I have a friend who is dating a girl from the country, really country, not the kind of country connected to the city public transport, which is essentially a suburb not yet overrun by urban sprawl. It is Greyhound bus trip or better kind of country. And recently I almost offended her.
She is from a remote island off the coast of Australia, and that part of the coast nearest to the island is three hours away from anything resembling civilisation and/or decent coffee. There is not even a bridge onto this island and only a couple 100 people live there. It is a beautiful place frequently visited by whales, seals (and the weirdos who like to watch them) and where the Koalas have STIs (true story).
My mate is not from the island and they met through working together in the past. They have been together for a while, have just gone halves in buying a house and therefore she has a permanent place within this particular group of friends.
We all got together recently and I was catching up with her on what she had been up to with my mate and how the house is going. We were having a good chat and laughing at many things, and then something came up about her home town island in the middle of nowhere and I asked, "What do your parents think of you dating outside the family?"
She said, "They were worried at first, but now they're cool with it". She did not hear me properly over the restaurant noise and she thought I was talking about the house. I laughed. She asked why, I told her and she laughed herself into a blushing red.
She pointed out that I grew up in a country town where teenage pregnancy was so bad at one stage that the average age was bucking the trend of the nation and getting younger. The surrounding towns thought it was the water that made you pregnant, but realistically it is the beer and lack of decent television. She asked me where my kids were trying to get me back.
I said “it would be irresponsible to bring my kids into a boozy environment such as this, and that’s why they’re still in the car”. Tongue and cheek.
It was not until after I realised that the situation could have gone horribly wrong from my initial comment. If so I would have spent the rest of the evening apologising as much as possible, because she is really awesome and makes my mate very happy. The last thing I want to do is offend her and ruin everyone's evening by saying a dumb joke.
It would not have been the first time that my mouth would open the way to trouble, and most likely not the last. It was the conversation before that saved me and brought it into context of the night, but it was the first time that I had a one on one conversation with her. It still makes me uneasy about how bad it could have gone. It is also what happens here Down Under; you are not true friends unless you start calling each other a dickhead.
How long do you wait before you playfully start hanging shit on new friends or new partners of friends?