Thursday, November 14, 2002

Excuses, Part II

I said I would post some excuses I haven't used yet. There's lots more theorizing I need to do before I can advise you on whether these will work. These are beta excuses. If anyone stumbles across my blog and decides to use these--go right ahead. However, it would be great if you could send me feedback as to how successful they are.

Specifically, I'd like the answer to the following questions: (1) Was your excuse accepted immediately without hesitation?
(2) Did you phone it in or give it in person?
(3) Was sympathy expressed and other signs it passed the 'authenticity' test?
(4) What context did you use it in? What did you get out of?
(5) Do you feel it was worth it to use this excuse?
(6) Would you like to share any of your own excuses--used or unused-- with the general public?

My husband pointed out to me the other day that a good excuse is like pepper spray: It just makes you feel safer. Maybe you won't use it but it is good to have it on hand. Right now I have a postcard sized burn on the front of my stomach. Second degree. Likely to blister and leave a scar. How did I get it you ask? That's the great part! It was an early morning injury--perfect for those days when you just didn't make it into work.

I was using a fancy-schmancy coffee press. You know, the kind with one of those foreign names...can't think of it right now. I pressed down and something was wrong with the plunger. Hot coffee water sprayed me all over the front of my stomach...It was agonizing.

At first I did my usual thing of assuming that it was just one of those many injuries I incur due to the fact I usually sleep 2-3 hours a night. (E.g., I fell face forward yesterday after 45 minutes of sleep and a 12 hour day, landing on my kneecaps.) When the pain became excruciating I finally realized I should call the doctor. My stomach will likely blister and there is a possibility of scarring.

Oh, this is boring...These are not the facts you need to fashion your own excuses. I merely put them in to give your excuse the ring of authenticity. (Remember--it is painful...the best way to convince people you really experienced this is not to play up the pain. If they ask: "Did it hurt alot?" Just say "a bit." But in an ironic way so they know it hurt like hell. Understatement is always a good excuse strategy.

Authenticating details: The doctor gave me silver sulfadizine cream in 1% strength.

The fact is: I have a great excuse for tomorrow. But I will probably need this excuse more later on. So should I save it? You may be thinking: They'll want to see the burn! But that is the great part! You have to cover the burn with a non stick bandage. Thus, all you need to authenticate this excuse is a non stick bandage and a bag of ice.

If it scars I can show the scar later...removing all doubt.

I probably can't save the story for later. It is so painful that I have to walk around with a bag of ice on my stomach. Unless I can explain the bag of ice I am carrying around at work tomorrow this excuse may have to be an actual incident which gets me out of nothing.

Other excuses you may find come in handy

--Explosive nosebleed. Normally, this isn't a good excuse. But it is when you are wearing nice clothes and have to show up somewhere fancy.

--Knee injury. Falling down on your knees is something that happens to me all the time. Ankles also work. The great thing about this is that all you need is some basic equipment--an air splint, some crutches, etc.

--Epilepsy. I got this one from reading an amazing and excellent book of short stories by Thom Jones. He seems like an author who does his research. According to "You Cheated, You Lied" epilepsy can knock you out for awhile. (Don't tell me I'm insensitive. I do have it just not a severe case of it.)

--Food poisoning. This one is truly excellent because it doesn't require that anyone around you be sick.

--Fender bender--great for those days you are late to work. Not all fender benders result in police reports.

--Mild concussion. Backstory: Stood up and hit head on cupboard. Fell down while listening to walkman because you were wearing slippery shoes in the rain. (Someone was telling me how this happened to her--I guess I should have paid better attention. It helps alot to say exactly where you were and what you were doing.)

Basic question I struggle with in my research: Why don't these work?
It is a question I grapple with. Why do some excuses work and others don't? Why does depression and mental illness not work? (Except for excuses to oneself--see What's New Pussycat's vignette for confirmation of that.

Let's face it--You are trying to prove to everyone that you have a role in this industrious world. Thus any truly disabling excuses are bad. Why does an electrical outage not work to explain why you overslept? It happens all the time in real life but doesn't really get you off the hook. My hypothesis: Raises doubts about one's productive capacities.

I'm still working on this question. I welcome any input from the outside world.


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