Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Cusp Of Chatting

Now and then on the blog, I’ve told stories about times when I’ve gotten in trouble. Today’s post is about a time when I didn’t get in trouble. [!]

Back when I worked in the corporate world, one of my jobs was teaching business people how to use so-called ‘advanced’ features of common software packages.

One afternoon I was showing a middle age businesswoman named Cheryl how to do macros in Excel. As Cheryl was typing in some sample data we were going to use, we were talking casually, just passing time. We’d known each other for almost two years so I wasn’t being too careful about what I said. We were just talking.

Somehow the topic of marriage came up. Cheryl said she thought marriage was great.

I said something like, “Marriage. I just saw a quote somewhere that said marriage is a thing that begins some night with an innocent girl telling her husband to please be gentle and ends seven years later some afternoon with a cynical woman telling a gigolo that he can hurt her if he wants to.”

Cheryl stopped typing. She looked at me. Her face was absolutely expressionless. She said, “I’ve been married seven years. Our seven year anniversary was last week.”

I thought, Oh-oh. This could be bad. Do I try to back out of this? Do I try to say something to explain that I was just chatting? Or do I charge forward?

I’d known Cheryl for a while and I decided to just charge forward.

I shrugged. I half smiled and said, “Well, if you’ve been married for seven years then I’m guessing you know exactly what that quote was talking about.”

Cheryl continued to stare at me, absolutely expressionless, for a second. Then she giggled. And laughed. And nodded. She said, “Yeah. Yeah, I guess I do.”

She looked back at the screen and continued typing.

I thought, Whoa! That was a close one!

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