Faux Pas Funnies: A Semi-Serious Post

Oops.

That’s all I have to say. Oops. Just…oops.

Those of you who know me personally know that I’m pretty cavalier when it comes to serious matters. I will joke about anything and everything in lieu of actually processing emotions and/or dealing with feelings. It’s just what I do. After years of honing this skill I’ve come to be able to read a room and gauge what the response to an off-color joke might be. One would assume that a man making jokes about the Holocaust and Jesus Christ as a sexual partner would be open to anything. One would be wrong. Very wrong.

I was out at the usual spot for a public debut of the fearsome twosome that is my new roomie and me.  We joined some of our mutual friends and a few people we hadn’t yet met. We looked fabulous (even though we both got ready in less than 10 minutes) and we were all having a good time, joking and singing along to the 90s mix that was so fortuitously playing. The gay man I had just met (the one with the Jew jokes) had said something about the word “contracted” (I think it was in reference to an actual contract…?) and I turned to him and said, “Contracted what? AIDS?” It got a huge laugh and even a high-five. He wasn’t amused. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “No you f*cking b*tch, I’m positive.” I begged him to be joking but he wasn’t. He has AIDS.

Now, before any of you get offended, keep in mind that the fact that I didn’t assume he had AIDS was a good sign of our times. This is not the 90s, despite what the music may have suggested. I never thought that a young gay man would have the RENT disease. I mean…I just didn’t. I felt terrible but at the same time I was a little pissed off. I obviously didn’t know that he was HIV positive or AIDS positive, and if I did I wouldn’t have made an AIDS joke (in front of him). To prove a point, he asked me, “would you make a joke about cancer?” To which I replied, “YES!” I mean, if someone is sitting in front of me, bald from chemotherapy and radiation and literally dying of cancer, then no. I wouldn’t make a joke to them. That’s in poor taste. I understand that these things are serious and cause people to lose loved ones and I’m not belittling that. I’m just processing it in the only way I know. Jokes.

We made amends and I apologized for offending him. He admitted that he probably shouldn’t have reacted so strongly and we agreed to start over. We ended the spat by singing in unison to the Spice Girls. “Slam your body down and zig a zag ahh” can build bridges. It really can.

Moral of the story? If you have AIDS or cancer and would prefer I didn’t pun them out…let me know at the beginning of the night. Just hand me a list of off-limits topics and I’ll do what I can to adhere to it.

I still feel bad that he has AIDS, but I don’t necessarily feel bad for throwing it out in joke form. I’m chalking it up to terrible timing and a ridiculous coincidence.

Thoughts?

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6 thoughts on “Faux Pas Funnies: A Semi-Serious Post

  1. Jesse Ball says:

    This reminds me of a time I made a “your mom” joke to somebody with a dead mother.

    “My mom is dead.”

    “Fine. Your dad, then.”

    It did not go over well. But again, how was I supposed to know his mom was dead? We just assume every persons mother is living and able to be the butt of a joke.

  2. killa says:

    Fyi, being hiv positive, and having flow blown AIDS is a completely story.

  3. nikkigsblog says:

    I did something like that once– talking to a couple I had just met and somehow we started talking about the whole “changing babies in the womb with science” thing (I’m sure there’s a smart word in there for it but I’m tired and I can’t remember it). I said “well I would do it if I knew there might be something terribly wrong with them that would make life more difficult” and the guy says “I wouldn’t even do it then” and I go “yeah- but what if like- your child was going to have autism or something and you could just change it so they don’t have it” and he goes “I already have a son with autism and I wouldn’t change him for the world”….oy…

    Now I’m absolutely certain every parent who has a child who is different or born with a disability would say the exact same thing-I wouldn’t change them for the world- however- I also know every parent prays that the child is healthy when it comes out and counts the fingers and toes. So I truthfully wasn’t meaning it as a knock on his son or anyone else who has autism but I sure felt like an asshole…

    Just bad timing. And you made amends– good on ya.

  4. bettiestamp says:

    I know that HIV Positive and AIDS are a different story, but I also know that I said “AIDS” and he replied with, “I’m Positive”…so I wasn’t sure which he was referencing. And I sure wasn’t going to ask. I feel terrible for him, but again…I don’t think it warranted being called a “fucking bitch” loudly and in front of a ton of people. I didn’t know.

  5. Karen says:

    That was one of the times when it’s only ok for the person with the condition to make the joke…not sure why it’s ok then…but that’s how it goes.

  6. My husband’s mother passed away (from cancer) when he was 16 and, even after being together for 4 years, I still have to remind myself not to make “your mom” jokes to him. Incidentally, he doesn’t care, but it makes me feel like a dick…
    We’ve all tasted toe-jam from time to time – I, too, am one to make jokes that may or may not cross someone’s line. Sometimes I feel like a jerk, sometimes I think people are hypersensitive. What matters is that you made amends and you’re not just being a jerk for the sake of being a jerk.

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