Column: Laugh at your mistakes

I like looking smart. The problem is, I tend to look like an idiot at the times I least want to.  I’m not sure how that happens. It’s one of life’s little irritating mysteries.
I was sitting in a school board meeting not too long ago, writing down all the exciting events for the newspaper (yes, this is just as interesting as it sounds).

Anyway, I was sitting in the background, quietly being a good and professional journalist, when I reached up for a Pepsi I had left sitting on the window sill. Not one of the more difficult things in life to do—grab a can of Pepsi. Somehow, though, it slipped horrifyingly through my fingers, dropped off the sill, and slammed into the carpet. Pepsi sprayed all over me, the floor, the wall and the chair.  If you’re trying to draw attention to yourself in a school board meeting, which I wasn’t, this is a good way to do it. 

Another time I just wanted to blend in was during my freshman orientation at The Ohio State University. I felt very new and out of place as we followed our guide around campus and learned all kinds of fun and useful things about the campus buildings. She took us to a typical classroom to show us what classrooms were like, which was pretty exciting. Everyone sat down at the desks to try them out and see what sitting at a desk at OSU felt like. 

Sitting at a desk is not hard to do; it’s one of those basic life skills that everyone has mastered by age 4. When I tried to do it, though, I somehow lost my balance, tipped over and sprawled off onto the floor. 

“Are you all right?” the startled guide asked me.

Sure, just fine. Except I think I sprained my ego pretty badly. 

Public speaking can be tricky, too. I can talk easily with a friend at a coffee shop, but put me in front of a roomful of people and my carefully prepared comments can disappear from my mind. What can you do? You have to keep talking or sit down. I also tend to get so nervous I choke on my own saliva, which is not considered good public speaking technique. Needless to say, my speeches aren’t in high demand. 

The fact that I’m so good at making a fool of myself is probably why I find it so funny when it happens to other people. I’m relieved to find out I’m not the only idiot around.
At the risk of seeming insensitive, I think one of the funniest things in the world is when other people try to walk through doorways and find out they’re actually closed glass doors. I also enjoy watching those TV news bloopers where the reporters accidentally say extremely taboo words or phrases with terrible double meanings. Their eyes suddenly get very wide, and they slump down on their desks and start to think about what they’re going to do for their next job. Meanwhile, the other news anchors laugh themselves silly.
It’s good fun, laughing at other people’s embarrassing mistakes. So that I can keep doing this without feeling bad, I’m also going to laugh at my own all-too-frequent mistakes. I have the feeling there will be a lot to laugh about.

Andrew Sharp is a staff writer for the Columbus Messenger.

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