Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Brain before tongue

Have you ever said something you really, really wish you hadn’t?

Of course. Everyone has. My latest example came at brunch on Sunday with some friends. It may seem mild to an outsider, but I feel really bad about it.

One of my friends lives in Tampa, my hometown, and was in New York for a visit. About ten years ago, after I first moved to New York, I made a couple of offhand remarks in front of her about not wanting to live in Tampa again, or not liking Tampa relative to Manhattan. She took great offense at these remarks and said I was being snotty, basically.

Well, at brunch, my friend was saying that there are no good seafood restaurants in Tampa. Dave turned to me and joked that we should open one. And I said, immediately and without thinking, “I don’t want to go back to Tampa!”

As soon as the words left my mouth I wanted to reel them back like a fish, because I knew they would offend my friend. Sure enough, I haven’t heard from her since the brunch, though I did send her a brief note of apology yesterday.

Sounds mild, right? And honestly, I’m of two minds about the whole kerfuffle. On one hand, what I said is absolutely true – I don’t want to return to Tampa. I also don’t mean that as a judgment of my friend’s decision to remain there. On the other, I can see how she might think, “Well, now that he’s moved to New York he’s just looking down his nose at us.”

It's not even that I dislike Tampa -- I enjoy visiting, and my desire not to return isn't meant to be scornful of the city. All I’m saying is, it’s not for me. I’m not even sure I’ll stay in New York forever – I just don’t want to go back, you know?

Anyway, I’m probably making more out of it than I should, but I feel kind of stupid about the whole thing. I wish I’d just held my tongue.

(Photo: Mushrooms in the East Village, Sunday.)


  1. Meh! Don't sweat it. You just said what she should already know...what with you packing yer crap 10 years ago and leaving Florida in the first place.

    There are many reasons to bag on Tampa (or Jacksonville) and Florida to choose from, the least of which (sorry!) is you packing up and leaving. Florida has bigger fish to fry...to play on your seafood restaurant theme.

    It's not like you said something like, "Only a brainless jerk-face would live in Tampa!"

  2. I have had similar experiences with people who live in my FL hometown (and have all their lives). I have to hold my tongue and not comment about the rampant bigotry (on many fronts) when I am around them. Actually no one is begging me to come back...

    BTW, my best childhood friend lives in Tampa and seems to like it a lot. Your friend needs to understand that each of us is different in our tastes for a place to live. I would bet there are more than a few good seafood restaurants in Tampa. It happens to be on the Gulf of Mexico which at least used to be teeming with fish of all sorts.

  3. I can totally relate (and hopefully your friend can at some point). We all do that (say things that hurt others) for different reasons. We aren't perfect and can't expect to please everyone. But, we can practice thinking before we talk.... and even that has its place and time. We don't want to be total bores do we? I hope you and your friend find a meeting place.

    It's nice to see you again.

  4. Well, speaking from the perspective of someone who has spent most of my adult life in Tampa, I've had about all I can stand, and have been looking for a place to move...Stay tuned!

  5. Mouth farts are tough when they are one's own, aren't they. We've all made them. But your opinion about Tampa is yours--not right or wrong, just an opinion.

  6. Oooh! I do the same thing when I visit my hometown!

    However, I think her reaction says more about her and what she thinks about still living in Tampa than it does about you.