Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Regrets, I've Had a Few...Thousand
I don't know about everyone else in the world, but I mess up a lot. I'm not talking about losing my keys or putting salt in the cake instead of sugar. (Oh, Loretta Lynn. You backwoods, down-home angel.)
No, I'm speaking more of social gaffes. I'm talking about taking my size twelve boot and wedging it squarely in my stupid, stupid mouth. I wouldn't say I'm, like, Asperger-esque or anything, but I'm definitely not the smoothest whiskey in the cupboard. (A phrase I'm copyrighting, you buzzards.)
Because of this awkwardness I experience from time to time, I have, over the years, said a lot of dumb, dumb things that I want to take back. And, man, I think about them all the time. Like, once a week, I'm talking. It's pathetic. It's actually sad to me how lame I am that my thoughts routinely cycle back to shit I did wrong over a decade ago and how I wish I could take it back.
So I thought I'd share one or two of those fuck-ups with everyone today and ask you to share yours.
I used to be very self-conscious about my utter lack of music knowledge. My tastes have always been fairly mainstream and I've always had friends who were so into music that they could tell you every band that resulted from the break-up of Cream. (I actually don't even know if any bands did result. That's how lame I am.)
So, one time, I was telling a story that involved music. I was around people I felt to be hipper than myself. And I started the story thusly: "I was listening to Who's Next, I don't know why..."
To which the guy to whom I was telling the story responded, "Because it's one of the greatest fucking records of all times. That's why you were listening to it." And, of course, instead of feeling validated because someone agreed with me, I felt--and continue to feel--like a complete putz because I'd been unsure of whether or not I could proudly state my love for Who's Next.
Going even further back, I recall a time when I was in college. A younger friend of mine from high school was on campus for a visit. And she brought up a mutual friend of ours who had been in the theater department, but had left. Apparently, when the visiting friend had talked to the no-longer-in-the-department friend, the no-longer-in-the-department friend had said something to the extent that our theater department was a cut-throat hellhole.
To which I replied, "Ah, what the hell does Kerry know?"
Now, it helps for you to know that Kerry, the no-longer-in-the-department friend was someone of whom I was extremely fond. She'd played Mame to my Young Patrick in high school and I really thought she was awesome. But I was drunk, see. And I'd momentarily confused her with another alumnus of my school who'd come to Kent and the Kent Theater Department and who I thought was an utter dipshit.
And so, in my impaired thinking, I maligned someone who I actually really liked. And I regret it to this day.
Is this anything along the lines of "...I killed a man once..."? Hell, no. But I still feel bad.
My question to you, then, is: Do you have a bagful of moments you wish like hell you could take back? And, if you do, how often do you think about them?
You know those times when you're sitting around and for no obvious reason a living, breathing memory pops into your head regarding a particular moment where you said something you thought was going to be funny and it not only wasn't but was also doubly brutal to the person you were talking to like they have one leg and you tell them not to make that problem a crutch, or talk about when they're going their feet wet? And everybody is watching and there is dead silence and two dozen people are now convinced that their suspicions that you were an asshole all along have just been confirmed? And you could be driving along a road and this memory comes back like a ghost and you feel mortified all over again as if it just happened yesterday even though it may have been something that happened in, like, 1968?
Yeah I don't have any of those fucking things either.
I'm fairly well-spoken, unless I'm nervous or I feel out of place. Then everything I say sounds stupid to me, even if all I do is think of saying something. That's why I quit smoking pot. It only intensified my paranoia about either thinking or speaking.
But the time that keeps coming back to me at odd, unrelated moments is when I met the 60s folksinger, Donovan. It was in 1987, in California, and everyone was into crystals and beads and faerys and all that neo-hippie shit. I brought with me to the concert a huge rose quartz to give him, which was bad enough. Even worse, I drank too much wine during the concert.
When he left the stage I went after him and eventually found his room (the concert was at a large hotel). I knocked on the door and there he was. We spoke for a couple of minutes, but when I went to take the crystal from my pocket, it was gone. I couldn't imagine where it could be, because it was the size of an avocodo.
"Oh, no!" I said in real distress, "I lost the Mama Crystal!" (I can't remember why I decided at that moment to call it that...cringe!). I started looking all around the corridor for it, repeating, I can't believe I lost the Mama Crystal!" and Donovan, kindly soul that he is, kept telling me it was alright, that the person who was supposed to have it will find it.
I said good-bye and began walking toward the elevator. There it lay on the carpet in the elevator car. I picked it up and ran back to his room and knocked. He seemed amused and took it, saying thank you. Then it happend:
"It's a rose quartz," I said.
Remember that EVERYone was into crustal energy at that time.
Donovan smiled at me, but I was sure he was thinking, "How quaint. But we enlightened beings are no longer carrying crystals around, we're now gluing flies to our wrists."
Then there was the time in 1966 when I met Jimi Hendrix backstage in Santa Barbara. He was chatting me up and asked me if I and my girlfriend wanted to go to the hotel and party with the band. My reply? "Her dad's picking us up at ten."
Hm. Maybe that last one is more of a regret than an embarrassment...
I can think of many instances, most of them starting with the statement "Sure, we can go back to your place." and ending with "Where the hell am I?"
When I was in high school, I had a friend named Danny. He was of African American decent. I also had a rather extensive collection of cassette tapes. Well one afternoon we were listening to those cassette tapes, when he decided to start randomly grabbing them to look at them. Putting them back in exactly the wrong order, it was at this moment I decided to use an old phrase, "Hey, keep your cotton pickin hands off of those!" It was out there, floating, like a hideous spectre. All I could say was "Oh shit man, I didn't mean it like THAT" He just laughed, but I knew it had to have hurt him.
Either I'm 100% in denial, or I just don't do this. I'm usually highly aware of my surroundings, people don't make me nervous, and I don't blurt out clumsy remarks.
Maybe I'm just a bitch with no regrets.
I don't find myself dwelling on such things very often... but now that you mention it...
Once I sent a nasty IM to someone at work about a coworker who spent a lot of time "playing video games" at her desk, then realized I was IM-ing that coworker herself... horrifying.
On a related note, I still feel really bad about sending an email to a supervisor regarding an employee's tardiness, then realizing after I hit "send" that it went to the entire department instead (including that employee)... this kind of stuff didn't happen when you had to type out memos on paper!
And ironically, I also regret running across an icy parking lot to get to work on time many years ago, causing me to slip, fall, and break my arm.
Preemptive Karmic justice? Painful as hell, whatever it was.
I regret a lot of things, but at least I had the guts to mess up in the first place.
This was a great entry. Thanks for sharing. :)
I seem to regret things I chose NOT to let fly, much more than those things I did say or do. It seems my internal editor & censor is overly-vigilant most of the time...
Which is, of course, not to say I haven't said or done things which have upset others. Sometimes that's a justifiable necessary course of action.
As one of the bonuses of getting older, I also have less and less recollection of the moments in which I deeply embarrassed myself. That, or I'm 100 percent in denial like Sereena. :)
My wife and I were back in her hometown for a visit and having dinner with some of her old friends. One of her friends' Mother had died a while back after a struggle with cancer and I was aware of that fact.
Didn't stop me from asking this person "How's your mom doing?" during dinner in front of about 10 people who also knew his mom had died.
Other than that one time, I really don't have any. I generally don't talk enough to say stupid things too often.
Actually my brother and I are quite familiar with the taste of our toes. It's kind of an acquired taste - kind of a cross between a stale box of Corn Chex and week old scallops.
My lack of tact and public decorum actually landed me in the hoosegow for a couple of hours, but I'll save that tale for a later date.
On a lighter note, a co-worker and I were trying to pick a song for the eighth graders' 'graduation' ceremony. I suggested a Beatles song (I don't remember which). She says, "Good one," and she starts belting it out a few shrilling bars. "Who's going to lead them?"
"Hopefully not you," I reply.
"F*CK YOU," came the swift response.
Apparently homegirl is part of her church choir and takes pride in the fact.
Other glaring examples actually ocurred in e-mail exchanges. I'm sure people have had those, where something scathing gets sent to the wrong person.
There was a guy I used to work with that liked to respond with "1,000 lashes with a wet noodle" to people. I meant to forward this lame email to a friend with a message attached, and accidentally sent it to - you guessed it.
I typically don't put my foot in my mouth and say things I regret. Instead, I tend to do things I regret instead.
But I won't talk about those. The one time I regret having said something was kind of a slam on somebody's religion, more in a retaliatory way. It wasn't that bad because I'm generally open-minded and naturally PC, but I still regret having said what I did.
Another interesting thing is while I was taking improv comedy classes at Second City, I found myself saying things without thinking. (That's the whole point of improv.) I even did this at work. I didn't say anything that got me fired, but I still couldn't believe I said some of the things I said.
I've been trying to think of something for this all day, but I'm giving up now. I know i've said my share of dumb things but I can't recall any good ones. Ahh, repression!
Great to read all the other posts, though!
Wow. So many people who don't dwell on stupid shit they've said.
I'm just a whole lot more neurotic than I thought I was. Awesome.
Reading these comments reminds me of the time, back in 1975, when a new acquaintence of mine came over to visit me. She happened to be blind, but she lived her life so independently that it was easy to forget that she couldn't see. When she asked where the bathroom was I took her, and before she closed the door I said, "The light switch is right here."
She just smiled and replied, "I don't think I'm going to need it."
We became really good friends, but at that moment I felt like a dweeb.
Okay, Joe, just so you know you're not alone. I think about those things all the time, too.
For instance, we were just moving to Baltimore and were seeing some of Gene's friends from DC. Now, I knew the wife's name, but somewhere during the day, I had forgot her husband's name and couldn't ask. We were having dinner and were taking about porn names for some reason. I jokingly said "yeah, like Lance", which was, of course, his name. Dead silence. We are much better friends now and someday I'll bring it up so we can all laugh together and it'll make me feel better. Untill then, I just think about it periodically.
I believe that after the breakup of Cream Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker went on to join Steve Winwood in the short lived supergroup Blind Faith. Yes Joe, now you know.Post a Comment