My Mistake

Fwd_ Pint of Beer for Beijing Cream“I was wrong,” Stan admitted.

A moment later, a pitcher of beer hit the floor, scattering shards of glass and sending globs of froth flying.

Heads turned.

Jaws dropped.

An audible gasp broke the shocked silence.

Not only had a precious pitcher of beer met its untimely demise but more unbelievably, someone at The Pit had admitted they were wrong.

Not just someone, mind you, but Stan, and he had admitted to being wrong about something he was always right about.

Stan was discussing hydro-static transmissions with a guy from the Caterpillar dealership in Rochester. They had been locked for hours in a titanic battle of wills about the most technically obscure of subjects, when suddenly Stan admitted he was wrong.

The effect was as electrifying as it was dumbfounding.

The entire Thursday night compliment of The Pit lowered their beers in unison to gape, open mouthed, at the most unlikely of events. Did they actually hear what they thought they heard?

How could one be sure?

None of us knew what to do, so we did what we always do when confronted with a question that threatens the very foundation of our world, we blithfully ignored it.

Everyone went back to what they were doing as if nothing had happened, leaving only the sparkle of glass and the shimmer of beer on the floor to bear witness to the evenings events.

“I got to go,” Stan announced as he swiveled away from the bar and tested his legs before trusting his weigh to them.

“Hold up there, buddy,” I told him, “it’s your turn to pick up the tab.”

“Are you sure?” he asked, “I thought I paid last time.”

As he reached for his wallet, I thought back to last Thursday and vividly recalled paying. But it was the very clarity of that memory that undermined my confidence in it. From my police experience, I have come to know that the more brilliant a memory presents itself, the more likely it is to be false. The reason it is so brightly realistic is that it is fresh in your mind because you just created it.

“I’ll take your word for it,” Stan said, “Heck, I was wrong once already this evening.”

Now I had real doubts and Stan’s unexpected burst of sincerity only reinforced my skepticism. “I tell you what,” I told him, “I’ll pick it up this time, but next week…” I shook my finger.

I was barely through the front door when my wife tossed a question my way, “How much did you blow tonight?”

I gave her the amount and explained it was my turn to pay.

“No, it wasn’t,” she said.

“It was,” I said as I trailed her into our home office.

She looked at me with utter disgust. “I’ll bet Stan spent the entire evening plotting how to get out of picking up the tab,” she said, “the guy would do and say anything to avoid parting with a nickel.”

“That is just not true,” I told her.

She rummaged through our file cabinet until she found what she was looking for, then she handed me a wad of bills.  “Here is your VISA statements for April, May, June and July,” she said, “don’t you realize that you pay every time you go to The Pit with Stan?”

I shook my head, no.

She shook her head, yes.

Our battle of wills raged well into the evening because though she had the evidence to prove her point, there was no way I was going to admit that I was wrong.