Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Slips of the Tongue

Blue Dress Paris--Jean Franck Baudoin-1870-1961 I was in—as usual—the grocery store on Saturday afternoon. As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted with a big smile by a couple of men at a table. I did a mental groan—they wanted me to do something. Sure enough, it was time to update that plastic discount card the grocery store assigns us.

I was at the deli counter getting some ham and trying to put the little loyalty card on my keychain. One of the deli workers said, “So you got your card updated?”

And I said. “Mm-hmm. Last time I came in I just pretended I didn’t see them.” Then I’m sure I looked really cross because I don’t say things like that, I think things like that. Some evil sprite possessed me and made me say something rude.

The counter guy just laughed. “Yeah, you were probably ignoring me. Because I’ve been working that table until tonight.”

Which made me even more cross at myself.

It also made me think that frequently we’re our own worst enemies.

Writing cozy mysteries, I really like to do things on a small scale. Because of the nature of the books, I’m not doing any Hollywoodesque car crashes, explosions, or chase scenes.

I don’t have cataclysmic events in my books—no natural disasters, terrorism, or ghastly epidemics. Although I really enjoy reading books like these, they just don’t fit my genre.

A horrific day in my books? Someone’s slip of the tongue results in their murder. They knew too much.

Think of all the uses faux pas can have. Because we’ve all said things that came out wrong or that people took the wrong way.

A slip of the tongue could result in someone really getting furious with an in-law or other family member. Maybe it represented the last straw for the person—the one that made them decide to end a relationship.

Faux pas can end friendships. Maybe a friend blabbed about the protagonist’s secret. Maybe the slip is viewed as a betrayal by another character.

A slip of the tongue could result in someone getting fired. Maybe someone leaked something that their office wanted to keep strictly confidential.

Military men and women who accidentally disclose too much information involving location during a war, you’re actually endangering lives.

Think of all the politicians who end up saying, “I misspoke.” So many have said thoughtless things, or uttered racially insensitive statements when “misspeaking.”

There are so many different ways to plot around someone sticking their foot in their mouth. And the reader? They won’t think the results are unbelievable at all. Because we all make our little faux pas.