As I lay wide awake way too early, I vividly recalled an incident a few months back when I was meeting a group of nice people, and (names changed) said, “Hi! I’m Linda, wife of John,” by way of introduction.

I thought that was entertaining, so I thought I’d try to respond in kind. I smiled and said, “Hi! I’m Robert, husband of Anette.” (Anette was not actually there, and nobody there knew her.)

The woman’s smile froze and she looked at me like she didn’t know what the hell I was talking about.

Sensing something was happening, a couple other people in the group turned to watch with interest. I said, “Oh… you had introduced yourself using your spouse’s name and I liked that, so I was doing the same thing. I thought that’s what we were doing…”

Her smile continued to fade as she looked to the people around her for support, and one of them repeated basically what I’d said but it didn’t seem to help anything. Then the conversation was basically over as she turned wordlessly away and sat back down and the group huddled around to quietly advise her further.

I’d accidentally thrown the friendly, inviting mood of the group on the floor and ground it out like a cigarette butt on wet pavement.

I lingered for a few moments, feeling felt like I should apologize or something, but without knowing exactly what to apologize for, and then quietly left. These kinds of recollections went on for a while, as they do, and I eventually fell back asleep about 10 minutes before my alarm went off.