OPINION – Confidence can be a good thing. Those who believe in themselves tend to be more successful in virtually every arena.
But the line between enough confidence and too much confidence has proven to be the undoing of more than a few of us.
Take, for instance, the story of my high school friend Charlie.
Charlie was part of our group of “nobodies” who ate lunch together each day in the cafeteria. Membership to our group was hardly an exclusive affair, but Charlie still felt the need to show his bravado.
One day as we finished lunch, my friend Scott finished his carton of milk, carefully closed it back up, set it on the floor beneath his chair, and stomped on it. The resulting boom was so loud and unexpected that for a moment the noisy cafeteria fell completely silent. Then with a collective nervous laugh everyone’s conversations began again.
Our little group of misfits was beaming with ill-concealed pride over Scott’s innovation. The fact that he’d gotten away with it scot-free, so to speak, had each of us itching to give it a shot—no one more so than Charlie.
The next day, Scott informed our little group that Charlie’s inflated confidence would be the basis of a practical joke. Since Charlie had not yet arrived at our table, we were all sworn to secrecy and committed to go along with the prank.
First, Scott drank just enough milk from his carton to provide a space into which he could carefully spoon the cherries from his cherry shortcake. Shortly after he’d completed this task, Charlie arrived at our lunch table and the treachery began.
Scott made a great show of pretending to drink his milk quickly. He closed the carton top and declared that today he would perform an encore of the milk carton explosion outside the classroom door of our nemesis, the debate coach, Mr. Nicholson. Mr. Nicholson and his hoity-toity debaters had long treated us as second-class citizens and it was time to exact some justice by disrupting their class.
With lunch finished, we left the cafeteria as a group and marched our way to D hall and Mr. Nicholson’s doorway. Scott set the milk carton down and nervously looked around for any potential authority figures. A young man and a young woman sat studying in front of their lockers directly across the hall from Mr. Nicholson’s door, but they were so intent on their studies that they weren’t really paying any attention to us.
Inside the classroom we could faintly hear Mr. Nicholson droning on, presumably instructing his debaters on how to better look down their noses at us.
Scott took a deep breath, lifted his foot for the consummating stomp that would explode the milk carton, and just as quickly aborted the mission saying, “I just don’t dare.”
Charlie knew his cue when he heard it. Pushing Scott aside, he stepped forward and smugly proclaimed, “Get out of the way, I’ll do it!” He never even stopped to wonder why at that moment the rest of us took off on a dead run down the hallway.
Even as we bolted we heard Charlie stomp down on the carton as it burst with a wet pop followed by Charlie’s disgusted exclamation. Looking back down the hall, we could see Charlie staring down in disbelief at the remains of the milk carton. A distinct spray of milk and cherries covered the hallway, Charlie’s leg, and the two unfortunate students who’d picked that particular spot to study.
Charlie stood there surveying the carnage he’d created while the two students who bore the brunt of the blast sat there looking daggers at him. Charlie’s bluster had made him the perfect mark for the exploitation of his prankster friends. For him, the worst part of the joke wasn’t the huge mess and the two enemies he’d just made. It was the fact that Mr. Nicholson never heard a thing.
At this moment, Charlie could have easily taken revenge and thrashed every one of us since we were so weak with laughter that we couldn’t have done a thing to stop him. But he took our prank in stride and had a good laugh at how his swagger had come back to bite him.
Each of us is prone to crossing that line between confident and cocky. When it happens, it helps to remember that humble pie is a dish best consumed while among friends.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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