My New Year’s Gift to You: Lessons from a Lamebrain Life

3 Jan

 by Roger White

Ah, my dedicated and degenerate Old Spouser devotees, I get all fuzzy and tingly as we head into a fresh, new year. Then the pharms wear off, and the fuzzy-tingly goes away. Sigh. Anyway, among my new year’s resolutions I actually verbalized this time around are to be less curmudgeonly, to drink less and work out more, and to help out my fellow man when and where I can.

Several grueling days into the new year, I quickly realized that #1 and #2 are simply out of the question. Number 3, however—helping out my fellow man—I can take a shot at with this column. So if you get something out of these pearls of wisdom, please write me and let me know so I can scratch #3 off my list and go back to my beloved callous ways.

Seeing as how the new year is a time of reflection, I figured I could impart a bit of sage advice to you by reflecting on a few life lessons I learned—the hard way—through my years on this quaint little planet. You should be writing this down. Get a pencil; I’ll wait. … hmm mmm hmmm … la dee dah … ahem … yes, a pencil … okay.

Number One: Always smell unfamiliar milk before drinking. I was a high school sophomore. My mom and I had just moved into a small duplex, which had been previously rented by two young bachelor types. After a long, hot, tough day of carting boxes and bulky mom chairs and tables, I opened the fridge and spied a half-gallon mmm milkcarton of milk. Mmm, cold milk. I snatched the carton and immediately tipped it up, opening my mouth wide to receive my refreshing reward. Two large solid clumps of foul mush crashed into the back of my throat and crawled down my esophagus. It was a race to the bathroom. To this day, I shudder at the odor of milk going south. (Related lesson: Never trust anything in your duplex left behind by two young bachelor types.)

Numero Dos: Remember when your office is closed for the holidays. I work for an education-related association, so our days off for winter break are pretty generous. I hadn’t worked for the association long; the Monday after the long Christmas weekend I rose early and battled the city traffic for the long drive to work. I was afraid I was running a bit late, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the office parking lot practically empty. Everyone was apparently moving slow following the holiday. I would first one herebe among the first to the coffee pot! When I found the front doors locked, I started wondering if I’d missed a time change or something. I called the main number and discovered—via prerecorded message—that the offices were closed until the following Wednesday. I folded my suddenly sprouted donkey ears down into my collar and battled the city traffic for the long drive back home.

Number Three: Always remember that a river runs only one way. For those of you blessed with actual common sense, this one may be a no-brainer. Alas, this is a true story, and if it helps just one obtuse soul out there, then my job is done. Years ago, in our exuberant youth, my wife and I decided to raft down a section of Barton Creek with another couple. The river was running swift, so we parked our cars near a convenient access point near Highway 360, grabbed our rubber rafts, and excitedly set off on our river adventure. The water was difficult to navigate, and my wife and I soon lost track of our friends in the other craft. We crashed into some thick brush about little help herehalfway down the river’s meandering way to Barton Springs, and our raft sprung a bad leak. I soon found myself treading water trying desperately to reach the wife now stranded on some rocks in the middle of the river. I somehow rescued wifey, and we hoofed it down the riverside to our pals at the end of our course. It was then, and only then, that it dawned upon us that we didn’t have any transportation back to our cars. Did I mention donkey ears? The topper: after we hitched a ride back to our vehicles, our friends realized they’d locked their keys in the car. mmyeah.

I hope we’ve learned something here today. I know I have. Don’t write a column unless you have really thick skin. Hee haw.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

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