You’re a distinguished and retired astronaut.
You’re at a dinner party with a collection of interesting and attractive people. One of the men is regaling the guests with a description of his chic, newly purchased, sports car.
It’s an expensive car and it radiates his power.
You sit back and peruse the admiration that is being drawn from the suddenly besotted supplicants at the table.
He bastes in the bain-marie of self-regard. As the performance lulls, you lean forward with a modest smile and quietly but firmly declare, “That’s a lovely story and a fine achievement. I’ve walked on the MOON.”
In every social gathering there is almost always the jostling of self-importance. It would be worth going to the moon just so you could effortlessly win this contest every time.
It can also play the other way. If you sneeze, then someone can see you and raise you, boasting of their flu and someone else will trump with their pneumonia.
You may have a more gruelling story than this one of mine and I will yield in advance.
Nevertheless, I think it’s interesting.
Some years ago, I accompanied the roadie, in the truck, with the equipment from Melbourne to Adelaide. Having drained the petrol tank, we refuelled on arrival to discover that the tank had contracted.
The petrol cap was too firmly locked into place as we travelled and the sucking of the petrol from the tank had forced it to shrink like air being drawn out of a balloon or sucking on a pliant plastic bottle.
The walls of the tank had collapsed inwards. We were intelligent, inventive, lateral people with a manly mission to solve the problem.
The tank was conveniently placed immediately behind the seat in the cabin. The cap was conveniently atop the tank. Taking the air-hose, normally deployed to inflate the tyres, we redeployed it to re-inflate the tank.
I find that choosing the right words to describe an action can make it sound a lot more intelligent than it really is.
Gilbert, the roadie, was in charge of the hose and my task was to fashion a seal around it with my bare hands. I am pleased to report that this stroke of genius made it as simple as blowing up a balloon.
A slight flaw in this method is that we now had a tank of highly compressed petrol vapour with me holding the pressure in.
In a what-next moment of masterful indecision, I slackened my grip on the seal.
Immediately, a jet of petrol lanced directly into my eye. Looking on the bright side, the petrol tank had been restored.
Looking at anything at all, however, had become unavailable to me.
The petrol station attendant, in response to my childish bleatings, provided an eyewash of some sort that eventually caused the pain to subside.
If you are curious to know what degree of pain I experienced, I have been reading that there is a watch and act alert on Sriracha Hot Chilli sauce since it is prone to exploding from the bottle, perhaps due to over-fermentation.
Or you could give my petrol and air-hose method a try. It’s not good.
If we meet at a dinner party and someone is holding court with a sob story of their worst pain, please pretend that you haven’t already heard this story.
Nod, grimace – and indulge me.