Instead of posting to my blog, I have been planning a long backpacking trip. If all goes well, I will complete close to 200 miles of hiking in 2.5 weeks in the Sierra Mountain range, living almost exclusively on the contents that I carry in my backpack. To prepare for this, I had to forecast all the likely stupid things that I might do and put some appropriate measure in place. I have to, in other words, head off my moron tax at the pass. Would I accidentally burn a hole in my tent like I did three years ago? Maybe, so bring duct tape. Could I forget to turn off my headlamp all night? Yes, so pack extra batteries. Given that I am so prone to doing stupid things, this took a lot of time and a lot of planning.
I leave for my trip in a couple of days, so I'll again be absent from my blog for the next few weeks. When I return, I promise to promptly return to sharing my moron tax stories with you. While I am sure many of those stories will be harvested during my hike, I'd rather hope that everything will turn out perfectly. So, rather than remind myself of how dumb I can be, I'd rather dedicate this post to a tale of not-my-moron-tax, when I did all the rights things, but suffered for someone else's misstep.
A boyfriend of mine once invited me to dinner with an out-of-town friend, Carl*, and Carl's friend Angie. Although my boyfriend, Carl, and Angie were well acquainted with one another, the group dynamic was quiet, if not tense. There was no obvious reason for this, and no one had warned me of any underlying problems. In these situations, I tend to become restlessly chatty and find myself commenting on what I heard on the news that day and whatever else springs to mind. Moments after we were seated at the restaurant, I noticed that Angie was wearing a very flattering diamond solitaire ring. I seized upon the ring as an opportunity to unlock a happy and uncontroversial topic for conversation. "Oh wow, that's a beautiful ring," I said to Angie. "Are you engaged?" Looking back now, I can see my boyfriend and Carl shifting uncomfortably in their seats, and I can feel the air going out of the room -- but at that moment, I smiled at Angie, fully expecting her to gush about her wedding plans, her honeymoon, and her dashing fiance. Instead, Angie frowned at me, looked at her ring, and sighed. "My fiance died six months ago." Only then, did I recognize that her silence had been a restraint on her grieving that I had failed to respect. We spent the rest of dinner speaking awkwardly about the details of her fiance's tragic and untimely passing.
*The names "Carl" and "Angie" are not their true names.