If there is any possible way to offend someone, I can do it, and usually in record time. I am gifted that way.
Several years ago, I was helping my mother-in-law in her boutique in downtown Tuna, and a mature lady came in with her slightly less mature sister. The younger sister was looking for a dress to wear to a wedding. They were both simply dressed, wore their hair styled in a bun and no make-up. I thought nothing of it because that’s kind of how I look in Wal-Mart on any given day.
I showed them a dress that I thought the younger sister would like. It was pretty, but kind of plain. I suggested that she could put some pearls with it to dress it up because that is exactly what I would do.
“NO pearls!” the older sister barked at me. I took a step back, puzzled at her reaction. “No pearls?” I asked. Certainly she had misunderstood. What’s not to like about pearls? So I tried to clarify, and apparently the way I do it, it only clarifies the fact that I’m a bumbling idiot.
“Pearls would be great!” I enthused. “Pearls go with everything, pearls are classic….” and on and on I went about pearls. “No! Pearls!” she hissed. And then she stomped out of the store with her sister trailing behind her.
After they left, I told Cleo about how upset the lady was that I mentioned pearls. Cleo laughed. She had seen the whole scene unfold and then went to hide out in a dressing room.
She told me that they were a stripe of Christian who believe women shouldn’t wear jewelry. Well how was I supposed to know that? I had no idea how Cleo knew that just by looking at them. Oddly enough, although I can’t see what will set someone off just by looking at them, I can tap into it within seconds.
I lost the sale, but I did expand my list of things not to say to people under any circumstances:
“Oh! When are you due?”
“What a darling little grandchild you have!”
“How ‘bout some pearls!?”