Experience, it is often said, is the best teacher. I agree. The epic cluelessness many of us suffer from sometimes emanates from inexperience, never having endured or undergone a particular situation.
This came to mind when I recalled an anecdote a friend shared some time back. She had given birth to her first child, and as is tradition, family and friends would drop by once in a while to see mother and child. One Friday evening, two of their friends, a newly-married couple, visited.
They turned up at this friend’s doorstep at 7pm bearing a gift – a bottle of vodka. A thoroughly inappropriate gift if there ever was one, in such a situation. They should have come bearing diapers, baby clothes, or an assortment of foodstuff and milk to feed the steady stream of visitors that tend to drop by during this period. However, this couple, having never experienced the needs that come with an infant, walked into a supermarket, walked around, and concluded that nothing could beat a bottle of vodka.
After appropriately cooing over the baby, they suggested a toast in honour of the baby, and since the only alcohol in the house was the liquor they had brought, my friend’s husband brought out three glasses.
From experience, he knew that night duty awaited him – newborns are averse to sleep and tend to cry all the time for reasons known only to them – and so, he just took a sip. The two guests, who were completely indifferent to time, ended up downing the entire bottle by themselves. By then, it was 9pm, fast heading to 10pm, but the two showed no signs of leaving.
As you can imagine, this friend and her husband were not only exhausted, but also resentful of the nap they had missed – their two-month old baby had been sleeping for the past one hour, which was a rare occurrence.
After fighting sleep for half an hour in an effort not to offend her visitors, my friend finally gave up, tipped her head back on the seat, closed her eyes, and went to sleep. The following day, her husband would tell her how their friends had laughed with incredulity, astonished at how boring they had become in just two months. Who goes to bed at 11pm on a Friday?!
They finally left at 11.30 pm, as high as kites, never having noticed the fatigue and sleep deprivation in their hosts’ eyes. I am told that these two are expecting a baby soon, and when this friend goes to pay them a visit when their baby comes home, she will reciprocate by buying them a bottle of very cheap vodka or, better still, a jerrican of muratina and end her visit at midnight.
Inexperience can also be embarrassing. I once observed a man gulp down the bowl of water that some restaurants offer their customers to wash their hands.
Not only did he drink it, he also sucked on the piece of lemon that comes with the water and then waited expectantly for the main course. The waiter who had served him stood there embarrassed, wondering whether to tell him or spare him the embarrassment.
In the end, he took the bowl and went to get his food.
There is also that photo that was doing the rounds on social media of a man in a supermarket who, instead of pushing the humongous trolley in which he is busy placing his shopping, he is holding it up.
I have had my moments of cluelessness and, man, haven’t they been embarrassing! These moments, which are often accompanied by snickers from insensitive people, will not kill you, though. You learn and you move on. Mistakes can be superb teachers.
[email protected] ke.nationmedia.com