Terminally, Incurably Yours

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I had been diagnosed before. By experts. As a matter of fact, even laymen have observed the symptoms and gave similar diagnoses, so I guess it has been actually easy to spot. I had been given the diagnoses years ago, and yet, I chose to ignore them… Maybe I felt that if I didn’t acknowledge it, it would just go away. Maybe I felt that they were going to be right only if I believe them; Maybe I just didn’t want to accept the fact cos deep within, I knew it was incurable.

Yes, at some point, I’m sure I realized that it’s going to be with me for as long as I shall live. There were no drugs, no therapy, no new-age medicines, and no counseling that could even give a semblance of hope… nothing that could offer even a possibility of complete cure. That was possibly why I subconsciously decided to ignore it completely. But it’s not an easy strategy to implement. Particularly when you see people close to you suffer because of it. Sometimes you do things that throw a sense of reality right in your face, and you have no choice but to accept the fact: you have a terminal case of foot-in-mouth disease.

It has taken out many people in the past, and it continually affects people all around. ‘Open mouth, insert foot’, has been a long standing algorithm for me, ever since I asked my school teacher to excuse me from reading exercises – “I am sorry, madam, but I have a sore throat… I can’t speak out a single syllable without being subject to torture and agony. It was probably because I was up late last night, reading things and I…. Umm… Yeah, I seem to speak fine right now, don’t I? Well, it comes and goes. Sometimes, I have too… Just… Just let me get my textbook.”

And just yesterday, I landed a friend in a soup. And not the nice kind, either. We have become quite close friends, have me and … err… Let’s just call her Miss X for now; A little bit of anonymity can go a long way in maintaining safety… mine. She may not look like she can pack a punch, but well, she used to take Karate lessons, so let’s play safe.

Anyway, me and Miss X have been good friends for a while now, and keep kidding around all the time, and whenever we’ve been in need, we haven’t hesitated borrowing small amounts of money from each other… Nothing much, possibly Rs.50 or 100 here and there from time to time, a couple of dollars at the current rate of exchange. I know you’re not interested in the financials here. “Duh. If I wanted to read about finance, I’d have read the Wall Street Journal.” But bear with me, cos it has some bearing on the situation at hand. (Besides… The Wall Street Jounal? Really?)

So it was after another grueling fieldwork day for me and Miss X, and our client was gracious enough to offer us a ride to our homes before she herself left for the day. Me, being the non-chatty lone stranger, was comfortable sitting up front, but Miss X had already built up a rapport fortress with the client, and they were chatting about what I can only assume to be girl-talk as we cruised the streets. I wasn’t paying attention, but I WAS aware of some sort of chitter chatter in the background.

Miss X was nearing her stop, and she suddenly asks me…

Miss X: “Hey, Hamish, I have to catch a ride from here. Do you have a fifty I can borrow?”

Me: “Oh, let me check. Hold on. Oh, yes. Sure. Here you go.”

And yep, that was it. Good day, folks.

Psyche! Of course that’s not it. And it definitely wasn’t a good day. It would have been lovely if I had stopped there. And it could have stopped there, IF only I didn’t ignore The First Hammy Rule – “Hamish. Don’t think. Whatever you do, DO NOT think.” I should have learned my lesson long time ago, but no, I just had to think and ruin everything.

As I handed Miss X the money, I began thinking… I thought “Hey, Doesn’t she owe me something already? Or do I owe her?”. Cos trust me, I am bad with finances. At that point, I didn’t know what we owed each other, or to whom it was owed; I just knew there was something owed by some party to the other party, and I knew that Miss X would know, her being so organized and all… So I proceeded to break The Second Hammy Rule – “If you DO break The First Hammy Rule, and ughhh… think, then for the love of God, do NOT talk.”

Me: “Hey, X, don’t you already owe me some money?”

Silence. The chitter chatter or whatever stopped. The client was probably thinking “Oh… So Miss X borrows money frequently, does she? I better just keep quiet here”. But I was oblivious at the time. I was kinda puzzled at why the reply to such a simple question was taking so long.

Miss X: “Yes, I remember, Hamish.”

Wha? That’s it? She’s not specifying anything else? I mean… I was asking so that I could know the amount. Why was she suddenly in the short-answer-zone? Puzzling.

Me: “Well, how much IS it?”

Miss X: “We’ll talk about that later. Ok?”

That was straight, right? Just about anybody could have seen that it meant – “Hamish. Not now. Drop the subject. Can’t you see we are with people here?”. Well, I am not ‘just about anybody’ – I’m me, which meant Miss X had to suffer further…

Me: “Ok, ok… You DO remember the amount, don’t you? Just tell me that. You’ve got it written somewhere or something…”

Miss X: “YESSS!”

Ok. Time for some closure. By this time, I saw the client’s face. Looking back, I can read the expression quite clearly – “Oh, damn. This is awkward. Clearly, these two have some money issues. I’ll just remain nonchalant and distance myself from the issue. Should I whistle? No, that may be too nonchalant. What else do I do? Quick! A pen! A pen that I can twirl around and change the subject… No? Dammit. Now what do I…”

But at the time, I wasn’t really reading any of this clearly. I saw her squirming, and after reassuring myself it wasn’t some medical complication, I understood that she was uncomfortable about this money chat I started. So I thought… maybe I should explain…

Me: “He he… You know… I am REALLY bad when it comes to keeping my finances straight. Pathetic, actually.”

Client: “Uh, uh…”

Hmm… Not much of an icebreaker. The client’s now giving me a weird stare. Quick. Something funny. What do I say? A horse and a rabbi walked into the bar? NO, you idiot. Something more appropriate with the situation…. Something about what I just said…

Me: “Yeah, really bad with finances. Why are you looking like that? No, I am not lending you money”

What??? You call that a joke? Dammit, fix it before she gets the wrong idea. You can do it… Think, THINK!! And so against my better judgment, I thought… again.

Me: “He he… You know… people find out I’m bad with finances, and they want to borrow money.”

A small smile. Phew. She understood that was a joke. Mission accomplished. Now brain closed, mouth shut. PLEASE.

Client: “Hmm… Don’t worry. I am not like those friends of yours.”

Two seconds pass. And the client’s face gives a horrified expression, and we both see that Miss X has her mouth wide open, staring incredulously…

Client (to Miss X): “Oh, God. I’m so sorry. I’m SOOO sorry. I just realized it sounds like I was talking about you. I did NOT mean that. God. I’m really sorry.”

Miss X: “Hmm… It’s… ok. Don’t worry about it.”

We had a nice quiet five minutes where I got back to my stupid vice… thinking. What happened? Why was Miss X offended just now? And why was the client able to see that immediately? And why was my spider sense tingling? Let me see. The comment in question was “Don’t worry. I am not like those friends of yours” – Oh… Ok. So she inadvertently implied that Miss X was the kind of friend who would take advantage of my poor track of finances. Ah. Ok. A guffaw. Funny, when you think about it… You could almost…. almost… Wait a minute. Didn’t I start that train of thought? What did I say? Oh, my God… Let me just think back…

And I thought back to the exchange that went before this, and with grim realization, understood that I may have painted Miss X as a mooching money-grubbing opportunist who lives on a bed of paper money that she’s accumulated over the years by taking advantage of poor ignorant dolts who can’t keep track of their finances.

Me: “Oh, my GOD! X, I just realized I may have sounded like I was talking about you too… I did NOT mean that. I’m really sorry.”

Miss X: “Forget about it. Here’s where I get off. Just forget about it, ok?”

And she got off. The foot in my mouth got the life kicked out of her. And I felt so bad. I called her up later, trying to apologize once again. She told me to just forget about it, and insisted she’s not mad about it.

I don’t know. Could it be just co-incidence that she has resumed her Karate classes?

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24 Responses

  1. Winnie the poohi says:

    Poor friend of urs.. in front of the client too ?

    umm its hard not to laugh… *sniggers*

  2. I suffer from that to, but honestly I believe that disease would not exist if not for “sensitive” people. BTW, Hammy can I borrow $50?

  3. Mea Culpa says:

    Could it be just co-incidence that she has resumed her Karate classes?

    No, I dont think so!!!

  4. Vidya says:

    Hey Hamish

    Love your blog – viva la indi network!!

    hope to connect sometime soon – when i figure out how.


  5. Vidya says:

    Ok – I have done my good deed for the day. I loved your blog so much that I actually had to talk about it on mine.

    My late (yes, she always was) teacher will be proud of me.


  6. havoo.. so i am not alone…. 🙂 u know what – it is time for you to hunt down a karate instructor…

  7. Hi Hamish

    Came across your website in a post about it by Vidya Sury. Wow, you do write brilliantly – most enjoyable.


  8. hammy says:

    @winnie the poohi:
    Hard not to laugh? How callous of you. Just you wait until she gets her blackbelt. After she buries me, she’ll be right after you! Well, burying me will take a while, so you have some time, I guess.

    @the hussy housewife:
    $50? Sure, of course. Why didn’t you ask before? The check will be in the mail by tomorrow… unless I forget about it… Have I mentioned that I have the memory of an amnesiac goldfish?

    @mea culpa:
    You don’t? Dang. I should probaby pack up and vamoose.

    Wowie, Vidya. I’m… overwhelmed. I don’t know what to say. I shouldn’t have thrown away that speech I prepared for my imaginary oscar winning deal…

    Let me see if I remember it… Hmm… I thanked my folks, my dog, my neighbors, err… then my… lawyer and my… My lawyer? That doesn’t sound right. I don’t even have a lawyer.

    Well, forget the speech. Thank you very much for your kind words, Vidya. 🙂

    @anoop aka -xh-:
    Me hunt down a karate instructor? You don’t see many martial arts movies, do you? Those guys are impossible to hunt down, particularly by people of my stature. Those guys can jump from rooftop to rooftop, leap tall buildings in single bounds, and break ten bricks with one blow. I’d rather just pack up and flee the country, thanks.

    @corrine rodrigues:
    Hi, Corrine. Welcome to my mind. And thanks.

  9. Bill Libbey says:

    We all suffer from that from time to time Hammy. Take your friends advice and forget about it. Just don’t sit within arm’s or high kick’s reach of her for awhile. Great post again!

  10. Binny V A says:

    So, you are incurably crazy.
    Me? I am incurably lazy.

  11. hammy says:

    @bill libey:
    Hi, Bill. I’ll try to take your advice. Gonna be difficult, though. She sits right next to me at office.

    @binny v a:
    Lazy, are ya? Well, then, Binny. Bow before your king. Of course, if you are too lazy to do that, that’s fine. It’s a very valid excuse in my kingdom… very common too. But whatever. I’d be too lazy to punish non-bowers anyway.

  12. So are you friends-as-usual again yet or did you make some more faux pas? I get mini bouts of this disease too, it happens to the best and the most tactful of us. All my sympathies…with Ms X of course 🙂

  13. D Rat... says:

    by any chance, u a Sagittarian? foot in mouth is Trade mark symptom of saggis.. urs truly , d rat being d queen…

  14. hammy says:

    Well, minor explosions did happen; I had figured I’d be somewhat safe cos she never really reads my site, but apparently, some colleague had tipped her off… Anyway, so far, things seem to be ok. We are still friends… I think. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of faux pas from my side. With me, it’s never in short supply, and kinda spontaneous when it happens.

    @d rat:
    Nope. Not Saggi. In any case, we Cancerians don’t believe in all that sun-sign hocus pocus.

  15. roshny says:

    tch tch…a similiar thing happened to me once….no wait. it did not. i am not that dumb.

    to miss x: tch tch. a similar thing happened to me once..twice..er..happens all the time. i knw hw u felt.

    and hammy, talking is injurious to health.

  16. silverine says:

    “In any case, we Cancerians don’t believe in all that sun-sign hocus pocus.”


  17. priyanka says:

    wow ! u guys friends yet ??
    coz if looks could kill , you’d be bones ryte now 😛 (am pretty sure she must have given you the eye of shame while getting out :D)

  18. hammy says:

    Well, I’m usually the strong silent type, except for the ‘strong’ part. These bouts of chattiness is very sporadic… and quite unpredictable. I’m not the master of when it will happen again; I’ll try to control it, I swear, but I’m not sure. I’m like Dr. Bruce Banner here.

    You won’t like it when I talk. I try and I try to contr… Aarggh! Hammy speak.

    Of course we don’t. Or else, I would have said… you laugh like a Leo. ;D

    Well, Plinks… I haven’t seen her in a week. I’ll see her when I get back to work on Monday. Tomorrow, I’ll try and prepare myself. Do you know where I can get a suit made of kevlar?

  19. RedRaider says:

    If friends ask me for money I decide would I be willing to just give it to them or expect to be paid back. It it’s wanting to be paid back, I don’t loan it…period.
    Seems a little crappy sometimes but they never ask again and everything’s cool between us.

    😀 Biggie blooper buddy! Biggie!

  21. silverine says:

    Now that I have read the post properly, I got to say that you need a lesson in tact and diplomacy after a swift kick to the butt. You could waited to have this conversation when you both were alone for god sakes!! You are absolutely tactless Hammy!

    This reminds me of an incident when I met one of your kind at a party. I was going to the rest room discreetly when this “hammy” chirps up loudly “Where are you going?” All eyes turned to me and I wanted to slap him. I gritted my teeth, faked a smile and said “where no man has gone before!”


  22. Nash says:

    hahaha… I agree with Silverine.. “you need a lesson in tact and diplomacy after a swift kick to the butt”

  23. hammy says:

    Oh, I’ve heard that philosophy before… “If you lend a man ten bucks and never hear from him again…. it was probably worth it.” But with close friends, I don’t really hesitate to lend small amounts when they need it, cos… well, I don’t hesitate to borrow it when I need it either.

    And it’s not like I don’t see my money again. Not at all. These folks DO return my money… which is why I’m feeling particularly bad about this incident.

    @macadamia the nut:
    Biggie?? Damn. I was hoping it was just a smallsie, or a bloopie, or at worst a booey. You think I should call her from a long distance phone and apologize again?

    “Where no man has gone before.” – Ha chirpy comeback.Now why couldn’t Miss X have done something like that?
    Me: Hey, don’t you owe me some money?
    Miss X: Eh? Why th… m.. I mean… Why don’t you go where no man has gone before and drown, Hammy?

    Hmm… yeah. Not really an apt situation for comebacks. Poor she.

    You side with her now??
    Athedaa. Ore kuppiyil ninnu beer adich, ore paayil bodhamillathe kedanna nammala. Ippo Silverine onnu aakkaan vannappo nee avalde koottu pidich vaaran thudangi, alle?

    – Epilogue –

    You would be pleased to know that Miss X seems to have forgiven me, and that we are friends again. Hmm… Ok. Judging by some of the comments and most of the personal stinkers I’ve received on this, you may NOT be pleased with this; a more welcome news would have been that Miss X has decided to beat me on the head with a wooden mallet and bury my unconscious body in an anthill.

    Well, Miss X is not like that. She is the nice, forgiving kind. Of course it will be a while before I am comfortable being around her without witnesses around, but I believe she has forgiven. Remember: To err is Hammy. And if you’ve heard me speak in public, you know I err… a lot.

  24. She shouldn’t have forgiven Hammy Indiscreet so easily. Just my 2 cents 🙂

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