My foot, my mouth

My foot, my mouth


It is said that: ‘With age comes wisdom’. Although I hate to admit it that in my case, age appears to have come alone. Why else would I have made a brave statement in one of my communication club’s meetings that: “We must have members making speeches with more humour in them.” The president of the club pounced on the idea and I was asked to make a humorous speech during the next session.

Oscar Wilde said, “It was always silly to give advice; but to give good advice, was absolutely fatal.” I have this at the back of my mind all the time, but forget to apply his wise advice at the right time. No doubt, it is people like me who made Oscar WILD (pun intended).

Mental health experts have concluded what my wife had long suspected that I have a foot in mouth disease right from my Air Force days. I seem to have put my foot in my mouth despite many experiences, which warned me: “Do not speak unless it can help improve the silence!”

There is one thing to be said for inviting trouble — it generally accepts invitation. To cite an episode that cost me dearly was when I was a young bachelor officer and dining in the officers’ mess. We used to have regular mess meetings presided by a fairly senior officer, where officers’ mess members could air their grievances or problems about the food or other mess activities. Bravado being my middle name, I stood up and complained that the food being served was insipid, unattractive, not at all nutritious and that the food member was not showing any interest in his portfolio.

The presiding officer asked me to stand up and state my name; and thinking that a commendation was on my way for my frank revelation, I clicked my heels and proudly shouted out my details for all and sundry in the mess hall to hear. Pat came the retort from the presiding officer: “Flying Officer Dinesh, with immediate effect, you are hereby detailed to take over as Food Member. Meeting closed.” My erstwhile supporters on poor quality food only grinned at my plight.

Mental health experts, through the process of regression, have concluded that I acquired this fetish because I had been reading too many pieces on ‘humour in uniform’ in my Air Force days.

But I argue my case with them that it was not without reason that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ is accepted as a universal remedy for bad temper, misunderstanding, quarrels, grumbling, suspicion, ill-feeling and ungraciousness. “Try it and it is a thousand to one that the trouble will vanish”, said a wise person anonymously. I do whole-heartedly agree that humour may not be every person’s cup of tea but is there any harm in at least to make our communication more interesting by lacing it with funny anecdotes or episodes from real life situations.

Years before the TV made its presence felt in India, I remember that Phil Erwin, radio jockey of the Voice of America’s morning Breakfast Show, always concluding his programme with : “If you see someone without a smile, give him one of yours”.
My current position on the subject is that it is my foot and my mouth and it is not anyone’s business when I decide to put my foot in my mouth. Period.

As per standard operating procedure (SOP), I took the draft of my piece for the approval of the lady of the house (LOH), she said that I should at least end it at more somber note. And knowing disobedience of the order could lead to a Court Martial by the domestic court, I was back at the computer and did a quick and paste job of this very wise statement from Wheeler Wilcox.

“Talk Happiness. The world is sad enough without your woe. No path is wholly rough.”

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