I was fortunate to learn a valuable lesson about the opportunities presented by awkward moments during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school. A hot guy moved into the neighborhood and, by some miracle, I found myself walking home from a baseball game with him. This was my chance to showcase my sparkling personality before the cheerleaders had the chance to wow him with their pom poms.
I had just heard some hilarious Helen Keller jokes at the baseball field and was regaling Hot Guy with my rapier wit. Before you judge me, this was back in the day when PC stood for popcorn. Hot Guy laughed appreciatively…then told me both his parents are deaf. Being the mature 14-year-old I was, I replied “Holy crap! You’re kidding me, right?” No, Hot Guy was not kidding me.
Over the next few years I had the privilege of becoming close friends with Hot Guy, who also turned out to be Great Football Player Guy, Very Smart Guy, and Very Nice Guy. We necked a few times but never became an item. For younger followers who aren’t following my cool lingo, just Google “neck,” “to neck,” and “necking as a gateway to heavy petting”.
In his wonderfully patient and charming way, Hot Guy taught many of his classmates to look beyond our prejudices and preconceived ideas about people who are different than we are. We attended a brand new high school where the student body was surprisingly free of racial prejudice, which was not necessarily true of all the parents. I wonder now if Hot Guy played a part in our attitude of acceptance.
So, you may ask, “Kiki, what does this have to do with hosts and house guests?” Well, if you’ll just be patient, I’ll tell you. Geez!
I have experienced many similarly awkward situations, where insensitive comments had the potential to offend. These situations were most often addressed with anger toward, or shaming of, the offender. Hot Guy taught me, by example, that overly negative responses to insensitive comments are a lost opportunity to change attitudes with grace and information. As hosts, hostesses, and guests we’re in a unique position to facilitate positive exchanges by realizing that offensive comments are often fueled by ignorance and habit, not hate. Houseguesting provides an opportunity to respectfully challenge others to appreciate the struggles of those who are different than we are.
I was a guest in Hot Guy’s home the day Elvis Presley died and we watched the coverage together on TV with his family. With tears streaming down her face, his mom signed something. Hot Guy looked at me and said, “She wishes she could have heard Elvis’ voice.” Lesson learned.
Thank you for visiting,