365 Days of Writing — Day 8



Guilt. I really don’t like the feeling. I mean, I don’t think anyone does. But I have recognized that guilt is a huge driver in my life. I spend most of my time trying to make up for it… or avoid it.

I have a little saying that I keep in my mental pocket: guilt is an empty emotion.

I stand behind it.

Guilt doesn’t bring about much positive behavior. It typically prompts us to take action when we don’t want to because we feel bad. I don’t believe that action born from “feeling bad” can be good.

But that said… I do have an example.

Am I the only one who will have those nights where I’m laying in bed, about drift off, when my mind suddenly scrolls through its database and plays on repeat something stupid or inappropriate I’ve said?

Well, here is a page right out of that book.

Jerry and I go out to dinner one night. I don’t remember too many of the details, but I remember a feeling that night that I was tired, annoyed with work issues, and generally feeling a little emotionally raw.

We eat dinner at a neighborhood restaurant, and I see over Jerry’s shoulder that a really sweet couple we know is having dinner. They’re sitting at a table for four, but I can’t see the other couple they’re sitting with me as their backs are toward me.

Mental note: stop by and say hello after we pay our bill.

So as we finish up and start to head out of the restaurant, we stop by their table. As we get closer, I keep my focus on this lovely couple. Normally, my ADD brain is scanning every last detail in a situation like this, but in this case, I must’ve been running low on fumes. (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

After hugs are exchanged with our friends, I ask what I think is a benign question. “So are these your parents?”

“Her parents!?” I hear with horror.


I need to interject here. I pride myself on social grace. I am the type of guy who would never take a social risk like this. I’ve often said that a woman could be giving birth into my very hands, and I STILL wouldn’t ask if she’s pregnant. That’s just not how I roll.

“Her parents!?” said it all. Before even looking at the couple with the backs, I knew I’d made a grave error.

The astonishment (and probable horror) of my assumption took precident to the corrective facts of the situation. After what felt like DAYS, I was mortified to learn that I had asked the cousin of our female friend if she was the mother. (I didn’t worry too much about the male counterpoint. Maybe that’s chauvinistic of me, but I had my hands full with the warm rush of guilt I was feeling after offending the female.)

I don’t know that we’ve returned that restaurant. And this happened maybe two years ago.

I’m not sure why we haven’t gone back. The food is great. And it’s not like the location inspired me to turn into a carnival barker. I’m not going to walk through their doors and suddenly start interrupting random diners with a “Let me guess YOUR age!”

But you can never be too careful.

Maybe guilt isn’t so bad after all…