Your worst social faux-pas

Back when I was young and very unworldly, my best friend asked me to be the best man at his wedding. “Sure,” I said, thinking that all I had to do was stand next to him during the ceremony.

I have very little recollection of the actual wedding day, except that people were expecting me to do things (or have done things) that I knew nothing about. And a few people asked me about the bachelor party, which I also knew nothing about. And boy was I surprised when I was called upon to give a toast/speech; I didn’t know what the hell to say.

So there was no bachelor party, no speech (I think maybe someone else said something). I think there may have been ushers, but I had nothing to do with that. I don’t recall attending the wedding rehearsal either. And I have no idea how the groom got to and from the ceremony and reception, or whether anyone handed him the ring.

All in all, it was a very stress-free day for me, since I basically didn’t do anything.

The marriage lasted less than a year. I hope that wasn’t my fault.

So what did you do (or didn’t do), to convince the world that you’re a total idiot?

On registration day for my 8th grade year I walked in and Karen C, a classmate, was running one of the tables. I thought she was really cute and I hadn’t seen her all summer. Anyway, she was wearing a very tight fitting shirt with horizontal stripes. For some strange reason, as I approached her table, I said, loudly,

“You got fat.”

Several people heard this.I have no idea why I did that. She wasn’t fat at all. I instantly regretted it and I never apologized.

Karen, I’m sorry.

I was working the front desk of my grad school’s library (we had just implemented a policy of needing to show student ID to enter the library–we were being overrun with local high school students). A classmate and her friend came walking up the stairs, and I noticed what looked like an Ace bandage wrapped around classmate’s knee.

ME: “Oh! What happened to your knee?”
HER: “What do you mean?”
ME: (radar pinging) “Um, you have a bandage…?”
FRIEND: “Oh, she has a prosthesis. Didn’t you know?”
ME: (duh)

The Ace bandage was the padding for the prosthesis. I’d known her for a year and prior and had no clue.

I don’t know…I’d think she find that to be quite a compliment, actually.

Like the OP, I was also called on to be the best man at my old best friend’s wedding. I was a little more on the ball about my duties, but I was extremely nervous about the idea of giving a toast. I’d never done anything like that before, and I was just sure I was going to screw it up and embarrass someone. I spent the entire weekend trying to psych myself up to get this speech out. Thinking of general themes but trying not to actually memorize words so that it would flow better.

Throughout the wedding ceremony itself, I was spending more time in my head thinking about the toast than I was paying attention to the events in front of me. The ceremony went well, people retired to tables and mingled, and I began to pace and sweat. Finally, I’d convinced myself to just go for it. And I did. I have to say, it wasn’t a bad speech at all. I talked about the good times I’d had with my friend in the past, and how he’d been there for me during rough times in my life. I said some very complimentary things about the bride and how I’d enjoyed getting to know her. And at the close of my speech, I raised my glass and proposed a toast…

…and which point I realized that I hadn’t given anyone a head’s up, and not a single attendee had any champagne – the bottles hadn’t even been opened yet. :smack:

A few sympathetic souls raised their water glasses to show support, but I felt like a giant jackass. Fortunately, after I’d slunk out of the spotlight, the groom’s father got champagne poured for everyone and made his own speech with a proper toast at the end. :o

Turns out that my friend’s marriage also only lasted a year. Coincidence? :dubious:

Ugh, I hate to be reminded of this. Back when we first moved to Seattle, hubby came home from work one day and said we were invited to an “open house” being given by one of his co-workers.

“What’s an open house?”

“I don’t know, but I have the address. It’s this Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. We should go.”

Turns out the event was a housewarming party. Hicks that we were, we arrived at noon, without any kind of gift, and we stayed until 10. :smack:

I can’t even believe I’m admitting this. It’s awful, just AWFUL.

When I was in fourth grade my best friend revealed to me that she had been raped by her brother (he’s in prison for it.) I had no idea really what the hell that meant. I mean I knew what it MEANT, but I didn’t understand the emotional context at all. So even though I was sworn to secrecy, I told a friend, someone I didn’t even really know that well. At the time, I went to a different school than she did, so I figured my acquaintance and my best friend would never meet.

Cue my tenth birthday party. A room full of girls and I introduce my acquaintance to my best friend. At which point my acquaintance blares, “OOOH! IS SHE YOUR FRIEND WHO WAS RAPED???” Mortified, I said no, it was someone else, but the acquaintance just wouldn’t shut up about it, loudly insisting it had to be her in front of everyone at the party.

The thing that stunned me is, my best friend was never mad at me. She never said a word to me about it. At the time it mystified me, but now that I have the dubious honor of having experienced similar horrors, I know exactly why she wasn’t angry. She wasn’t angry because she was too humiliated.

Jesus. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself.

When I was fairly young (maybe 11 or 12 - so old enough to know better) my cousins and I were playing on the street because our parents were entertaining an overseas friend. An ice cream truck stopped nearby and we all wanted to get ice creams but we knew our parents would probably say no. So I came up with the brilliant idea of asking our parents’ friend - I figured that since we didn’t know him very well he had to say yes or else look cheap in front of everyone.

So I went in and asked him in front of all our parents … and everyone kind of got this frozen look on their face, and the poor guy started taking out his wallet. God, I cringe to think of it even now. Of course all our parents hastened to give us the money, and my cousins and I got our ice creams, well pleased with ourselves.

Later that day my mum took me aside to explain that it had been inappropriate to ask a stranger for money, that if I wanted money I should ask her or dad and if they said no then that was the end of the matter. I was joking with dad about that incident this year, and was telling him how nice mum had been. It turns out that while she’d been understanding with me, apparently she had really ripped into him. :smiley:

A couple years ago, I was temping at Columbia University AIDS initiative, for this great guy who had a horrible finance-manager job- he had me as a long-term temp, but I basically did nothing, and sat around all day, and did an expense report once in a while, or some filing. This came at a time in my life when I had absolutely no employment and it was a great job for what it was- although mindnumbingly boring. He didn’t notice me coming and going, and wasn’t even in the office half the time, so I’d take 2-3 hour lunches and walks and shit to pass the time. It was ridiculous and I considered it a joke.

After about four months at this, I was interviewing for a new job all the while, I FINALLY stumbled into a full-time assistant job at an investment bank downtown- a HUGE upgrade from temping, and I was so happy to give him my 2-week notice. He seemed happy for me, although sad to lose someone competent. I forget how this even came up, and I wasn’t even thinking, but I remember saying something like, “It feels so good to finally have a REAL job!” He smiled tightly and looked away and I immediately felt horrible. Of course I was referring to temping in general, not the columbia job specifically, but he was dissatisfied with his job as it was (nonprofits are rough) and I’m sure that made him feel absolutely worthless.

The guy was so great to me, too! I regret that comment even today.

Can I relate a story from my MIL to be?

A little preperation is requried for the story. In Australia, if you are asked to “Bring a plate” to a party it means come along to the party and bring a plate of food. With everyone doing so you’ve usually got a good spread of food for everyone to enjoy.

My MIL to be is of English decent having come out to Australia in the 50’s. She was invited to a get together, and was asked to “bring a plate”. Thinking it a bit strange, but thinking oh well, she took a dinner plate with her, not being familiar with this bit local jargon. :o

She just kind of laughed it off, but I felt like a total idiot. I mean, I might as well have stood up, pointed, and yelled “OMYGOD! You have a FAKE leg?!?”

When I was about 16, I had a crush… OK, I was sorta stalking a guy. Not dangerously, but in that stupid teenage way where I simply HAD to know every little detail of his life. He lived with his much older sister and her husband, and the sister was hugely pregnant the first and only time I saw her. My family moved away, and a few months later I got a wild hair up my backside and decided to call this boy. When his sister answered the phone, I greeted her by her first name (I’m sure she had no IDEA who I was) and asked for the boy. She said he wasn’t home, and I decided to make small talk. “So, did you ever have that baby?” I asked.

She replied, “Yes. He was stillborn. Who is this again?”

I hung up.

I am STILL mortified by every single part of this story.

Is the best man responsible for all that other bullshit? A bachelor party, sure, but there is no way I’d know to do all the other stuff unless I were told. And frankly, I’d say no, if I were expected to do all that - there is one person in the world I’d be best man for, and he went and eloped in Vegas. Problem solved!


Why? He had nothing to do with the story as written…


Oops sorry. Mum thought that the reason I’d felt compelled to ask a stranger for ice cream money was because dad had been too stingy with us in the past. Plus I suspect that my aunts and uncles from his side of the family had been a bit smug in a “oh how unfortunate for you. Luckily our children would never do that!” sort of way (even though my cousins were totally in on the plan) and mum had taken her embarrassment out on him.

I’m sure I have more that I’ve buried deeply - lol - but one occurred recently. I was working at my PT job at a fairly upscale womens’ clothing store. I had a mint in my mouth & was about to ring up a customer’s purchase when I DROOLED on the keyboard. You cannot imagine my shock. It wasn’t a HUGE amount, but it was drool nonetheless. I think I recovered nicely; I said “excuse me a moment”, got out the hand sanitizer and moved the customer to the adjacent register.

I still blush when I think about it. :frowning:


You were supposed to sharpen your sword and cover the groom’s escape as he kidnapped the bride.

Sheesh - people’s ignorance of etiquette these days!

One day when I was in grad school, I came into the lab on a random weekend to do some stuff. I was expecting an empty room, but another grad student was there. And she was crying.

Shocked, I asked her what was wrong and she told me. All of her fish had died overnight, rendering her experiment useless. She had spent months collecting these fish and it wasn’t like she could go out and get some more, as they were all juveniles and it was the wrong time of the year. I was so overwhelmed by the horribleness of it all and my friend’s pathetic position that I started to laugh. I tried to make it seem like I was coughing, but it was clear what I was really doing.

The worse was that my friend just kept crying. I’m sure she noticed me being a jackass but she was too sad to say anything.

To this day, I live in fear that I’ll do something like this again.

Here is #1 of many.
When I was in 8th grade my very good friend J’s grandfather died. It was actually his step-grandfather and although he was fairly close to his step grandparents he wasn’t nearly as close to his dad’s parents. He was insanely close to them.
Well after J returned to school after missing a few days for the funeral I approached him to express my sympathy. It went something like this:

Me: Hey, I’m sorry about Grandpa G
J: Thanks.
Me: Phew, I’ll bet you’re glad it wasn’t Grandpa P, huh?
J: Ummm…
Me: :smack:

Jesus! Who says that? I felt like such an ass. That one still makes me shudder, to this day, whenever I think of it.

When I first started working at this job, I had some interactions with a coworker but did not know her well. About 3 weeks later, she resigned her position. People mentioned her leaving, but no details were given. When she mentioned her last day to me, I brightly said, “Oh, are you leaving us for bigger and better things?!”

She graciously smiled and said, “Something like that.”

Now, it is to my coworkers’ credit that no one had gossiped and told me…but at the same time no one told me that she was dying of cancer.


A few years ago I was on our neighborhood board. A tract of undeveloped property which borded our neighborhood was to be developed. We objected; it was to be used as a park, if anything – not cheap houses cram-packed together, as the developer planned. So we initiated a petition drive (several actually) and neighborhood canvass to get a) signatures and b) encourage people to attend the planning and zoning meeting.

I made house-to-house visits on my street, with mixed results. At the home of one old geezer, I was greeted with, “that property is owned by the railroad! They can’t develop it!” (A rail line also bordered it.) I assured him that it was not owned by the railroad, it was owned by an individual who was selling it to a developer, contingent upon whether or not the change of zone was granted. I had no special knowledge (though more detailed) – there was a large sign visible from the road right on the property.

Anyway here’s the embarrassing part. He pooh-poohed me and grouchily shut the door in my face. Later, at the P&Z meeting, I was LOUDLY telling the other members of the board of my adventures, including the “old fart” who wouldn’t believe me. On and on I went about what an ass he was.

Of course, he was sitting two rows behind me. :o Cuh-RINGE.