wOw’s Question of the Week











Tell us: what’s the biggest faux pas you ever made?

Joni Evans: I was 30 and invited to the most glamorous party I had ever attended at Diane Von Furstenberg’s home when she lived on Park Avenue in the low 60s. The elevator opened into her huge apartment (I can still see dark red and leopard-skinned walls) — and before me, in one glance, I saw a sea of recognizable faces: Andy Warhol, Diane Keaton and Woody Allen, Salvatore Dali, Bianca Jagger. You name it: he/she-was there. I knew no one.

Finally, I found a friend who told me even Calvin Klein was present; she pointed to a handsome man sitting alone on a couch. Just then Calvin couture was becoming THE fashion statement, and so I got up my nerve to talk with him, since I admired his clothes so much. I told him how I’d never found a designer who so gracefully served both everyday work needs and the after-hours evening with one simple dress. He seemed surprised and pleased: “No one has ever said that to me before!” I was taken aback, for this seemed the main point of his designs. We chatted a bit more and I pressed that I was so enamored with him that I had even named my dog after him. “Really?” he asked … soooo pleased. I pushed on: “Yes. My giant schnauzer is named Calvin.”

All at once I realized I was NOT talking to Calvin Klein. This man was staring at me as if I had just slapped him. He got up and excused himself. I found out in about ten seconds that all along I had been talking to Halston.

Candice Bergen: Where do I begin? My memory is so shredded now that every time I set foot outside the door, it’s a challenge.

Once I took my daughter backpacking in Colorado and our outfitters name was Matt and his wife was Pam, but I insisted on calling them Rusty and Susan the entire week. I gave my brother a Watchman TV that was a gift for me from the network and I didn’t notice it had my name engraved on the side. Then, the next year, I gave him the exact same thing. And again, two years after that.

There are many and better, more humiliating stories but I can’t remember them.

12 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Joan Larsen says:

    Well, Joni’s was so-o-o-o embarrassing that – in words – I am not going to even try to match that story.  However, my own story’s faux paux is not in what I said but what I did . . . . a time never ever to be forgotten.

    In my earlier days of travel, I was a naive girl, having NO idea that many single women travelling alone when bookiing an adventurous trip – with tour guide – plan to have the most adventurous portion of the trip  to hook up with the young always male guide.  Hiking mountains in New Zealand pales in comparison to the risks they insist on (!) with the guide in the evenings.

    Our group numbered twelve, the journeys thru the wilds of New Zealand Australia lasted well over a month — and this was the first time a tour guide confided in us stories of how his female clients approached him, expecting him to be an intregral part of the reason they had gone.  (On many other expeditions later, my eyes were opened and I realized that being a guide did not end after the dinner hour necessarily.  Nonetheless I was blown away — and let’s just say that the “tips” the guide received were hefty!)

    The hikes were strenuous and we had been out on Mt. Cook in New Zealand — glaciers galore for 10 hours.  Our rooms at the marvelous Hermitage Hotel ran on only one side of the hall so we could open the room doors to windows looking out to the mountains.  Every 10 rooms there was a door to keep the heat in and then another 10 rooms. . . and on and on. A single private spa was first come, first serve.  . and I ran down there to see if it was free.  It WAS, but now I had to get back to my room, grab my towel and more and get back before someone else took it.  My room was just before a dividing door — one of many — but I had left it unlocked.

    I didn’t walk back to the room.  I ran.  I didn’t count the number of doors I had to pass to get to MY room.  I knew it was the one next to a door into another section.  Didn’t that seem enough?  Turning the knob, the door opened and I ran full speed into the bathroom for the towels.  . and moved so fast that I ran right into — I mean body to body – with the nude body of our guide getting out of the shower.  I hadn’t run far enough and thru enough doors to get to my own room obviously — and now here the guide and I stood:  I was scarlet red and more embarrassed than ever in my life, and he was bare naked and surprised . . . and trying to make this all right.  I KNEW what he must have thought — but I was so red in the face that he had to believe I had made a mistake.   Wouldn’t he? 

    But I did not go down to dinner that night.  I did not go to the spa.  I did not look at him for three days at least (I didn’t have to as how could I forget him in the buff??  EVER!!!!!)  I did not tell anyone — but on one of his later trips, you KNOW he did!!! 

    So when someone asks me to tell of the wonders of New Zealand, I mouth the beauties of the islands.  But my mind?  You know it goes back immediately to that innocent girl I was running accidentally into a hotel room not mine and smack into the naked body of the very desirable guide.  . with memories still vivid!!!!

    And that’s the truth! 

  2. avatar D C says:

    In may ways my greatest faux pas has helped me.  I was only 11 years old, and my father did construction and remodeling — working for himself.  The phone was always ringing, every night because somebody needed something done immediately.  I answered the phone many times, and I felt like I was getting really good at identifying people by voice alone.  One evening I answered the phone and it was a work call for my father.  I called out to him, “Dad, It’s Mr. Smith!”  When my dad got off the phone he was quite angry with me, because it had been Mr. Jones, and Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones were competitors for my dad’s work.  Mr. Jones, now knowing my dad was also working for Mr. Smith, was not happy about the situation. 

    I learned a lot in that moment about being absolutely sure of what you say before you open your mouth, and it has served me well over the years. 

  3. avatar Laurie Deer says:

    My biggest faux pas in my life happened a couple of years ago. It was so debilitating that it took me months to get over it. As the feeling of embarrassments slowly subsided, I realized that it wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be.

    Really, I gave one person’s comment too much credence and that’s what made me believe my faux pas was the biggest. I did learn other people’s interpretation do not generally convey the true meaning.

    And what is life without a faux pas. Good day.

  4. avatar Linda Myers says:

    I have had my share of calling people by the wrong name, or catching up to someone to only find out it is the wrong person. The biggest which immediately became a part of family history was when my Dad died.

    A suit was needed for my Dad to be buried in, so I went to his closet and found this incredible pin stripe with a tie around the neck. Showed it to my older brother and he commented the suit would be a great choice so we sent it to the funeral home. The next day as my brother was getting ready to dress for visitation I heard “Ah, Linda – where did you get the suit from for Dad?” I told him I pulled it out of his closet and he had agreed to send it to the funeral home.

    The suit was my brothers, which he had brought from Colorado for the services. He called the funeral home to see if the suit could be exchanged and they already dressed and cut the suit up the back for Dad. My brother attended the visitation and services the next day in a dress shirt minus a tie, or suit. I took responsibility for the suit. My brother took responsibility for a lapse of thought in recognizing his own suit and tie. In the decades since, when the story was told again – he has a complete lapse of memory for being involved. Dad was buried in probably the most expensive suit he ever wore in this world and looked great! And I have never chose clothes for a man again since then.

    • avatar phyllis Doyle Pepe says:

      Linda: Your story reminded me of one that was told by one of our Wow gals from the good old days (before so many jumped ship). Her father had died in a state that neither she nor her siblings lived, so they asked to have the body shipped to their home state where their mother and other family members had been buried. When they went to the funeral home to view the body and make arrangements they discovered when the coffin was opened that it wasn’t their father, but some stranger––someone had sent the wrong body. The antics that followed were crazy and full of laughs.

      I found Candice’s post hilarious––Randy and Susan for a whole week? so funny.

      • avatar Linda Myers says:

        We had services for my Dad in KC, then flew his body to NE Iowa for burial the next day. At the time my son was still a baby and crawling more than walking, instead of fighting him trying to hold him still, I sat him on the grass next to me. Took my eyes off of him for just a minute and looked back and he had crawled over to where the casket was and all I could see was his legs sticking out underneath the rails and between the vault. I grabbed him by one leg and then the other and pulled him out thinking maybe nobody noticed. When I turned back around all the eyes of the group were looking at mine. My Dad always said he never worried about an active child, he only worried about children content to sit and do nothing. So, I guess one last time his grandson did what was expected to make Dad happy, but too me it was a huge “oh shit!” moment! 🙂

    • avatar Pdr de says:

      Oh, that’s the best laugh I’ve had in a long time – your poor brother. It’s 5:30 in the morning, it’s a good thing I’m here by myself – I’m still laughing. Thank you; nice to begin the day with laughter!

      • avatar Pdr de says:

        My husband’s long time friend had died after a long battle with leukemia. Bill was his only friend and we drove many miles to a large funeral home with our three year old son. I’d tried to find a babysitter, but couldn’t and was concerned about his reaction to seeing Tom’s body in a casket. Tom looked so unlike himself that I said, “Oh, I wish they’d put him in a closed casket.” He had no family left except distant relatives who were huddled together licking their lips in anticipation of the large amount of money they would inherit.

        We sat down in the room and my son, Scott said he was thirsty. I pointed to the funeral director in the doorway and told Scott to ask him where the water fountain was. Scott was gone longer than it would have taken him to get a drink of water and I had just stood up to go look for him when he came back into the room. Standing in the doorway he said loudly, “Boy Mom, if you think Tom looks bad you ought to see the guy in the next room!” My husband and I burst out laughing as Tom’s relatives looked at us in obvious shock and distaste. We hastened out to our car, still unable to control our laughter and I said to Bill, “Well, so much for worrying about how traumatizing this experience was going to be for Scott!” He’d apparently gone into every single visitation room in the funeral home and peeked into each casket. I never learned whether or not he found the water fountain.

  5. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I really need to stop logging on here. I had a “Joni Moment” when I mistook one of “Hollywood’s Heartthrobs” for a waiter. He went and got me another drink. And then introduced himself. I can’t tell you who because then I dragged him off to the poolhouse. Well I guess I could. But I won’t. Not nice to kiss and tell.  Never have. Never will.

    • avatar Count Snarkula says:

      I bowed when I met her majesty the Queen. I am an American. So not cool.

      • avatar Elizabeth L says:

        But so very polite !

        • avatar Baby Snooks says:

          The bow is a way of showing respect.  Not allegiance. She was probably very honored by an American bowing. Some do by the way. I think she has gotten used to Americans.   Enjoys them actually. The last time she was here she actually mingled and talked with people. The protocol went out the window. She didn’t seem to miss it.  She was probably a little aghast when Michelle Obama put har arm around her. But then figured why the hell not and put her arm around Michelle Obama. While the footmen ran for the smelling salts. I sort of hope the Obamas suggest eating out this month when they houseguest.  Everyone should enjoy KFC at least once.  When she was here in the 80s the Annenbergs decided to treat her to Trader Vic’s. I suspect she probably would have enjoyed Hamburger Hamlet a lot more.

          A faux pas to other Americans, dear Count, but not to her.  “Hey, Lizzie, how ya’ doing?” would have been a faux pas. Although she would have just given you that look she gave George W Bush.  Some Americans she has gotten used to. Others, well, she can probably do without. Along with the rest of us.

          Now she’s the one who should write a book. Unfortunately she does abide by the personal protocol. If she did write a book, well, people would look back on Kitty Kelley and realize how kind she was to some.