Monday, May 21, 2007

Lessons Learned

I'm not a humble guy. But I am a guy who is often humbled.

Some friends were recently recounting some of the dumb things I've done, and suggested a few of them might be worthy of a blog post.

Here are a few that come to mind:
In high school, a friend and I were invited to our local Lions Club to talk about the effect of drugs and alcohol on teens. I came home that day from school, ate a pepperoni pizza from Dominos with another friend, and proceeded to play three intense one-on-one basketball games with him. Not the best thing for one’s stomach. I showered quickly and went to the Lions Club meeting at a local restaurant. I was so thirsty from the salty pizza and the b-ball games that I downed a number of glasses of Orange Shasta fountain pop. As we were waiting for our meal, an old Lions member kept doing something I found amusing, and all of a sudden—in the middle of a big swig of Orange Shasta—I began to laugh uncontrollably. Unfortunately, everything came back up onto my plate (including a couple of pepperonis!) It was a strange and frightening mixture of laughter and vomit. One of the old guys wanted to know if he should call 911. Mortified, I managed to slip off to the restroom to clean the Shasta-pepperoni concoction off of my shirt before going home. My dad (the president of the Lions) came into the bathroom and made the helpful observation that the guys all thought I’d made a big splash! (To this day he doesn't tire of that joke.)

In college I had to do a group project for a senior capstone class on environmental science. (One of my partners in the project was this guy.) Two factors were at work going into our class presentation: (1) we clearly weren't prepared; (2) our third partner was a bit odd. Our partner's presentation was so long and rambling that it only increased my nervousness. And I used to have a very bad habit of laughing uncontrollably when I was nervous (which included one episode so bad that I won't even recount it here). So when it was my turn to speak, I started to make a bit of a joke, and out of my mouth yelped a feminine-sounding giggle. And once I started, I couldn't stop. I was unable to give the presentation because every time I opened my mouth I just laughed harder. (Recall that this isn't the third grade--it's a senior college class). I got a D on my paper--which was merciful.

In college I decided to make myself some lemonade. I didn't have anything to mix it in, so I found the blender and put in the scoops of powdered lemonade. I then added a couple of quarts of water, which immediately leaked all over the counter, creating a gigantic mess. When I complained to my roommates that no one told me the blender was broken, they responded that we didn't own a blender. Apparently I was trying to make lemonade in a popcorn maker!

The day before our honeymoon I decided I’d impress my wife by meticulously ironing all my clothes (getting the marriage off on the right foot). The first thing I tried to iron was my swimsuit, which instantly melted under the heat.

When we were first married I was often home from work earlier than my wife, so I tried my hand at making her some meals for a treat. One time I was trying to make her sweet-and-sour chicken. She came home before I was finished, so in order to surprise her I had her wait in the bedroom. Finally I had to go the room and say that I needed one bit of advice, because I kept burning the rice. She asked how much water I had added. I responded that the direction said nothing about adding water--I just kept putting a bowl of rice in the microwave and burning it to a crisp.

Another early-in-the marriage moment was when I tried to clean the little bathroom in our one-bedroom apartment. My wife happened upon me, on my hands and knees, using some some high-powered cleaner and furiously scrubbing the tile on the bathroom floor. Her happy look turned to mortification when she realized what I was using to clean the floor: our toilet brush!

When my wife and I lived in Minneapolis, we had a family vacation schedule in Park Rapids, MN (about 200 miles north of the Twin Cities). The problem was that we first had to drive down to Cedar Falls, IA (about 200 miles south) in order for me to stand up for a friend in his wedding. So we drove to Cedar Falls for the wedding. As I tried to open the doors to the church for the rehearsal, I was confused as to why the lights were off and the church was locked. I went back to the car to look at the invitation, and discovered—to my great chagrin—that the wedding was actually the next weekend. So (without air conditioning and in the middle of July) we had to drive back to Minneapolis. The next morning we went to Park Rapids, and then had to cut the vacation short so that the next weekend we had to drive back to Cedar Falls.