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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

How do you tell someone . . .?

I regularly travel to the Land of Oblivion. It's that quiet land where one is unaware of his or her actions, even when they're embarassing, and goes their merry way thinking nothing of potential social infractions.

With that in mind, I was presented with a dilemma at dinner today. When I first heard the lip smacking, open-mouthed crunching, and speech garbled by partially chewed food, I had to do a self-check.

Was it me? No. (I doubled checked, just to make sure.)

Instead, it was the man I was dining with, an incoming resident to the retirement community where I work. This man was very successful in life: a good, long marriage, financial prosperity, a beautiful home, very strong health into his later years, etc. Even in the little Chinese restaurant we were in, he was wearing a jacket and tie and cuff links. (I was in work pants and a polo shirt.)

How could someone so successful in life make it as far as this guy had without realizing that he chewed like a starved alligator going after a tuna-stuffed house pet?

That got me to thinking even further: How do you tell someone like that about their obvious (to everyone else) social infraction?

What about these social infractions?
A booger dangling. Karen has a code for me: "There's a bat in the cave." But what about someone who doesn't know the code?

Dribbles. Not on your chin . . . lower. No, not on your shirt . . . lower. You know, middle-aged man comes out of the restroom with dribbles, you know, um, there. (Karen has no code for me on this one.)

Halitosis. I am acutely aware of my own halitosis, thanks to 28 years of training from Karen. But the other guy? What do you do when he refuses a piece of gum? (Please note, according to my sources, women do not have bad breath.)

Unbuttoned belly-button. You've seen the guy with the over-sized belly, looking all dapper with his short tie and that tuft of belly hair sitcking out where the fourth button ought to be. What do you say - if anything?

Fumes. I write this not only as a traveler in Oblivion, but also as a connoiseur of all things cabbage: cole slaw, sauerkraut, cooked cabbage, etc. I don't notice my own 'fumes' (as Karen reminds me), but how does one broach the subject with other cabbage - and legume - lovers.

Runners (in panty hose). Oops. This happens to women. Can't say anything.

You get the idea. How can you be tactful in these situations?

Your ideas may help me, and other citizens of Oblivion, to get a better grip on our lives. Thanks!

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