Sure, small talk can be awkward. Reminding a visiting Japanese dignitary that 40,000 of his fellow citizens perished in a single instant with an atomic bomb attack by making a joke about roller derby? That's really awkward.
And that's what St. Paul City Councilman Dave Thune said yesterday in the company of Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue.
"Ashamed," is how he described his feelings later.
St. Paul and Nagasaki are sister cities, and the Japanese mayor was in town for a good will visit when the faux pass occurred. During an exchange of gifts, Thune offered a roller derby player card of his daughter, and said she "skated for the Atomic Bombshells."
"Which is kind of interesting," he added.
Interesting? Check out how the team describes itself: "Once blue-collar workers in a nuclear waste plant, the Atomic Bombshells found themselves unsatified by contamination clean-up work. Armed with only Haz Mat suits and the Need for Clean, they entered the derby world to continue their quest for elimination of hazardous derby waste! The A-Bombs smash and split their opponents like tiny atoms, fuse together on the track to vaporize their foes, and detonate those that dare to cross them! The Atomic Bombshells will win the arms race to annihilate their foes with the first strike!"
Thune told the Pioneer Press later that he didn't realize at first he'd put his foot so firmly in his mouth - and he was truly sorry.
"Have you ever had that feeling, when you just saying something and then you want to suck it right back in so badly? I truly felt sick to my stomach," he told the paper.