We all take chances at some point in our life. We roll the dice and hope for the best.
We take a chance on love. We take a chance on that new job. On that used car we plan to buy. During this time of endless debates in the political arena, there are men and women taking a chance. Each day our men and women put on the uniform, be it military or public service officials, and take a chance. The oil and gas industry is rooted in a great game of chance.
In the pursuit of chance, we risk a lot. Our feelings. Our personal happiness. Our families financial future. We open ourselves to failure. To ridicule. To embarrassment.
In my pursuit of writing I was taught something that has never left me: to be a skilled writer, you need to be unique. You can’t attempt to write like Cormac McCarthy or even Stephen King. You have to be yourself. The reader has to get to know you, identify with you and believe in your words.
Easier said than done. Writing is a lonely profession. There are no co-workers in my office. Just me at my desk with my computer. Writers labor over each word, each sentence, each paragraph and with each page we reveal ourselves. After all, it is our imagination that fuels the story.
Last week the very talented writer and blogger August McLaughlin introduced a game – a version of the Naughty or Nice List – which was a terrific writing exercise. Making the list forced me to expose myself in ways that weren’t comfortable. The goal of the game is for the writer to reveal things and take a chance. Hopefully, the lessons learned will carry over into our other writing – the novel. It was a game intended to let the reader learn more about us – good or bad!
Her blog Naughty & Nice: Confessions of a Goodie-Goodie was great fun. So much fun, I decided to accept her invitation and play the game. Click on her link for a better understanding of how the game works, and for an entertaining look at her naughty or nice list.
My list was of things that I MAY or MAY NOT have done. Maybe I was guilty of everything on the list, or maybe none of it. It was up to the reader to decide which exploits happened, and which are just a fixture of my imagination.
So to further embarrassment here are the answers to my list:
I am so naughty, I:
1. Passed out and woke up locked inside a bar in New Orléans the next morning with no way to get out.
Answer: Ha! Most of you got this one wrong! I have been to New Orléans and did try to drink the town dry, but lost. This happened to a good friend of mine.
2. Found myself surrounded by ten Mexican Federales, screaming at me in Spanish, with machine guns pointed directly at me while at a bar in a small border town in Mexico.
Answer: Unfortunately this one was true. Still have no idea why they singled me out of the group at our table, but they did. Frightening experience. Never went back to Mexico after that. Even more dangerous there now.
3. Tried to take a 6 foot hotel Santa Claus decoration up the elevator with me.
Answer: Most of you got this one wrong, as well. I was present when hotel security took Santa away from my friend and off the elevator.
4. Played naked red rover at a house Christmas Party.
Answer: Happy to report to all, including my mom, that I never did this one either. It just sounded funny so I included it on this list.
5. Bribed my high school biology teacher into giving me a “C” in his class after catching him smoking pot after school.
Answer: Yes we did catch the little orange-haired teacher after the Friday pep rally smoking a joint! Later that night, or the next night, my friend and I confronted the teacher at our high school dance. We had a few beers in advance and decided to take a chance. We confronted him, and after a series of denials (his) and threats (ours) he relented. At the end of the year my friend and I got a ‘C’ in the class, as promised. How stupid was I back in high school? I didn’t ask for an ‘A’, thought it might be a little too obvious, and the parents would think something was amiss!
6. Wahoo’d beer from the same convenience store week after week while in high school and never got caught.
Answer: This happened as well, and to this day we still marvel out our luck at never getting caught. I guess the Houston police had bigger things to worry about. I forgot to mention in the original post, that we would also place a couple of burritos in the microwave oven next to the door, and heat them up before giving the Wahoo yell. A free dinner of bean and cheese burritos and beer!
7. Drove a jeep off a cliff.
Answer: Long story, but yes this happened. There were four of us in the jeep. We bailed out just before it went over the cliff. To this day we never admitted who the driver was – until now I guess. Seconds after the jeep went off the bluff someone is the group asked, “Did anyone see were the ice chest landed?” Out in the middle of nowhere in the South Texas brush country, we walked home. Along the way we were partially sprayed by a skunk. Once we arrived back to the house a rain storm hit, the power went out, forcing us to ration the ice-cube trays in the freezer. By the way, the Jeep really didn’t have any brakes, really.
8. Broke wind at Sound Warehouse and when the attractive girl across the record aisle looked up, I pointed at my friend Chris, without him seeing me.
Answer: Remember Sound Warehouse? We would spend hours in there after school. Now is as good a time as any to finally apologize to my buddy Chris for this one.
9. After a dare and several beers bunji jumped at the state fair.
Answer: Oh hell no! I have a total fear of heights. Bunji-jumping would be the ultimate in torture for me. Putting my life at risk with a heavy-duty rubber band and Carney worker? Me stupid? Yes. But not that stupid!
10. Ate cow tongue at a pub in London and like it.
Answer: I can thank my Father for this one and his tricky ways. We were sitting in a pub in London on a fine afternoon and doing as the locals do, having a few pints. The pub had some sort of sandwich spread thing going and my Father brought to the table samplings of the meat and some bread. We ate away and washed it down with the suds. He asked if we enjoyed the food. We all replied that yes indeed the food was pretty good. He then told us we were eating cow tongue!
11. Fed the homeless in Chicago on Thanksgiving one year.
Answer: Yes! Even a crowned dunce can do something selfless now and then!!
12. Had dinner and drinks (lots of drinks) with a King in Dallas, Texas.
Answer: This was sort of a trick question. In Oklahoma, the number one pastime (besides making meth and chasing tornado’s) is college football. Former coach Barry Switzer was nicknamed, “The King”. Upon my graduation from college, I worked in the Media Relations department of the Athletic Department while Switzer was still the head coach. Following his career at the University of Oklahoma he coached the Dallas Cowboys. He was part-owner of a restaurant in Dallas. We happened to both be there at the same time one night, and he invited me to his table. The two of us had a great dinner together and finished the night with drinks at the bar. He is the nicest King you will ever meet!
13. Got tongue-tied when author Harlan Coben said “How you doing, Big Guy”
Answer: Yes, my oversized inner dork made an appearance at the wrong time.
14. Broke into the Priest’s supply room at my all-boys high school and ate all the unblessed communion wafers.
Answer: Yes, this happened as well. That was so many years ago I can’t remember why. Maybe, just because!
So there you have the answers, the truth revealed, and the shame begins. I am not proud of some of the things on this list. The list was not an attempt of boasting or bragging about past exploits. I have opened myself to the reader, and quite frankly, I honestly don’t like how it feels!
I’m just glad I never got a phone call from my Mom after she read the list!