Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My Bad No. 7

Here is yet another example of my invincible stupidity, also dating back to my college years.

When you hear the word "mace," especially in connection with a college campus, you probably think of something similar to pepper spray. But where I went to college, the mace was a scepter sort of thing that the president of the university carried on ceremonial occasions. The photo at left shows the actual mace of which I speak.

During my junior year, the university inaugurated a new president. The ceremony took place outdoors on a cold, drizzly day. After a series of bloviating speeches by various dignitaries, the new president made headlines by delivering the following inaugural address: "I have examined the entrails of birds and determined that it is raining." He then invoked his executive powers to move the remaining festivities indoors. This made him popular with the student press, but it was too late to save the mace. The beautifully finished wood was damaged by the rain.

So the scene shop at the university theatre took the mace, sanded it down, and refinished it. They did a marvy job of it. When it was all dry and ready to go back to the president, the scene shop sent it up to the theatre department office - where I had a work-study job. I was the uncontested ace at running errands. I not only knew how to get everywhere on campus, but I could plan the route through any number of points on campus requiring the fewest steps and the least amount of time. So the secretary of the department handed the mace to me, wrapped in a heavy blanket, and sent me on my way with the words: "BE CAREFUL!"

Balancing this huge, heavy, unwieldy object with one arm, I somehow managed to open the door from the office to the hallway. But before I could get all the way through the doorway, the door slammed on the end of the mace where the little wooden hand clutches a solid marble ball. The ball popped right out of the hand (it was only glued in place), hit the floor with a deafening crack, and rolled into the corner.

The first person I saw when I sheepishly came back into the office was the secretary of the theatre department. I'm not saying she looked angry; but if looks could kill, I would be a cripple.

There was no damage that couldn't be repaired. I suppose the job went to the scene shop. As for me, I never saw the president's mace again. I think some effort was made to make sure of that.

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