I think I may struggle with perfectionism. My wife actually pointed it out to me the other day. But, what struck me first was how difficult it must be for her to be married to a perfectionist. I was suddenly compelled to apologize for putting her through such agony.
Of course, the best way to apologize for anything includes flowers, candy and a hand-written note (calligraphy is preferred). So, being the perfectionist that I am, I instantly began researching which flowers make for the perfect apology. According to the discussion I had with our local florist, roses are the perfect romantic offering – but this clearly wasn’t a romantic situation.
(Although, I wouldn’t complain one bit if it became one later)
So, after several hours on the phone with the florist, we landed on purple daisy poms, purple butterfly asters, hot pink mini-carnations, and pink and lavender alstroemeria – all sheathed in an amethyst trumpet vase. Then it occurred to me – if one flower arrangement is good for an apology, wouldn’t two be better? Now, we’re covered in the event that she would want to share the apology with someone else.
But that’s just the flowers.
When it comes to candy, I’m thinking that Lindt Premium Chocolates are the ideal! After several hours on the phone with one of their rep’s, I narrowed it down to a box with 38 assorted gourmet truffles and pralines. They’re guaranteed to delight and melt the heart. Then the perfectionist in me kicked in.
Why stop at one box when you can more clearly express yourself with three?
But, with three boxes of chocolates and two vases of flowers, my apology has lost all of its symmetry. But, if I got three identical sets of candy and flowers, it would look too “cookie-cutter” and predictable. So, with one more panicked call to the florist, I was able to change my second floral arrangement to a dozen hand-picked azaleas.
On a side-note, I tried to get a hold of the same girl who had helped me previously at the flower shop, but she had apparently since retired, which is odd considering that she was only 19.
Finally, any apology letter should not be written on your standard office copy paper, nor wide-ruled school paper stolen from your kid’s notebook. So, I began researching elegant papers. I discovered a glowing jar, full of fireflies with night stars on lined, personalized stationary. Fireflies say, “I’m sorry”. However, I was thinking that ladybugs would express my remorse even better than fireflies. But, all their butterfly designs were daytime themed, which just wouldn’t do. So, after three hours of discussing my stationary needs with the paper company’s sales team, we came up dry. So, it wasn’t ideal, but I went with the fireflies.
Then came the note itself. What to say?
“Dear Sweetie, I’m sorry I’m a perfectionist.”
That wouldn’t do. It would be much more elegant to say something like:
“I must acknowledge my fault and attempt to make atonement for the grievous fault of perfectionism.”
That’s what I came up with on my 24th draft of the letter.
By this point, I had invested about 60 hours into my apology – an entire workweek, plus overtime. I was starting to get really, REALLY hungry, and then overwhelmed. So, I just bailed on the whole thing, cancelled all my orders and walked away from it altogether.
It’s amazing what can happen when my innate laziness takes over my perfectionism.
But, when all was said and done, I did take a perfect nap.
Next, my friend Adrian Lucio joins the show. I’m always amazed when “young people” enjoy our show, especially funny people as young as 23-year-old Adrian. But what’s even more amazing is how someone so young could be experiencing a “mid-life crisis”. Now, most people assume that a mid-life crisis occurs when men hit their mid-forties. After all, that’s often when they become empty-nesters and they have the time and energy to go do new things that they always wished they had before. But, according to Adrian, he is in the station of life when all of his friends are getting married, starting careers, and thinking about having children. “Guys Night Out” has been replaced by playdates! This puts Adrian and his single friends in a tough position. It would be downright creepy to go hang out with the younger, single people, but he has less and less to relate with when it comes to the people his own age… and hanging out with geezers like me is out of the question.
What’s an “older” single guy to do?
And finally, funnyman Dennis Tooley calls in to the show. Dennis has been doing stand up comedy for fifteen years, and hopes to someday make a living out of it. In the meantime, he is involved with MS Cruisers. In 2003, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and he had to go through the tough process of redefining his life’s “new normal”. That’s when he realized that he had an opportunity to encourage others who suffer from M.S. That’s when he learned about MS Cruisers, their annual events, and began promoting the cruises through his own efforts. And, enjoying the Royal Caribbean trips and their ports-o-call doesn’t stink. In addition to the fun and performing stand up on the cruises, the MS Cruises also feature sessions offering discussions on how people with MS and their families can find fulfillment in life, in spite of this monster that continually changes their world.
I was wondering what Dennis finds is the most difficult part of having MS, and he wisely told me that it varies from patient to patient. For Dennis, he has actually grown accustomed to the pain in his feet and instability when it comes to walking. The fatigue factor is a huge hurdle, because he has to be constantly aware of his limited amount of energy in his reserves. If he goes too hard during the day, there’s no way that he will be able to perform on stage at night. But, his biggest concern is how MS affects his eyes. Earlier this year, he spent about four months completely blind due to a short circuit between his brain and his eyeballs.
When a person has Multiple Sclerosis, their immune system goes into overdrive. And, when there is no disease to fight off, MS picks on anything that gets in its way, including the nerves in the brain. For Dennis, the disease had eaten away at the coating, or myelin, around his optic nerves.
The plus side of these trying, dark, months was that he was able to come up with new material. For instance, did you know that there is Braille signage along many of America’s highways? Which was a great benefit to Dennis, as that was what he needed in order to drive effectively during that time.
Dennis’ vision has since returned. His eyes, themselves, are fine. The issue is simply a communication problem between his eyes and his brain. To fight off another blindness season, the doctors put him on a heavy rotation of steroids. So, today, he is hitting the baseball farther than he ever has before!
It’s all about looking at the bright side of life!
He may not be able to see any better than he did before the incident, but he can lift a Buick off the ground, if the need should arise.
One of the most valuable lessons that Dennis learned from his blindness was the option of either becoming bitter, depressed and negative, complaining all the time; or embrace the funny that is just waiting to be discovered. For instance, when Dennis had to learn to eat food that he couldn’t see, he could either get frustrated or get laughing.
Dennis chose laughter.
And, while most people think that “Laughter is the best medicine” is just an old idiom and nothing more, Dennis actually researched the adage and found that there is significant truth behind it. Compared to dwelling on the negative of life, there truly are healing properties to good, hearty laughter!
For the rest of us who don’t suffer from debilitating conditions, Dennis offers this advice: Never say things like, “Well, you don’t look sick.” This only makes people like Dennis want to reply, “Well, you don’t look stupid, but you apparently are!” The bottom line is this: just be understanding of the patient and listen – REALLY LISTEN – to them.