And Now, a Departure from Your Regular Programming

A reader of this blog, a voice I respect, asked a pointed question regarding the tag line I use in my email signature. You may or may not be aware of it, it reads something like this, “eventually we all sit down to a banquet of consequences”

Someone of note, I don’t recall whom, wrote that and it landed in my “Quotation of the Day” email thread I subscribe to. Initial reading of the line may conjure up the negative connotations of consequences, and I think that would be a natural reaction, however, it is the universality of the word that I subscribe to follow.

All of the decisions a person makes everyday, every hour, in situations that do not approach or even resemble a point of making a decision, all have an effect on the outcome of their respective lives. The tiniest decisions, those you did not even realize you made, can, over time have a monumental effect on your quantity & quality of life.

Examples are a good way to communicate this wacky philosophy of mine.

On a Wednesday night in February of 1980, my friend & rugby teammate, Galen, and I, went to King’s Gym on South Blvd. in Charlotte, near Seneca Place, and because it was not team practice night, we lifted a couple of tons of barbells. Now I should be politically correct and say that it was for getting stronger for the upcoming spring season of rugby, but the real reason was to fill the upper body muscles with blood, ‘pumping up’, to later go to the bar, Whispers, to impress some lovely young ladies with our studly manliness. (We should all pause here and allow Patrick George time to finish laughing his ass off) 

While at the aforementioned Whispers, standing in the crowded dance area, enjoying an adult beverage, I heard a young lady behind me laugh. A memory bubbled up, “I know that laugh”. Turning to find the source of this memory stimulant, I gazed upon the top of the head of Miss Peggy Patten. I tapped her on the shoulder, she turned, her nose right at the level of my blood engorged pectoralis major muscle group. She glanced up, and for a nanosecond I detected fear in her eyes. (“all that lifting paid off!” I’m thinking)

I say to her, “I know you”. She looks up, “No, I don’t think so” she snaps back as a reply. I persevere…“Yes, I do, your name is Peggy Patten, my name is Wade Otey, I met you in Boone.”

Well, in the next nanosecond she is hanging from my neck, held up by, this time, the blood engorged trapezius, deltoid and lastissimis dorsi muscle groups of my manly upper body…AND…she is kissing me,(payoff) telling me she cannot believe it is me,(payoff) gives me her phone number,(payoff, payoff), tells me to call her, “we’ll catch up” (ring-a-ding-ding-ching-ching…Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!!!) Turns out she was there on a date with another guy. I never saw this dweb, obviously he’d run for the parking lot when he noticed Galen & I standing shoulder to shoulder, blocking out the LIGHT OF THE MOON!!!

All the decisions, all of the little tiny choices I made that day led me to a consequence that blessed my life from that day to today. I mean, I feel bad for all the men of my age group, you didn’t get to live your life with the most wonderful partner there could ever be…for anyone.

Allowing that my life has not been a constant barrage of good decisions it is proper I give substance to examples of decisions made that may have led to less than stellar consequences.

It is sometime in the spring of 1978, on a Thursday afternoon, my Organic Chemistry lab is finishing up, I am only 4 blocks from where the ECU Rugby team practices. My lab partner reminds me that the study group I have only half-assed kept up with is meeting for a quick dinner then gathering for a long study session. Organic Chemistry is not that hard…I tell myself. (Can you see what’s coming?, Well let me make it clearer)

“This Saturday, the rugby team travels to Wilmington, NC to play a set of matches against UNCW and the Wilmington city club. Wrightsville Beach is right there, the post game socials are legendary! If I don’t go to practice, I won’t be selected to play A-Side. I’m 23, fit, & don’t suck at 2nd row.”

This decision, following that tedious inner dialog, seemingly small at the time, later has major consequences. The string of decisions, similar to this one, exhibit to the ECU Medical School Admissions Board that while I may not suck as a 2nd row on the rugby pitch and in a scrum, I suck as a Pre-Med student. They later politely thank me for my efforts in the Biology Department, here is your B.S. Degree, and “Good Luck Son”.

That was a banquet of consequences I sat down to quickly after the decisions were made. However, on balance, there was a method to fate’s madness. Had I gone to Medical School, I would not have gone to King’s gym with Galen, nor later to Whispers, I would not have heard that cute girl laugh, nor gotten her number…nor won that Chicken Dinner.

Life is good, banquets are good too, sit down at the right ones.

8 thoughts on “And Now, a Departure from Your Regular Programming

  1. Great story Wade! Been thinking about you – please keep these stories coming! Like the portrayal of Galen as a super-hero “back in the day.”

  2. Coincidences, decisions, luck… None of these fully explain those emotional choices we make, especially when the heart is involved. Chemicals? Hormones? Predestination? How many of the most important decisions we make are really made for us, and we just try to justify why we think we
    made them. You and Peggy… it wasn’t a linear decision for either of you, but it was a good one.

  3. This is the kind of winning I don’t get tired of! Love this story, gonna order my self some chicken dinner now.

  4. I’m glad you’re doing well enough to pontificate so heartily and feeling strong enough to share those thoughts with us. Peggy won, too, by the way!

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