They Didn’t Teach Me This in Driver’s Ed.

I was out in Philly, driving around, pretending I knew where I was going. The usual. However, this time, things went terribly wrong and I almost died. Not to be dramatic or anything.

Here I am, in my truck, trying to figure out how to get to a grocery store parking lot that I could see but failed to actually find an entrance. It was one of those optical illusion parking lots. Or a mirage. Or a mirage of an optical illusion. Regardless of what it was, I could not get to it.

My roommate suggested I follow the cop driving in front of us, surely the cops knew their way around! Indeed they did. I followed them down to an underground police station parking lot. Internally panicking, I executed a three-point turn and  screeched drove quietly away.

Upon exiting the parking garage, I took a right as per my roommate’s suggestion. I thought to myself as I drove along the road: My, this road is awful narrow… they should do something about that. 

Of course, it was a one-way street and I was driving the wrong way down it. Luckily, there were no other cars except for a car that was about to turn down the street. That is, until they saw me whereupon they honked and made unhappy faces. There was also probably swearing.

In driver’s ed, they teach you defensive driving techniques. I was told to always assume everybody else on the road is an idiot. But what if the idiot is you? How can you defend yourself  against yourself? That, my friends, should be added to the driver’s education curriculum.

- Daughter

 

 

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I Almost Burned Down a Hotel

Being the unprepared person I am, I brought my own food along on my three-day trip out to central Pennsylvania because of my various food allergies. (Food allergies are so hot right now – I’m right on trend. #fashionforward)

I was so happy to have my bagel with me at breakfast one morning that my joy washed away any sort of rational thinking, exacerbating my already-lackluster awareness that comes with being awake before noon.

In case you forgot, I am not a morning person. I stumble around blindly in the light of day until finally I realize that this is no nightmare, I am truly awake in the real world. Because of this, my decision-making skills in the a.m. are not exactly on par with, say, my afternoon and evening decision-making skills.

The fire in question was caused by a conveyor-belt toaster which had a very small opening between the conveyor belt platform and the heating implement. I’ve already learned once that I should not be trusted to cook things. I haven’t learned anything, apparently because what follows is the height of culinary idiocy. I can almost hear Gordon Ramsey banishing me from the kitchen on one of his reality t.v. shows.

I thought that my bagel –  a hulking Godzilla among tiny, weak breakfast foods – would fit into the toaster perfectly. In a fit of naive optimism I thought things would work out for me. Surely this bagel will fit! I will just cut it up into multiple pieces and push the bagel down so as to fit it according to the confines of the space!!!

My dreams of toasty, bagel-y perfection would be destroyed, however. Or rather, set aflame and turned to ash and dust.

By smashing the bagel into the conveyor belt, I did indeed make the bagel smaller. Unfortunately, I was also ensuring that huge pieces of sticky bagel bread clung to the wiring of the conveyor. I had also cut the bagel up in an effort to ameliorate the toasting process, quite unaware that those very pieces would congeal into a mass of horror at the back of the toaster. This mass completely jammed the conveyor belt and stopped it from moving. At this point, the crumbs on the wiring caught fire.

I nervously attempted put the fire out while simultaneously attempting to remove the congealed bagel from the back of the toaster. Another guest, slightly bemused at my horror and unease at this growing inferno, blew out the flames. SUCCESS!

But no, there would be no success on this day.

The fires came back with a vengeance. At this point, I call over my aunt who smartly turns off the heat. But, the flames continued. Eventually, I flagged down a woman who worked at the hotel who put it out without much fuss. She tells me it happens all the time and that she “doesn’t want me to feel bad”.

I looked around, the smell of acrid smoke completely enveloping the downstairs main lobby, and stared back at her and said with a straight face, “Oh, I don’t feel bad.”

And I didn’t feel ‘bad’. That is not the correct word for the feelings I felt. “Shame”, “embarrassment”, and “horror” are more apt.

I misjudged a toaster, what else am I misjudging? Whose crumbs have I crushed onto toaster wiring? What friends have I set aflame in a rush of ill-judgment? We will never know.

- Daughter

How to Recover from Embarrassment

First of all, recovery from embarrassment is impossible. You will live with the shadow of shame following you through every triumph and every defeat. In fact, embarrassment and shame will be your only companions as you slowly walk toward your death.

But, never fear! There are ways to cope.

I shall start by digging through the dumpster of my memories to scrounge up one of the most embarrassing things I have ever done, lest the fresh embarrassment from this past weekend not be enough self-inflicted torture. What happened this past weekend? That will forever remain a mystery. (‘Forever’ = until enough time passes so that the story becomes funny instead of just cringe-inducing.)

Happily, I have an embarrassing story that has been aging like a fine wine. It has been stewing for years in my memory and now, we can all chow down on this hearty… stew… of hilarious wonders. It is embarrassing but I no longer feel a desperate urge to spontaneously combust when I tell it. I’ll set the scene for you: I was a young child, but 18 years of this world. I could parrot back monologues from Hamlet, sure, but real life skills were lacking. Public transportation was totally inaccessible to me intellectually, truly an enigma. An enigma that almost took my arm off.

I was on my way home and had to take the train to the airport. I wrote down the train schedule four times. I got to the train hours earlier than I needed to. I got to the right platform, HURRAH!!! I silently congratulated myself. I was almost a real person.

Then, a train came and the conductor yelled something but I didn’t hear or try to listen in my excitement. I jumped on the train, only to have the door immediately shut on my arm, from which I could not extricate myself. My body was inside the car but my arm, still clutching my suitcase, was hopelessly flailing on the other side of the door. At this point, I panic. I do a crazy dance trying to will myself to become something – anything – else besides the flesh and bone trapped between the train doors.

Now, this particular performance would not be so spectacular if it weren’t for the fact that the platform was overflowing with people whose attention I held captive with my antics. The conductor eventually figured out what was going on and opened the doors at which point he told me loudly, “I SAID THIS WAS THE LAST STOP, NO PASSENGERS!”

I hurried off, my imaginary tail between my legs. The crowd of witnesses just stared in shock at the stupidity that had occurred before them. I actually overheard another passenger say, “I would feel bad… but she’s just sooo stupid.” Ah, that stung. Thank you, kind stranger!! You are truly a god among men. 

Yes, I almost died because I was so anxiety-ridden I became deaf. I almost lost my arm, guys. TO A TRAIN.

———

Here are my tips for dealing with embarrassment:

1) Become a Hermit: Who needs people? All they do is make you feel embarrassed and ashamed. Unacceptable.

2) Cry: A real cry. A hurricane of tears that no emergency response team can even fathom cleaning up.

3) Fetal Position: Attempt the fetal position and stay like that for three days, preferably in a closet à la Harry Potter.

4) Just Stop: Don’t do the embarrassing thing ever again.

———

Feel free to share your embarrassing stories in the comments to make me feel better about myself!

- Daughter

Smoked Bacon: Not the Good Kind

Looks like another freshman tried to make popcorn.

Looks like another freshman tried to make popcorn.

This semester, I am living in a big-girl apartment instead of slumming it in the dorms at college. I am too good for dorms and can’t ruin my reputation running around with the wrong sort of people who choose to call these heathen-holes “home”. To be fair, the dorms are actually quite nice. They were built in the something-or-other century and have lovely architectural design (read: fancy pants) that will make you unconsciously raise your pinkie finger and start wearing a monocle.  But they’re still dorms. And as such, they have major drawbacks. For example, you have to be ready at all times for errant freshmen who wander across your path and have yet to develop social skills resulting in awkward small-talk while you microwave your oatmeal when really, that situation calls for an in-depth analysis of the sociology of breakfast foods in America. Obviously.

Sometimes, a cat – illegally kept in the dorm by an aspiring-future-cat-lady student – will escape from its enclave and make a beeline for your open door and straight to the bathroom where it will hop in the bathtub and look up at you expectantly (this happened).

You also are constantly subjected to idiocy: that of yours and that of others. Figure 1: fire alarms. Every year I have lived in the dorms, some person has set a bag of popcorn on fire. IT’S A BAG OF KERNELS THAT YOU PUT IN THE MICROWAVE FOR THREE MINUTES, HOW DO YOU MESS THAT UP?? Best get a refund from the college because you have learned NOTHING important. And, to compound matters, this person (let’s be real, it’s always a freshman) has to be a popcorn pyromaniac during the wee hours of the morning. So, the entire dorm has to evacuate with their fuzzy slippers on and unironically clutching stuffed animals, looking like disheveled hobbits after a trip to Mordor (and back).

Embarrassingly, I have also set off the dorm fire alarm. I was cooking bacon in my room despite the rule against cooking and electric burners in the dorm. (NOBODY SEPARATES ME FROM MY BACON.) After successfully sizzling up some pig bits, I noticed that there were a few stray pieces of bacon burnt on the bottom of the pan. No problem, I will simply pour ice-cold water into this saucepan which has hot oil and burning pork morsels in it, thus, no cooked-on bacon… GENIUS!! 

Well, I idiotically poured the water into the saucepan filled with flaming pig remains (sidenote: way less appetizing describing it that way rather than just calling it, ‘bacon’), and a huge plume of smoke immediately filled the room. I felt like I was standing in the shadow of the volcanic cloud of ash and debris from Mt. Vesuvius, it was that serious. The fire alarm went off and panic seized me. My first instinct was to hide the evidence from my illegal cooking activities (I stashed the still-burning-hot saucepan in the bathroom with the perfume of acrid smoke wafting out. They’ll never check here! And then I opened my window and did what can only be described as a panicked frolicking as I tried to herd, coax, and force the smoke to make its way out through the window instead of loitering around like teenagers outside of a pharmacy (that’s still a thing, right?). By some miracle, the fire alarm turned off and I breathed a sigh of relief – probably inhaling some smoke while doing so. But yes, I was an idiot.  I haven’t eaten bacon to this day…

Just kidding. Give me bacon, or give m- no, just give me the bacon.

- Daughter

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