A Learning Experience

It was the fall after my graduation from high school and this particular week, the University of Florida Gators Homecoming game was coming up on Saturday.

The night before the game, the University was having a huge pep rally, called Gator Growl, with skits by the college students, performances by the Gator Band as well as by many high school bands, the introduction of the football team, all followed by a fantastic fireworks show. I was certain that as in seasons past, Growl was going to be spectacular!

Of course, I couldn’t go alone, so I invited my girlfriend if she’d like to go to dinner with me and then on to the Growl. I wanted the evening to be THE very best evening possible, and I was going to surprise her and take her to this renowned restaurant in downtown Gainesville. So, on Friday evening, I picked her up and we drove to Gainesville.

I had never been to this restaurant - let alone any type of fancy restaurant but had heard it was the finest restaurant in Gainesville and I wanted to impress her.

When we arrived, we were met at the door by a person dressed in a black tux, (the ‘maître d’) who sat us at a square table for four with my girlfriend immediately to my left. He then handed us thick leather bound menus and I was so impressed! Until I opened the menu. As I looked down the list of entrees and couldn’t make heads or tails of it. The only thing that was legible to me was the prices - and thankfully, I’d saved plenty of money selling cold drinks and football programs at previous Gator football games.

I immediately thought I ask my girlfriend what she’d like to have for dinner, thinking that she would verbalize her choice and then I’d order the same. My heart sank when she just turned the menu towards me and pointed to a menu item saying, “I’ll have this.”

At this point, I was sweating. I knew the waiter would be over shortly to get our order, yet I didn’t know how to pronounce the entrée, so I thought I’d just do what my girlfriend did when I asked her about her selection of her meal; I’d point to the item and I’d tell him “We’ll have two of these.”

When he did come for the order, instead of standing beside me, where I could point to the menu, he stood across the table and said, “Have you decided what you’ll be having for dinner this evening?”

At this point, I had to order, so I said, “We’ll each have a ‘fi-let-mig-non.’” He tried to keep a straight face, but couldn’t. Through his laughter, he said, “So you’ll both be having a filet mignon?” (pronounced: feelay minyon).

Indeed, I was quite embarrassed as I didn’t want to ‘look bad’ by not knowing the correct pronunciation. Nevertheless, we wound up having a great dinner and loads of fun at Growl.

This experience served to teach me that it’s OK to not know everything, nor is it reasonable to think that we will know everything. THE important thing to remember is to always be open to learning new ideas, new things and having new experiences.

There’s an old saying that goes something like this, “Everyone’s ignorant about the things they just haven’t yet learned about”.

I encourage you to seek out new adventures, be aware of your surroundings, and always be ‘in learning’; it’ll invigorate your life!

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