A Gentleman’s Guide to Saying Stupid Things
It’s okay. It happens to lots of otherwise-intelligent people every day. Just breathe and keep your wits about you. We’ll talk you through the rest.
First, some warning signs: after the words leave your mouth, everyone glances at the floor. Their lips tighten in discomfort. Eyes widen in disbelief. Clearly, something has gone wrong.
We mention the signs because it’s important to recognize them early. Like Johnny Carson recovering from a dud, you want to get there while the body’s still fresh. Then it’s time to shame yourself. A quick remark will suffice—something along the lines of “Sorry, that was an awful thing to say”—followed by a respectful silence while the conversation recovers.
You’re in for a solid 30 seconds of awkward reticence, while the rest of the party continues without you. Embrace it. This is a humbling moment, and humbling is good for the soul. It doesn’t matter if you’re on television every week or your dad wrote “Ramblin’ Man” or you once punk’d Hugh Jackman. We’re all human, and we all screw up from time to time. A gentleman’s pride is never so great that he cannot swallow it.
And as a preemptive measure, maybe steer clear of Howard Stern for a few months.
- — Russell Brandom