Speaking of Slipups…
“What I MEANT to say was…”
Barack Obama: at a campaign event in Oregon, “I’ve now been in 57 states — I think one left to go.”
George W. Bush: “Will the highways on the Internet become more few?”
: a minor inadvertent mistake usually observed in speech or writing or in small accidents or memory lapses etc..
There I was… flying a 4-place Cessna 172 by myself from Portland, Oregon, to Tacoma, Washington. It was a smooth, pleasant afternoon, and as I passed Olympia I radioed Fort Lewis traffic control to let them know I was coming into their area.
Me: “Fort Lewis control, Cessna 56789 (not really, I made that up), northbound for landing at Fort Lewis.”
Fort Lewis controller: “Cessna 56789, (apparently not seeing me on their radar yet…) where are you right now?”
Me: (looking out the window to my right… and in my own particular brand of brilliance…) “I’m just about at the bottom of Puget Sound.”
Fort Lewis controller: ~ silence
As soon as I said I was at the bottom of Puget Sound, I thought, “Doh!!!”
I pictured airline pilots who heard me… rolling on the floor of their cockpits, laughing at this guy who’s just announced he and his airplane are motoring along just above the floor of the bottom of Puget Sound.
Have you ever said something in the flow of conversation that came out goofy? Did you feel embarrassed?
Ever call your spouse by the name of a former girlfriend? Or your kids by every other name but theirs?
In a hurry, I went through the names of every one else in the family… including the dog’s! “Erin, DJ, Buff!… whoever you are… come here!”
I’ve read articles that talk about Freudian slips, and calling people the wrong names. There are theories, but when it happens to in real-time… who cares about theories???
What you want is a rock to hide under… or to hit yourself on the head with!
Writing affords the ability to check what you say before you say it. But as a public speaker, there are plenty of opportunities for slip ups.
Talking to a roomful of about 200 people…
…what I meant to say: “Bob (not his name, I made that up) course”…
…what I actually said: “Bob’s cra…” and I caught and corrected myself. But they laughed, and I didn’t know why. Later they told me…
…what they heard me say: “Bob’s crap.”
On a college trip to Matamoros, Mexico, I tried to describe an elderly woman who had grandkids…
…what I meant to say: “Grandma”
…what I actually said: “Grande mama”
they looked at me like I’d just been rude, which I didn’t get, until I realized…
…what they heard me say: (translated from “grande mama”) “very large woman!”
OK, we’ve all been there, right?
Sometimes we slip. Most often we didn’t mean to. But it happened. Fortunately, most times it doesn’t deserve any more than a humble chuckle.
Then there are slips that are serious.
I watched a woman almost get killed when he drove his car from a crossroad across a highway, and a car going 60-miles-an-hour t-boned him. He had looked to his left. All clear, since all traffic would be coming from the right. His wife checked right, and saw the oncoming car.
…what his wife meant to say: “Don’t proceed… there’s a car barreling down the freeway!”
…what she actually said: “No!”
and he pulled out without looking to the right himself, because…
…what he heard her say: “Go!”
Fortunately, and amazingly, no one was hurt, although I’m pretty sure the car was totaled.
So we try to be clear. We aren’t always, even though we mean to be. But it’s normal for slips to happen.
If you speak… sometimes it’s going to happen and hopefully you’ll get a good laugh. If you write, do a good spell check and read your material before you print or send (I even proofread text messages!). If you call your significant other the wrong name… well, good luck with that one!
Until next time, fiends…
(see how even spell checking doesn’t always work? Crazy, isn’t it? You did catch that closing slipup, right?)
Got a funny slip to share? Leave a comment below.