FOOT in mouth disease.
I've had my fair share of it. I've probably had your share too.
There is nothing else quite like the sensation of realising - mid-sentence - that you've just said something that has just gone over like a lead balloon with your hearers.
Like the time I told a brilliant fat joke to a good mate ... then remembered just at the punch-line that both he and his wife suffered from the medical condition known as moreso of the torso.
Or the time I reeled off a cracking gag about "rangas" at a work meeting ... then realised the boss's child sports a shock of bright orange hair.
And while nothing is as mortifying as realising you've just made a major faux pax, trying to back-pedal from some unintentionally offensive remark is even more excruciating.
That is, unless you're among the listeners as some unfortunate schmuck makes a giant gaffe. And then, of course, it's hilarious.
In a culture that is becoming increasingly politically correct, I heartily enjoy the antics of the few brave souls who dare to be outspoken ... and risk the occasional foot in mouth.
Iconic Aussie feminist Germaine Greer is one such free-spirited individual.
Greer last week sparked a mini-media storm when she told an ABC TV show that Prime Minister Julia Gillard needed to stop wearing "those bloody jackets" that showcase her "big arse".
Opposition leader Tony Abbot then incurred the wrath of the political-correctness police when he dared to laughingly agree with Greer's remarks.
The Australian media frowns on free spirits - and doubly so if they happen to be in politics.
But while the media is full of shallow hacks who are quick to bash out an angry headline anytime anyone in the public eye dares step outside the boundaries of bland political correctness, I suspect that deep down most of us enjoy hearing or reading about the brave few who refuse to toe the politically correct line and just say what they think - even if they do end up with egg on their face.
Winter Olympics gold medallist Steven Bradbury is another committed member of the Foot in Mouth Fan Club. His recent gaffe was a cracker.
In a recent address to a room full of West Coast Eagles players, Bradbury thought he'd break the ice with a gag at the expense of former West Coast great Ben Cousins.
Bradbury apparently stunned the crowd when he said: "The only person who would have spent more time on the ice than me was Ben Cousins."
The joke itself was lame. The fact that Bradbury unwisely opted to tell it to an audience of West Coast players and supporters is priceless.
So while the political correctness police and tut-tutting journalists will always be quick to condemn Jason Akermanis or Germaine Greer's latest howler, outspoken characters like Aker, Germaine Greer and the NRL's Phil Gould are so much more interesting than the hordes of politically correct politicians or slick, media-groomed metro-sexual sports stars.
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