Photo CC by Tambako The Jaguar
All through middle school and high school I was extremely forgetful. My theory is, to a point, all adolescents are. Kids and teenagers have a lot going through their minds and haven’t fully figured out what works best for them in regards to planning and routine. Although I can use all of this as a partial excuse, I know that if the Guinness Book of World Records bothered to keep track of the most forgetful person in the world, I’d have been in the running during my k-12 days. To illustrate: I literally never ate the school lunches. I willingly did so once while I was in school, and even then it was only because the kids in my class begged me to do so because they thought it was fascinating that I would rather eat actual food than the cardboard and fish skulls they served in the lunchroom. Peer pressure got to me that day in the 2nd grade. Other than that, I packed a lunch every day from the time I was in kindergarten until the day I busted through my former high school’s double doors, diploma in hand (well, empty diploma case. They wait a few weeks to double check that you don’t owe any textbooks, library books, or have any unpaid fees before they send the official piece of paper in the mail.). Yet, in the approximate 2,300 days I attended school, the frequency of the phone calls I made to my mom asking her to bring my lunch is quite astounding. Same with the number of phone calls asking her to bring gym clothes. Or my saxophone. Or my track spikes. Or a number of other daily objects that should have been second nature to me to bring.
By far, the most embarrassing, scarring experience I ever faced due to my forgetfulness was during my freshman year in volleyball. Even now, six years down the road, I cringe thinking about it. We were headed over the mountain to Worland. For those of you who don’t know, the mountains are an excellent place to hide out for a while if you need a vacation from people. They can’t reach you by e-mail or texting or calling or any other number of ways. Yup, you’re pretty much living in the good old days, pre-technology when you’re in the mountains. But that’s a nightmare when you forget to bring your entire bag of volleyball gear to a volleyball game and are then rendered incapable of calling your parents, begging them to bring it on their way up to watch. Which is what I did.
If you weren’t involved in high school athletics (or if you were but your coaches weren’t more intimidating than the mob) I’ll try to explain to you what a terrible experience it was to have to confess to my coaches, more than 60 miles away from home, easily 30 minutes away from reaching even just one bar of cell service, that all you have with you are the clothes on your back. Because, let’s be honest, that level of stupidity is less believable than Bill Clinton saying he “did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Confessing my error would have been worse than if you were expected to teach swimming lessons and as you were demonstrating, you drowned. It was worse than being a famous doctor performing an easy, no risk surgery in front of a group of medical students and then sincerely asking them what to do next. It was worse than a political campaign manager being somehow caught voting for the opponent on Election Day. It was worse than a famous musician being booed offstage for what they genuinely thought and claimed to be an original piece because the entire song, unbeknownst to them, was Journey’s well-known Don’t Stop Believing, just with a much, much worse tune. All of those scenarios would be comparable to the disgrace and embarrassment I felt when I timidly walked to the front of the bus, silently waited until my presence was felt, and said, “I forgot my bag.”
And, wouldn’t you know it, moments after our conversation, after we confirmed the fact that no, I could not reach my parents and by the time I could they would already be too far in the mountains to have cell service, and that yes, I literally forgot everything, I don’t even have a pair of socks to play in – after all that, the 5 pound camera tripod fell from the overhead bin on my coach’s head, giving her a long, nasty cut right on the forehead (she still has a scar to this day). You may think that hitting a bear in the head with a heavy object is a good idea when you’ve pissed it off, but let me tell you from experience that it’d be far better to hit yourself in the head. Either way you’ll be mauled, better to be unconscious. Even though I in no way had anything to do with the tripod falling on my coach’s face, all 60-some set of player’s eyes went from our coach to me in that moment. And all 60-some minds were thinking variations of “Glad I’m not the one who upset the bear.”
The lessons I learned from that infamous day are as follows: 1. There’s a reason Santa makes a list and checks it twice. 2. Don’t poke the bear. 3. Always check the overhead bin.