I used to wind up in a lot of embarrassing situations. I never sought them out, mind you; I just wound up in them. Mysteriously.
There I'd be, minding my own business, and the next thing I knew I'd be dressed in a matador's outfit with my hand down a toilet. Or rollerskating down a staircase with no pants on. And then there was the time I bet I could eat more Jell-O than a horse, and my buddy said, 'What kind of horse?', and one thing led to another, and the racetrack was just a couple of miles away, and his Honda hatchback could probably fit a Shetland, if you shootched the seats up all the way, and I had this bag of baby carrots in the fridge, and-- oh, but wait. Those records are sealed. That's really all I can say about that.
The point is, these sorts of misadventures just seemed to follow me around. No matter what I did -- what precautions I took, which dares I turned down, or how many court orders were levied -- I just couldn't shake it. Eventually, I pinned my hopes on finding an axiom, some sort of easy-to-remember rule of thumb, that would keep me from sinking to such depths in the first place. I just needed some way to stop myself at an early, less shameful stage -- like when putting on that matador outfit, or lacing up the skates, or when we asked ourselves, 'horses eat out of bathtubs, don't they?' A quick assessment of where I was at, what I was getting myself into, and the ridiculous mayhem likely to ensue might just save my neck some day.
So I went looking for that axiom. I found a few. They were crap. Here's a handful of them:
Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Sure, the 'Golden Rule' works great for preventing you from doing mean and nasty things to other people -- but that wasn't really my problem, now, was it? When it comes to embarrassing nonsense, it's not always clear how and when the proverb applies.
Is a pink sequined tutu an 'others', for instance? Or is it the busload of schoolchildren seeing you dance on your lawn in it? If your dog has neither the opposable thumbs nor the highly developed forebrain to do unto you what you're doing unto her -- to say nothing of the access to an electric razor, a glue gun and ten pounds of Skittles in the first place -- then is it really wrong?
I don't know. I do keep the razor and the candy under lock and key now, but the whole 'do unto others...' thing? Useless.
Don't do anything you wouldn't do in front of your own grandmother.
Yeah, that's helpful.
I wouldn't pee in front of my grandma. Or take a dump. Or drink a beer, or slurp my soup, or cross against the traffic light, or say things like 'take a dump', or shave the dog and make her into a 'taste the rainbow' dispenser, or frankly any of the things that make life remotely worth living.
So after sitting on my ass for three days doing nothing fun at all, I gave up on this one, too. Maybe it works. But who'd want to live like that?
What would Jesus do?
"Jesus would run like hell, change his name to Paco, and hope nobody ever came looking for him in Tijuana."
My biggest problem with this question is that I never managed to ask it quickly enough. By the time I got around to posing it mentally, the answer would always be something like:
'Jesus would run like hell, change his name to Paco, and hope nobody ever came looking for him in Tijuana.'
'Jesus would have never stuck his finger in that thing in the first place.'
'Jesus doesn't even like Skittles.'
Clearly, not a big help.
So, in the end, I made up my own axiom, and it's kept me out of trouble ever since. It goes a little something like this:
'Never do anything you wouldn't want to explain to an emergency room doctor.'
There are plenty of legitimate (if unfortunate) and non-embarrassing ways to get to the emergency room. Accidents of all sorts, health issues, mishaps, riots, crashes, explosions, whatever. If, heaven forbid, any of these should happen to you or I, we could look the ER doc in the eye and explain just how the situation unfolded, and misfortune landed us in his or her care.
Should you injure yourself racing Big Wheels up the down escalator at the mall, streaking naked through a public park on a rented Vespa because you lost a bet about how to spell 'Reykjavik', or anything involving a futon, a GPS device and three hundred helium-filled balloons, your explanation is likely to be somewhat more involved. And uncomfortable. And possibly subject to prosecution. You probably want to consider that before putting a deposit down on a scooter, or blowing up all those stupid balloons.
It works like a charm for me. And my dog. And Grandma. And the horse in my bathroom. Also, my buddy 'Paco'. Says he's from Mexico. Good guy.