Friday, May 16, 2014

The Time I Dropped My Flask

I'm a smart, well-traveled career woman with a master's degree and three published works on the market. Unfortunately, I'm also fairly awkward. Please enjoy this series chronicling some of the awkward things I've done and the lessons I've learned along the way.


These Awkward Things I've Done, Part 4: The Time I Dropped My Flask

A few years ago while on a trip, I decided to buy a hip flask.

To this day, I'm not sure what possessed me. I don't drink hard liquor and had no real need for a flask, but I saw it and I wanted it, and I convinced myself that if I bought it, I could fill it with mouthwash and keep it in my purse, thereby justifying the purchase.

So I bought the flask, brought it home, filled it with mouthwash, and promptly lost it.

Several years passed during which I gave exactly zero thought to my missing flask. Then I decided to make some big life decisions which involved a job change and a new apartment. Almost immediately after my sister/roommate and I decided not to renew the lease on the apartment we shared, I fell and broke my ankle, suffered a life implosion, and therefore required lots of help during the resultant move. 

One day during the absolute armpit of the move -- a day that we had set aside for hauling out big furniture to make way for the final, frantic cleaning -- my sister and then-roommate put me in charge of recruiting volunteers to help. Since I was out of commission due to my ankle and she only had a narrow window of time during which she could borrow a trailer and haul the goods across town, we knew we couldn't do it on our own.

So I did what I do best: I delegated. I called up the associate pastor of our church and asked him to round up some likely lads who were willing to put in some hard labor in return for a couple of bucks. He cheerfully agreed and turned up with some strapping young men, one of whom was a student from the school where I was teaching at the time.  

They set to work hauling dusty bookcases, mismatched dining room furniture, and our brokedown love seat out to the trailer. Meanwhile, the the skies opened up, dumping a warm Florida rain over everything. While everyone dashed frantically about trying not to slip on wet tile, I hobbled around on my crutches, trying (and mostly failing) to be helpful without getting in the way.

When the time came for my bedroom furniture to be moved, I hovered nearby, uselessly backseat driving every step in the process. "Move the night stand away from the wall first before you try to pick up the bed frame," I ordered my student helpfully, as if he were not smart enough to think of this for himself. He obliged. As he moved the nightstand, something clattered to the floor and rolled toward the center of the room. Oh, horrors.

The flask!

It wobbled back and forth a few times before coming to rest at the feet of my associate pastor. He and my student stared down at the flask for a moment, then looked up at me, eyes rounded and eyebrows skimming their respective hairlines. 

I stared back, momentarily panicked. 

Clearly something needed to be said. 

But what?

-Oh, there it is! I've been looking for that! (breezy laugh)

No.

-THAT'S NOT MINE.

Suspect.

-What is THAT?

Worse.

-Oh, THAT? That's nothing. I just keep MOUTHWASH in it. 

Help.

In the end, I settled for an awkward laugh and the story about buying the flask on a trip and filling it with mouthwash and about how I'd forgotten I even owned it, but even to my ears, the story sounded thin and defensive. 

I offered to let them smell the flask, but they both declined. 

My associate pastor, who is always gracious, has never mentioned the incident. 

And as for my former student... who knows what he thought... or whom he told about the day he went to help his teacher move and learned that she kept a hip flask hidden between her bed and her nightstand. 

I'm slowly learning that when I stumble upon situations that put others in awkward positions, perhaps I should learn to take a step back, remember some of these awkward things I've done, and cut everybody else a little slack. 


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