Maude McDaniel, Columnist
There are first awful moments — and then there are first awful moments. I suppose some would define a first awful moment as the one in which they had just stepped outside the door and then realized they hadn’t put on their makeup. (That would probably have to be a woman, in most cases.) Another similar awful moment is stepping outside the door, and realizing you accidentally locked it — and don’t have the key.
There are a lot of first awful moments in life, and it’s hard to gauge the relative awfulness, especially when the moment is progressive.. Like the time I chomped down on a piece of bone FAM! while eating a hamburger, and, only after fishing it out, realized it was not a bone at all, but a piece of tooth. SAM! Luckily (or not), after further investigation, it turned out to be MY tooth TAM! — and even more luckily, I had not yet complained to the hamburger joint manager. But still, it WAS my tooth. Which makes it a first awful moment , multiplied at least three times.
Just to reassure you, I will not be dealing with the worst fams, but with minor fams that still give you a thrill. The kind of minor first awful moment that happens when you suddenly realize that you have just turned onto Oldtown Road while they were repairing it, or laying lines underneath, or whatever, that rendered it impossible to drive on further to reach your destination. FAM! You managed this by ignoring those boring signs that may have mentioned it earlier on. And you are at this very awful moment driving wrong way on the single lane roadway that has been prepared for (and is now carrying) traffic coming — the other way.
Another first awful moment that happens to me sometimes is at the computer when, with no such intention, I realize FAM! I just clicked on “Send” instead of “Save.” Or worse yet, when I have just completed an entire column for the paper and then accidentally flip some key (I have still not figured out which key this is) which sends the whole article into computer purgatory, never again to be seen by the human eye — or at least mine.
Now, I know, there is some key somewhere that will, if you are very careful and don’t touch any key before that one, restore to you your lost masterpiece — but sometimes I don’t seem to be able to locate it. Or, if I do, it doesn’t do the job, this time around. At best, it might restore the article I lost last week, though that’s no sure bet either.
A very subtle first awful moment was the time recently I realized , not so much that I was old — but that I pretty much started turning the corner into middle age — 50 years ago! To realize one is almost 50 years PAST middle age — FAM!
Then there is that first awful moment when you realize that you have just pressed your medic alert button while playing with the dog. Yes, I have one of those buttons, thanks to my daughter who virtually forced me into a corner and twisted my arm to make me do it. (Although, I must say when she succeeded I was, well, a little, relieved, but don’t tell her that.)
Rusty and I were playing tug-of-war with his favorite toy, and we had a good one going (which I was winning, if I say so myself), when suddenly I heard this disembodied voice in the next room, intoning, “Emergency, emergency, emergency.” “What emergency?” I thought to myself, “I’m winning!” when I suddenly realized that somehow we had activated the alarm. Well, I got it all straightened out with the attendant, and we laughed together (at my stupidity) — and several days later it happened all over again. FAM! and FAM!
Another first awful moment has been known to occur to me when I took an anti-diarrheal pill and then realized it was a generic-type Ex-Lax pill instead. Oh, FAM!, FAM!, FAM!
And can you imagine the first awful moment when you realize that you just baked your hearing aid in the dinner pizza. FAM! (Not me, but I heard about it from my hearing-aid man.)
Other first awful moments for me personally, include the moment (several times a year) when I realize I turned on the dryer, while the air conditioning was running. My house can’t handle both at the same time. And I ‘m no good with breakers. Oh, FAM it!
There is nothing that matches such first awful moments, for their sheer horror, shock, and cold sweat down the back. (Except maybe the second awful moment.)
And finally there is that first awful moment when you realize that, Maude, there have been one heck of a lot of first awful moments lately — could it have anything to do with your age?
Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears on alternate Sundays in the Times-News