It Was An Awkwardly Embarrassing Moment


In the space of ten or fifteen minutes before the meeting began, I gave thought to my opening remarks. It was my intent to capture the group’s attention by throwing out a nugget of unexpected information. Instead of going straight to my topic, I referenced a rhetorical question asked of me the previous day: “When are we going to have a normal day?” Although the person wasn’t anticipating an answer to the question, I responded: “This is the new norm.” Honestly, the past couple of weeks had been filled with the unexpected. Did I mention a lot of it wasn’t good?


I don’t know anything about astronomy, but I do recall back when I was working as an orderly in the emergency room of a major hospital, we were significantly busier when the moon was full. Before we go farther, let me affirm that I strongly believe that God put the stars in the sky and created the heavens and the earth. In fact the Psalmist said He has the stars numbered and named. Honestly, that had to be an easier task than counting the hairs on one’s head, but I believe God has that covered as well.


In fact, in Psalms 8, the Psalmist asserts: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor”.


Let me also affirm for you that I don’t read my horoscope and then rely on that to be predictive of my day. Actually I don’t read my horoscope for any reason. I can either allow God to control my day or I can mess it up on my own. It has nothing to do with the alignment of the planets or the stars. I don’t even read my horoscope at the end of the day to determine if, like the weatherman, the horoscope got it all wrong.


Okay, hear me say that I’m pushing the envelope here and approaching dangerously close to what some of you may define as heresy. If so, you’re being judgmental and you are wrong. You need to read to the end of my story or you’ll miss a big surprise.


Did you see what I just did? I told you that you were being judgmental and that you were wrong. In so doing, I just made the same error. That being said, I can’t help but believe that a biblical understanding of astronomy highlights the glory and grace of God who created, sustains and rules the universe.


Out of curiosity, based on recent experience, I did a Google search to determine if Mercury is by happenstance in retrograde. I have a friend who never makes a major decision during that time because he thinks that for whatever reason his thinking isn’t as clear. According to the color-coding on the “Mercury in retrograde” calendar, we are in the midst of such.


Some say all sorts of things can happen. Perhaps the thing that most caught my attention was: “You may be unable to finish sentences or barely even able to form a coherent thought”. I know you’ve got to be thinking: “I finally found an excuse,” but that’s not were I’m going with my story.


One person describes it this way: “It’s like everyone you know has suddenly gone mad! You might find yourself getting into bizarre arguments about nothing at all.” Wow! Wow! Wow! That phrase caught my attention as well. Now that would really be blog worthy. Oops, before I go there, let me simple say: “I’m not going there”. I will leave it to your imagination. Even if Mercury is in retrograde, I’m not purposefully making that kind of mistake.


Consequently, my ability to exercise prudent judgment overrides the belief that a person is powerless or has the inability to make independent decisions because of any kind of gravitational or magnetic pull from the solar system. Consequently, I’m not crediting any of the stupid mistakes I make to the alignment of anything other than human nature is flawed. I don’t always get it right. We are all broken people.


If I am unable to finish my sentence or barely able to form a coherent thought, it probably has more to do with a lack of sleep and an insufficient supply of oxygenated blood. Though I have been known to get into bizarre arguments about nothing at all, that too is tied to the brokenness of my humanity rather than the location of Mercury in the solar system.


I will say this about yesterday: “It was an awkwardly embarrassing moment”. I wish I could blame it on the Mercury’s location in the sky, but I cannot. Actually, it was more than one moment. In a space of three-to-six minutes, I made the same error repeatedly.


To begin with, I was sharing information about an individual and while thinking of him, I inadvertently referred to him by calling him someone else’s name. Someone in the group interrupted to ask, “Did you mean… (identifying the name of the person I really was talking about)?” Of course, that is whom I was really talking about, but I referred to him with someone else’s name. It happened not once, not twice… actually it was three or more times. By then I was so embarrassed I wanted to crawl under the table.


I attempted to hit the reset button in my head and played it off as best I could. I made light of it by allowing myself to be the brunt of my own jokes for the remainder of my presentation and I purposefully referenced the experience two or three times. Why not laugh at myself? I’d rather laugh than cry, but I was more than just a little concerned about the brain warp I’d just experienced.


A little later in the day, a friend who is known for his brilliance and prowess in the courtroom shared an incredible story. Before the story, I already knew he was really smart, but after the story I was amazed. He apparently has always been really smart. Before I finish his story, I have to warn you that my saying he is smart may sound like an oxymoron because when it came to French, he wasn’t all that smart. Yet, how he managed to get college credit for the course was really smart. He obviously had to do some persuasive talking. I guess he knew what he wanted and he was unwilling to compromise. It wasn’t written in the stars, but he had the persuasive ability to make things happen.


Of course, when it came to French, he didn’t want much. Actually, he was willing to settle for a “D”, but he had to get college credit for the course. Who knows at what point he went to talk with his college professor, but like I said he obviously presented his case in a most persuasive way. The college professor decided the final exam would be the defining outcome. Whatever he made on his final would be his grade.


Like I said, my friend is resourceful and he’s smart. Sometimes it isn’t what you know but who you know that makes the difference. The night before his exam, after he got off work he made his way to the college infirmary. Though he didn’t say, I’m sure he was sick with the thought of the morning exam. However, being sick wasn’t the reason he went to the infirmary.


He went to the infirmary to solicit the help of a French nurse. I know what you’re thinking. I had the same thought. He apparently read my mind because he said almost defensively: “She was the same age as my grandmother. I really needed her help”.


He didn’t say how long they worked on his French vocabulary, but before he left, she asked: “What else do you expect on the exam?” He offered the possibility that he might have to write an essay. She asked: “Do you think the essay will have a designated topic or will you be free to write about anything?”


Since he thought it would be open ended, she suggested: “Why don’t you write about a French infirmary?” Consequently, together they crafted his essay. Imagine his surprise the next morning when the assigned topic on the final exam was to write an essay about a French infirmary. Was it a lucky break? Was it associated to the alignment of the planets or stars? I’m more inclined to think he wasn’t the first struggling French student across the years that had solicited the tutorial support of the nurse in the college’s infirmary. She obviously knew the test question would relate to a French infirmary.


Like I said, my smart friend was developmentally delayed when it came to speaking French. That probably has more of a relationship to the fact that he wasn’t from France and he didn’t grow up using the language. He was grateful for the “D” he got in the course and I’m sure, of course, that he was also grateful for the French nurse.


All My Best!



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