I’ve had a lot of really great ideas over the years. I’ve also had some that were such spectacular failures I’m surprised the town didn’t throw a parade just to celebrate how happy everyone was to not be me.
I’m not talking about colossally bad ideas, like a full-body tattoo or marrying Charlie Sheen. I’m talking about run-of-the-mill things that most likely only went disastrous because they were in my capable hands.
When I was a kid, I took the basic and regular activity of sliding/bouncing in a seated position down our carpeted steps, added in the discovery that waxed paper is slippery, and concocted a plan to start at the top, sit on a piece of waxed paper, and slide down the steps to the bottom, where I would make a cushy landing on a strategically placed beanbag chair (they were all over the house – this was the 70s). This actually did work, at least until the carpeting itself became slippery from the repeated butt-pressing of waxed paper in the same path. On the next run, I rocketed down the steps like one-kid luge team, overshot the beanbag, and crashed into the front door.
Another time – still in childhood here – I was in the midst of an obsession with the Trixie Belden books. In case you weren’t similarly smitten, Trixie was a 13-year-old girl who went around with her friends solving mysteries and crimes. She was a little less sophisticated than Nancy Drew but not as, uh, psychedelic as the Scooby Doo kids. Anyway, Trixie and her friends called their mystery-solving club the Bob-Whites of the Glen. I wanted to be a Bob-White of the Glen SO MUCH that I declared the attic over our garage as the official Bob-Whites of the Glen clubhouse, painted “BWG” in big, multi-colored letters on the rafters, and then realized that I didn’t really have that many friends, there weren’t any unsolved mysteries lying around, I didn’t know what a glen was, and my dad probably wasn’t going to appreciate the paint job.
Perms make a repeated appearance on my list of Ideas Gone Wrong, and the saddest part of that is that I never remember the previous disaster when contemplating another. Never. It’s unreal. I’ve had big 80s perms (which were very much in fashion then but, as anyone who lived through the 80s can tell you, that isn’t saying much), “body waves,” and the massive spiral perm of the 90s that promised to make me look like Julia Roberts. Ha. So what did I do, just a few short years ago? I stood in the bathroom, gazing down at the box of perm rods I’d found and falling under their spell, my eyes glassy as I mumbled “Curls… yes… must have curls…” And I wrapped and I clipped and I wound and I solutioned and I rinsed and I neutralized and I rinsed. And viola!
I once decided to get artsy in my apartment and put wallpaper on the ceiling. But then I found out that wallpaper cost a lot more than I could afford, but I could buy a bolt of nice, heavy, floral-print fabric for pretty cheap. Fortunately, I realized before I left the store that fabric, unlike wallpaper, is not adhesive on one side, so I bought a big bottle of Elmer’s Glue. When I got home, I felt very artistic and quirky and cool as I spread Elmer’s Glue on the ceiling, then pressed the fabric into place. It didn’t look as good as I’d hoped, but it was passable… until the bathroom steam began loosening the fabric and the ceiling started to slowly peel itself. I should have just painted “BWG” up there and called it a day.