Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Regrets Can Be Funny

Do you have regrets?

I don’t mean little day-to-day regrets like that fifth piece of pizza, or that shot of tequila you put on top of all that chardonnay. I mean big life regrets.

I was thinking more about that question recently after I heard an ad on the radio for Pepto Bismol, or some other such stomach/digestive-related medicine. The ad agency was tasked with relating all the maladies that the product was capable of curing in a peppy, up-beat manner.

As with so many other radio ads, they went the jingle singer route.

Whomever the jingle singer was, I found myself wondering about them when they presumably placed a hand on one of their headphones, presumably leaned forward into the microphone with eyes closed, and melodiously crooned, “di-a-rrheaaaa.”

At what point during their day in the recording studio do you think they said to themselves, “Huh. Will you look at what’s happening here? I’m singing about diarrhea. I mean, sure, they’re paying me, but seriously. Diarrhea. When did my singing career take this turn? When did my life go off the rails? I was planning to be on The Voice, for goodness sake.  How did I get here? Was it one big mistake or a series of small, poor decisions?”

Thankfully, I don’t have any big career regrets like that diarrhea singer obviously does, and frankly, I didn’t think I had many if any regrets at all. That is, until I was relaying a story the other day about seeing my old high school water polo coach on an airplane a few years back, and I realized I missed a huge opportunity.

We had been working in Tijuana, Mexico (motto: Sure it smells like a sewer, but we have tacos!). On the way home, we spent an afternoon in the ridiculously long line of cars at the border going back into the United States. Under Mexican law, any stationary tourist is required to be offered a minimum of six crappy things to purchase per minute. We were in the line for two hours, so we saw a lot of merchandise. I finally settled on a small acoustic guitar to bring home to our boys.

So, a few hours later, I was boarding a plane in San Diego, holding a small guitar in my hand. My old water polo coach, whom I hadn’t seen since high school, was seated midway down the plane in an aisle seat.

He did not recognize the grown-up me, but he was being funny and asked if I was going to play a song for the plane.

This is where my regret lies.

I was so excited to see him again after all those years, I just stopped and put out my hand and introduced myself. We had a fun moment of “holy cow, I haven’t seen you in years,” before I had to move on to find my seat. I went back to talk to him once the flight was underway and we had a nice visit.

My regret does not stem from seeing him or getting to speak with him briefly. My regret is pun-based.

You see, my old coach’s name is Rick West. I was telling the story to my dad, who is far funnier than me, and he immediately pointed out where I went horribly wrong.

My brain is far too slow. I blew it, big time. Had I been quicker, the conversation would have been:

Rick West - Are you going to play us a song?
Quicker Me - Sure, I guess, but I didn’t know there would be Rick Wests on this plane.

That missed opportunity for comedy gold will haunt me the rest of my days.

See you soon,


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