A Column About Column A

I do a lot of dumb things. But I have no regrets, because these missteps often end up as an inspiration for one of my columns.  I do not do dumb things on purpose. That would be, well,…dumb.

One of the dumbest things I ever did was about four years ago when Mary Ellen and I were planning a trip to Washington, DC to visit some of my old classmates from George Washington University. My wife usually makes the reservations, but I took on the responsibility. BIG mistake.

I checked online and compared different rates. I found a surprisingly inexpensive hotel right in Washington and booked it. I couldn’t determine from their map how far the hotel was from the White House, which was the part of town we needed to be in…so I called.

“Hello. This is Richard Wolfsie and a few days ago I booked a room with you guys for September 4 through September 10. Can you give me some idea how far you are from the White House and how long it would take to walk that distance?”

There was a pause on the other end.

“Well, Sir, it’s about 3,000 miles as the crow flies. If you are walking with the crows, you’re looking at about three months.”

What I had done was—yes, book a hotel in Washington. Just not DC. It was in the middle of Seattle.

Over the years, Mary Ellen has never let me forget this dumb mistake, but now she has topped me. This is especially gratifying because she never does dumb things, with maybe one exception 42 years ago.

Here’s the story: The other night we decided to pick up Chinese food. Our favorite place had gone out of business so we were seeking a new option. Someone recommended Happy Dragon. Mary Ellen made the call and placed the order. The first odd thing was our ticket number:  8649735260, which I think is also the population of China.

After we ordered, I asked Mary Ellen for the address. Brett, my son, put it in his GPS to see how long it would take to get there.

“Do we need to leave now? I asked.

“I think we better, Dad. It’s gonna take us about three and a half hours.”

“Wow, that much traffic?”

With that, Mary Ellen let out a yelp. I had never heard my wife yelp. Not in 42 years.

“Oh, no! I ordered our food from a Happy Dragon in Ohio by mistake.”

“I hope it was Canton, Ohio. I love Cantonese food.”

“Very funny. No, it was Happy Dragon in Columbus, Ohio.  Call them back and cancel.”

I called and told him my name, and then I read him our order number.

“OK, you are Mr. fried rice, two eggrolls, wonton soup and main course is…

“Yes, yes, that’s me. Look we live in Indianapolis and…

“Oh, that’s a long drive; better leave now. Getting cold.”

“I’m sorry, we made a mistake and will have to cancel. We didn’t mean to order from Ohio.”

“You don’t like Cantonese food?”

“Too late, I already did that joke.”

We reordered at the local Happy Dragon and enjoyed the dinner. That night we were a happy family, which was also our main course. Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@ aol.com.