I spluttered and the usual sickening rush of adrenaline shot through me at being reminded pf where I grew up. Seeing as it was a formal setting, I forced a smile and at a loss for anything else to say, replied, "How about them Blazers?"
Everyone within earshot laughed uproariously, and I realized that instead of politely changing the subject, I'd unwittingly given them all the impression that I insinuated I might be in the IRA, nudge-nudge, wink-wink. Which is NOT the case. Good-natured teasing remarks ensued, such as, "We're watching you!" and "Where are you hiding your gun?"
At the center of attention, where I least wanted to be, I went along with the joke and lifted my fork and held it out in front of me. "I know how to use this in five ways to kill a man," I announced in a stage-Irish accent. By now I held the entire room of women in amused thrall.
When conversation moved on my heartbeat returned to normal, and no one was any the wiser how distressed I'd been. A sense of humor is a wonderful thing to have! :-)