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How to fail

Meet Rob Mientjes, Professional Failure. Okay, not really. Nope. I wish it were, but I failed at that career.

It is nothing to be proud of, I know, but once realised, there is no simple way around it. Yesterday, at a concert, I misclapped twice. What that means is that I tried to applaud, but failed. The moment where my hands are supposed to collide and produce a noise, that moment, I messed it up. I failed at applause.

A week ago, I was drinking warm chocolate milk, which I had prepared myself successfully. Laid back in my chair, however, proved to be a tremendously stupid position to drink this. I nearly choked on my chocolate milk. I failed to drink chocolate milk successfully, another stunning failure.

Summing up failure can be a confronting activity. I am rather certain that this is, however, an activity you can fail at quite well. This is no complete list.

Sometimes, I also fail at speaking the truth. Some people call this lying. I call it storytelling. Welcome, dear reader. What is your favourite failure, and why?


As we left the cinema, we first noticed the very cold of February. We were dressed for a mild summer’s day, stupidly, inexplicably, but so we were, and it was cold. We had just seen a film that was situated in Texas, and so the mental contrast was even bigger. I, however, was quite probably the only one making that connection, and I decided to keep it to myself.

In the small garden around one of the churches normally sits a fascinating homeless man. I think he meant to become a singer but lost his groove, or his drive, or maybe his beloved ones, and now he just sits on a bench in front of a massive church, humming and singing. When we passed the big gates, he was nowhere to be found. I missed him. I hope he found a warmer place to sing.

The next step was to cross two roads and two tram tracks. Thankfully, weekday traffic at midnight is calm there, so there was no danger at all. For some odd reason, I did hear myself saying, “It’s funny. In America, for example, jaywalking is like this really big deal, but here it’s normal; it’s not even a way of life. We just cross the road. People have to stop. We pedestrians are really important. It’s crazy. What does that say? I can think about this for hours.” I thought it was a good string of thought. She told me I already told her this. My memory knows how to embarrass me.

She missed a train home by five minutes, and it was my fault at that. We said good-bye at the third bench on platform eight.

The City Was Empty

For only two minutes, the city was empty. Everybody was gone, dead, silent or silenced. I know this because I was the only one there.

The city was perfectly silent. There was no sound, nobody drove a car, nobody threw a newspaper on a doormat. Nobody put a cup under the espresso machine, nobody closed a door violently. I don’t recall hearing any animals either. There were no gulls, no street cats. In the perfect nothing, I stood alone.

And I felt like the loudest person in the world.