Life is funny. Sometimes painfully so. Three examples from my own life…

I once attended a conference for college communication specialists that included several big-name speakers. One well-attended session featured a popular speaker who addressed the critical importance of disseminating factually accurate information, especially in student recruitment publications and during campus crises. He was articulate and self-assured. The title of his talk was: “You Don’t Get a Second Chance at a First Impression,” and he lectured the entire time with his fly open.

Another funny thing happened on the University of Miami campus. It was a beautiful Florida spring day, and my wife and I were sitting outside at a rocking picnic table (a charming campus feature) enjoying an especially lovely water view. My wife, a plein air painter, was busy capturing the scene in acrylic splendor, while I was intently reading on my Kindle. We were soon approached by a tag-team of male Mormon missionaries wanting to talk to us about Jesus Christ, our personal savior. What they didn’t know, and what I didn’t dare tell them, was that I was sitting there reading “God Is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, the famously snarky atheist intellectual. We smiled awkwardly and politely declined their offer of metaphysical chat.

But in the “now we can laugh” category, this is the sure winner: I was the communications director at a private Maine university, in charge of an in-house newsletter. This was when Angus King was Maine’s governor. I can’t remember the exact content of the newsletter item I was writing, but it was something about higher education and the governor. I wrote up the item, quickly proofread the entire newsletter, then sent it out to the mailroom for printing and campus distribution.

Later that day I got an email from a faculty member who asked me, in reference to the Angus King blurb in the newsletter, “Is this a political statement? Ha, ha, ha!” I didn’t have the slightest idea what he was talking about. I pulled out my newsletter proof and reread the blurb for the umpteenth time. This time I saw my mistake and my stomach dropped.

In a headline, I had dropped the “g” from the governor’s first name. Yes, I had written “Anus King” in a newsletter distributed to 300-plus university educators.

The rest of the day I panicked every time my phone rang, expecting the “Steven, you’re fired,” call from the university president. Fortunately, she had a sense of humor and I kept my job.

I never heard from Gov. King. Now he’s a senator. And if he ever runs for president of the United States, I’m sure some political hack doing opposition research for his opponent will dig up my embarrassing blunder and use it against him.

And I’ll move to Florida.

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