I once made seven mistakes in a single encounter.
You will agree, I believe, that I am not exaggerating when I say…
That is a whole lot of mistakes.
I am working for an Executive Producer friend – no names today, I have committed a sufficient number of “Boo Boos” already.
The show in question is a half-hour comedy, starring an extremely popular Br… – no, no clues. You can tell I am a little jumpy, and who wouldn’t be when you once made seven mistakes in a single encounter and you are voluntarily revisiting to the scene of the crime.
What the heck. You can only die seven times.
Okay, so I am working on this show. And one day, this respected magazine journalist and profiler of talented people who is a friend of my Executive Producer friend arrives, to write an extended article about the headliner of this sitcom.
It turns out that in the course of his comprehensive research process, I myself am scheduled for a half hour “sit-down” with the esteemed journalist.
I had always been a fan of the journalist’s work – as well as the magazine he worked for, having submitted numerous – I’d like to believe – humorous essays to that periodical, all of which were summarily rejected.
There was, however, one thing that troubled me about the journalist’s efforts.
Inevitably included in every piece were a couple words I did not know the meaning of. “Louche.” “Recondite.” “Manichean.” Words traditionally absent from everyday conversation. At least, mine, anyway.
Nearing of the end of my “deep background” interview, feeling relaxed in the journalist’s company, I confided that each week, when I’d receive my copy of the magazine, I’d turn immediately to that issue’s “Table of Contents” to see if something of his was included, and if it was, I would read whatever the journalist had written first.
I went on – and unfortunately should not have – to reveal that, when reading his consistently enjoyable offerings, I would invariably find myself hobbled by one or two words that I did not understand.
To which the journalist, his face suddenly a stone, replied icily,
“Well you could always look them up.”
END OF BACKSTORY
(Because I know what is about to happen):
Throughout the following you will find feeble explanations, contextualizations and rationalizations for my inexcusable behavior. I apologize, but I cannot keep them out, as I am congenitally weasely and must justify my actions, even when they are uniquivocally mistaken. Make that especially when they are unequivocally mistaken.
END OF WARNING
Okay. Again. Let’s jump right into it.
Mistake Number One: “Unwanted Criticism”
Nobody likes to be criticized. Even constructively, as I was only trying to help. (You see what I’m talking about? I warned you.)
Mistake Number Two: “Unnecessary Advice-Giving”
The journalist was indisputably successful. It’s like he grew prize-winning tomatoes and I was telling him how he could them even better. Why did I do that? His tomatoes were unassailable as they were. Although, in truth, cannot even the most commendable accomplishment be improved upon? (There I go again. You were wrong, Earlo. Live with it!)
Mistake Number Three: “The Mistake of Misinterpreted Familiarity”
The show business milieu, where we habitually dress casually and address each other by our first names, engenders a misleading impression of personal connectedness.
Falling heedless victim to this chimerical illusion, I behaved like his buddy, offering unsolicited advice, when I was in fact a complete stranger telling a powerful personage how he messed up.
But only because I was trying to hel… Okay. Never mind.
Mistake Number Four: “The Mistake of Conflicting Genres”
I write comedy. Writing comedy, you would never include a word the audience does not understand, endangering the desired ultimate response, which is hilarity.
The journalist wrote serious profiles and theater reviews. I had therefore erroneously given a serious writer comedy advice. Which is like giving a hockey player inside tips on hitting the curve ball.
HOCKEY PLAYER: “What do I need that for, eh?” (Unless the hockey player’s from Sweden, in which case, “Pyerna hernya fernya”, the Swedish word for “asshole” either included or understood.)
Mistake Number Five: “The Mistake of ‘Big Picture’ Opacity”
I wanted achingly to be published in that magazine. My encounter with the journalist had given me an “in.” My unthinking behavior provided an indelible “out.”
Mistake Number Six: “The Mistake of Extended Consequences”
Not only had I lost any chance of befriending the journalist, but the show’s Executive Producer, the journalist’s friend, immediately stopped being my friend. Call it a “bank shot” of personal rejection.
Mistake Number Seven: “The Mistake of Artistic Exaggeration”
Which occurred just now. There were really only six mistakes. I bumped it up one because seven’s a more satisfying number. (You have to trust me on that. It is.)
Oh, wait! There is a seventh one.
Mistake Number Seven: “The Mistake of Egregious Demonization”
I wrote a post about that experience and, in the depiction, in the words of my former Executive Producer friend, I made the journalist “look like ‘The Wicked Witch of the West.’” (You want to hear the best part? I had requested him to alert the journalist about the post. Having no idea I had insulted him!)
Okay, so there you have it – seven mistakes in a single encounter.
My one consolation?
I will never be able to top it.
Mistake Number Eight: “The Mistake of Unimaginable Wishful Thinking”