09/26/2012 02:52 pm ET Updated Nov 26, 2012

What I'm Atoning for Today

Happy Yom Kippur. That's probably not the correct greeting, but as the world's least observant Jew, I wouldn't know. Hey -- shouldn't you be in synagogue, anyway?

In lieu of actually attending services myself, let me share a few things I'm atoning for this year:

Upsetting that receptionist
I called my dentist to make an appointment and had the following conversation.

Me: I'd like to come in for a cleaning.
Receptionist : A what?
Me: A cleaning.
Receptionist, clearly horrified: I've never heard of that before


It turns out that I had called my Ob/Gyn by accident.

I should also apologize to my friend Karen. You see, I also have an aunt Karen, who is a doctor. So when I developed a gross toe fungus, I gave her a call. "I have a nasty toe fungus I want to ask you about," I said. She let me finish three minutes of vivid description before suggesting that perhaps I had meant to call someone else.

Confusing that poor stranger
I'm not so good at remembering people, so when I saw a woman looking in my general direction, I assumed she must be my friend, coworker or maybe even a close relative. I didn't want to be rude, so I struck up a conversation. "Hey!" I said with maniacal cheer. "I haven't seen you in a while! What have you been up to?" She answered with a boring and complicated story about moving to Shirlington. Meanwhile, I had the dawning realization that she was, in fact, a total stranger. I left abruptly, promising to call soon.

That lady is still probably wondering who the hell I am, or perhaps why I never called.
On a related note, I once received a set of picture frames from my uncle. They were circular ceremic frames with pictures of my cousins -- four pretty little girls who I always had trouble telling apart.

I kept the frames on my bookshelf for years, until my friend Sophia noticed them.

"You know, you're supposed to take out the pictures that come with the frames," she said. "What are you talking about? Those are my cousins!" I replied. Sophia opened one up and peeled out the flimsy paper inside. "Oh," I said. "I guess those aren't my cousins."

Being the worst houseguest ever
My band was playing in Boston, and my friend Pam generously offered to let me stay at her place. I arrived pretty late -- probably about 2 a.m. -- a bit drunk, and with some random guy in tow. I wanted him to leave, but didn't have the cojones to dismiss him myself. So I hid in the kitchen while Pam kicked him out. Pam then tucked me in and returned to her own bed.

A few hours later, I woke up, needing to use the bathroom. I explored Pam's dark apartment, feeling for toilet-shaped furniture. As I poked my head through a promising looking doorway, Pam's voice squeaked out through the gloom. "What are you doing?" she said. Apparently I had been creepily staring at her and her boyfriend, as they lay sleeping in bed. She pointed me to the bathroom, where I proceeded to stop up her toilet.

Letting that little kid take the fall for the Christmas plumbing challenge
As an adult, the only Jewish holiday I've ever celebrated is Jewish Christmas. (That entails, of course, Chinese food and a movie.) But these days, I'm an even worse Jew, as I celebrate actual Christmas with my boyfriend's family, in California.
Last year, at a big family brunch, I stopped up their toilet. Now, I know what you're thinking: Another stopped up toilet? Did you use too much toilet paper? Did you remember to courtesy flush? All I can say is, yes. I'm a 33-year-old vegetarian. I know every technique to prevent toilet stoppages that you do, and probably more. But somehow I blocked Steve's family's toilet so badly, raw sewage began to bubble up in the shower.

As yelps erupted near the dining room -- apparently the problem had spread to the kitchen sink -- I sneaked out of the house and joined a touch football game, so as to establish an alibi. In the meantime, Christmas celebrations in adjacent houses were also being interrupted by the ghosts of BMs past. Steve's dad called a plumber and Steve's little cousin took the blame for what was quickly becoming a neighborhood-wide catastrophe. The poor, innocent kid got lectured on the importance of the courtesy flush by several members of his family and a growing crowd of neighbors. I should have... You know, forget it. I'm not atoning for this one. Better him than me.