Some times I'm mired so deep in clusters that I wonder if I exist merely as a cautionary tale for others.
Much of my time here is spent deriding the boobery of others and pointing out idiocy that merits the venomous rancor I am so keenly equipped to dole out. Well, I'm nothing if not an equal-opportunity offender, and I'm not going to pull punches when I'm guilty of a phenomenal bit of boobery. My only hope is that you will learn from my errors, one of which I will tell you today and the other soon to follow. The one in today's post is much funnier (to me) although it was a lot more embarrassing to experience at the time. The other bit of boobery no doubt will come home to roost like ripples in a pond, but more on that later.
Now, usually when you screw up something, if you're lucky, no one will see it and you can correct it and make everything right. If you cut someone off in a car, hopefully you don't cause an accident and you can sheepishly mouth the word "sorry" (i.e., I'm an idiot) to other motorists, and hopefully you haven't stoked their ire hotly enough to provoke the can of road rage they are just dying to open up.
Rarely does one face a gauntlet of shame that lasts more than an instant, thankfully. When you feel particularly culpable, waves of humiliation can keep lapping at the banks of your conscience for days, weeks and even years down the road. Going forth and sinning no more(or at least not sinning in that way again) is a great remedy to keep the feelings of worthlessness and doubt at bay, and in extreme cases, we have been blessed with a plethora of pharmaceuticals to bludgeon such negative emotions into oblivion.
Saturday I experienced something so monumentally horrific, socially speaking, that I am still trying to process it. It was super-awkward. Here's what happened:
I was going to a local lake with a girlfriend and we were meeting other friends there at a named point in the park. About 15 years ago or so, I rode around the lake on my bicycle a couple times a week with friends, and I knew its paths and roads well. However, since that time, the layout of motorways has changed with regard to bike/pedestrian paths.
My friend was driving and we were going in the right direction, I knew, but I wasn't sure exactly where we should turn off. We were following a car and driving very slowly, mindful of pedestrians and cyclists while also looking for our friends. There must have been a sign that said "no vehicles beyond this point" somewhere along the way, but we certainly didn't see it, and sometime the car ahead turned, but again, we were looking ahead and not noticing where or why they turned off. (Also, other points in the park have poles in the path about 4 feet apart which would prevent a vehicle such as a car from entering a restricted pedestrian/cycle zone.) Next thing we know, the road is narrowing and narrowing and we suddenly find ourselves on the bicycle path at water's edge, a paved strip that is barely wider than the vehicle.
At this point, there is no doubt we are in the wrong place and we are looking desperately for a way to get off the path. Meanwhile every person we see either flips us off, yells, curses or very imaginatively deploys a combination of the three. My friend said "Phlegm, I just want to crawl into a hole and die!" We're laughing, but it's that nervous "what fresh hell is this?" awkward sort of laughter.
From the window, I asked a woman "we don't know how we got on this path and we don't know how to get out, can you help us?" She was surprisingly gracious (at this point we were fearful of being stoned to death, so a kind word went an awful long way) and told us that the path only got more narrow with no outlet whatever ahead, and that we needed to turn around and go back the way we came.
We pulled over onto the grass and turned around, and then some rocket surgeon yelled "get off the grass!" There's just no pleasing some people. Get off the path? Get off the grass? Make up your mind.
Mind you, we'd just come about a half mile in probably 10 minutes that seemed like 45, what with all the rancor, and now we were heading back to re-visit head-on the purple-faced rage of folks ranging from urban whole-grain earth-shoe latter-day hippies through to weekend-warrior extreme cyclist white collar guys - eek.
As one big doughy frat-boy vented his spleen in our direction, I thought "yeah, we're on the wrong thoroughfare, but I'm not the one with the wedding tackle on display in a swampy, petroleum-product pair of biker shorts." If I'd been clever, I would have just held the L-is-for-loser symbol up to my forehead to let people know "uh, yeah, we noticed we're, like, on the wrong damned road, already."
I got home and called me mum, and she chuckled and said "now those cyclists have had a taste of how it feels when one of them is in the road on the highway." Somehow, I don't think they were making that intellectual stretch at that moment, but it was a welcome fresh perspective.
Dad laughed and laughed--we both did-- and he said he would like to have been along for that ride, that it sounded funny. It was funny, but it was mortifying, and I honestly wish it hadn't happened. We weren't driving wildly or recklessly, and we certainly wouldn't have run over a person under any circumstance, but it was a major screw-up. Of course, it's preferable that we'd never ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it's not as though we maliciously set out to ruin someone's day - it was an honest mistake. It's incredible how from a benign sate you can suddenly blunder your way into something that turns into a huge mess.
Yeah. We're dummies.
Anyway, I hope your weekend was happily devoid of anything approaching the painful lessons of my weekend.