Me and My Big Mouth


Ever wish you could eat your words? That’s how I felt after a careless comment.

I’d like to see Geri again. I need to apologize.

Geri was one of the LDS students I used to hang around with at lunch time when I was a senior in high school. She and several of her friends would sit on the lawn behind the administration building where my buddies and I would often join them for some friendly banter.

Geri was almost always there, but it was almost as if she weren’t. She was so painfully shy, that even with conversation bouncing all around her, she wouldn’t join in. I never knew why, but Geri lived with her grandmother. There probably wasn’t much money to go around in her home because she didn’t have many clothes. Although what she wore was clean and neat, it was not the style of the day.

My personality was much the opposite of Geri’s. I was the group clown—seeking to milk laughter from every situation while masking my teenage insecurities in humor.

One day I noticed that Geri was wearing a rather heavy dose of perfume.

“Nice perfume, Geri,” I commented.

She smiled, clearly pleased at the compliment.

“Did you bathe in it?” I asked.

The moment those words left my lips, I wanted them back. I wanted that embarrassed, betrayed expression on Geri’s face to disappear. I longed to see the smile again. But the damage caused by that thoughtless comment was not so easily erased.

“Do you think it’s too strong?” she asked.

I mumbled and shrugged.

“Is it too strong?” she pressed.

“A little,” I conceded.

Geri looked away, and the incident was history. But the consequences of that event haunt me still. I was poorer that day because of my actions, and an innocent human being was hurt.

Life, for the most part, is made up of little things. Small acts of kindness or selfishness determine the depth of our commitment to the Savior and the quality of our lives. Some seemingly small acts can cause us considerable regret for a long time.

I have often wished during the years since that incident that I could find Geri and apologize for my thoughtlessness. I hope I would find that the years have been rich and full for her. I hope the light of the gospel has brightened her life and eased her burdens.

[illustration] Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh