In general, I am quite tactless. Given my directness and outspokenness as someone born in New York, my inability to read cues in social situations, and my airheadedness at times in general (in high school they put "space the final frontier" as a tribute to me under my picture in the senior year book), my life has been full of tactless incidents. In fact, there are time that I think at times that I have mastered the ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time to a new art form.
There is once incident though that takes the prize as the most tactless thing I have ever said.
I was visiting Milan Italy a few years ago on business and decided to spend the weekend there BTW there is not that much to really see in Milan, Italy's industrial center, but that is another story. I decided to stay at a gay hotel- one of those small hotels that you find out about in Spartacus International, the gay travel guide. In general, this is a good option to use if you want to save money traveling around Europe since you are usually greeted as "family" when you arrive. They also have good club listings and things.
I arrive at the charming small hotel in Milan to be greeted by this young (around 16 I would say)
and charming desk boy who I think was named "Nicholai". He was very friendly up until the point a very muscular, hairy, and large individual walked into his check in area from a room behind it and started yelling at him. This made him jump up in the air a bit.
The individual who was yelling at him, and I remember this, wore a pink house dress, pink slippers, and had a voice much deeper than mine, and a very pronounced mustache. The invidual also had not shaved in three or four days, and looked someting like this person below but much larger. The individual continued to yell at poor Nicholai; it sounded as if there was very little NIcholai could do right, and glowered at me for a few seconds as if not sure what I was doing in its presence.
Now, needless to say, I was dumbfounded. Here was a large man in drag with a mustache ordering poor Nicholai around. Granted, it was a gay hotel, and I chalked this up to the local color.
The next day the same individual was there being the desk with young Nicholai. "She" was wearing a black and white elegant day dress with cute little size 14 pumps (well, elegant considering the individual was about six foot two and was built like an NFL tackle. "She" still had not shaved. And I continued to stare at "her" with my mouth open a bit as "she" glowered at me for invading "her" social space.
I was dumbfounded. Later that day the large hairy individual in a dress was not around young Nicholai so I leaned over to speak to him. Here is how the conversation ensued.
Eddi (in hushed tones): "Nicholai, can I ask you something? Is that person a transvestite?"
Nicholia (looking very helpfully at Eddi and speaking quite loudly "Oh, no! that is my mother! She is from here!"
Now young Nicholai did not appear to take any offense. I think he thought I asked him if his mother was from Transylvania. If I would have asked that same question in a similar situation in Northern New Jersey I would have had a bullet put in me and my body dumped in the Hudson that evening.
Now, knowing this, I did smile at Mama and say hello when I saw her next; she did at least acknowledge me and not glower at me for starring at her with my mouth open. I also learned never to ask questions like this to young hotel check in boys in Europe again!