I was recently asked what’s the best advice I have ever received. I thought back to a time in my teenage years when an unfortunate choice of words led to a piece of advice I have never forgotten.
Cue the harp music heard in every ’80s sitcom flashback…
It was a lovely, crisp day in May. The scene takes place at a big, busy equestrian centre when a fellow rider walks up and wants to know where to put a martingale he had borrowed.
“Where do you want me to put this?” he asked.
“In my box,” I replied.
“In your box?”
“Really? In your box?”
He called to his friend who was in a nearby stall, and beckoned him over with a chin gesture.
“So where do you want me to put it?”
“In my box.”
“Am I missing something?” I asked. “Do you not understand what I’m saying?”
“Yes we understand,” they both said, giggling. “We’re just trying to figure out where she wants us to put this,” they explained to a new guy who had joined the group.
The ringleader motioned to me with his hands, in a gesture that I assumed meant go on, repeat yourself.
“I want him to put it in my box,” I said.
Now, I’m not a moron, I knew something was up, but I just couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was so funny about such a simple sentence.
“Do you not know what it looks like?”
Fighting not to laugh, he asked, “No. Can you describe it?”
A crowd was starting to gather. The guys were staring at me in anticipation. I felt like I was standing on a cliff, about to jump. I just didn’t know what to do to stop myself. Then, in a series of very unfortunate coincidences, I said something that I regret to this day.
“Just put it in my box for crying out loud! It’s the big, red one. I just sponged it off, so be careful, it’s wet.”
Immediate, very loud, hands-on-knees laughter ensued. The guys were falling all over themselves, slapping each other on the back. Two were finding it hard to breathe.
One of the female coaches came over.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
I repeated what I had said.
She looked at me incredulously.
“You really don’t know what that means?”
Like a dog seeing his reflection for the first time, I was very confused.
“You honestly don’t know that box is slang for your lady parts?”
“My lady…..what? Slang for? Box is my what?”
I struggled to wrap my head around that, while replaying the dialogue in my head. Finally, after a longer time than should have been necessary, the lightbulb went off.
I instantly went flaming red.
Just like my box.
Damn my Scottish heritage!
“Oh grow up,” she said to the still giggling trio.
I then made the unfortunate decision to add, “Yes grow up. My dad made that box.”
They erupted into laughter once again.
“Oh for the love of god,” the coach yelled, “just stop talking!”
And to this day, I have yet to receive better advice.