On Being Peter Sellers
Two nights ago I accidentally showed a photo of my butt (in those “ROCK STAR!” skivvies I told you about) to a fellow writer as I was trying to show her how to use my camera phone.
You might remember that these blunders have been happening more frequently lately, like the recent blog about offending the nice woman at Newport Beach. It seems I’m still off my social game. I even had trouble networking and casually interacting last night at a fiction workshop given by Maureen McHugh.
I came back to my hotel room and somehow got honey in my hair. I still haven’t figured out how it happened, considering the entire sequence was only three moves long: spoon-to-jar-to-mouth. When did my hair get into the jar or between the spoon and my mouth?
And I don’t think I told you about marching my stinky feet right into my mouth again on one of my last days in Aliso Viejo. I was walking in Laguna Niguel Regional Park when I saw a group of older people walking slowly in a large group. At the front of the group someone was carrying a large flag. At the back of the group, someone was carrying a small flag.
I did actually consider before opening my mouth that everyone was dressed casually, but I thought: This is southern California. They don’t dress up for anything. So I asked one of the stragglers at the end “Is this a funeral walk?” He looked at me in disbelief: “What?! No, this is our hiking group!”
I mean, seriously friends, I am sometimes a complete raging idiot. My brother recently referred to me as a “regular Peter Sellers” and you know, sometimes it’s like you just can’t turn that crap off in your brain once it starts. It’s like some kind of temporary Tourette’s, except that Tourette’s is a real disease and mine is “temporary” degenerative brain-rot.
I had thought the flags were ceremonial but now realized that they were to keep the group together. As usual I tried backpedaling and only ended up making the conversation worse.
“Oh!” I said, comprehending the need for such a large flag “Yeah, of course. A large flag is much easier to see…” I stopped myself before finishing the sentence with “because of your older eyes” but he could read the end of the sentence all over my face. He glared at me.
This should have been my cue to leave, but I continued. “Of course, if this had been a funeral procession, I think that would have been really cool. I mean not cool that one of your friends here had died, but I mean cool that everyone would have been celebrating… Well, not celebrating but I mean respecting, you know, her life or his life or something. You know…instead of a regular funeral procession with cars and the usual. Not that you’re going to a lot of them or anything like that. Just…I mean, don’t you think that would be nice? I mean, not nice, but…”
I finally took the cue and stepped out of line to finish my walk elsewhere.
Before I left the park, I was happy to see a woman walking a Redbone Coonhound. I needed one thing in that day to make sense. I made overt pout lip and oogly eyes at her dog and sidled up to her, saying “Ooh you just have the most beautiful Redbone Coonhound. My niece has one and they are just gorgeous dogs.” I needed this win. I needed some normalcy, a friendly connection, and my pride back.
“This is a Vizsla” she replied evenly. “Oh, right!” I fought hard for recovery. Where had I heard that name before? “Dog Whisperer!” I blurted. “I’ve seen one of those and Cesar had to ‘tchsst’ it down and hand-bite it and run it around with his rollerblades and everything.” During this, I made several ‘tchsst’ing sounds, snapping my fingers and mock-biting with my hand toward her dog.
“Nice talking to you.” She gave a polite head nod and pulled her dog away quickly.
What is that old blessing that’s really a curse in disguise? “May you live in interesting times.” I would really like to be blessed with boring…for just. one. day.
No offensive blunders or social ineptitude, no honey in my hair or buying ROCK STAR! skivvies, and certainly no showing a photo of them. No calling a mother grandma or talking about fecal bacteria to some hot guy.
Sure it might make for a boring blog, but everybody’s entitled to a few of those, right?