I’ve done all the dumb things…

31 03 2013

We tend to reminisce at times about the folly of youth. Well, I do, at least, to try to draw some distance between extreme lapses in wisdom. In reality, I think I may be pretty much as foolish as I was then but slightly more circumspect with broadcasting the dumb that I do. Until now.

If there are young people reading this post, then I have many, many pieces of wisdom to dole out to you like smarty filled eggs on this day of our Christ’s resurrection. One is that you should never, under any circumstances, accept a dare to drink a full glass of Trix (or any other brand) dishwashing liquid. If my friend James is reading this post, he will, most likely, not be able to finish it without rolling on the floor laughing. My cross to bear and James, I hope you enjoy your Serotonin hit!


You see it is all Yolni’s fault. He was the (very) younger brother of the bride-to-be at the time where I was to be James’ best man and Yolni, James and I were in the kitchen of a church, helping to prepare the platters of food for the wedding the next day. Yolni was a wide-eyed youngster enthralled to be hanging out with “real men”, all of 19 years of age and hanging off our every word. It was then that I noticed what appeared to be a glass of green cordial on the window sill and held it, considering drinking it, before I realised that it was actually a glass of dishwashing liquid. Yolni saw me and wondered what I was doing, so I told him it looked like cordial and that I had almost drunk it. Then, came the most potent of temptations to young male ego, the dare. Yolni dared me to drink it. All of it. Of course, being the young man wise beyond my years, I categorically refused this dare. Instead, I ventured for that more socially acceptable of challenges, the bet. I will drink this dishwashing liquid, I declared, if you give me one can of cold Coke. Now THAT is a FAR better idea, don’t you think, readers??

So the liquid went down as quickly as green cordial might. That was, without a doubt the most pleasant part of the whole, sorry experience. The moment I drank that viscous liquid, my entire mouth filled with the vilest, most uncomfortable of tastes, whilst I had the twin realisations that a) I had won this silly bet b) Yolni was gob-smacked with awe and disbelief, c) James was already convulsing (as he was wont to do) with laughter and d) I wanted , more than ever in my life to have a REALLY good vomit.

Alas, Many minutes spent trying to drive the porcelain bus with my fingers down my throat trying to heave (not having eating disorders of any kind, this was all very new to me) but couldn’t. When I came back to the kitchen, James was still convulsing and Yolni was dutifully standing there with a can of softdrink. Not Coke, mind you, but Fanta. Which is kind of like telling your Baptist mother that you nearly married a Christian, when you present your new Mormon wife. I hated Fanta, nevertheless, I needed something to get the wretched taste out of my mouth, so I then did the second stupidest thing that night, I sculled the Fanta.

Now, any half-decent Chemistry student would now know the likelihood of what happened next, when millions of bubbles of CO2 obtained steroid-like amplification to their surface tension, courtesy of Trix, so now, I was more ready than I had been in my life to heave the lot up. I just made it to the toilet and was genuinely horrified to see the torrent of bubbles streaming from my mouth, some actually landing in the toilet bowl. For several minutes, it seemed, my alimentary canal was turned inside out as I had the intestinal equivalent of washing my mouth out with soap (without the commensurate release of swearing one’s head off). All over the floor, the toilet bowl and, curiously, streaming out of my nose were bubbles. When the boys saw me again, I had bubbles apparently coming out of every available orifice. For the next three days everything (even the six pack of cinnamon donuts I consumed the next day) tasted like Trix dishwashing liquid.

It was only when I returned to Uni and recounted this story that my friends politely advised me that I could very well have had lever failure and been seriously ill, if not dead after doing something so stupid. I didn’t enjoy the proceeds of my bet and have never seen Yolni again, though I suspect that if he even remembers this event, any fleeting admiration has long been replaced with incredulity or, more likely, scorn. So, was it worth it all? A resounding no. Have I been that stupid again? Sadly, too many times and not always with humour in hindsight.

Peter was, by most accounts in the New Testament, an impetuous idiot. He left his fishing to follow Jesus, which was, in hindsight, the wisest thing he had done. People marvel at the miracle where Jesus tells Peter and the other disciples fishing to cast their nets on the other side of the boat one day (John 21:6) and they break the fishing drought that day with a haul that they could scarcely pull in. Jesus was, no doubt, the wisest man who ever lived but I wonder whether John, the author (and most likely there in the boat at the time) was too embarrassed to mention the orientation of the boat. Was it parallel to the shore? Were they previously casting onto a dry beach? It would certainly explain the poor catch all night?

Peter also famously proclaimed that he would never deny Jesus and, had Jews been accustomed to wearing hats, would have been having his with milk for breakfast at his very next meal. Indeed, even the night that Jesus was betrayed, Peter hacked off the ear of the high priest’s servant when Jesus was handed over. Yes, his EAR! Good one Peter. That’ll learn them religious types.

cut off ear

Nevertheless, Jesus does a miracle whilst being arrested, endures a grisly death, a profound resurrection and manages to come back for some fish (and presumably, chips) with Peter, reinstating him as the founder of his church before ascending into heaven. Peter overcomes his cowardice, some of his impetuousness and most of his prejudice to see many thousands of people become the very first followers of Christ, without whom, the church would have long since perished.

The message? Jesus is for losers.

As it turns out, we are ALL losers, if we look carefully enough. All of us have our moments of epic failure, many of which separate us from this same loving God, with the same patience needed to reattach a high priest’s servant’s ear. The wisest thing we ever do is respond when he comes to reinstate us as his followers  when he gives us that chance.

Steve Taylor, poet, prophet, erstwhile songwriter and solo artist, pens these thoughts rather poignantly:Jesus is for Losers

If I was driven
Driven ahead by some noble ideal
Who took the wheel?

If I was given
Given a glimpse of some glorious road
When was it sold?

So caught up in the chase
I keep forgetting my place

Just as I am
I am stiff-necked and proud
Jesus is for losers
Why do I still play to the crowd?

Just as I am
Pass the compass, please
Jesus is for losers
I’m off about a hundred degrees

If I was groping
Groping around for some ladder to fame
I am ashamed

If I was hoping
Hoping respect would make a sturdy footstool
I am a fool

Bone-weary every climb
Blindsided every time

Just as I am
I am needy and dry
Jesus is for losers
The self-made need not apply

Just as I am
In a desert crawl
Lord, I’m so thirsty
Take me to the waterfall

And if you’re certain
Certain your life is some cosmic mistake
Why do you shake?

And if you’re certain
Certain that faith is some know-nothing mask
Why do you still ask?

They don’t grade here on the curve
We both know what we deserve

Just as you are
Just a wretch like me
Jesus is for losers
Grace from the blood of a tree

Just as we are
At a total loss
Jesus is for losers
Broken at the foot of the cross

Just as I am
Pass the compass, please
Jesus is for losers
I’m off about a hundred degrees

Just as I am
In a desert crawl
Lord, I’m so thirsty
Take me to the waterfall

Happy Easter, Losers! 🙂





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