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Lessons to Live By: Life is Too Short(s)

Hello and thanks for coming by! I wrote this blog before I went to camp but posting it now. (I didn’t want you to miss out while I was away!)

In today’s installment, I have a funny story (though not-so-funny if you’re my mom) about something that happened to me as I was getting ready for camp. It’s about doing something you thought would be silly, but not thinking through the consequences.

The lesson I learned is this: there’s a time and a place for being funny. Be sure to think about your audience and the setting (i.e., the time and place) before you go for the laugh. I didn’t use good “joke judgement” and it ended up causing more annoyance than laughs.  

Here’s what happened…

Okey jokey

If there’s anything I love, it’s a good joke. 

In school, I’m sort of known for being a class clown. But as I’ve discovered over the years, teachers don’t always find disruptions funny. I’m getting better at knowing when it’s OK to be funny, and when to save that joke for later. But I’ve still got a way to go.

Now, my mom is both a teacher and a mother. So, I guess the rule about using “joke judgement” for silliness counts for double when I’m home.

One afternoon, I had my friend Tracey over. Tracey has a good eye for mixing and matching clothes. This makes her a pro at packing. I’d asked Tracey to help me make some tough choices about what I should bring to camp. At camp, space in the cabins is pretty limited. (And according to my dad, there’s also limited room in our car trunk for my big sister Jill’s stuff and mine.)

I showed my camp packing list to Tracey for her expert opinion on what I should pack. For a one-month session, we are only supposed to bring ten pairs of shorts, fourteen t-shirts, four long sleeve shirts, fourteen pairs of socks…well, you get the point. You have to be creative and smart in your packing.

May the shorts be with you

To make the packing process more fun, I’d put on some music. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that packing and dancing definitely go together. Just as we were getting started, my mom came into my room and asked if we could turn the music down. She said she was busy doing something important. To make sure I got the message, she very clearly said “please do not to disturb me unless there’s a problem.” 

“Sure thing,” I told my mother. I turned the music down a little. Then, Tracey and I got to work.

Tracey said we should start with picking out my shorts. That way, we’d know what tops we’d need to match them to. Sounded smart. Tracey pulled out some blue shorts, some grey ones, and then she pulled out my favorite pair of red shorts. The red shorts are super cool because they have this white piping down the side. They’re also really comfortable and match a bunch of my shirts. Obviously, I’d have to pack them.

Tracey tossed me the red shorts to put in my duffel bag. She threw them a little high, but I still caught them. As a joke, I threw the shorts back to Tracey. A quick game of catch never hurt anyone. Looking back, I wish I’d used my joke judgement when the game started. But I didn’t.

As a result, we got a little sillier with each throw.

When Tracey threw the shorts back to me again, she threw them waaaaay over my head. It was such a bad throw that the shorts landed in the hallway.

I was about to throw the shorts back at Tracey from out in the hallway. Instead, I thought it would be funny if I twirled the shorts over my head. Sort of like building up the drama before I threw them.

One important thing I should point out here: it had been a warm day. To cool things off, my mom had turned on the attic fan. Had I used my joke judgement, perhaps things wouldn’t have turned out the way they did.

Your biggest fan

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realize how powerful the attic fan was. As I twirled the shorts—just as I was about to throw them back to Tracey—the fan sucked the shorts out of my hand. I laughed, thinking Tracey would too.

But then I saw Tracey covering her mouth in shock.

“Your shorts got sucked into the attic,” Tracey said. She pointed to where the attic fan was whirling away. 

“No, they didn’t.” I couldn’t imagine that the attic fan was so powerful that it snatched my shorts away. I looked around to see if maybe my shorts had just fallen on the floor. I checked everywhere. Even the bathroom. There was no sign of my shorts. 

“Really, Noodle, I saw the shorts go from your hand right up into the attic.” In the back of my mind, I did recall hearing a sudden “thwump” the moment before my shorts disappeared.

Uh oh. Perhaps my joke judgement had been a little off.

A whole new “whir-ld”

“What should we do?” I asked Tracey. Tracey didn’t answer immediately. Instead, she stopped folding the clothes we’d picked out and started putting on her shoes. 

“I think I better go, Noodle. I told my parents I’d be home for dinner.” Tracey was almost halfway out the door before she called “Good luck finding your shorts and finishing your packing. I hope you don’t get in trouble with your mom!” Some friend Tracey was.

I looked up at the attic fan, hoping maybe the shorts were just dangling off a fan blade. If they were, I could knock them off with a broom or something. Then, I wouldn’t have to disturb my mother.

If only getting my shorts back was that easy. (It wasn’t.)

Still trying not to bother my mom, I checked to see if my sister was holed up in her room. Maybe she could help me.

Nope. No Jill. Rats! The one time she had plans.

My dad wasn’t yet home from work, so he couldn’t help either. It was probably time to tell my mother. This was last thing I wanted to do since she very rarely asks not to be disturbed. Darn my joke judgement!

Worldwide (spider) web

When I knocked on the door to where my mother was, she looked up in surprise. She seemed like she was deep in thought. With a big pile of papers on her desk, she looked busy. I started off with an apology for bothering her. That seemed like a good plan.

Then, I told her what had happened with my shorts.

“Your shorts are where?” she said. My mother did not sound pleased when I told her they were stuck in the attic.

She sighed and put down the papers she was holding. I knew I should’ve used better joke judgement before taking the “shorts toss” game too far.

Together, we got the ladder so that my mother could climb up into the attic. I felt terrible because the attic is not a place that is regularly cleaned. I’m sure there were a million spiders to go with the millions of cobwebs up there. It sort of made me not want to touch those red shorts ever again. That is, assuming my mom could find them.

After a few minutes (and yes, a few cobwebs), my mom threw my shorts down from the attic. I knew she was annoyed, even if she didn’t say so. All I could do was thank my mom and apologize many, many times for the inconvenience.

(Not) a member of the fan club

“Noodle, I understand that you were trying to be funny,” my mom said. “But the next time you’re standing under a huge fan and want to twirl something, maybe use something heavier. Like an elephant.”

My mom was right. I didn’t exactly think through my joke. (In my defense, I had no idea how powerful that attic fan was).

But I learned an important lesson about being silly:  if you’re going to do something outrageous, take that extra moment to decide whether the joke is worth it. Use your joke judgement wisely. Sometimes you can take  humor too far.

Especially if there’s a fan right above your head.

That’s it for now. I’ll be home from camp soon and can’t wait to give you an update on my time away. Until next time, be your best you.

Have you ever done something where the situation suddenly went sideways? How did things end up? Please share your stories with me in the comments section.

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