Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Embarrassing Moments from High School, One of Which Still Stings

I try not to hold onto mistakes that I made in the past, but sometimes I do.  The funny thing is that it isn't the "big" mistakes that bother me.  For instance, several years ago, Ian and I decided to go into debt to put him in a program at an expensive university that he wasn't even able to finish.  In retrospect, it was a really bad decision, but you know what?  We paid off the debt and moved on.  C'est la vie.  YOLO.  Etcetera.

A decision that haunted me for years, though, was buying an electric guitar from a (person who I thought was) a friend my sophomore year in high school for way more than it was worth.  I trusted him, so I didn't do a whole lot of research (and, to my defense, there was also a lot I just didn't know).  When I asked my father to get the money out of my savings account, he asked me if I was sure it was a good price, and I said yes.

Later I learned that not only did he charge me an extravagant price, but the guitar wasn't even in the best condition.  For YEARS I would think back on how I was taken in, and it would make me feel all hot in my insides.  You know the feeling I'm talking about?  I mean... I was married, living in a different city, and had sold that guitar long ago to someone else (at a fair price, of course), and it still made me feel bad, even though, at worst, I was only ripped off by $200.

Finally, I decided I had to find a way to deal with it.  I thought long and hard about what still bothered me about it, and finally, it clicked.  I called my father up and confessed.  Hey Dad, remember when you asked me if I was getting a good price for that guitar six years ago?  Yeah... I didn't.  I trusted instead of researched and made a poor financial decision.  Mostly, my dad thought it was funny I was bringing it up after all these years, but ultimately he asked, "Well... did you learn anything from the experience?"  Of course I had.  "Better to learn that lesson on a small thing when you are young than a bigger investment when it could cost you a lot more."  Good call, Dad.

From that conversation on, it hasn't bothered me at all.  I came clean to my father about my irresponsibility, learned my lesson, and moved on.

But that is only one of several examples.  There is another embarrassing situation that I still can't shake.  When I was taking Art Appreciation at a community college at the age of, say, 16, we had to make collages that represented things about us.  On the list was "one pet peeve."  Scrambling to finish the assignment, I ripped a picture of this structure out of a National Geographic and pasted it on my poster board: 

Via Wikimedia Commons
I decided the pet peeve I was going to represent was "pretentiousness" and the tower above was like the Tower of Babel (an example of pretentiousness if ever there was one).  When I was presenting my collage in class, I got to this part and happened to notice the look on my instructor's face.  I could tell I had done something ignorant or offensive or... something... but I had no idea what. 

Well later I learned that the image I chose is the famous Great Mosque of Samarra.  And while I am not the first to compare this structure to the Tower of Babel, I can understand why the instructor was a little unnerved by my presentation.  Had I known that it was a holy place for people of another religion, there is no way I would have pointed at it as a personal pet peeve. 

My ignorance still haunts me a little, and I fear I lost that particular instructor's respect, and I thought he was a fantastic teacher.  I doubt he remembers me or my faux pas, but I have long remembered his reaction to it.  In some ways, I think my ignorance was forgivable.  How many high schoolers from a small town have a working knowledge of important architecural and religious structures in the Middle East?  Probably not a lot.

But what bugs me is that I didn't even bother to read the caption in the magazine before I tore the picture out.  It was the cavalier "this will work, whatever" attitude that bugs me.  If I had taken, literally, ten seconds to see what the picture was, I could have avoided the entire thing.

So, Dear Internet, this is my confession.  And, I suppose, the lesson I am trying to learn from it is that some ignorance is excusable (and unavoidable), but not if the information is right on the page in front of me, and I don't bother to even look.


  1. Hope, I thought maybe I had unsubscribed to your blog by accident! But looks like you just took a summer vacation. Nice to see you back. I can identify with this, believe it or not. Perhaps the sign of a type-A perfectionist -- still beating ourselves up years later for stupid, insignificant things?

    1. Well you know what they say... if you can't do something perfectly, don't do it at all. =)

      That's actually a big reason why I haven't blogged lately. I really want to be consistent about it, but I'm not, so I just don't. However, I recently decided I would just post whenever I felt like it and not worry about keeping a "perfect" schedule. Good luck, Me.

      Thank you so much for welcoming me back!