Toney and I snuck away on Friday afternoon for a couple pints of happy-hour Sierra Nevadas at the local pressed-slacks bar. And while we were enjoying the hops, we remembered something from our California days that had us both laughing.
When we first moved out there my new boss tried to include us in a lot of social activities. He’d uprooted us, with small baby in-tow, from our comfortable life in Atlanta, and was obviously trying to make the transition a little easier. He’s a nice guy, who, I think, took it personally when I moved to Scranton years later; from the day I told him my decision, things were never quite the same between the two of us.
Anyway, he and his wife would invite us to dinner on many of those early weekends, and we’d go over there and try to think of interesting things to say. I’m not comfortable making semi-formal chit-chat with people I don’t know, so it was all fairly excruciating for me. But I did it, for the sake of my “career” (ha!), and because it was a nice gesture on their part.
They live in a sprawling home, with a spectacular view. It was obviously built in the 1970s, and reminded me of the Brady Bunch house. Not exactly, but close enough to make me see phantom Alices out of the corner of my eye.
In the backyard was an incredible swimming pool, with a rock cliff and waterfall at one end. I’d never seen anything quite like it, except in Sir Mix-A-Lot videos.
And inside, probably because of the ’70s influence, everything was on different levels. Every room, it seemed, required a person to take one step up or one step down, upon entering and exiting. In fact, some rooms had multiple levels within them. The architect must have earned his chops designing fun houses for amusement parks.
So, what do you think happened? That’s correct, we’d go over there and trip and stumble around, like big ol’ doofuses.
The problem, you see, is that we were uptight and focusing on the conversation. And we’d forget about all the step-ups and step-downs. I remember following them through their living room, toward the den at the rear of the house, and suddenly stepping off one of those curbs.
My right ankle folded under, both my legs went rubbery, and I free-fell onto an end table. Knick-knacks went sailing in every direction, and a lamp almost tipped over. Highly embarrassing.
And on our next visit, I believe, Toney tripped on our way to the front door, and might have done a full forward roll. Probably not, but that’s the way I choose to remember it…
After two or three of these humiliating incidents, I started to believe the house was conspiring against us. I was sure rooms that were sunken on previous visits, were now elevated, etc. It was like a Bentley Little novel.
It got so bad we’d actually park in front of their house, and give each other a pep talk before going in. “What are we going to do tonight? We’re going to pay attention to where we’re walking – at all times!”
Then we’d go inside, stumble into the kitchen, and almost plunge our heads in a pot of boiling spaghetti noodles.
Yeah, we tried to laugh it off in a self-deprecating manner, but I once caught our host and hostess shooting each other a conspiratorial “Holy shit, what’s wrong with these people?” look. So, it was no good, no good at all.
It got a little better with time, but I don’t believe we ever fully mastered their big ol’ house o’ levels. Ever-changing levels, I’m convinced…
And that’ll do it for today, boys and girls. I’m hoping you’ll make me feel better with some stories of your own. Have you ever humiliated yourself in front of a boss, or authority figure? I can’t be the only one?
Tell us about it, won’t you? Use the comments link below.
And I’ll see ya next time.
Gretchen – you’re only 36? Wow-Wee! I’m 33 in October.
I just had McDonald’s for the first time in I don’t know how long. Jeff, you should try the Southern chicken sandwich (whatever it’s called) because it’s just like Chick-Fil-A if you ask me.
Shiny Rod says
Thanks Gretchen although I’m not looking forward to some of it, especially that part about the Colonoscopy.
“They have gone to enormous trouble to find your little friend… and found her they have. Do you all know what it is you’re carrying?” – Mr Universe, Serenity
Wow-wee, older AND wiser (except in matters of certain slang words, apparently)!! I guess I come across as a wizened old book lady sometimes. Loves the Chick-Fil-A waffle fries, btw.
Shiny Rod: I’ve been through two colonoscopies. No big deal, as long as they have you out cold. Quite worth the peace of mind and the alien anal probe jokes. ;oP
Wondering about this have to be 'first' thing ~ says
What do you do Jeorge l,eave your computer on stand by ‘waitng to be first’ ……..sorry as a child in school you were always pushed out of the head of the line’……Nows your big chance aye buddy …..
Shiny Rod says
I just wanted to share this one with the surf reporters. I got this one off the Neal Boortz site. It reminded me of my Navy days and some of the wild fun we had.
In The Navy
This happened about 20 years ago while I was still in the Navy. I was stationed on an Ammo ship out of Guam and as usual we were making our ’round robin’ cruise delivering bombs here and there. As usual we were in one of our often visited ports the Phillipine Islands. As any sailor can tell you, the Phillipine Islands, just like Amsterdam or Thailand, can be best described as.. an ‘adult disneyland’ and we will leave it at that.
Well the ‘gang’ of us … basically most of the electric shop, went out boozing it up that night and then find out the very next morning that there is a command wide personnel inspection and there are no excuses for non attendance i.e. show up or be written up.
Needless to say, my uniform was nothing even near ready for an inspection, let alone was I ready as I and the rest of the gang were still pretty much drunk from the preceeding night. So I pretend to run an iron across my shirt throw it on and stand in line with the rest of my division as we waited to get slammed and stand a reinspection.
Slowly but surely the Captain is making his way down the ranks and I feel the ‘pressure’ building up in my gut. Im drunk, my uniform looks like crap, the captain doesn’t like me anyways, I figure what do I have to lose? If I am going to go down, im going down with a bang…so I hold it in. A few minutes later, the captain is standing in front of me with this look on his face like he just bit into a turd and starts ragging on me. Then he says rather loudly, What’s THIS, an IRISH PENDANT!!! (That’s an old slang though probably taboo now in the PC world for a string hanging off your uniform somewhere, normally on a pocket or something) it happens to be in my crotch area, and he bends down to yank and snap it off. (the string that is) I see my opening and take it. I was thinking I could ‘regulate’ the flow to just give him a nice wiff, but turn out letting loose one of those 5 minute farts that thunder and echo like a mortar salute going off and leaves you wondering if you have to go change your shorts now. The Captain bolts upright almost tripping on his way back. Everyone around me is trying desperately not to, but laughing anyways. My division officer has a look of horror on his face because he KNOWS he’s going to catch the CO’s wrath before I do. It was truly a Kodak moment.
Then about 15 seconds later the ‘stench’ reaches everyone’s noses. Ill leave to your imagination what words were said in my direction as everyone was breaking ranks to soon leave me the only person standing there.
To top it off, I looked the CO straight in the eye and said, Sorry Sir… it slipped. Much to my amazement nothing else was ever was said about that incident from higher up.
Was I embarrassed, probably should have been but at the time. nope, not at all.
I’m thinking we should set our alarm clocks for a wee hour update!
Love the alarm clock idea for the boy's says
Hey Tadpole girl great idea for the ‘must be first’ lol