Category Archives: Poignantly Pathetic Moments

Sometimes in life the only redemption for things that occur is the hope that it can bring someone else joy in laughter and gratitude that it did not happen to them. The Universe has thrown quite a few my way. Here are their pathetic accounts.

You can’t take my bag away from me

My first hormonal moment of pregnancy (at least recognized) happened at the counter at an R.E.I. in Missoula, Mont., this summer. My sleeping bag’s zipper had broken and they said they couldn’t repair it, only replace it with a different bag. The new version of the bag did not have the same features as my original, and paled in comparison in every aspect imaginable. But how useful is a zero-degree sleeping bag that won’t zip?

While the employee found the original transaction, entered information in for the exchange and rang up the new bag, a lump grew in my throat. “That will be $14 difference,” the man said. “Actually,” I said, my voice getting progressively higher, “I think I’m OK with this one.” I ran out the store hugging my bag, tears streaming down my face. My husband could only shrug apologetically and follow me out the door.

The R.E.I. in Portland, Ore., by the way, does such repairs for free. So the story has a happy ending.



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Aggrieved hormonal pregnant lady

It has been a while since I’ve added — well, anything to this blog — but I have especially neglected my “Poignantly Pathetic Moments” series. I believe the following letter I sent this morning explains it all.

Hello Costco corporate,
I’m writing to let you know that I will never ever ask for another Costco Cash Card as a gift again.

Two months ago my brother-in-law gave us a card, which I tried to activate at the store after a long shopping trip. Little did I know that I would need the shipping-to phone number. It was a gift. Why would anyone buy one for him or herself? After trying several times with phone numbers I thought would work, I called the help center in India (I presume) where after finally reaching a human who said he’d transfer me to someone who could help, the line disconnected after I waited on hold for a bit.

Finally by the grace of your wonderful front floor manager, Jason, of the Arvada, Colo., store, we activated the card. He spent some time on hold as well with the phone representatives. All in all it was a 45-minute ordeal.

I should tell you here that I am a hormonal pregnant lady. Living an hour away, I had my cart filled to the brim and I just wanted to go home after a long day in Denver. I was quite the pathetic picture, crying out of frustration and frayed nerves while the Kirkland chicken breasts slowly reached room temperature in my basket.

Please stop selling Costco Cash cards, as they only bring tears and angst.

Thank you,
Emily Mulica


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Icing on the chocolate cake shot

By Emily Palm

This installment of Poignantly Pathetic Moments comes courtesy of my friend whom shall remain unnamed. I must preface it with the fact that she is one of the, strike that, the most beautiful, eloquent, humble and intelligent people I know (let alone fortunate enough to share a number of adventures with).

If someone asks her where she went to school, she’ll say, “The Eastcoast.” The inquirer must pry to discover she graduated from an Ivy League undergrad to then attend one of the USA’s oldest medical schools (with an MBA thrown in there to assist in saving the world).

Ask her what she did in South Africa for a year and she’ll say “Research.” A few more questions in and, what’s that? She’s a Fulbright Scholar. Then to ice the cake, she is drop-dead, stunningly, strikingly gorgeous.

Why the unnecessarily long intro? Because if my brilliant bosom buddy can have a poignantly pathetic moment, isn’t that a bit of redemption?

The story begins.

After an epically awful winter break during her junior year of undergrad, followed by a cross-country travel day bursting with late flights, missed connections and an obscenely early start, she finally arrives back at school. Completely exhausted and emotionally frazzled, she accepts an invitation to go out that evening with some ladies in her class.

Being a laid-back, albeit high achieving, Westcoaster—possibly the only Oregonian amongst this group of demandingly competitive young women—she effortfully puts herself out there.

After sharing her story, the newish group of gals suggests they all do a shot. You know, one of those, “I’m Carrie you can be Samantha moments.” The selection? Chocolate Cake.

So my weary friend takes the shot and it promptly comes out her nose. Her “friends” proceed to look the other way, faces flashing “eww.”

In addition to the fact that it was of course a creamy shot (that happening with just a straight shot of gin would be too painless), is the humor I find in these girls’ lack of humor, classic examples of those who take themselves far too seriously.

On the one hand I feel sad that there was no one to burst out laughing with my compassionate friend at that miserable moment, but on the other, it’s such a poignant scene. The only consolation is the laughter among friends after the fact at the preposterousness of people and that sometimes in life we will be surrounded by pretentious jerks.

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This past year we’ve gotten into rafting like never before. Sure, in the past I’d go with friends that had a boat, and I used to teach canoe lessons, but now we actually have a raft and the gear to be the ones inviting others.

Naturally then, my writing has tagged along, and I find myself writing more boating articles. Whether it’s a profile piece on a badass couple that makes dories and guides in the Grand, or a short 300-word blurb on a New Urban community developed by pro-kayakers, it looks like my repertoire has expanded.

Sooo, I’m trying to figure out an interesting lede for my story and my thought drifts to, maybe I’ll use some vivid imagery of a kayaker playing in the whitewater park the development built. But wait, I don’t kayak. Naturally to pick up some linguistic beta I begin perusing Mountain Buzz.

But my husband comes home and wants to go disc golfing. Now. So he suggests that I just post a request for words. And, I did. Now all I have to do is sit back and watch the — Carnage of my pride —

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Because of kissing?

A couple years ago Matt and I were skiing with a co-worker of mine who lived in Vail, Colo. We met up with him and a group of his friends, a rather hip group of young upwardly mobile professionals.

It was a festive spring day, and while chatting atop a ridge the topic of Sriracha, the Asian red hot sauce with the green cap, came up. “My boyfriend won’t let me eat it,” one woman said. I didn’t quite get it, and in one very sincerely innocent, though flying straight to the mouth, moment, I ask, “Because of kissing?”

Maybe she heard me (which would make for a funnier story) maybe she didn’t, but she definitely just turned her head and skied away.

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Poignantly pathetic moments

Sometimes in life the only redemption for things that occur is the hope that it can bring someone else joy in laughter and gratitude that it did not happen to them. The Universe has thrown quite a few my way, I will share a couple to jumpstart a series I call, “Poignantly pathetic moments.” This is my life, and I must embrace it all.


One of my high school’s requirements for graduation was the completion of a personal finance class. In lieu of taking the class, the school offered a test. What the heck, my 14-year-old freshman self thought, I’ve been babysitting for years and managing that money, this will be easy. Fancying myself fairly savvy, I didn’t bother buying the book and studying.

Upon sitting in a silent room of mostly upperclassmen and a handful of freshman, I realized I was grossly unprepared. It turns out that managing a checking account did not mean I understood any of the vernacular or concepts of personal finance. Growing hot in the realization that the only escape plan meant walking to the front of the room with my belongings, turning in the test and leaving. Freshman year of high school is not kind to the self-esteem of young women. Add to that my natural awkwardness and some recently gained adolescent weight. So naturally, while walking through the quiet concentration of the room, I tripped. Not just a stumble and clumsy recovery, but an all-out, flat-on-the-ground big loud thud of a fall. “No one knows who you are,” I consoled myself. “People don’t remember these things,” I thought. Luckily I’m just a nobody faceless freshman.

Then four years later, my acquaintance Jared says to me, “You know what I remember from freshman year …”

What’s so funny?

The winter before I met the guy who would become my husband, my dating modus operandi centered on meeting men on the chairlift at Mt. Hood Meadows. One such dude, and he definitely was a dude, we’ll call Will Michaels. I should have known the tall lanky bro-brah who dressed better than me wouldn’t work out.

After a few months of dating exclusively, things began to get lukewarm. On top of a ski slope I dumped myself for him (I had practiced a speech, “I don’t ask for much from the guys I date, but I do request that if you aren’t interested in me anymore that you tell me.” Visually relieved, Will said, “Well, I do really like you still.” Wild-eyed and louder than I meant to, I replied, “That’s GREAT! Then we can be FRIENDS.”) All I wanted was to go ski the sting of romantic rejection away, but Will insisted on doing a few runs with me.

Finally, we went our ways and I found myself on a chairlift between two men. Uncontrollably my eyes welled up as I wallowed in self-pity, then, dear God please no, a soft little sob. The man to my right misinterpreted my sounds, and asked, “What’s so funny?” Protected by my goggles, helmet and gear, I whimpered, “Nothing.” After a couple more muffled sounds from me, he said, “Okay, you gotta’ tell me, what’s so funny?” To which the guy on my left says, “Dude, I think she might be crying, not laughing.” Then I bleated out, “Nothing.” Silence ensued and we three strangers shared a very awkward lift ride.

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