A few of us (guys) were discussing our worst episodes of having a foot firmly in our mouths. Interestingly enough, our stories all had to do with what should have been content-free pleasant conversations with women.
My worst episode relates to a conversation that I had with one of my cousins who had recently lost her child. A few months after the baby's funeral, I saw her again and said, "Congratulations!". "Why?," she asked, puzzled. Undeterred, I plowed right on. "Looks like you are pregnant." "No," she said sadly, "I'm not pregnant. Just a little overweight."
My friend's worst was a series of conversations that took place at a formal dinner. He was seated at the same table as the keynote speaker. She'd just given a rather impressive talk but it was not quite my friend's area of expertise, so he had nothing intelligent to say on her talk. But she did look young, perhaps 35 or so, and he decided to go with that. "You have accomplished so much being so young," he told her, "you are, what, 29?". "No," she replied loud enough for the rest of the table to hear, "I'm just 19. I'm still in college."
Suitably chastened, he turned to the only other woman at the table and discovered that he'd done some work with a colleague of hers. They started to have a friendly chat and it turned out that she and her spouse drove through Oklahoma City quite often because she worked on at a West coast university but did summer research at an East coast institution. "The next time you are driving through," my friend offered, "you and your husband are welcome to stay at our home." "My partner," replied the woman dryly, "is a woman and her name is K-". My friend said he didn't say another word the rest of that dinner.