You know what really grinds my gears…?
You know… The people that, regardless of what story you have just told is going to be nothing in comparison to what they or their best friend’s brother’s sister’s roommate once did at Brown University that now makes your story seem insignificant.
When I joined the Army, my father prepared me for this inevitability, as he had spent over 20 years in the service himself. He had endured the ridiculous nature of this ritual.
I figured he was embellishing a little.
Nope. Not one bit.
I was 22 years old when I enlisted, which in a pre-9/11 Army made me an “old man” in basic training. Most everyone in my platoon was 18 or 19 years old. For some reason, however, everybody in my platoon had given up lucrative scholarships to play football for Big Ten schools or had gotten the maximum $40,000 cash bonus that the recruiting commercials always talk about. They also dated the homecoming queen and drove ridiculous cars that, if I’m not mistaken, are now being used in the “Fast and Furious” movie franchise.
That’s how ridiculous these “one-upper” stories would get.
Nineteen years ago I had jaw surgery to correct a birth defect and a severe under-bite. When I went to my boss to take some time off from work for the operation, she proceeded to tell me all about how much worse her surgery was going to be and how she was going to be back to work in just three days, but she was going to give me the two weeks I was asking for, just to be nice. Her surgery was to have her wisdom teeth taken out. I still have the 14 screws in my jaw. On the coldest winter days here in Maine, I swear on my father’s grave that I can feel the metal in my face.
See what I just did there?
I “one-upped” the wisdom tooth removal by making my post-surgical experience seem horrible and traumatic. (Seriously, though… The second my wife gives me the okay that we can move to Texas, I’m putting our house on the market.)
In all honesty, most everybody has done this at one point or another in his or her lives. I’ve caught myself once or twice and put myself on notice. I’ve found that since then, I’m nowhere near as interesting as the people that I meet on the street that were in the Marine Corps Recon then transferred to the Army Special Forces and rounded their careers out in the Navy SEALs. I simply can’t compete with that.
But this one time, at band camp…..