Worst Concert: Grateful Dead in Charlotte, 1995. This show was devastatingly awful. With a terrible set-list, apathetic playing, a depressingly old looking Jerry Garcia and annoying deadheads everywhere, I have to say my worst concert was by one of my favorite bands. They redeemed themselves the next night in Atlanta though. Runner up: Toto (the tickets were free.)
Worst date: In high school I asked a girl to the homecoming dance. I spent the afternoon detailing my car. I decided for some reason to dress in sort of a grunge-meets-gomer outfit, with layered flannel shirts and old jeans with enormous holes in the knees. (What the hell was I thinking?) When I picked her up she was dressed to the freakin’ nines. I looked like I just got off work at Goober’s gas station. Luckily she had a change of clothes for the party after the dance and, believe it or not, the grunge/gomer look was kind of in, so she had holes in her jeans too.
Worst hangover: Don’t ever eat the worm at the bottom of a bottle of tequila. I’m just saying this because it's exactly what I did on my 21st birthday. I remember going out to eat the next morning. It was Sunday and all the church people were having proper Sunday lunches. I must have looked like an escapee from the morgue. I sure felt like it. I barely managed to hold down my eggs.
Worst roommate: The guy I lived with in Portland who spent the phone bill money on strip-clubs and drugs. He also gradually moved his wife, step-son and parakeet into our two bedroom flat. The parakeet would start chirping at three in the morning and pooped all over my couch. The wife chain-smoked Misty cigarettes and played solitaire all day. Runner up: The guy who would come home drunk and throw chairs at the wall. Bye-bye security deposit. He was a pretty decent guitar player so he misses first-place by a hair.
Worst illness: I had chicken-pox when I was about 37. You’re supposed to get chicken-pox when you’re a kid, that’s why they gave it that cute name. But I got it in my thirties and let me tell you…it was not cute! Besides looking like someone lowered a wasp-nest onto my head, my girlfriend mistakenly got the wrong type of antibiotic cream which made the symptoms worse. I spent a couple of agonizing nights with a wet washcloth over my face. Physically, I felt like I’d been steam-rolled. I remember watching the Elephant Man on TV and identifying completely. “I am not an animal!” Runner up: Staph infection in Costa Rica. Honorable mention: Whatever that thing was I had for the first month in Africa.
Worst meal: This is tough, I can’t really think of a really bad meal I’ve had although I know there has to be one. I got food-poisoning from a sandwich once, but that doesn’t really count. Oh yea, recently I went to a chain restaurant and ordered eggs-over-easy. The whites weren’t even close to being fully cooked. It looked like the eggs had been precooked and then dipped in warm water for service. Yow! Also, there have been times in my life when economy dictated I concoct meals out of what I had in the cabinet. This is usually a pretty sparse selection. I came up with some scary things during these times. However, I did discover the versatility of Top Ramen.
Actually there’s one more. I once ate a raw turnip on an empty stomach, (it’s a long story). Don’t ever, ever, do this. I won’t go into details as to why, just never, ever do it.
Worst book I actually finished: The Fountainhead. I know it seems like I have an axe to grind with Ayn Rand, but I just hate all that superior social darwinism crap. Problem is, and I don’t like to admit this, the writing was compelling enough to see me through to the end…and, sigh, actually made the book difficult to put down. There, I’ve said it. Moving on…
Worst movie: I learned not to completely trust the movie reviews in The New Yorker with this one. One of the reviewers, I don’t know if it was Denby, Lane or another one, salivated about a movie called Rangoon. Has anyone seen this film? I might have missed the point, but I found it excruciatingly dull and therefore list it as the worst movie I’ve ever seen. All I remember is everyone being very sweaty and damp through the whole thing (the actors, not the audience, well maybe the audience too.)
Worst try-out: In fifth grade I tried out for the school soft-ball team. We couldn’t afford a soft-ball-mitt so, true to fashion, my mother offered to see if a friend who had sons would let me borrow one. It sounded like an okay plan, but I was a little suspicious. The glove that I got was tiny, and looked like it was manufactured around the-turn-of-the-century. (that’s the 20th century young-uns.) Predictably, the try-out went badly. The other kids had their huge non-antique-gloves and were scooping up soft-balls and hurling them back to home-plate with ease. I, on the other hand, couldn’t have handled a golf-ball with that glove and, sadly, didn’t make the cut. Runner up: this wasn’t necessarily a try-out, but I once had the opportunity to play bass with Ben Folds (he had hits in the nineties, remember?) I completely choked, and couldn’t play a note.
Worst moment in a classroom: I went to community college for a while and administration talked me into taking a piano class. It was a good class, but I got the date for the recital wrong and came into it completely unprepared. About fifty people watched me struggle through hickory-dickory-dock and a few other pieces. The instructor had to point at each key before I played it, patiently whispering “that one, then that one, now the black one again” etc.
Worst computer mishap: I was working on the big research-paper that all history majors had to complete when the library lap-top I was using shut-down. When I booted it back up I went to the recovery function and accidentally deleted several pages of my final draft. I was in a library so I couldn’t shout expletives at the top of my lungs, but I really, really wanted to.
Worst job: My first job when I went to Africa was assisting a surgeon with just general daily tasks. On of these jobs was taking photographs of surgery, which was exciting and fascinating. But I also had to do clerical work which wasn’t so great. The worst task assigned to me however was collecting sputum samples from the TB ward. Yes, really, I did that. Runner up: Chef at the Diamondback Café.
Worst fashion choice: I used to cut my own hair. ‘nuff said.
Worst bruise: I had a bruise on my hip from skiing that was the color of a black-hole and was kind of shaped like the Milky Way. Actually it was many bruises layered on top of each other because I kept falling on the exact same hip.
Worst airline experience: Flying from Transkei to Raleigh took four days. They had me on the wrong flight when I got to Johannesburg, when I finally arrived in Brussels there was an air-traffic-controllers strike, I missed the connection from New York to Raleigh by ten minutes and I was suffering from a malady which I won’t name but is extremely unpleasant to those who’ve experienced it. I had to start work at a summer camp on the same day I finally made it to North Carolina. It took me about a month to recover.