I'm not sure if you are familiar, but Roger Ebert has battled thyroid and salivary cancer, and after many surgeries, lost his ability to talk, eat, or drink. He wrote about his feelings on this in an incredibly moving and beautiful post on his blog. The last sentence "You don't realize it, but we're at dinner right now." pretty much blew me away when I first read it, as it details how blogging, something many of us view as pure entertainment, is an activity that has allowed him to feel connected to people.
In summary, without naming names because I do not mean to be offensive or "rude", someone tweeted him and asked if he still went to a Chicago restaurant that they used to see him at. Clearly this person was not aware, at the time, that he no longer can enjoy food like he used to. The tweet reminded me of the many times in life that I have said something or asked someone a question that ended up with me being embarrassed. I did not mean to hurt anyone's feelings...so sorry if I did!
This is a perfect example as to why I do not ever, after running into a casual acquaintance I haven't seen for a long time, ask them the following question: How's (insert name of person they were last dating)?
We've all probably had it happen...you run into someone and they ask "How's (insert name of someone you dated)?" and you have to be like "Oh...we're not dating anymore..." and then HOPE they will be like "Oh...sorry." and then move the conversation to something else quickly so you can leave the awkwardness behind you. Unfortunately you'll always run into (especially fresh after a breakup) that boorish person who's all "Oh no! WHY? What happened?! I thought you were the perfect couple and were going to get married!" (can you tell I've encountered these horrible people?)
Several years ago, I ran into someone I hadn't seen for about three weeks. This was a woman I used to do pilates with, and the last time we had spoke she had mentioned her mother was feeling ill. So when I saw her I asked "How's your mom?" Imagine how awful I felt when she said "Oh honey...bless your heart, my mom died last week."
Yowza. Obviously she knew I couldn't have known (this was BFB = Before Facebook), but I still felt ABSOLUTELY AND TOTALLY HORRIBLE. I am a great learner and tend to learn from my mistakes, therefore unless you specifically mention it, I will not ask you about anything sensitive that could have changed in the time since I've seen you last. I also never ever ask women "When are you due?" unless they say something like "This pregnancy is really making me tired!" or any other comment that clearly declares they are with child. I fear it often makes people think I'm not interested or cold or bitter or whatever (they could be true) but I'd rather they think that than have me put my foot in my mouth.
Have you ever had a total "holy shit!" foot-in-mouth moment?