Self-dumbassholery, or Personal Worsts

We’ve all had them. Those supremely embarrassing moments that endure in our memory, when we so perfectly fulfill the definitions of “stupidity” and “assholery” simultaneously.

My decade of suck was my 20s. Looking back, I actually still blush and feel guilty for some of the things I did and said to people that I haven’t even seen in 20 years or so. From the time I blew off a group project in college, requiring a last-minute, thrown-together, totally lame contribution on my part that resulted in lowering everyone’s scores (and, incidentally, causing a major ugly rift between the honors program and the rugby team…don’t ask) to the time that I dissed a fellow chatter (in the early days of the WWW) in the chat room to the fellow chatters that we both knew (after that chatter and her husband had graciously both invited me to attend a drumming circle and drove me home from it, refusing compensation), to quote Sinatra, “Regrets…I have a few.”

My biggest dumbasshole moment was that last one. I’d been chatting with this group of people in a pagan/occult chatroom for months. I’d become fairly close (chatworld-style, anyway) with one woman in particular, and we had a kind of brother/older sister vibe. Since she was local to Minneapolis (where I was living at the time), she invited me to a drum circle event that friends of hers were having. I got there by bus, and the event was a little overwhelming for me (I’m very shy in real life, and was even worse back then), and I wasn’t very experienced at handling events where marijuana was in use. A lot. I didn’t join in on that activity (actively, anyway…secondhand was unavoidable), and considered myself enlightened on the “if other people want to” spectrum. When my friend was ready to leave, she and her husband (knowing that I’d gotten there by bus and at that hour buses were going to be hard to come by, if not impossible) offered me a ride home (a trip of several miles through not-very-safe streets on foot), and I accepted. I thanked them when I got out of the car and promptly signed on the chatroom when I got to my apartment. Someone asked me how it was, and I (obviously both not very grateful and not very intelligent) described the event as “a bunch of aging hippies”. Remember, now, this is the same room that my friend who’d just spent a gracious evening playing ersatz host to me also belongs to, and has friends in. In most cases, the same friends I had who’d I’d just dissed her and her husband to.

She never “spoke” to me in more than monosyllables online again, and never spoke to or saw me irl again, period.

I like to think I’ve gotten both wiser and more gracious since then.

Ooooooh yeah, been there. Almost all of my moments can be traced back to a single problem. I forget that just because I think it’s funny and don’t mean any harm by it, doesn’t mean that it will be received that way. So I’ve been a sarcastic asshole for pretty much all of my post-pubescent life.

Mine was a few years ago.

I was desperate for a job, and a friend of mine ran the local Dollar General. I had already worked there for awhile once, but quit without working a notice due to health reasons. The head office adviced not hiring me back, due to not working a notice. She went against them though, and hired me after I promised I wouldn’t quit without a notice on her.

She had already earned plenty of respect from me, due to being a no nonsense type of gal who was always willing to put her money where her mouth was so to speak. She never asked anyone to do anything she wasn’t willing to do, including working 15 to 18 hour shifts for weeks on end.

So I made the promise, and went to work the next day. By the time the day was over, I could barely walk home, and ended up crawling the last 20 feet or so, I was so exhausted and sore.

The next day I was supposed to be at 830 that morning to cashier for her. I was still to sore, and couldn’t do it. Instead of calling her and explaining like a respectable person would, I cut off the phone, and avoided that store for years until she quit.

She recently went to work at a bank near me, and I stop in talk to her every now and then. I still can’t bring myself to meet her eye to eye because of what I did, though she never brings it up.

I’ve got one - with a happy ending.

When I was a kid I was in the GATE program, Honors program, whatever you want to call it. At twelve, I decided I didn’t like being a nerd anymore, and wanted to become “cool.” So I started wearing heavy metal t-shirts, tried to grow my hair out (as much as Mom would allow, which wasn’t much), took up smoking (which haunts me to this day), and found a set of “stoner” friends.

I decided one of my best friends at the time was still too nerdy for my tastes, so I shouldn’t have anything more to do with him. So I just suddenly stopped talking to him, and started treating him like garbage - you know, making fun of him all the time, talking shit behind his back, all that stuff. Of course, I was too chickenshit to tell him why.

This continued throughout the rest of junior high school, then after the eighth grade he moved away. I think I was fifteen when I’d matured enough to realize what a complete dickhead I’d been, and thrown away a perfectly good friendship… but by then it was too late to do anything about it.

About a month ago - we’re both 38 years old now - I was going through a box of old pictures and came across one of this friend, who I hadn’t thought about in years. So I looked him up on Facebook and wrote him. I explained my thought process at the time, and apologized for my actions; I didn’t offer any excuses, didn’t try to explain it away as going through puberty. I was just a dumbass fucking asshole.

I didn’t hear back from him for almost a week. I was expecting if I did he would tell me to fuck off. When he did write back, he said he’d thought about it long and hard, and decided to accept my apology. We’re now catching up on the last 26 years.

I’ve have two of them that stick out, and the victim was the same person.

When going into middle school, a friend of mine, Ronnie, and I were in the highest achievement classes, together. Our other friend, Dan, was bright, just not interested in academics. So, after we all three walked home from enrollment, we dropped Dan off at his house, and then Ronnie and I went to Ronnie’s house. We just rogered Dan roundly, behind his back, for being a retard, idiot, stupid hillbilly, and whatever else the vicious hearts of a 12 year old could think of. Later, looking for something to do, we went to Dan’s house. “Hey, Dan. Hey, it looks like you’ve been crying! What’s the deal?” “I went over to Ronnie’s house a while ago, and I heard what you said about me.” Bad, bad, bad.

The other thing that I did, without Ronnie’s help, was 10 times worse, and I can’t even bear to think about it, let alone repeat it.

Best wishes,
hh