyone that has even the slightest notion of the relationship (that you and the groom are friends, have spent time together, that you are very thankful for his friendship) would know that you were either just making light hearted conversation, or that if you were being totally serious that it was an honest mistake and no malice intended.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:37 AM on June 10, 2007

Oh man, I sympathize. Been there.

You know, your general social anxiety and your agonizing over this are related. It's not like other people--those who are comfortable at parties--are immune from gaffes: they just know how to shake it off and move on.

I have a young daughter who seems to have inherited my painful shyness and sensitivity. To spare her lots of grief in the future, I'm trying to teach her to LAUGH IT OFF when she makes a mistake. Either that, or, if the case demands, to offer a prompt, matter-of-fact apology to whomever she might have offended.

Sounds like in your case, you could go either route. I agree with the posters above who say that Jack probably didn't make much of the incident. Your problem is mainly inside your own head.

Realize that everyone screws up, and leave it behind you. Listen to your sweet, supportive husband! There's no cause here for you to be miserable.
posted by torticat at 11:57 AM on June 10, 2007 [3 favorites]

Hey, you never know: Jack might have been hammered too and done something worse right after you left.
posted by bink at 12:08 PM on June 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Drunken Guilties... that is what I like to call it. They hang over your head like a rain cloud for days. I have been there too. Time is really the best way to move on from it. If it ever comes back on you just apologize for making a drunken ass of yourself. That is really all you can do. It's too late to do anything about it, and beating yourself up just makes it worse. Chances are that someone else at that wedding did something just as dumb. It was a wedding after all!

Just learn from this that you shouldn't drink as much at social functions.
posted by MayNicholas at 12:14 PM on June 10, 2007

My urge is to always try and explain myself any time I goof like that. My reality is that it makes things worse.

If someone does happen to mention it, look shocked and laugh! "Did I say that? I don't remember, but I am soooo sorry if I said anything inappropriate. No more 3rd Martguerita's for me!"
posted by The Deej at 12:20 PM on June 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry, but that story is hilarious.

Laugh it off and just consider it a drunken fumble.

Why did hugging the groom make you feel warm and fuzzy?
posted by matty at 12:32 PM on June 10, 2007

This is so much less disastrous than ending up in bed with the bride who you thought was a man. Really. This is not that bad as drunken jackassery goes.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:38 PM on June 10, 2007

"Hey Jack, sorry I was such an idiot at so-and-so's wedding. I probably had a bit too much to drink."
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:15 PM on June 10, 2007

What everyone else said. You don't need to torture yourself over this one.

You may, however, want to reconsider your approach to social functions. If you need to drink to get through them, I think that's a big flag that you may have Social Anxiety Disorder, which is treatable with SSRIs like Lexapro and with cognitive therapy.

Personally, I've never been one for parties, although by my 20s I developed a persona that allows me to get through them. It's sort of an exaggerated operatic version of me. I remember as a kid hearing that my Swedish grandfather wasn't the party type either -- at a social gathering he would sit on the sidelines and just watch. Not that he didn't enjoy being there, but he didn't feel the need to interact with everyone, to "circulate". I immediately recognized myself, although it took me about ten years before I was able to see that in a positive light.

One thing you and your SO may want to work on is party strategies. There were a couple of Mad About You episodes on this topic. See yourselves as supporting each other, and work out some signals. Are you drinking too much? Have your SO steer you away from the bar. Trapped with someone unpleasant? SO to the rescue! You may need this more than he does, but I'm sure he sympathizes. If necessary work it out in advance so that you can take breaks from the pressure, by retreating someplace quiet together, then acting mysterious and romantic when you return so that when someone asks where you two were you can just smile enigmatically and say "Oh, nowhere."
posted by dhartung at 1:27 PM on June 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

You know, people are generally thinking about you much less than they're thinking about themselves. If Jack's a normal person who knows you and likes you, and he even gives this a second thought, he will write this off as "haha, looks like frosty_hut had a good time at the wedding."

If he doesn't like you or he's a nasty person, he might use this anecdote as ammunition to make you look bad in front of others. But guess what - if he's that person, he was going to find something nasty to say about you anyway. So don't sweat it.

Don't drink so much at parties. Alcohol calms social anxieties, but if you're drinking so much of it that you make an ass out of yourself, you're just generating more anxiety for yourself, and that is counterproductive. So don't do it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:59 PM on June 10, 2007

Just to second the prevailing opinion, and counsel silence. However, I have to congratulate you on posting using your actual username. It says a lot about you, and the fact that you can admit to such hysterical misbehavior. Before long, this tale will seem less a near-death experience and more the perfect party-chat fodder to win new friends that it truly is.
posted by rob511 at 5:45 PM on June 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think the story's cute, and I doubt even the bride would really be offended... if she really does have a masculine sounding name it's prob a bit of a tired joke to her, but I would totally not worry about it, and Jack has probably forgotten about it by now anyway. it was just silly drunken ramblings.

As for the "be more careful next time" advice, I dunno that that is even the lesson to take - really, I would just not stress about it at all. People don't base their opinions of you on random comments at the end of parties. It's ok to say dumb stuff here and there - it's better to say dumb stuff here and there than to be the boring person who never says anything. And again, I don't even think this was that dumb a thing to say.
posted by mdn at 10:01 PM on June 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have one of those names that people sometimes think is a guy's name. The first time it happened to me, I was 11. I was weirded out, but not particularly offended. It's happened on and off since then, and after that initial surprise it's never been more than funny. If I found out someone thought they were coming to a gay wedding because they'd misinterpreted my name, I'd find it really really hilarious. So even if it does get back to them, I wouldn't worry about how it comes across. As someone above mentioned, this type of thing has probably happened to her before, and it's not really a big deal.
posted by carmen at 8:36 AM on June 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Look, when you're drunk is the only time you're allowed to be silly and blurt out random nonsense, so you might as well take full advantage of it.

and don't listen to dhartung, who I found out recently considers drinking a criminal behavior that justifies arrest. ;-)
posted by Mr. Gunn at 2:39 PM on June 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

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