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Ask Anyone

hoof in mouth disease

So I have this friend who has a knack of putting his foot in his mouth. It’s uncanny, like he has some strange disorder that forces him to say exactly the wrong thing at precisely the wrong time to women. We saw a mutual friend the other day. She’s eight months pregnant. He said, “Wow! You’ve really put on a lot of weight! Are you expecting twins?”

Needless to say, it did not go over well. Another time, commenting on his boss’s haircut, he said: “That looks very nice. And you can hardly tell it was colored.”

I feel bad for him, because these are not isolated incidents. He feels awful when it’s pointed out to him how dumb he sounds, but he just can’t stop. He finds it hard to get dates, much less girlfriends. I know he’s lonely. I’ve tried to tell him to think before he says anything, but I guess he gets nervous and just starts blurting things out. Most women think he’s just a jerk. I’m like the only female friend he has, and sometimes I wonder why I care...but deep down I think he’s not a bad guy. Just says stupid things maybe a bit more often than other guys. How can I help him?

Facepalm Friend

The Back Room Guy says: Tell him to take the George Constanza approach to everything he says. Tell him to pause for a moment, contemplate what he’s about to say and then say exactly the opposite. Seriously. Tell him to try it for a week–it might work. For instance, had he said “Wow, you look really thin, are you sure you’re pregnant?” to your friend, he probably would have come off much more...normal.

The Omniscient One: Clearly there’s nothing you can do to change your friend. However, you can help. Buy a few bags of chewing tobacco and hang out with your friend everywhere he goes. Keep your cheek full of chaw and every time your friend says something stupid spit out a big wad of nasty brown fluid. People will be so distracted by your disgusting spitting habit that they won’t notice what a jerk your friend is. If you happen to run into a major league baseball player or Clint Eastwood, you may find yourself with an unexpected celebrity romance.

Smart Money says: You could pinch his nipples really hard every time he says something stupid. Or, figure out something he doesn’t like. If he’s aware of it, and he’s an adult, this should be something he can work on himself. If it isn’t, maybe he should consider professional help.

The Shutterbug says: You have two options. You can decide to keep him as a friend but only spend time with him one-on-one...make plans to go places where you won’t run into anyone you know or places where no one else is around! Or you can resign yourself to a life of apologizing for him. Perhaps if you warn your friends in advance that he is a bit of a cad they will be less startled by his rude observations and you will have less ‘splanin’ to do.

The Literary Listener says: People like this drive me nuts. We all know that special kind of clown who talks like a standup comic in all social situations, or who introduces himself as “not very political correct,” or who tells jokes about Helen Keller. I have no pity in this situation. The fact that you care enough to try to help him is a testament to the strength of your constitution, but I am not sure he can be helped in some new creative way. Instead, let him experience fully the irritation of the people he speaks to. Eventually he’ll either figure out that he needs to act like an adult or he’ll continue to embrace his juvenile nonsense. The latter case is not necessarily a romantic death sentence, however. Remember: assholes marry each other all the time.

Ask Anyone is local advice for locals with problems. Send your questions for our panel of experts to

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