Saturday, September 08, 2007

I've been thinking about how easy it is to spout off...

an idea which I think is funny, wacky, out of the box, and then realize that it may not be in the best of taste. I've done this kind of thing fairly often in my life----responded to something with an off-the-cuff pronouncement and later regretted it, having had my insensitivity pointed out to me. I hate it when I do that!

This morning at the calendaring session for the new church year, I did not use my cutesy acronym WACCOS (Wine and Cheese Conversations on Sources) because another blogger was kind enough to help me see that this could be off-putting to anyone who struggles with alcohol issues. Duh! How come I didn't see that right away? I've struggled with alcohol issues myself and have usually been sensitive to that kind of thing. It takes a word from someone else, sometimes, to see my own blindness (no pun intended). Of course there would have been non-alcoholic beverages at the event---that's not the point. The point is that "wine and cheese" partying is excluding, not including, of some people.

You would think that, after 65 years of doing this sort of thing, I would have figured out that this trait could get me in trouble. But noooooooo, I have to re-remember it every few weeks! It's funny, almost, that someone like me who bends over backwards not to get in trouble would do this so unthinkingly on occasion. And when it does happen, I'm a bit embarrassed and do what I can to remedy my error, but you'd think I'd learn!

What I have learned is how to make amends, how to offer a sincere apology, how to avoid the same mistake next time. I just haven't learned how to avoid making different mistakes the next time! Some of it is my natural exuberance leaking out; some of it is forgetting that when I'm acting in a ministerial role, I have to be careful. But it puts a crimp in some of my relationships with people and I really regret that. Thanks to Ellis for her kindness in helping me see it this time.


Lizard Eater said...

Thank you for your honesty and generosity in sharing this, Ms. Kitty. Just this week, I was thinking ... hmm, so many UU ministers are so calm, so somber ... is there a place for an exuberant jumping bean like me in UU ministry?

Glad to know there is. I'll bring a pocket of mea culpas to have on hand, though. (I carry them wherever I go.)

Ms. Theologian said...

On the other hand, I rather like the spontaneity and excitement. :)

Alcohol and groups....tricky issue that.

Mile High Pixie said...

Oh, Rev Kit! As a former and possibly future stand-up comic, my wit is constantly popping up in my everyday speech, sometimes to my detriment. I'm usually able to keep it in check, but sometimes I make the most ridiculous comments. Fortunately, my improv background helps me come up with a good apology/brush-off line (usually) to recover. Sometimes, though, if I'm really nervous, I just fumble and hope for a chance to redeem myself.

At the end of the day, though, I'd rather deal with exuberance that occasionally offends than a bland personality.

Joel said...

I've struggled with alcohol issues myself and have usually been sensitive to that kind of thing.

I've known a fair number of alcoholics (some sober, some not), and I don't think I've ever met one who was so thin-skinned that the mere mention of wine would wound them to the quick, or even make them stay away. I have one friend whose AA group meets at a restaurant lounge to drink coffee in the midst of people swilling booze. Part of recovery seems to be recognizing that not everybody is one, and that you yourself are not so central to the universe that everybody else must conform to your weaknesses.

Ellis said...

I was only partly talking about people in recovery; I was also thinking about people too young to drink. But thanks, Ms. Kitty, for listening. I hope this project goes well for you!

ms. kitty said...

In my congregation, we have a number of recovering folks and no teens ( at least right now), so the recoverers were the first to come to mind. I appreciate your mentioning the issue, Ellis. Thanks for the wakeup call.

ms. kitty said...

PS to Joel: it's not the act of having alcohol at an event, it's the welcome, the hospitality issue of billing an event as "Wine and Cheese", rather than something less clearly alcohol-based.

Most of the alcoholics I know are not so sensitive that they have to avoid gatherings where alcohol is served (though there are many who do have to do so); but there is an implicit "sorting-out" in the title "Wine and Cheese" that would likely make an alcoholic wonder if any non-alcoholic beverages were to be served or if the whole point was to drink wine and eat cheese.

And as Ellis points out, "wine and cheese" sounds like a strictly adult event, which may eliminate any teens who might want to participate. If UUs are about inclusion rather than exclusion, and I believe we are, we want to be careful about such implications.