Where were you when Osama Bin Laden died of boredom while watching Vin Diesel’s Fast Five at a celebration party for William and Kate’s royal wedding?

Posted on May 2, 2011


In recent days we’ve experienced three historical events most people will remember their whole lives:

1. The killing of Osama Bin Laden
2. The royal wedding of William and Kate
3. The debut of the fifth Fast and The Furious film as the top movie over the weekend with $83.6 million–maybe not historically significant today, but historians will later mark the movie’s debut as the beginning of America’s transition to dictatorship as leaders realize citizens can’t be trusted with democracy when they make such terrible, terrible choices.

These are called “Where were you when…?” moments.  We all tell stories about where we were and what we were doing when we heard big news, and the sights and sounds of our settings become indelibly connected with the event.

“I’ll never forget I was at work when my wife called and said turn on the news…”
“I was on a blind date at a restaurant when people started whispering…”
“I was sorting through a dumpster and had just found a perfectly good sandwich when I saw the newspaper clipping…”

Because you’ll be telling this story for decades, it’s to your advantage to be doing something impressive at that pivotal moment, giving you the opportunity to toot your own horn the next three hundred times you tell the story.

“Where were you when William and Kate got married?”
“I was watching on the TV at the gym while setting a new personal best in the bench press of 293 pounds.”

Of course you can’t plan for most big news events, so here are some tips for impressing that you can pull out quickly in an emergency:

1. Type and save a text message promoting a charity fundraiser you want to organize.  As soon as you get the news, reference it at the very end of your text and click send all:

Charity pot luck dinner for cancer.
My place Friday night $10 donation.
Just to be clear, donation goes to fighting cancer, not causing cancer.
Bin Laden killed:)

Everyone will remember the moment they got the big news, and the memory will always be associated with how charitable you are.

2. Read all of War and Peace except the last page.  Carry it with you at all times and when someone says, “Did you hear Bill Clinton was impeached?” you can pull War and Peace from your bag and read the last page.  Some day your grand kids will ask about impeachment, and you can say, “I was on the last page of War and Peace when I got the news.”  Reading War and Peace is very impressive, and I want people to know, and I’m always looking for opportunities to announce I’ve read it, just like I did right now.

3. Solve a mystery, but don’t tell anyone who did it until the moment you get the news.

“Did you hear the big news?  I just heard on the radio that–”
“The butler did it!  JFK was killed by his butler, and I can prove it!”

4. Kiss the person next to you.  “I was making out with my doctor when the nurse gave us the news.”

5. Grab someone and start doing the Heimlich maneuver, even if he isn’t choking.  All the witnesses will talk about your heroics for the rest of their lives every time the big news is mentioned.  The person who wasn’t really choking may try and dispute he needed your help, but you can tell everyone his brain didn’t get enough oxygen while he was choking, and this affected his short-term memory and gratitude.

6. Finish a Rubik’s Cube completely except for the last turn, and carry it in your pocket at all times.  If someone says they have big news, tell them to wait while you pull the Rubik’s Cube from your pocket and make the last turn.

7. Keep a complicated cheese souffle in the freezer, when you hear someone say breaking news, hurry and throw it in the oven.  “I was making a delightful cheese souffle when I got the news.”

8. If you’ve got a time machine just about finished, you might wait to turn that last screw until somebody has big news.  “I was finishing the world’s first time machine when I got the big news.”

9. Also, if you can’t think of anything impressive, you might use the big news opportunity to reveal bad news and hope your failure might get buried by the bigger news.

“Honey, did you hear about Bin Laden?”
“I lost all our money gambling on the Internet.”
“But that doesn’t seem important now. This whole Bin Laden business really puts my gambling addiction in perspective.”

Every time your ex-wife tells the story of where she was when she got the news her husband had lost her in a card game, she’ll say, “I had just learned about Bin Laden’s death when I got the big news.”

10. Do you have a cure for cancer?  You might think you’ll wait to announce it until you can associate it with big news, but actually curing cancer would be pretty big news on its own and maybe you should just announce it today.  Let me know in advance so I can have my Rubik’s Cube ready.

I’m going to occasionally try to finish a post with a sentence that confuses the search engines and sends people to my site who had no intention of being here.  Here is today’s contribution:

Osama Bin Laden dies of boredom while watching Vin Diesel’s Fast Five at celebration party for William and Kate’s royal wedding.

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Posted in: Advice