Since life hasn’t been all that exciting in recent days, I shall dip back into my Personal Well of Embarrassment for yet another douche-chill-inducing tale from my past. I hesitate to do so, because I’m afraid I’ll fly too quickly through my reserve of embarrassing tales as I make use of the newly minted “Embarrassing” category, but—wait, who the hell am I kidding? A drought of me-embarrassing-the-hell-out-of-myself moments probably isn’t in the forecast anytime soon.
So, with that said, let us travel back in time to the year 1989. I am 19 years old and serving as a U.S. army military policekid (“policeman” would be a stretch; I don’t think I needed to shave more than once a year at 19) stationed at Ft. Irwin, located in the middle of the Mojave desert. I have not yet been out of high school for a full year, and my high-school sweetheart is a senior back home. She somehow cajoles her parents into letting her fly out to visit me, but not without her parents sending along with her an ingenious birth-control device: her grandmother. I shit you not.
So, high-school sweetheart, her very old, slightly heavyset, slow-moving, muumuu-wearing grandmother—whom I am meeting for the first time—and I are seated in a booth at a Pizza Hut in Las Vegas. (Yes, despite growing up in the Boston area, home of the greatest pizza establishment on the face of the entire planet, I was at Pizza Hut. Sometimes you have to settle.)
We order. The server brings us our drinks while we wait for the cheese-and-sauce-covered Belgian waffle—I mean “pizza”—to cook. The drinks are served in large, red, hard-plastic cups that hold about five gallons of crushed ice and soda.
As often happens with cold beverages in hot weather, condensation quickly forms on the outside of these large, red, hard-plastic cups. Also, the laminated, faux-checkered-tablecloth surface of the table is slightly wet, having just been wiped clean. I reach for my beverage, the circumference of which is roughly three feet. As I begin to grasp it, I feel it shoot away from me, propelled by the tension of the fingers and opposing thumb that had begun squeezing it, but that weren’t able to maintain their grip on its slippery surface.
The cup gracefully—and rapidly—glides across the tabletop on its frictionless cushion of moisture, launches itself off the opposite side, and lands directly in the lap of high-school sweetheart’s grandmother, whose muumuu-wearing self gets deluged by a tidal-wave of frosty, thirst-quenching, ice-cold Coke.
The rest is a chaotic blur of the server, high-school sweetheart and I scrambling for napkins, and of her almost-hypothermic grandma trying to mop herself up. I hardly remember anything else that followed, but I do recall that, despite the incident, we actually stayed and ate the “pizza.” That was comfortable.
Needless to say, I’m quite certain that the accidental soda tsunami I unleashed on grandma only steeled her resolve to keep me out of her granddaughter’s pants for the duration of their visit. Sadly, she (mostly) succeeded.