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Column: Mistakes

Ever make a tiny error, or a big one? Who hasn't, says humour columnist.
Who hasn't made a few mistakes? Our humour columnist remembers a couple from her own life. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

Do you ever make mistakes? That’s a silly question because of course, we all do. However, if you ever read my columns, you’ll know I make plenty of ‘em. Here’s a few common types.

Yesterday, my youngest daughter took several unflattering headshots of herself on my cell phone to prove a point. She’d scowled into the camera with squinty eyes and hair hanging in lank strings about her face.

“See,” she said triumphantly. “I look unapproachable.”

Rubbish!” I exclaimed. “Everyone looks unapproachable if they grimace.” As she left the room, I highlighted each image and erased it, feeling sure she wouldn’t want such evidence hanging around. Later, my phone “pinged” and I glanced at it half an hour later to see a notice from Facebook informing me that my pictures had been successfully downloaded. ARGH! Not only had I not erased them, I’d actually sent the flippin’ photos to Facebook for public viewing! To add further injury, people had already remarked on them.

“Lovely photos of your daughter, Helen,” they wrote, lying through their teeth. I mean, she IS lovely, but the pictures weren’t, and I erased them with a sigh. Dumb mistake.

My brother works all day in the hot sun. Being prone to headaches, he wears clip-on sunglasses to protect his eyes. One day last week, in order to remove a defunct sewer pump, he’d hauled the heavy concrete lid off of his septic tank and… (You already know where this is going don’t you?) Anyway, he leaned low over the concrete edge to peer into the deep dark hole when suddenly, with a clicky sound, his clip-ons unhinged themselves and floated, end over end into the slop below. To his alarm, they lay suspended in the slimy sludge for one sickening moment before sinking from view. Sad mistake.

Recently I made crème brûlée, a deliciously rich custard topped with a crust of caramelized sugar. All went well until I began to search, to no avail, for my little butane torch in order to melt and brown the sugar. I questioned my husband, although it seemed ridiculous to ask my non-dessert-cooking-husband if he knew where this special culinary tool was.

“Sure,” he responded. (Without a shred of guilt, I might add.) “I used it this winter to shrink-wrap a few underwater wires together and lost it somewhere.”

Drawing myself up rigidly, I pointed an accusing finger. “You snuck outside in the dead of winter with my kitchen torch and used it to fuse wires in the snow? And then you flipped it into obscurity under some pile of junk and lost it…SOMEWHERE?” Harmonious marriage mistake.

When I was about 18, my nickname was Wheels, and I drove with a certain reckless abandon, or flair, as I prefer to term it. One hot summer night, my friend Lori and I initiated a game: throwing water-balloons at the cars of friends. (No, we did not accost innocent pedestrians or motorists and yes, it was a stupid idea.)

Next morning, a few balloons still rolled on the floor as we motored to work when suddenly, we noticed the vehicle of a fellow who had “gotten us good” the night before. I pulled alongside, and Lori lobbed a particularly juicy one at the side of his car. Sadly, she failed to notice his window was down. The heavy red balloon tumbled through the air, flew in his window and burst on his lap. He was also on his way to work and never spoke to us again. Idiotic mistake.

There are a wide variety of mistakes to be made in one’s life. I’m sure if we were to visit over coffee one day, you would tell me a few of your own.

Helen lives on the family farm near Marshall, Saskatchewan. She is a writer, columnist and works in education. To contact her, or learn more about what she writes, go to or write Box 55, Marshall, SK. S0M1R0