Most of this attitude of daring comes from my mother who taught me never to be afraid to try anything. She might have, once or twice, regretted that counsel when she saw the fixes I'd gotten myself into.
A few of my more humiliating feats:
- The fish, tomato, and spinach casserole. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Three healthy ingredients melded together into one utterly inedible, gut-repulsing, acidic, fishy nightmare.
- Wanting to impress the un-impressable husband of my nightmares by setting up the gas grill and actually grilling something. I'd never done this previously as he was The Grillmaster of the neighborhood. Sadly, it began to rain and in a fit of brilliance, I dragged the thing into the kitchen to finish the job. Did you know that if you cook with a gas grill in a small kitchen, the flames taunt the smoke detectors until they beckon the fire department? Yep.
- In an effort to get my kids to eat hot cereal for breakfast, I poured cream of wheat into tall glasses, added milk and flavoring and made mmmmmmilkshakes. Yum! Nothing like slurping warm gelatinous lumpy hot grain cereal masked with sadly weak and incapable flavoring and thinned with milk through a straw. "Wow, mom, this is a delicious, nutritious, and brilliant idea. Thank you," said no child ever.
- Join a singles site. Talk to strange men who may or may not be what they claim. Fall madly in love with the Times New Roman words on a glowing screen. Meet in person when he flies out to spend a memorable weekend in Boston. Become engaged. Quit miserable job as a cabinetmaker in a shop of 84 men who resent your presence in exchange for promises of a Cinderella life practicing your art and doing charitable work as the wife of a USC professor 12 times published. Plan honeymoon in Brazil where he will be lecturing on transcontinental data flow and artificial intelligence. Send kids to sunny California with airline tickets he sent. Pack up a very big truck with all of your ratty worldly possessions. Drive 3,000 miles in 3 days and disembark the truck with massive cankles. Discover that elusive professor has changed his mind. You know how fickle those high-priest ivy league professors can be. Begin again.
- Check the dryer for sleeping cats before tossing wet mittens and scarves and socks in with a dry load to make them ready for eager children quicker. The cat was fine. Just a little wobbly and indignant. The thump it made on the first go around warned me so there wasn't a second go around.
There have been a few successes that have been born of my failure which teach me that nothing is so awful if you acquire something you need or learn an invaluable lesson.
- The 4 children and 5 stepchildren I fell in love with from men who inflicted unspeakable pain to us. Wouldn't change that.
- A stint in sunny California where I worked my way up from inept receptionist as a result of an act of charity to an executive assistant to the president of the company. Swimming on Christmas day with my kids just so I could say we did. Priceless.
- Finely honed culinary skills that prevent more mistakes than not. I didn't give up on my love of cooking because of the few disastrous meals. Like the very expensive NY cheesecake that I inexplicably left the sugar out of. I learned what nice friends I have. ("Mmmmm. Interesting. But I'm really full from dinner. Thank you, though.") Thanks Chopped, Top Chef, Next Food Network Star, and so many other shows that have taught me the useful skills I don't use now because I'm too busy writing to care about eating.
- A much better mastery of discernment that allows me to, a little more often, decide whether a situation is worth my time.
- No regrets.
We're all in this together and we might as well learn, laugh, and love as wither away in self-disgust over the mistakes and misjudgments we've made.