Saturday, December 4, 2010


I used to have this cute affectation where anytime someone around me said "Oops!", I would immediately follow it with a word that rhymed, such as "Soups!" This really caught on with my friends and before long, they began to wait patiently for someone to say "Oops!" so that they could look at me with keen anticipation until I said something like "Hoops!" or "Scoops!" Eventually, the neighborhood kids even started referring to me as "The 'Oops' Dude."

This increased my popularity, which was good, but I soon discovered that people expected a different word from me every time. Once, when someone in the breakroom at work happened to say "Oops!", I was distracted by a rotating bag of microwave popcorn that I was trying not to overcook, so I just offhandedly said "Soups!" You could hear a pin drop. I quickly noticed that everyone was staring at me with disbelief bordering on thinly-veiled contempt. Then I realized that my popcorn was on fire. It was "one of those days."

After that, I made sure to keep a new word right on the tip of my tongue, poised to respond instantly and with confidence to any unexpected "Oops!" It became an obsession. I would walk around all day in a daze, muttering "Droops...droops..." over and over, my reflexes tensed to the breaking point. "Oops," someone would say, causing me to spring to attention and scream "DROOPS!!!" in a strident tone that set everyone's nerves on edge.

The situation came to a head one day while I was attending a fellowship luncheon at my local Baptist church. It was a buffet under the trees and the weather was lovely. I was cheerfully piling some potato salad onto my plate, when suddenly the preacher's wife dropped her napkin and said "Oops." Frantically, I realized that I didn't have a word ready and had to say the first rhyming word that popped into my head. "POOPS!" I screamed. Everyone gaped at me, aghast. "What did you say?" asked Reverend Barker. "Poops," I repeated, assuming a casual tone. "Ha, ha." I finished with the potato salad and moved on to the baked beans, trying to chuckle the whole thing off as a harmless lark. But the damage had been done.

The infamous "poops" incident got around quick, and I found myself regarded as somewhat of a loose cannon. "You've taken this thing too far" someone told me one day, which caused me to snap back "No, YOU'VE taken this thing too far!" Which didn't even make any sense. It got to the point where anytime someone said "Oops!", everyone in my vicinity would glance sideways at me and cringe. Well, I thought, if that's what they expect from me now, then that's just what I'll give them. So the very next time someone said "Oops", I announced in a clear, no-nonsense voice: "Poops."

I had stepped through the looking glass. I had run through their gauntlet of shame and emerged triumphant on the other side. From that point onward, I roamed the sidewalks and store aisles like a wary panther, senses keen, ears alert for the word "Oops!" wherever and whenever it may be uttered. A kid drops his ice-cream cone and says "Oops"...I say "Poops." An old lady's underwear flies off in a stiff wind and she says "Oops"...I say "Poops." Reverend Barker loses his place while reading from Deuteronomy during church service and mutters "Oops"...and, yes, I say "Poops."

Nobody messes with me. The neighborhood is on alert. Kids now refer to me in hushed tones as "The 'Poops' Dude." My former friends are terrified of me, and they live in fear of accidentally saying "Oops!" in my presence. Because--make no mistake--I will say "Poops." And anyone who doesn't like it is welcome to move the hell out of my country.

(originally posted at

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