April 29, 2010

An Embarrassment of Riches

There is a great fairy tale about two princesses. I can't remember the whole story, but I do remember that every time one opens her mouth, jewels and flowers and all manner of lovely things tumble from her mouth, and every time the other opens her mouth, out pops nothing but toads, newts, snakes and stuff like that. I'm fortunate enough not to be burdened in this way, but occasionally, when some demon sent from H-E-double-hockey-sticks takes possession of my brain to mouth connection, out pops a toad of the most warty and horrible kind.

A couple of years ago, my second son suffered a concussion at school during Physical Education class. After seeing our doctor a couple of times, it was recommended he see the pediatrician who visits our clinic once a month. The pediatrician, whom we had never met until our appointment with him, was a very kind, well-mannered gentleman-like man originally from somewhere in South Asia. He introduced himself to us, and his first name happened to be Osama. I'm usually terrible when it comes to remembering names - usually they flow in one ear and directly out the other and I have to ask the person to tell me again. This time, however, I remembered the name. Osama. Considering everything that was in the news at the time with the hunt for Osama Bin Laden very much still on and in the forefront of the news, it would have been a difficult name to forget for anyone. And I had never met anyone else with the name.

Anyway, the physical went well, my son was entirely relaxed with Dr. Osama, which is saying something, and we got up to shake hands and take our leave. And then it happened. To this day, my heart sinks like a 10 pin bowling ball when I remember it. I said the unthinkable:

"So is Osama a common name where you are from?" The words slipped like a snake in water from my tongue.

The good doctor looked at me quickly. "Yes, quite common."

And then the oversized, ugly, warty, evil green toad hopped out before I could catch him and shove him back in:

"Well, I suppose it's no different for you than for people named Adolph in Austria or Germany."

( HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!!!!!!!!! )

The good doctor mumbled something polite as his look said something else altogether, and my son and I walked down the hallway out of sight. It was dawning so painfully on me as we left the building just what I had said. To be honest, I didn't mean it like it sounded. I'm always drawing parallells, except this time, needless to say...I shouldn't have. I wondered if I should run back in and apologize in tears and on bended knee, but I knew that might only make it worse. He was probably with another patient anyway, and my son had to get back to school.

"Mo-o-o-o-m, why did you SAY that????" If a son was every more embarrassed by his mother I would like to meet him.

I know it is very hard to believe after reading the above that I am not a bigot, but if the good doctor Osama, like poor Prime Minister Brown, were to be heard muttering 'That woman is a bigot' to his colleagues at the clinic, and I were to hear it like that unfortunate woman from Manchester in the news this week, I would not blame him. Not one bit.

Dear Dr. Osama,

About that incident in the ____ Medical Clinic two years ago, I apologize from the bottom of my heart.

Most sincerely,

Rebecca S.


I chose to share the above story after Jen from Starting Over awarded me with the "Oh My Blog" award on view on my sidebar under 'Validation'. The deal was that I could accept the award if I did one of three things:

a) drank my face off and wrote a blogpost for 15 minutes straight (no thanks, not worth the morning after)

b) wrote a soundtrack of my childhood (I already write a lot about my childhood as it is)

c) made my next post a 'vlog' or video blog (maybe later)

d) took a picture of myself first thing in the morning (before I even brushed my hair or showered or anything) and posted it (that's just silly)

e) wrote about an extremely embarrassing moment.

I also have to choose at least three bloggers to give the award to. So, I would like to offer this award to any one of my faithful readers/bloggers who hasn't completely written me off after reading this post. I know, I know, wimpy move. I'm so honoured when someone tags me or gives me an award but I absolutely dread having to choose people to pass it on to. So, this time, I'm pulling the ol' nepotism thing. You pat my back and tell me it's going to be okay, and I pat yours and give you a shiny new award to post on your blog. Enjoy your shiny award, and don't forget to dust it off from time to time.

I'm off to an arts councils conference this weekend, which is why my next post might be called, "Why I'll probably die volunteering." Nah. It'll be fun, and I get to see my sister, Monica who is also going as a representative of her region in British Columbia.

Have a good weekend!


  1. OMG, I so laughed at this! Don't feel bad, I could write a densely worded novella for all the toads that have come out of my mouth. Twice, not once, but TWICE I've said the, "so when's the due date?" to non pregnant women. But there's been soooooo many more worse ones. Oh well, Whaddaya gonna due? Oops, I mean 'do', not 'due':)

  2. Yep there are times when. But I need them for my own at the moment.

  3. The connection between the brain and mouth does get short circuited at times. I once drove to a grave side memorial and at the cemetery gates I stopped where a funeral director was standing, rolled down the car window and said "so what are you doing here?" Not a good way to ask directions.

  4. 1) The man's name is Osama. That is unfortunate, under the circumstances, but, honestly, I think he should get used to people saying things.

    2) I don't see how what you said was bigoted. You stated something obvious, and perhaps hurtful to the hearer, but it was true, and not said to degrade the person about whom it was said because of their race (or some other thing out of their control). You did not compare him to Osama Bin Laden or Adolph Hitler. You just commented that it was an unfortunate name. Rude, I suppose, but not bigoted.

    3) It is my understanding that the woman from Manchester only asked a question about immigration. No, nevermind. I am really fired up about immigration, because here, the issue is not that foreigners are moving here (which might be an issue to upset bigots), but that so many are moving here illegally, and the government is doing nothing to regulate it, and all of these people are putting a huge strain on every single public system. Oh, no...nope. I'm leaving town in 30 minutes. I will let it go.

    4) My husband keeps threatening to get me a t-shirt that says, "Wait, that came out wrong." The problem with me is that I don't usually notice that it came out wrong until much later. I almost ruined a wedding once. I'll tell you later.

  5. Tracey, there is a million English people living in other EU countries and near enough the same number of EU people living in the UK. Ms Duffy's comment was about those people who have as much Rights to be in the UK as people from Idaho in Nevada, Maine or Alabama. And that is where the racism came into it. Sorry Rebecca about cutting across.

  6. And to add, it is doubly odd for Duffy is an Irish name.

  7. Hilarious post and an excellent tie in with Prime Minister Brown. Most entertaining.

  8. Cringeworthy memories indeed,

    I was holding a meeting at work once - introducing my role to a new team who's boss was a very lovely black man - when I got to the point about what I wanted them to do and some of the pitfalls ahead. That was when the fateful " there's only one nigger in the woodpile" phrase {which I have never used before} came out.

    I could see they were all stunned and tried to cover my confusion by apologising. Thankfully all went well until I clarified my point with "As I was saying, there's only one black cloud on the horizon....."

    Clive - that black man looked at me, roared with laughter and said "bloody skirt wearing haggis munchers!!!"

    We got on fine......

  9. I've suffered from a case of open mouth insert foot a few times myself.

  10. Thanks for the great comments, everyone! Make sure you all pick up your shiny green award, too.

  11. Vince, thank you for clearing that up for me. Over here, there is 'immigration' and there is 'illegal immigration'. The media calls them both 'immigration' but the main debate is about the illegal kind. In my myopic American way, I had forgotten there could be a debate about the legal kind.

    I am tempted to post about it, but here the debate seems so ugly, on the verge of violent, that I have resisted. And, I am no great political mind. I might be out of my depth.

  12. Tracey and Vince: I'm so glad you've cleared that up :)

    Tracey: I know I'm not a bigot, but no matter what, I still know I should have left what I said, as innocent as it may seem, unsaid!

  13. Rebecca,
    I came back to see if there were any new posts and caught this old one. I had to laugh!! You sound so embarassed but it was an honest mistake, lol.

    The truth is, one of the greatest Companions of Prophet Mohammed was named Osama- Muslims like to honor this great man and name their children that. The question though is whether they should continue to do that now because of bin Laden. Yeah, I actually really did catch a poll on cnn once about whether or not parents should still name their kids that or not.

    My view? To be honest, I don't see why they shouldn't- like Shakespeare said, what's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would still smell as sweet. It's not the name that makes a person a criminal, right.

    The truth is, there are hundreds of Osamas around the world. Unfortunately, most of the world only knows one...and he's the worst example out there. But that doesn't mean that we erase the name- we erase the behavior and extremism. How many serial killers/murderers/terroists have there been all through history? Do we erase every single one of their names? You know what I mean?

    (BUT, I wouldn't name my kid Osama if I was living in a Western country because that wouldn't really be fair to the kid)

    Anyways, sorry for rambling so much! But you gotta tell us about the wedding you almost ruined! You cant' leave us in suspense like that!

    Sarira :)

  14. Sarira: So nice to hear from you again. Yes, I completely understand and appreciate your point of view, and I agree, my story is really a humorous one and I am not so much to blame as I once thought. But the 'What's in a name' thing is an interesting question to ponder, isn't it? I think, when a name becomes loaded in the minds of its hearers it is unfair to the child, and we must choose a different name. However, when a name is very common in a country, like Osama is in your part of the world, and John is in mine, perhaps it should not be such an issue. I'm sure there have been many criminals named John, for example. So, should we never name anyone John, when it is such a very good name, and he was, originally a wonderful Christian saint?

    And by the way, it is my blogger friend Tracey (see comments above)who almost ruined the wedding, so you will have to ask her!

    Come back again, intelligent young Sarira. I post about every 5 days or so :)

  15. Hey Rebecca!

    You know, I do completely agree with you. When a name becomes loaded in the minds of the hearers, it is unfair to the child. That is why I said, I would never name my kid Osama if I lived in a Western country! That would be really unfair to kid!!

    "So, should we never name anyone John, when it is such a very good name, and he was, originally a wonderful Christian saint? "
    Exactly what I was trying to get at!

    Traceeeeeey! Please tell us :D

    I'll definitely be visiting again, God's willing :D I keep meaning to put myself as a follower of your blog- off to do that now, before I forget again (I'm such a scatterbrain, hehe).

    By the way, I forgot to mention that my older sis is the Queen of "oh, no, you didn't say that, did you". Once, (LOL, I'm cracking up), she thought a friend was pregnant, so she rubbed her tummy and said "Congratulations".

    The friend was not pregnant.


    Need I say more?

    (But in my big sister's defense, she'd heard someone talking about her, saying that she was pregnant).


  16. I'll tell ya how. My old roommate was marrying a man with whom she had been living, but I think that was a secret. There was a whole big Catholic tadoo at a real Cathedral and everything. At the reception they had a framed and matted picture and they asked the guests to write a note. I wrote, blah blah something I don't remember and ended with "Now you can live with her."

    I went and sat down and started thinking that that could be taken the wrong way. I meant "Now YOU can live with her (as opposed to me, her old roommate of many many years") but it sounded like, "Now that you are married you can live with her and I will stop judging you, you heathens." Or, "Now you can live with her, but you should have waited until now, (you heathens)"

    And this was in permanent marker on the mat of a huge picture I knew my former roomy wanted to prominently display in their new (well lived-in) home.

    What to do, what to do? I went back, underlined 'you' and wrote 'The Old Roommate' under my signature. Snarky disaster averted. Whew.

  17. OMG, that was seriously hilarious, Tracey. I cracked up big time! Thanks for sharing!!

  18. Thanks, Rebecca, for guiding me to this "embarrassing incident." It was WAY funnier to read it in it's entirety.

    I've read a lot of the other comments of everyone trying to console you, but...Yep, that was one that you couldn't back out of. LOL Fortuately, it was minor.


I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!