This post originally ran on July 2, 2009 and was entitled "The Most Tactless Thing I Ever Said".
I am running this post in honor of Mother's Day, which is celebrated today in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Germany, and many other countries around the world.
In general, I am quite tactless. Given my directness and outspokenness as someone born in New York and my inability to read cues in social situations, my life has been full of tactless incidents. In fact, there are times when I think that I have mastered the ability to be tactless to a new art form.
There is once incident though that takes the prize as the most tactless thing I have ever said.
I was visiting Milan, Italy and decided to stay at a gay hotel- one of those small hotels that you find out about in Spartacus International,. In general, this is a good option to use if you want to save money traveling around Europe since you are usually greeted as "family" when you arrive. They also have good club listings and things. BTW, there is not much to see in Milan from a tourist perspective, but this is another story.
I arrive at the nice small hotel in Milan to be greeted by this young (around 16) and charming desk boy who I think was named "Nicholai". He was very friendly up until the point a very muscular, hairy, and large individual walked in and started yelling at him. This made him jump up in the air.
The individual who was yelling at him wore a pink house dress, pink slippers, and had a voice much deeper than mine. In addition, the individual had a very pronounced mustache. The individual also had not shaved in three or four days, and looked something like this person below but much larger. The individual continued to yell at poor Nicholai; it sounded as if there was very little Nicholai could do right, and glowered at me for a few seconds as if not sure what I was doing in its presence.
Now, needless to say, I was dumbfounded. Here was a large man in drag with a mustache ordering poor Nicholai around. Granted, it was a gay hotel, so I chalked it up to the local color.
The next day the same individual was working with Nicholai. "She" was wearing a black and white elegant day dress with cute little size 14 pumps (well, elegant considering the individual was about six foot two and was built like an NFL tackle). "She" still had not shaved. And, I continued to stare at "her" with my mouth open a bit as "she" glowered at me for invading "her" social space.
Later that day the large hairy individual in a dress was not around young Nicholai. so I leaned over to speak to him. Here is how the conversation went:
Eddi (in hushed tones): "Nicholai, can I ask you something? Is that person a transvestite?"
Nicholai (looking very helpfully at Eddi and speaking quite loudly) "Oh, no! that is my mother! She is from here!"
Now Nicholai did not appear to take any offense. I think he thought I asked him if his mother was from Transylvania. If I would have asked that same question in a similar situation in New Jersey I would have had a bullet put in me and my body dumped in the Hudson.
Now, knowing this, I did smile at Mama and say hello when I saw her next; she did at least acknowledge me and not glower at me for starring at her with my mouth open. I also learned never to ask questions like this to young hotel check in boys in Europe again!