Hm... Not really an accident, but I can share my most embarassing moment. My wife and I honeymooned in Ireland and I had dragged along a guitar because I had just started playing again after more than a decade of not and I didn't want to lose a couple of weeks worth of practice time. Plus I figured that it would be cool to maybe learn something from any musicians we might come across (because, in Ireland, there are wandering bards and minstrals... really... all over the freakin' place... or something like that). Keep in mind that I had only been playing again for about a month at the most and I was never that great a decade earlier so I wasn't exactly high-speed and low-drag at this point. The place we were staying at was an old manor house that had been converted into a B&B right in the dead center of Ireland in this little rural community called Castledaly. There was a man who was a sort of local historian whom the manor's proprietor had arranged to speak to us ig'nant Americans when our group first arrived. This gent was a fantastic man. He had worked for the UN for his entire adult life before retiring back home to Castledaly. Upon seeing me disembark the bus that bounced and tossed us from Dublin to Castledaly (my ass still has bruises to this day!) with a guitar, he remarked, "Ah, we have ourselves a musician amongst us!" (you'll have to imagine his rich rolling brogue that barely qualifies as English). My protestations that I had only been playing for a month or so fell on deaf ears as he placed my claims of inexperience squarely in the category of false humility. That first night, however, the manor house was hosting a wine and cheese tasting party to raise money for the local school. They had a wonderful trio of bass, guitar, guitar, with all three singing. They were fantastic (see... wandering bards and minstrals!) and happily I could sing along with many of the songs because of my South Side, Chicago-Irish-American upbringing. About an eighth of the way into the party (meaning midnight), the historian guy gets up and grabs the mic in between songs and says, "We're blessed tonight to have with us a guest musician from The States" (again the written word can't do justice to the beauty of this man's brogue, so you'll just have to make do with imagination). At this point, idiot me was looking around the room trying to figure out who this guest musician could be since I didn't recall seeing any other instruments on the bus from Dublin. I looked back up at him and he looked at me and said, "Dan... are you ready?" I was stunned and my first instinct was to act like he was talking to someone else, but as a six foot, two inch, one-eyed Asian man in the middle of Ireland, I kinda stood out in the crowd and people were already staring at me. My wife, my brand new bride, bless her over-supportive, adventurous soul, was poking me and saying, "go get your guitar, Honey, what a memory this'll be!" And the other Americans of our group, in a bond forged in the shared trial and tribulation of that bus-ride, lent their very vocal support as well (drunk Americans in a foreign country are VERY vocal... I can't explain it, but it is an unalterable truth!). In a moment of panic, I caved to the pressure of my wife and peers and went up to our room to get my guitar as the band kicked up a rousing reel. I briefly pondered the possibility that I could stay in our room and that my absence would go unnoticed. There was still that big, one-eyed Asian man thing working against me, though. So I resolutely grabbed my guitar and went back down to the bar. I did a quick, crappy tuning with hands that were shaking like a double-wide in a tornado. Now, understand that I have no problems with public speaking. I can get up in front of a group of the most powerful people in the world and deliver a lecture, run a seminar, give a presentation, whatever. I love speaking in front of groups. It's my gift, my talent. For this, though, I was terrified. Absolutely petrified. The finest tuning fork in the world can't quiver as I was at that moment. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I sucked as a guitar player, but I was more frightened than the time I decided at fourteen or fifteen to pick a fight with one kid without realizing that the six guys on the stoop across the street were his friends and family. The band was wonderful in giving me space, hooking my acoustic-electric guitar into their PA system, and what-not. I was still trembling, though, and, if anything, it was getting worse. I thought, okay, I'll just rip through some fingerpicking pieces that I know cold and be done with it, but I was shaking so badly that songs that I'd played hundreds of times became an impossibility. Freight Train sounded like it had jumped the tracks, the simplified arrangement that I knew of Für Elise sounded more like "furry lisa", and Malaguena was just "mal". In my panic, I somehow decided that holding a chord and strumming would be a better idea. The only problem then is that you then have to sing or it's just plain boring. Again in my panic I decided that'd be fine; I've got a so-so voice and a reasonable sense of pitch. I don't recall smoking crack that day, but I surely must have. So there I was stumbling my way through a horrid rendition of "The Gunner's Dream". Every note I sang came with its own built in vibrato and was at least a quarter-step below where it was intended. My wife, bless her over-supportive, adventurous soul (yeah, I know I'm recycling phrases, but bless her, it just fits, especially that evening), decided that she would come up and help me out by singing with me. You have to understand that my wife has a lovely singing voice but completely lacks any musical training or sense of music. If there are a couple of measures of instrumental only at the end of a verse, she'll just keep motoring on to chorus without pause. So there we were singing "Closer to Fine" and I was playing the instrumental at the end of the first verse and she was singing the chorus and I had to stop us. Did I mention that in addition to having no sense of timing, she also has a tendency to ignore the accompaniment altogether and sing in whatever key is comfortable for her? No? Well, yeah... that's what she does. So, I stopped, but she wasn't listening and kept right on going until I had to say into the mic, "Baby, we gotta stop, Baby... we sound terrible..." You'd think that I'd have quit there, but no, my fear and panic had disappeared into the black hole that my self-esteem left behind as it shrank to a miniscule point. I was suddenly determined to somehow redeem myself in some small way so I launched us into a rousingly retched rendition of "House of the Rising Sun" (have you noticed that the songs kept getting easier and easier?). We managed to finish off that number and my self-esteem. Any determination that I had left had wilted to the point where I was no longer able to beat back the tide of self-pity long enough to do another song so I gracelessly exited the stage dragging my guitar and my pride behind me. I packed both into my guitar case. You'll have to again imagine the historian's brogue as he took the stage after me and said, "Let's hear it for Dan... perhaps he'll be back again and with a bit more practice he'll truly be something!" Bless him and his kind, generous, Irish heart. I don't think he realized how far that comment would twist the dagger. So later that night, or rather morning, (around three), as we were lying in bed, Beth snoring so slightly in her wonderfully adorable way, I was still staring at the ceiling listening to the band still going strong downstairs, pondering how incredibly awful my first live performance had been. Beth must have sensed and been awakened by the vibes of negativity and self-pity that radiated from me, because she rolled over and said, "Honey, what are you doing still awake?" "I think that I should go down and apologize to the band for how bad I was," was my reply. To this day, I bear the scars of that experience. And I'm not just referring to the bruises on my ass from that bus-ride. At no other point in my life have I ever felt the same abject humiliation that I did that night in Ireland. I'm starting to flush and sweat just thinking about it. It was definitely not an experience I would wish on anyone and I haven't performed publicly since. Oof! Sorry for the long-a$$ post!