Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll fondly recalls A LUNCH FOR THE AGES. She writes:

If I ask you,”What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?,” chances are you don’t have to think too hard to recall it. For me, I would probably have to have Casey Kasem organize a countdown.

Now I’m not talking about the most shameful things here. Those are the incidents we keep in the darkest chambers of our hearts – the times we gratuitously hurt the feelings of a loved one, the times we failed to be patient with our children, that time we shot the people behind us talking through the movie – the real cringe-worthy stuff.

Some Jewish mystics believe that the burning that is associated with the concept of Hell is not a literal burning, but the wretched, face-flaming embarrassment we feel in the presence of the Holy One, Blessed Be He, when He shows us our life and we realize how much better we could have done, how far short we fell of our potential. I’m not equipped to argue theology with a mystic. I report; you decide.

So we’re not talking about that level of embarrassment where our own thoughtless acts caused us regret and shame. I’ll give you an example of the kind of thing I’m talking about culled from my Greatest Hits:

There’s the time in eighth grade I had a new green satin dress for one of the rare dances for which I had a “date” and, after a lively Buddy Holly song, went to the ladies’ room to repair my hair and discovered that I not only had pitted out the dress, but the deodorant had turned the fabric under my arms a kind of weird yellow. You know, THAT kind of thing…not that the memory bothers me a bit more than 55 years later. How is it that that is clear as a bell and I probably couldn’t tell you what I had for breakfast? What a merry prankster my memory is!

But it’s hard to top My Lunch with Randy for an embarrassing incident that made us both collapse in laughter to the point that other patrons were ready to call for the butterfly nets.

Randy is a great friend and was also my “roadie” for about 20 years. He lives catty-corner behind us in the St. Paul suburb where we lived before moving to Arizona. But even before we moved, with my retiring from comedy, and his new marriage, we spent considerably less time together and we had scheduled a “catch-up” lunch at Applebee’s at our local mall. I wore one of my favorite long-sleeved white cotton shirts with embroidered flowers.

We chatted through our entrees, covering children, grandchildren, the usual health issues of late, late middle age, and a few trips down memory lane of the tens of thousands of miles we traveled together. What’s that? The dessert menu? Couldn’t possibly hurt to just look at it.

After a nanosecond, we dismissed the silly girly-girl custom of “sharing” a dessert and each ordered the Death by Chocolate Lava Cake with More Chocolate, Ice Cream, and Chocolate. Apart from containing my calorie allotment for three days, this turned out to be a very messy affair with lots of chocolate overflowing the bowl and getting my hands all sticky. I wiped them repeatedly on the napkin in my lap to little avail. Somewhere near the bottom of the bowl, I said to Randy, “How come only I got a cloth napkin and you just got a paper one?”

To which he replied, “Applebee’s doesn’t have cloth napkins, Susan. They are ALL paper.”

Uh-oh. I looked down and saw my beautiful white cotton shirt absolutely covered with chocolate sauce in streaks and handprints. The homeless could have made a small meal of my shirt.

Fortunately, as I mentioned, we were in a mall. After laughing till we almost cried, Randy went to the nearest, cheapest store and bought me a t-shirt and I casually sauntered to Applebee’s ladies’ room looking either like an escaped mental patient or a giant toddler with a bad day in the high chair.

The life of a humor columnist or a comedian is one of being constantly on a frantic prowl for good material, either one’s own or that of a witty, unpossessive friend who is not married to an attorney specializing in intellectual property. I once heard a comedian pal say, “I just got back from my Dad’s funeral which was very sad, but I think I got five minutes out of it…”

Which gives you some idea of how desperate we are for topics. So even though Spray ‘N Wash was no match for the chocolate stains on my ruined shirt, I did get a column out of it. Have a great weekend. Try to stay reasonably clean. Ask for extra napkins. Preferably cloth.


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