No Applause, Just the Money
How better to get to know someone, than finding out all of the dipsy-doodle sorts of things he’s done? I mean, I could start off with all of the hot stuff, (I’m thinking, I’m thinking) but then I would have no where to go but down. So here I go with five embarrassing moments of my life, in reverse order. Note that I did not say the five incidents; no, sadly, there are lots more.
5) Red lights: I have received one motor vehicle, moving violation in my life, and that was in 1974. Moving? If we had been moving, I would have been all right. I was driving in San Francisco (if you have ever driven in San Francisco, then this will sound normal) and I came up to a red signal. It was four in the morning. There was absolutely no cross-traffic. I was perched on the edge of the intersection, waiting for that red light to turn green, and I waited. Had I timed the signal, from the moment it turned red, until it turned green, it probably was not an obscene amount of time. Whatever. My passenger was using the headlights of the cars behind us to read a map. All we wanted was to get through to the Golden Gate Bridge, and on up to NorCal. Inexplicably, after waiting for what seemed forever, I decided to go for it, and just drove right through that intersection. When that spinning red light, immediately behind me went off, I was mortified. I could just imagine all of the people in the vehicles behind me, as I up and crossed the empty intersection, with a police ossifer sitting right behind me. Achtung, Chuckles.
4) Whiny knee: Before I had my left knee reconstructed, in 1994, lack of an ACL left me apt to suddenly find myself prone on the ground, if I varied from placing one foot, directly in front of the other. On an afternoon, when I was uncharacteristically late for a K-8 staff meeting, I came rushing in the back door of the staff room, and made a quick left, and fell splat on my face. When the applause died down, I took my seat.
3) Language acquisition: We were sitting around in 4th period religion in our assigned seats, my freshman year of high school, and the priest teaching us had told us to just chill the last ten minutes of class. The guy to one side of me was one of the popular kids (only boys on our side of the campus) and he delighted in tormenting me. I was trying to avoid his sarcasm, which was deadlier to me than the check on check shirt and pants I chose to wear to school one day, when at one point he punctuated his comment by adding, “Blow me, O’Neill.” The rest of the guys thought that was pretty funny. I didn’t know one way or the other if it was funny or not, because I didn’t, at age 13, know what it meant. I was embarrassed as all get out, and said the first thing I could think of, ”You’d like that, wouldn’t you Tom?” The reaction was swift and hilarious. No one expected that to come from me, and they directed their laughter-for once-at Tom and not at me.
2) I was driving my ’64 Nova, the year after I graduated from high school, and socializing at an unprecedented rate, when I did a cruise past a rambunctious neighborhood party, where the action spilled out on all sides of the house, so there was a good crowd out front. In my pre-VW bus days, this little Nova was kind of fun. My older brother had done a few tricks to the engine (no boring details about “bored out engine blocks” and Mickey Thompson Pop-up Pistons) so it was frisky. I decided to light ‘em up, which entailed coming to a halt about a block shy of the party, red-lining that engine and letting up the clutch gradually, allowing the back wheels to spin. It’s appealing because it is loud, pure and simple, and I was trying to break the loud barrier. At the peak of all that noise, I was directly in front of the party. All was one with the universe. And then there was silence, deafening silence, as I was suddenly floating with the gas pedal useless to move forward and the car already beginning to drift to the side of the road. Deadly silence. It turned out that the universal joint, which held the drive shaft in place, and allowed it to function properly, had just exploded, and that drive shaft was lying in the middle of the street. More applause from the peanut gallery.
1) I was at one of those same parties, eyeballing a certain sweet young thing, entertaining notions of sugarplums, when I actually got up the courage to approach her and make with the palaver. Everything seemed to be progressing nicely, when an unknown commodity approached, giving “Sally” the once-over. She greeted him warmly, but was careful not to diss on me. Taking my arm, she turned to her friend and said, “Marty, I would like you to meet my good friend, Larry Palinkus.” Larry Palinkus? He wasn’t even at the party. Where is that handle you pull, when you just want to fall through the floor?