You Filthy Animal

The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Done (A Motivational Tale for the Holidays)

See that sign above?
It’s hanging in South Dallas, in a fun area called the Bishop Arts District.
It’s also where I went to hide this weekend after pulling the dumbest stunt of my life.
My family was visiting from out of state and we had planned, like we always do, to take a Christmas-light carriage-ride that very night. We do it any time my family visits for the holidays and it’s something we all enjoy. It isn’t cheap so we usually share the cost, but this year my husband and I picked up the bill, as our gift to everyone. We were discussing our concerns about the weather that day, when my husband got a call from the carriage company.
“Julie…was our carriage ride LAST night?”
My husband had a look of panic in his eyes, because he probably already knew the answer. The world might be filled with people who wouldn’t make that kind of mistake, but he knows he isn’t married to one of them.
“NO,” I screamed. “It’s tonight! Why would they even say that?”
I kept insisting it wasn’t possible but an awful feeling settled into my stomach because, deep down, I also knew.
I hadn’t put the carriage-ride on my calendar (another brilliant move) so I had to dig through emails to find the receipt. Sure enough…we had missed our ride.
I looked up at my husband and sputtered a lame I’m so sorry, but he just walked away.
The poor guy couldn’t even look at me, which is understandable since I’d just thrown away hundreds of dollars. My family gasped as the realization sank in, then we all sat quietly and waited for my husband to blow his top.
He didn’t, to his credit, but I hid by the sign above anyhow, to shield my embarrassment and tears. I also called the carriage company from my hideout, but they were no help. The woman I spoke to was kind enough to provide some lies I could tell my husband, to hopefully ease the distress. No money would be refunded though, and since he already knew the truth, cash was the only thing that could help.
There was nothing I could do but sit and simmer in the reality of my stupidity.
I texted some sympathetic friends and told them the situation, hoping they’d have words of encouragement. Instead, they told me their own Tales of Stupidity, which made mine seem pretty tame.
There were misplaced concert tickets and forgotten Broadway shows that resulted in piles of lost cash. They told me about scheduling flights on the wrong days or to the wrong cities. There was one story about visiting guests who were forgotten until they showed up at the door and my personal favorite, one woman’s accidental dispatch of her son’s Apple Watch.
“Tell your husband you’re a bargain,” she said.
A few hours later I was sitting with my sister, sipping coffee and quietly hating myself. I told her again how sorry I was, but she surprised me by saying,
“Honestly, I’m just happy to know that you do stupid shit, too.”
The reality is that all of us are capable of stupid shit, no matter how smart we are. Even the most capable, brilliant woman I know once left her car running during her son’s soccer game. She didn’t realize it until they tried to leave and she couldn’t find her keys.
Even my smart husband, who shook off his rage and gave me a hug just moments after my big reveal, probably did so because he’s pulled some whoppers, too. I would tell you all about them but I just threw away a load of his cash so…I probably shouldn’t.
That’s why I’m telling this story to the world, though.
It’s a reminder that, there’s no degree, accreditation or award out there that will make you impervious to “stupid.” And no matter what kind of dumb shit you pulled in 2017 or will pull in the year ahead, it’s OK. We all do it. Our moments-of-idiocy unite us and remind us that, we might be smart and capable of fantastic feats, but we’re also just big, stupid animals.
So maybe I can’t recoup the cash I lost on that carriage-ride, but there might still be some value to this. Maybe it was worth it just to feel accepted and connected by the dumb shit we all do. Consider it my Christmas gift to you. I sure hope it’s enough because now, it’s the only gift I can afford!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS and MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all, you filthy animals.

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