It was our third night at an intimate guest ranch near Steamboat, during the last week of the season with only 15 guests. Eight of us newly acquainted vacation friends who had shared a dinner table the night before were bonding over after-dinner cocktails. Two or three drinks in, the old “let’s share something random about ourselves” game began, one by one, around the table. (This always sounds like a good idea at the beginning.)
First up was Steve from Bermuda who follows and films whales for a hobby. He leans down, rolls off a sock and lifts his foot. There it was: he had webbed feet. It seemed fitting since he was the one with a special fondness for aquatic life.
Next was Sue from Florida who shared her story about her psychic encounter, Mary from Denver who shared with us about her fear of touching ice, Katy from Texas with her memories of being at the resort on 9/11 and Tina originally from Montana who revealed that her husband once lived in an igloo.
Then Patty from California, after her describing her quite powerful executive job (just shy of showing us a pay stub), described a late night encounter she once had with a woman on a business trip. The night before we had learned her bra size. Suddenly it became so quiet that I noticed the sounds of country music and clanking dishes from the kitchen.
It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable our new friend’s lifestyle, as I have many friends of all persuasions whom I adore. And it wasn’t that I was now able to visualize her 34G breasts all too clearly. No, we simply learned too much, too soon.
One by one, each chair chirped against the wood floor as it backed from the table, as the group mustered artificial yawns and stretches and announced that we were calling it a night. As George of Seinfeld would have explained it, our vacation friend world had now collided with the way, way too personal world. And it was awkward.
The next morning I wondered if Patty realized how awkward the night before had become after her sharing moment. I don’t think it crossed her mind.
So, to help those unfamiliar with sharing boundaries, here are some general topics to avoid with new acquaintances (no matter how good of an idea it seems at the time):
- How much money you make.
- Anything remotely sexual.
- Your opinion on any isolating political topic.
Trust me, I’ve overshared more times than I’d like to admit, but as a general rule, I really don’t want to know how much money you make or the size of your jock strap until I’ve known you for at least six months. And even then, I’m not sure how much I’d like to know.
When was your last oversharing/too much information (TMI) experience?