I have seen the movie “Forrest Gump” once, I think. Some folks I know could play that “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game with no outside assistance, or could quote every line from just about every major movie. I am the opposite of those folks. However, I am at least familiar enough with most of the big hits to get a decent amount of pop culture references. Like, if someone says “Jenn-nay” in a slow drawl, I at least know what movie’s being alluded to. Which is all the more reason why the following anecdote is more or less inexcusable.
A week or so ago, I was chatting with a friend of mine, and he began the conversation by saying something along the lines of, “Don’t you hate those days when you just wake up temporarily stupid?” For example, spelling a simple word blatantly wrong, but staring and staring and staring and still not being able to figure out for the life of you why “droor” looks weird. We all have those moments, or days, or…lifetimes.
We continued to catch up about our respective New Years and holiday experiences, and he began to tell a few stories about his brother, who was in town for the holidays. Now, these stories are things I always look forward to because the brother is a fascinating, incomprehensible person (I’ve never met him, but feel like I have). Apparently, this time around, at the family Christmas celebration, my friend’s girlfriend had given his mother and sister a veeeeeery nice box of assorted chocolates. The brother, a notoriously picky eater (to quote, “This is the guy who treats a jar of mayo like it’s asbestos jelly”), realized upon going to try one that the chocolates were unidentified. There was no legend to the candy roadmap presented before him. And once again this is decidedly not a man who enjoys venturing into the culinary world without suitable directions. Thus, apprehension and near-panic ensue. What if it’s a chocolate he doesn’t like? What if it is and it’s the only one? What if? What if?!
I countered this story by saying that I’d recently had a similar experience, in which one of my students had given me a small Godiva chocolate sampler box as a holiday gift. Since the box said they were all truffles, I just assumed they were all the same flavor. The first one I ate was delicious. Raspberry. Dark chocolate. Eye-closing, deep-sighing, edible bliss. However, the next one I ate was subpar. Not raspberry. Not nearly as delicious. I quickly glanced at the box and noticed on the back, next to the nutrition facts (now you understand why I didn’t look at the box too closely), there was a list of the four flavors of truffles included. And, lo and behold, I’d unwittingly eaten the best one first. Disappointment. So, I summed up this whole experience by saying that that’s just LIFE. You take a chance. You go with it.
My friend then asked, “So what you’re saying is…life is like…a box of chocolates?”
My jaw dropped. Oh my gosh. I’d just tried to be profound and insightful and instead, I (completely unironically) came to the same conclusion Forrest Gump did. Forrest. Gump. Not a (fictional) man known for his rapier wit. Just put me on a park bench in a khaki-colored suit and a plaid shirt and call me done for the day.
But you know, some days are winners. The stars align, and the bright golden haze on the meadow means that everything’s going your way. Some days, you should just call it quits around 2 pm because nothing better is going to happen than the totally stupid thing you just said or did. But remember, after all: stupid is as stupid does.