I need to shut up.

More often than not I put my foot in my mouth. And more often than not I leave the situation looking like an ass. Over the years, I’ve begun to understand why my parents would look at each other and argue who I take after most. In many instances of life, I have two words of advice. Just keep your mouth shut and learn to read the situation. My trend is to ignore these words of advice and here’s several stories about what happens when I do.

Therapy
When I was younger, my family and I were good friends with a couple and their son down the street. The couple was eccentric in their own way and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. One day the father came by my parents’ house to discuss some family issues. Me, being a teenager, tuned out majority of the conversation since I wasn’t very interested in much beyond my phone. We can pretend now that I’ve matured, but honestly I’m still more invested in my phone over most things. Mid-way during the father’s talk, he gazed out the window with his arms behind his back and said, “Well that’s what the therapist said”.

Now imagine this scene. A forty-something year old male gazing out the window with his hands behind his back. “That’s what the therapist said,” he mutters while observing the trees blowing in the wind. An oncoming storm due, little light illuminating his dark silhouette. Straight out of a movie, right? So me, assuming he was joking, busted out laughing. When he stared at me bewildered, I described to him that’s how people typically joke since it was dramatic and by that point my mom joined in on the laughing. My dad, on the other hand, was torn between laughter and scorn.

Evidently, the father was having issues with his son where he needed counseling to better interact with his kid. He didn’t come over much after that and to this day I hope what the therapist said did genuinely help him.

Party
One weekend in college, I went home to visit my family. During that weekend my mother was invited to celebrate a… holiday with some friends. I will be vague on this story for animosity’s sake. A group of us sat at a table and chowed down while younger kids ran around playing tag. Dinner was an average affair of boring conversations greeted with fake enthusiasm. At one point a man and his wife asked how I enjoyed Columbus. I rambled all about the city life, people, etc. emphasizing the gay population since the Columbus Gay Parade is one of the best events the city has to offer.

This topic eventually led to me discussing the night life and how many of my friends oft the gay bars. I, to this day, cannot explain why my friends, four straight men, thought going to a gay bar shirtless was a good idea. I was unaware of the silence that fell upon the table as I continued to talk to the couple, mainly the man, about how interesting it was. Apparently, the man had lived in Columbus and knew quite a bit about the topic of gay hotspots. If I would’ve looked around, I would’ve noticed the shifted glances and awkward smiles among the other dinner guests. It wasn’t until the conversation changed that my dad let out an abrupt laugh and said, “I have something to tell you later.”

It wasn’t until an hour later when we were driving back my parents had an unusual transaction.

Mom: “Do you know who it was.”

Dad: “Oh yeah, it was obvious, I found out midway.”

Completely bewildered, I asked what’s up and my mom told me the whole story. The couple had been going through some marital issues. These issues being the woman found her husband sending explicit photos to other men. They are currently working through this “problem” and opted to marital counseling. I was the only person at the table not part of this gossip as I rambled in GREAT detail about the gay population in Columbus and came across as DELIBERATELY bringing up this conversation to stir trouble. The wife’s silence and her husband’s knowledge on popular gay spots in the city all made sense. I blame my mother for withholding this information as I brought up a sensitive topic to an already ruined marriage.

Steak N Shake
Over the summer, I drove my friend and I an hour north to visit his friends. I never had the opportunity to meet these people though I heard plenty of amusing stories to understand their personalities. One guy stood out, let’s call him… Michelle. Michelle was described as whiny and a bully. His freshman year, he claimed his goal was to bully a roommate badly enough that he’d want to kill himself. Michelle was toxic to even his own friends as he cheated on his girlfriend and stole his friends’ alcohol. Lovely guy, am I right?

During our visit, I made a point to avoid interaction with Michelle and stayed silent the whole time. At one point everyone wanted to go to Steak N Shake for some food to sober up. I found myself sitting next to Michelle who was still blurry eyed from the amount of alcohol previously consumed. His tone was friendlier and I decided to engage in conversation. Not two minutes in I brought up my goal of saving the bee population and becoming a bee farmer. Is this an actual goal, well no. In the near future I can digress on the list of jobs I thought of that could generate money and not require a degree as I panicked over failing grades. Not the point, anyways, as I mention this future goal to Michelle, his face grew somber.

“Don’t.”

“But I can save them it’ll make money…”

“Doesn’t matter, you won’t make money. My dad is a homeless beekeeper.

Like any other person hearing a statement like that, I busted out laughing. It wasn’t a gentle or coy laughter. It was loud and boisterous echoing through the otherwise empty restaurant. No one joined in on laughing at this joke. Another instance I should’ve observed my peers better before reacting.

“I’m serious, my dad is a homeless beekeeper.”

I laughed harder. My friend should’ve just dragged me away from that situation, but he sat in stunned silence. The laughter died with dawning realization. This was not some weird drunken joke. Comes to find out, Michelle’s dad would work at a bee farm during the summer months, harvesting honey while staying at the farmer’s house as payment. During the none honey harvesting months; his father was in fact homeless.

This news was a bit shocking to all of us. Later in the car, I had a lecture with my friend that I need this sort of background information before meeting people. Even my friend had no idea about Michelle’s father being a homeless beekeeper however it did explain why Michelle would occasionally offer jars of honey to his friends.

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