3hree Things: Life's Uncanny Ability To Punch My Ego In The Balls

Watch out for 3hree Things every Tuesday, where Riley Breckenridge, drummer of Orange County's favorite local alt-rock band Thrice, gives his take on life in Southern California as an OC native.

3hree Things: Life's Uncanny Ability To Punch My Ego In The Balls

Last week, I read that San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt suffered a ridiculous season-ending injury while BBQing. I found it eerily reminiscent of a BBQ injury I sustained a few years ago, and it reminded me that when things are going well and my self-worth is at one of its rare peaks, life has an interesting way of letting me know that I'm probably not as cool as I'd like to be.

Me: I'm feeling good about myself. I'm...dare I say, "pretty cool".

Life: Whoa. Hang on, buddy. No. Just no. No, you're not. Don't get any big ideas here, pal. /punches ego squarely in the nuts.

What follows, is a closer look at three of these moments. Lessons in humility, if you will. All of which, I'm pretty grateful for in some twisted way.

3hree Things: Life's Uncanny Ability To Punch My Ego In The Balls

1. The Superbowl Party

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I threw a Superbowl party in 2008 and had about 20 of my friends over to my house to watch the game, BBQ, and enjoy some cold beers. Thrice had an Australian tour on the horizon, and being able to spend one of my last weekends at home surrounded by my best friends and good food and drink before heading off to one of my favorite places on the planet seemed about as "cool" as things could possibly get.

I was manning the grill and had been thoroughly enjoying myself (and a few-to-several adult beverages) when it came time to fire up some burgers. I pulled out a stack of frozen patties from the freezer and tried to separate them for grilling. No luck. I gave the tube of ground beef bits a bleary-eyed stare down, and rather than being patient and letting the burgers thaw, I decided to grab a knife and split the patties manually using what will hereby be known as The Affeldt Method™. Great idea. Thanks, beer!

I wedged the knife in between two of the patties and pushed hard to separate them.

Oh, I separated them all right. And in doing so, I plunged the knife into the palm of my left hand, leaving a gash as deep as it was wide. Whoops.

SCORE: -347 Self-Worth Points

Reminder: You're not as cool as you'd like to be.

3hree Things: Life's Uncanny Ability To Punch My Ego In The Balls

2. The Carnival or Whatever The Hell It Was

I started playing drums during my senior year of high school. Poorly. And when the only "drumming" you're really capable of sounds like someone throwing a drum kit down a long flight of stairs, you should definitely start a band with your friends (who also don't really know what they're doing) because being in a band isn't really about writing and playing songs that are pleasing to the ears, it's about hey we're four or five guys in the same place at the same time and we all just happen to have instruments and aren't we cool hey look at us we're a band. (Note: this band was not Thrice)

That horrible band played a horrible set filled with horrible songs at a carnival held in the parking lot of our high school. We played what should have been called "Hey Watch Us Tune Onstage For Five Minutes Because We Don't Have Tuners Or Maybe We Do But We Don't Really Know How To Use Them" and our big hit, "Let's Play The Same Progression For Seven Minutes While Our Drummer Shows You That He Can't Keep Time Worth A Damn And It's Not Just Because He Keeps Dropping His Sticks It's Pretty Much Because He Sucks." We played. On a stage. At a carnival. People Watched. There was fried dough. And rides. And probably clowns. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, and by default thought I was pretty damn cool too. For a second.

After we finished, I broke down my kit. My swelling ego and I thought it would be a good idea to stack my rack tom and floor tom on top of my kick drum and carry the stack down a small flight of stairs so that I could load them into my car and talk to some of the crowd that had actually stuck around about how cool my band and I had just been.

And that's when my drums and I fell down that flight of stairs (right in front of my friends, girlfriend, and classmates) in a cacophony that was probably more musical than anything I'd done onstage. Way to go, me.

SCORE: -596 Self-Worth Points

Reminder: You're not as cool as you'd like to be.

3hree Things: Life's Uncanny Ability To Punch My Ego In The Balls

3. New Year's Day

I spent New Year's Eve in 2009 at my apartment with my girlfriend, laying low, enjoying a home-cooked meal, a bottle (or two) of wine, and each other's company. Thrice had released Beggars a few months prior to praise from critics and fans alike, I'd just gotten home from a great month-long tour with some of my favorite people and musicians (Brand New), and I had an amazing woman to share my time, happiness, and gratitude with. Life was good. Creativity was good. Business was good. I was "cool"?

Needless to say, I awoke on the morning of January 1, 2010 feeling pretty good about myself. As per usuaI, made myself a bowl of oatmeal and a big pot of coffee and took a seat in my big leather desk chair in front of the computer to do some reading and welcome the new year with guns-a-blazing. After I finished breakfast and polished off my third cup of coffee, my stomach turned.

"Just gas," I thought. "It's probably all the wine from last night."

I raised a cheek and tried to remedy the situation.


And that's when I sharted in my desk chair. As an adult. As a man. Not a baby. Not a geriatric. Not a sphincterally-challenged invalid. As A FULLY FUNCTIONAL ADULT MAN. What a way to kick off the new year.

Coincidentally, 2010 ended up being one of the shittiest years of my life. I can't say I wasn't warned.

SCORE: -12,487 Self-Worth Points

Reminder: You're not as cool as you'd like to be.

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