Making a Fool of Yourself

This is a touchy subject. I’m approaching it with much circumspection as if it were a coiled rattlesnake lying in the path. Head-on encounters are not encouraged.

We’ve all played the fool. Admit it. We all have the tattoo of having once been a fool. It’s indelible. The wound still stings, even if it’s now only a memory lingering in the deep silent recesses of our silly self-denials.

Those with delicate sensibilities find it hard to forget and forgive being so-labeled. Ego is easily wounded. The stigma of being called a fool, even if only once, can revive dark ancestral proclivities better left buried. Even shadows of idiocy can spoil our carefully-crafted pristine past.

That said, pause for a few seconds, and re-read the title. Then confess out loud:  “I have made a fool of myself.”  Feel relieved? Now laugh at yourself.

This is important. It brings light to suppressed incidents you’ve been hiding and disguising. Once out of the closet they have no power. Then you’ll enjoy joining the rest of us in continuing to make a fool of yourself. It’ll happen.

Making a fool of yourself is easy to achieve. It requires no training. All you have to do is to wake up and give the tongue its head. It’ll do the rest for you without effort. Later in the day after you add some fermented grape juice it will do an even better job.

The tongue might be the easiest way to make a fool of yourself. It thrives in shredding your esteem to the ‘fool’ status because of the unfiltered nonsense it utters without restraint. Some even substitute the digital tongue, Twitter, to label themselves a fool.

But the tongue is by no means the only culprit. We can play the fool in actions just as easily. Take your recent investment in Bitcoin, for example. Your spouse begged you not to take that plunge but no, it was the future, you said. At least you had the correct verb, ‘was.’ And now you have to contend with the ‘I told you so’ comment. The tongue is your best friend.  It can override the brain’s best wisdom. It has no conscience.

A friend told me recently his wife never forgets anything.  What woman does? I asked him to explain. He said it was a simple slip of the tongue, a brief lapse into a brainless response. He has relearned the consequences of witless actions. He swears to never again use the honest adjectives of ‘dumpy’ and ‘bulging’ when describing his wife in a new dress. Brutal honesty can backfire on anyone.

Photographs of years past reveal how we acted the fool in our clothes. Just last week I found a photo of myself in the ‘70’s. I was wearing a bloused-sleeve, pirate-like shirt at a dinner party. It seemed ‘cool’ then, sitting among a group of dinner companions in jackets and ties. Sometimes I still cringe in silence when the past comes calling.

One of the problems with making a fool of ourselves is that we can’t see ourselves. We don’t recognize when it is happening.  It has to be pointed out to us. Now this should be a warning. There’s always somebody looking, listening, just lying in wait to snare us in a ‘gotcha’ moment that will follow us forever like a bad odor.

We make fools of ourselves in public as well as in private. There’s the ‘Grandstander’ working the crowd: glad-handing, back-slapping, high-fiving. Purpose? To be seen. Or elected. Then there are the Intellectual Pontificators, puffed up with pomposity (uh, that’s us writers). And the latter-day Circuit Riders, the know-it-all, tell-it-all gossipers bearing salacious news to itching ears.

And oh, so many more. Making a fool of ourselves is a badge of having lived. Be proud of it. One day the obituaries of all those who loved to taunt us with our follies will have been posted. Then we can begin again.

Until then, the only perfectly acceptable way I know of to make a fool of yourself is to fall in love. Even the snake will give you a pass on this one.


Bud Hearn

November 19, 2021