'Change your material to fit your audience' they always say - Although they also say 'Cut your coat to suit your cloth' and 'Many a slip twixt cup and lip' and they may as well be Klingon for all the sense they make to me. One day, I shall hunt down these 'They' who say all these things and slap their nonsensical legs with a spikey deep-sea fish of some kind.
Anyway, material / audience... Right. There are some things you cannot say to some people - You can't say F**khead or W****r or S**t-eating Hobbit-faced slime-spewer who I would quite literally rather R*m-j*b a dead goat than talk to, to a small child who had just dropped their lollypop on the carpet.
You cannot say 'Race you!' and run off up a flight of stairs to someone suffering from a spinal injury and currently using a wheelchair (however temporarily) unless there is ample, high-speed, disabled access to the next floor up.
It is also frowned upon to call into question the cabling and electrical termination ability of our cousins from the Indian Subcontinent, unless you are a male member of the Royal family who can trace their recent parentage to the Hellenic areas.
However, the most fragile, the most pitfall strewn, the most likely vocal interaction to see you hung by the neck until you are dead is simply the one between an adult male and an adult female. There is not a single, solitary thing that one can say to the other that cannot be misconstrued as an attack on their masculinity/femininity/size/weight/length/sense of humo(u)r or general physiognomy.
Seemingly simple interrogatives such as 'Are you OK?' or 'Would you like me to do that?' are often misheard as 'What the hell's wrong with you this time, you petulant harridan' or 'For Jebus' sake will you stop fannying around with that and let someone significantly higher up the foodchain have a go'
You cannot comment that a member of the opposite sex is anything other than yoghurt-explodingly ugly unless you want your throw-away comment to be processed by your nearest and dearest's brain into the phrase 'Yes, they are a significantly more appealing sexual partner than you, and I would, should an opportunity present itself be up it (or on it) like a wombat on tepid custard'
I can virtually guarantee that everyone, male or female is nodding in agreement at this moment in time, apart from Mrs Dandy, who is thinking 'He's talking about me!' and hatching a plan to seperate me from parts of my anatomy that, which though sadly no longer functional, I still have a certain masculine attachment to.
Why do we do this? are we all so insecure? - You'll notice that I said WE there, I am just as likely to mishear 'And then Brian said...' as 'And whilst Brian was taking me roughly from behind, four other naked, priapic, men came in carrying a sign that said...' as anyone else, more so probably as my imagination is somewhat colourful compared to some.
Are we so eager to believe that our loved ones are evil that we constantly try to find the hidden meanings in what they say to us? Or is it that deep-down, we don't believe that we deserve to be loved?
Crap! we're all freaks - We should plan a yearly event, maybe one that lasts a whole month, where we take everything that anyone we supposedly trust says to us at face value. No second-guessing, no reading between the lines - We could call it, erm... Oh bugger, I don't know, something like Truthtember (only less gay-sounding) and celebrate it with cards that say things like 'Your Sister's good looking' and 'I work with someone whose shoulders are wider than yours'
I think it would be good for us all in the long run.