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CARROLL: Open Mouth, Insert Foot
David Carroll
David Carroll - photo by Special Photo

Ever since I was a teenager, I have talked for a living. You would think that someone with my vast speaking experience would always say the right things. You would be wrong.

I have uttered many words I wish I could take back. Sure, some of them were innocent mistakes. Like the time I was emceeing a beauty pageant, describing the swimsuit-clad young woman as having “brown eyes and green hair.” I mixed up the two. The audience laughed, as I kept on babbling. I soon noticed the lovely contestant had a horrified look on her face. I mean, how would you feel, on stage in a revealing swimsuit and people are laughing? To top it off, I soon learned the young lady was deaf. She had no idea the laughter was aimed at me. Nice job, Dave.

Other times, it was simply a case of not knowing when to shut up. I was attending a college football game, sitting with other fans at halftime. The band from the visiting school was absolutely world class. They finished their program, and I turned to a nearby acquaintance, who was standing and clapping in appreciation. He said, “They are really something, aren’t they?” I agreed. “They are fantastic,” I replied. I asked, “What are we doing wrong at our school? Why can’t we have a good band like that?” My friend paused and said, “Well you know my daughter’s in the band, and they’re trying very hard.” I sat down and became very quiet, a few seconds too late.

The list goes on. I greeted an old friend I hadn’t seen in years. He looked thin and fit. I had remembered him as being overweight for most of his life. I sauntered up to him, and said, “Greg, I don’t know what you’ve been doing, but you look great! How about sharing your secret with me. Lord knows I could stand to lose a few pounds.” He paused and said, “Oh, you don’t want to go through what I’ve been through. That cancer just about killed me.” (Note to self: Think first, speak later.)

I’m not the only one. Here’s one that sounds like something I would say, but I haven’t, not yet anyway. I’ve seen this first hand, and now I know better. “Susan! Look at you! When’s your baby due? Or are you having two?” Lesson learned: unless you are absolutely, positively 100 percent sure that Susan is pregnant, don’t go there. If Susan has just gained some weight around the middle, she will never forget you.

I would also be advise you to be careful when talking with a friend about their love life. A female friend got engaged. Her fiancée soon began misbehaving, and my friend broke off the engagement. She needed to talk to someone about it, and I offered to listen. She said he had broken her heart. She sobbed endlessly, describing his misdeeds. I told her that she had done the right thing, because he was a lowdown, no good scoundrel who did not deserve her. I said some awful things about the guy, because he had deeply hurt my friend.

You guessed it. About a month later this seemingly irreparable rift had been healed. She forgave him, as if nothing had ever happened. Now what could I say? I had trashed the love of her life. I no longer offer free romantic advice.

Unfortunately, my streak of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time shows no signs of stopping. I recently congratulated a friend on a new baby girl. I had skimmed over his celebratory Facebook post, but I didn’t read it carefully. “Hey Eric, I saw the good news!” “Thanks,” he replied, “We’re really excited.” Of course I couldn’t shut up. “So do you think the little angel looks like you or your wife?” He paused and said, “Well, neither of us really. We adopted her.” He showed me a pic on his phone. The child was clearly of another race.

Like the comedian Ron White once said, I have the right to remain silent. I just don’t have the ability.

David Carroll is a Chattanooga news anchor, and his new book “I Won’t Be Your Escape Goat” is available on his website, You may contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405, or at