Always Real, Antique Embarrassment

No Pearls

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!?”

35 thoughts on “No Pearls

  1. I got the “grandpa” thing tossed at me recently, while out with my wife and five-year-old son: a man asked how old my grandson was. I didn’t bother to correct him, but my wife giggled.

    I still feel like a dorky kid inside; I don’t get how anyone can look at me and thing “grandpa”. Then I catch my reflection in the mirror and understand.

    Don’t blame yourself for offending. It’s a big world, and there are all kinds in it. Your heart was pure, so you’re good.

  2. Gosh, I love pearls! Pearls do go with anything and I have even been known to wear them with jeans.

    No worries…I have a way of offending people too without meaning it. I agree with Tom, your heart was pure so forghettaboudit.

    * * *
    If there is one thing I can do, no matter how long ago, it’s recall an injustice, whether given or received. Another way I’m gifted. :-0

  3. I had the WORST awkward moment at family camp last week – I had heard that one of our family campers was expecting on Facebook a few weeks ago, so when she came in to register, I said, “Oh, and you’re expecting, too, aren’t you? How are you feeling?” and she had to tell me that she’d had a miscarriage – I felt SOOOOO bad. 🙁 She was really sweet & gracious about it, though.

  4. I think the only person who was out of line in this scenario was the rude woman who couldn’t bear to have you mention pearls. Why on earth was she in a “worldly” store if she is so far out there?

    And, *sigh*, what kind of a ministry must she have? Imagine – – would ANYONE want to serve the God she follows? I wouldn’t. Not because of the pearls, but because she’s so scary! 🙂

  5. My paternal grandmother was over fifty when her sixth, and last, child was born. When her husband– my grandpa– went to the hospital to see the baby the hospital staff asked if he had come to see his new grandchild. He flashed back that ALL of his children were “grand” children, and from then on that was his stock answer to anyone who mistook him for the grandfather of his youngest child!

  6. A waiter and a lady at the bank have both mistaken my Dad for my husband. Granted he looks quite young for his age. I just take it in stride.

  7. Love it! That is just so funny.

    Yep, I did the “when are you due?” thing a few years back to a woman from church. As the words were flying out of my mouth, I kept wanting to reel them back in again. To this day, every time I see that woman I cringe just a little.

  8. Oh, so glad to know I’m not the only one who can get herself into trouble in a matter of moments. LOL Thanks for the tip, I’m adding this one to my running list, as well! ; )

  9. “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 started to laugh a hearty laugh when I read that, but then I looked in the mirror and realized that you were talking about me! I would have never thought that pearls would have been controversial in any way; now if you’d remarked on the size (or lack thereof) of a diamond ring, then yes, here’s your sign. But pearls? Hmm. I think that may have truly been a classic case of casting pearls before whine.

  10. My worst moment? I was teaching at an all-African-American school in Dallas. I was a Canadian from a racially diverse province but without much of a African-Canadian presence. So, I was rather oblivious to historical slurs.
    In front of my principal I told my whole class they were acting like a room full of monkeys.
    I think I apologized for a month.
    SO I feel your pain.

  11. Ooh, poor Happy Geek! I also would have thought nothing of saying that, as I’m always calling ALL little kids a bunch of little monkeys.

    I do think those women could have handled it better, rather than expecting folks to magically divine what their beliefs are.

    Like the time I was blathering about Christmas and cards and gifts to a co-worker, and she just nipped it by explaining (in a perfectly gentle and friendly manner) that she practiced a form of Christianity that didn’t believe in making a big materialistic hoopla out of Jesus’ birthday. I was fine with that, and we were still friendly co-workers afterwards. Why couldn’t those women have SAID something like that?

  12. Those women annoy me. I agree with the above comment. In a clothing store? She gets annoyed when someone suggests jewelry? The nerve. Nobody would have known that about her. I would move that from the list of embarrassing comments over to the other list of “irritating people for whom one can’t be responsible.”

  13. Having suffered from foot in mouth disease for many years, I feel your pain. However, I find it interesting that people who are bible literates will not wear pearls, and yet have no trouble being ugly to others.

  14. I have a hard time remembering what look goes with which religious affiliation…I find myself just smiling a lot and nodding with anything they say. Much safer that way. Well, unless you count that time I joined a cult by accident from doing that. 😉

  15. Yeah…I made the ‘when are you due’ faux pas once. No, she wasn’t. And no, the floor did not swallow me up though I was hoping it would. Dave Barry once commented that he wouldn’t make that comment even if he saw the baby’s head poking out. I won’t ever again either.

    …and I have been on the receiving end of the ‘grandma’ comment.

  16. I’m with zoom. It amazes me what kind of ugly behavior people exhibit who claim to be Christian/Jewish/Muslim/whatever and yet hang onto small aspects of their religion. I would also agree with Joy that this wasn’t so much an example of you putting your foot in your mouth as an example of “irritating people for whom one cannot be responsible”.

    Antique Mommy…I’ll take your advice and wear pearls today and think of you as I do!

  17. I screwed up royally last week while I was getting my hair done. Told my “colorist,” with whom I was comparing notes about children, that she didn’t look old enough to have a six year old. Turns out she was 16 when she had him.


    Sigh. I meant it as a compliment.

    * * *
    When I was in my very early 20s, maybe even 18, I worked at a bank with a gal I sort of knew, about my age. She showed me a picture of her child. I said, “Oh I didn’t you know you were married!” And she said, “I’m not.”

    Okay, then. Never mind and have a nice day….

  18. What a shame she didn’t simply say “thank you, but we do not wear jewelry”? It is no different than my Jewish friends who turn down pork or shellfish by calmly explaining that they keep kosher.

    I can’t help but feel sorry for the sister. She is probably subject to such scenes on a regular basis.

    I think I’ll wear my pearls tomorrow, just to show my loyalty to you, AM!!

  19. I started graying in my 20s. In my 40s, I gave up the color and went natural. That, combined with the ever-moving “senior age” for movies and meals, etc, has had me answering “no” to the question of whether or not I’m a senior. (Yes, at our local theater. No, at our favorite lunch spot.)

    As to foot in mouth disease, if they gave medals, make mine gold. Fool’s gold.

  20. I’m no good at judging ages. I had a co-worker whom I assumed to be in his late teens. when ringing up a woman who asked to use his discount I asked if she was his mother. of course she was his wife and he was in his 30s.
    so embarrassed!
    I married my DH at 18 and his 4yod Daughter became mine. so I get alot of the “you don’t look old enough…” I just paste on a mona lisa smile. leave em wondering is my motto
    I’m sure the lady you were dealing with needs a lesson in manners. a simple “I dont wear jewelry” would have sufficed! in a multicultural society one can’t assume that everyone they meet knows all of ones personal taboos.
    who would have guessed?

  21. Some where along the line I lost you. I was following some links from Rocks In MY Dryer and thought I recognized that wall paper. I read a few posts back and enjoyed them. Seeing your little baker and hearing your story reminded me of my little crying bout this weekend. I watched the Step Mom. Guaranteed to make you cry. The little boy says to his dying mom, “No one will ever Love you like I do” (something like that anyway) It made me think of my sons, 24 and 31. I loved them with the same kind of crazy abandon that you describe. I know they felt like that about me when they were little boys. But… in what way do they love me now? That is what made me cry. I know they love me… I just hope they could say, “Mom, nobody loves you like I do!”
    Thank God for my Granddaughters. They love me wildly (o:

  22. You always sum things up so well.
    Years ago I had a hospital appointment to check all was well following a miscarriage, and was asked by the nurse ‘How many weeks are you’?

  23. When things like that happen to me (I also have your gift and the scripture teaches us not to hide them, right?) I just think everyone, including myself, is there own kind of crazy. At least you can laught about it!

  24. Grandchild comment. I get that one all the time. I just smile & tell them we’re competing with Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar…9 down….9 to go.

  25. That is so funny! Thanks for sharing.

    I’m sorry but people who think you can’t wear jewelry amaze me. More power to them but to me — Life is just too short.

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