I have no idea why I am sitting here
this morning thinking about regrets.
Well, yes I do: I just saw the word
“grumpy.” I thought of myself. And then, I thought of one of my great
I’m sure we each have a list of
Life’s Big Regrets. Here are some of mine.
As a teen, I regret that I did not
accept the full scholarship offered by Hollins University. What was I
thinking? Remember, I was a teenager. I was convinced that I did not, and
could never, have the wardrobe necessary to be an accepted member of the
student body. Geez! Had I only known that, the fall I started college — at
VCU, where wardrobes didn’t matter — there would be a sudden and
dramatic shift in fashion. Goodbye, Peter Pan collars, A-line skirts,
Weejuns in every color. Hello, jeans and sneakers.
I regret that I chose theater as my
major, rather than journalism. Actually, that was my father’s decision. As
a law-enforcement person, he hated reporters. He refused to pay for college
if that was what I wanted to be. Well, we all know how that turned out.
I certainly have no regrets about
traipsing off to Key West when I was 23. That flighty decision (Daddy’s
words, of course) turned into one of life’s big adventures. My second day
there, I met Mel Fisher and decided I wanted to dive for sunken Spanish
But working for Treasure Salvors
eventually led to one of my greatest regrets. Mel couldn’t pay us in cash
most of the time, so we got pieces of eight (silver Spanish coins), which we
could then trade at Fausto’s Groceria for Cuban coffee and bread. That was
all we needed, anyway, since we had “the supermarket,” that spot on the
reef where grouper, yellowtail and Florida lobster hung out, just waiting to
become dinner. Mel also “paid” us with Treasure Salvors stock
certificates. They were worthless at the time, really; still, we stockpiled
them like they were checks that might be “good” someday. After we found
nine bronze cannons from the 1622 Atocha wreck, and lots of other gold and
silver booty; after we went to Washington, D.C., and presented a cannon to
the Queen of Spain; after seven years of the laid-back, hedonistic Key West
life, I started thinking about moving to San Francisco. By then, doing
comedy had moved to the forefront of my life. I sold my Treasure Salvors
stock to a tourist on Duval Street one night. I do not recall his name. He
may have been from Pennsylvania. He paid $3 a share for it. All the other
divers were astounded at this windfall: “Margo got $3 a share from some
tourist on the street!” No one had ever actually sold their stock for
cash. Wasn’t I the smart one?
Six weeks later, I was listening to the
news in my San Francisco apartment, and learned that Treasure Salvors had
discovered the “big pile” — the bulk of Atocha treasure we always knew
was out there on the ocean floor. I called my friends. They were selling
their stock to tourists for $300 a share. Ah, regrets.
I was a comedian by then, though. With
that came my next great regret. I really, really regretted it the morning I
learned Richard Pryor had set himself ablaze while doing drugs. I was in
Beverly Hills that morning, because I had a wonderful “gig” on tap: I
was to “open” for Richard Pryor that night. I would have been paid $800
for 10 minutes of comedy.
Time for another career curve. I managed
to find myself writing something other than comedy for a living. I managed
to find myself back in Virginia, working for The Recorder newspaper. And, I
had somehow managed to win a first-place national award for reporting. The
“big do” where the awards were handed out was at Disney World. I took my
mother (Daddy was, sadly, gone by that time — I know he would have been
proud, at last!) and off we jetted to Orlando. There was a big party for us
that night. And that always brings to mind one of my greatest regrets. Snow
White and the Seven Dwarfs were roaming about the party, posing for photos
with us. I took a picture of Mom with Doc. But I failed to get a photo of
myself with Grumpy.
Ah, life’s big regrets.