Once upon a time when I was twelve or something we had guests that never visited us before and these came with special instructions from my mother: “Don’t talk about kids”. Our guests were a couple that tried to get kids, but it didn’t seem to work out. My mother didn’t want to spoil the occasion by bringing up a sensitive subject.
So we were sitting by the dinner table and somehow our new neighbours were discussed. I wanted to add something and began to tell them about their oldest daughter who was five years younger than me and asked me all the time if I wanted to come over and play with her My Little Ponies, something that I found rather tiresome.
I didn’t get far. I said “They got kids — ” and suddenly remembering my mother’s voice and halted. So all I said was “They got kids.” Period. If I had continued with what I was about to say right away, those first words would have done no harm. As it became they landed like a hammer strike in the middle of the conversation leaving an awkward, painful silence that could have been cut with a knife.