My list of personal failures, annotated

Some highlights from the list of failures:

1976 (age 4): I awaken after bedtime, needing a trip to the little boy’s room. I am happy to be able to do these things myself. Unfortunately, I am still dreaming: the “toilet” is a kitchen drawer that I’ve pulled open and begun urinating into with company present. The first of many such incidents, sadly.

1977 (age 5): Having seen Star Wars 7 times, I attempt to kill my sister with my lightsaber. Paper towel rolls prove to be nonlethal instruments. Fortunately, opportunities for sororicide continue to present themselves.

1980 (age 8 ): I open my eyes underwater during baptism to see my sins being washed away. Water gets up my nose, but I see nothing unusual, nor does my Pooh Bear, sitting near the font. Parents question my attachment to said Bear. This attachment will naturally fade over time, around the time I first notice Susanna Hoffs.

1982 (age 10): Living in a new town, with few friends. Neighborhood kid comes over, and while playing in my room I offer my toys as presents in exchange for friendship. He declines, and I return to building model airplanes by myself. The urge to buy friends, or compensate those who choose to spend time with me still remains, thankfully counterbalanced by relative poverty.

1984 (age 12): Newly ordained a Deacon, I am confident in the newfound priesthood power I possess. Invoking the divine authority of Jesus Christ during the 800m race is ineffectual for some reason. Over time I learn that the Priesthood cannot be used in this way.

1985 (age 13): Tootsie airs on local television. Apeing Bill Murray, I tell my sister, “Kelsea, you’re such a slut.” Apparently “slut” is a negative word of some sort; Kelsea, age 16 at the time, is visibly upset. Bill Murray was funny when he said it, because Dustin Hoffman was a slut. Kelsea probably wasn’t.

1988 (age 16): First solo date, with Sarah Jean Tingle (begin obvious jokes). Mother offers date advice, which I refuse. At the end of the date I pull over across the street from SJT’s house, and loudly declare, “well, good night!” She confusedly lets herself out, where upon I take off, screeching gravel. She sadly walks alone across the street and into her house. Surprisingly, this is our last date.

1990 (age 18): In my freshman BYU ward, I get up to bear my testimony and declare that “I believe the Church is true,” under the impression that my intellectual honesty would be appreciated from the pulpit. Sigh. I discover that I am mistaken both as to the purpose of testimony and as to the nature of intellectual honesty.

1998 (age 26): I sign up for a two-year law degree in France. I am under the belief that it will be a cakewalk, as I’ll compete against 18-yr-old frogs with no legal training. Alas the program is consistently and infuriatingly difficult, and my plans for a two-year Paris vacation are ruined. The experience is not a total wash: Sumer learns French, I learn law, and Jim and Janice Faulconer are in our ward.

2002-2004 (age 30-32): A member of the Manhattan 1st Ward, I am home teacher to several families, many with urgent needs. Despite good intentions (and at times even a willing companion), I rarely (ever?) perform my task. In many ways this failure reminds me of all the people I could have spoken to on my mission but didn’t, or all the kindness I could have shown my grandparents while they were alive. Home teaching is a life preserver to some; a guilt preserver for others.

2005 (age 33): After gaining entry to the New York City Marathon, and after training for several months, I withdraw two months prior to the race. A fractured toe, blackened toenails and aching muscles take their toll, keeping me from entering what could be my last shot at the famous race. Now living in Seattle, I have my race entry card posted on the wall above my desk. I have not yet re-entered the race.

2005 (age 33): After angering some and disappointing many, I decide to stop blogging on BCC. I fail to realize how much I will miss my friends. I miss the blog I helped to found. I read it every day, looking for familiar faces and old rivalries (Lyle! Dan Peterson! Ed Enochs!). I email my BCC mates behind the scenes, trying to stay in the loop despite taking myself out of the loop. I am afraid to return to blogging, but I miss my friends.


  1. Steve! Welcome back!

  2. Great post. Glad to see you blogging again.

    Wish my list of personal failures was that cute/funny.

  3. Yay! There are something you should fail at, Steve.

  4. Steve, I’m not usually one to glory in other people’s failures, but by defining your return as a personal deficiency, you’ve put me in the odd position of rooting against you. Anyway, I’m sorry about your baptism, but I’m quite happy about your return. (And you never angered or disappointed me, Steve.)

  5. Failure/tragedy + time = comedy.

    I suggest this post as a lesson on how we need to share our failures with others more often. It’s taking an enema for the soul or cleansing the spiritual palate–you choose the metaphor.

    I’d list my failures too, but instead, as the priesthood holder in the home, I’ve delegated this duty to my wife to post my failures here–she keeps better tabs on them than I do.

  6. DKL, I don’t see my return to BCC as a personal deficiency; rather, I think I failed my friends by leaving in the first place. That’s what I was trying to say in my all-too hamfisted way.

  7. Hurray! Welcome back Steve. BTW, “sororicide” is a way cool word — as well as something that I have attempted at various times over the years. Thanks.

  8. It’s good to see you back in the nacle, Steve.

    By the way, of possible interest, there was a BCC post a short while back about what happens if you take an 18-year-old frog with no legal training and put it into a pot of boiling water . . .

  9. Beware the Ides of March, indeed! Welcome home, frere.

  10. ed enochs says:

    I love you but will never support mormonism.

  11. Davis Bell says:

    Welcome back, Steve. You live in Seattle now?

  12. You were gone?

  13. Sorry, that was me, just couldn’t resist. (my first time to ever post under a pseudonym in the blogosphere!)

  14. I mean the ed enochs comment was me. Sorry ed.

  15. You’re sorry about his baptism, Dave?? Sheesh!

    “You know, Steve, all things being equal, I wish that you were still a damned sinner going straight to hell. Not born of water, unable to repent for random bad thoughts in Junior High; the whole enchilada. Of course, you managed to mess things up and go get baptized. . .”

  16. Ed Enochs,

    Stop impersonating John Fowles! Haven’t we told you that impersonating people is bad?

  17. Someone else who missed you says:

    I’ll tell you what you didn’t miss, Steve. You didn’t miss BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. That’s because the new SCI-FI CHANNEL version is deplorable! Sci-Fi channel and its so-called experts are nothing but a steaming pile of . . . um, stuff. They are INCOMPETENT and UNABLE to write a decent show. And this so-called “blog” is all part of their organization. So I hope that you enjoyed your PAID VACATION that they sci-fi channel gave you to go SHILL for their awful shows, Mr. Evans! Just admit it, they’ve bought you, lock stock and barrel. I will not be silenced!

  18. Steve who? jk . . . welcome back Mr. Evans

  19. Kevin Barney says:

    Welcome back, Steve.

    Re: 1990 and your use of the word “believe,” I do that same thing to this day. I think the only mistake you made was in thinking it would be appreciated by others. It doesn’t bother me that everyone else says “know,” and I understand the rhetoric of it, I just prefer to say “believe.” Although I get the occasional strange look from it, only once has anyone even asked me about it, and that just out of curiousity over the distinction I was drawing.

  20. Wow, you’re such a neat person, and I’m so happy to see your name up there on that by-line again!

  21. Welcome back, Steve! I can now cross one item off my list of personal life goals: belonging to a group blog with Steve Evans!

  22. I’m quite new to this thing still, but I have heard a little about you. Look forward to more.

  23. It’s about time supergenious. Welcome back!

  24. You were gone? LOL I missed you. Why are you afraid? are you afraid people will be mad or are you afraid it will take over your life (as it is taking over mine, Bill is ready to turn off the power).

    David left for ten minutes then came back, didn’t you, David.

    Your taking a break from blogging wasn’t a personal failure. It was probably wise. Also, God allows u-turns. It’s okay to change your mind, what a concept, huh?

    My Jared (age 29) still has his pooh bear, I saved it for him, it’s in his footlocker. He carried around and slept with it for years. We didn’t care.

    I tried to get together with Brian when I was in LA, but schedules clashed. He’s in Orem now, doing a film for the church, which wouldn’t it be cool if the church allowed him to make a documentary? I bet he’d win an Oscar.

    Who are we missing? We have Brian, David, you, Naomi, there are two others, right?

    Anyway, glad you’re back. There’s this guy posting as Steve EM who I thought was you.

  25. S.P. Bailey says:

    Glad you are back, Steve.

  26. I’m also glad you’re back Steve. I was getting tired of speaking in your absence.

  27. Walking down the street the other day I saw the cutest little chupacabra/pug mix and thought of you. Glad you are back.

    I expect zeitcasts.

  28. Welcome back, Steve.

    Just yesterday someone referred to you in the present tense, as if you weren’t just a “dream of a night vision.” And here, today, on the 2010th anniversary of Caesar’s assassination, you return!

  29. Beware the ides of March, Mark B.

  30. a random John says:

    Hopefully you are fully refreshed after your long vacation. Now get back to work!

    And I second danithew’s expectation.

  31. Salut Mec!

    Maintenant que tu es de retour, ne m’interdis pas, stp.

  32. Eric Russell says:

    annegb, I hear you, they’re just so darn similar that sometimes they’re hard to tell apart.

    Supergenius, keep training, someday I will race you.

  33. Eric Hoffer says:

    You’re a True Believer man!

  34. Steve Evans back in the ‘nacle: Good (Great, even)

    annegb inappropriately sharing about her grown children: Priceless!

  35. Damn! Does this mean I have to give my keys back?

    I’m still trying to understand why you chose the anniversary of Julius Caesar’s death to return? Aren’t you Caesar? Or is it Napolean? Steve EM, which is it, I forget?

    (Welcome back to BCC, pal.)

  36. It’s great to have you back Steve!

  37. The whole thing cooler than this blogpost would be to set the whole thing to music. How about “Rock Me, Amadeus,” with Steve Evans’ foibles in place of Wolfgang’s accomplishments?

    Aaron B

  38. Welcome back, Steve!

  39. Er … I meant, the “one” thing cooler than this blogpost …

    Aaron B

  40. welcome back!

  41. Annegb, you were in LA and you didn’t tell me? LMK next time.

  42. Fratello Giovanni says:

    If I even tried to list my personal failures it could fill volumes. So I won’t.

  43. Steve, as J. Stapley, Mark B., and Ronan have already noted, it is surely no coincidence that you’ve done this on the Ides. But I can’t figure what about your return coincides with the assassination of Caesar, so you’ll have to tell me. What does this day augur?

    Whatever it is, welcome back!

  44. Jim, the Caesars of the Bloggernacle know who they are. But no reason to feel wary, other than that it was on this day in 1876 that Test cricket was born…

  45. Sarah Jean Tingle??

    You from Calgary, Steve?

  46. Steve Evans says:


    Yep, from Calgary.

  47. Please please let this conversation about Sarah Jean Tingle and Calgary continue in public…this is AWESOME!!!! Oh, and welcome back Steve…we missed you.

  48. Susan! My e-mail is I’ll probably never make it back there for a long time, till Bill and I go on our mission there. If anybody comes here, I’ll take them to lunch, though.

    Jared doesn’t care if I talk about his love for Pooh bear, he was thrilled that I saved him all these years. Jared is pretty much unembarrassable. Sort of like myself.

    Now that you guys are back, could you do a Banner of Heaven with real people? Except Septimus, who I wanted for a son in law.

    Speaking of Sister Tingle, I met a very young looking missionary at Wal-Mart (I was shopping the other day)named Elder Virgin. He said everyone teases him.

  49. Congrats, Steve. I knew you’d be welcomed back with open arms. In fact, this whole thread made me a bit misty. It reminded me of when Jacob and Esau reunited, except you’re not hairy like Esau, at least as far as I know. Come to think of it an epilady can work miracles…

    But I digress, I only wanted to say three things.

    First, an uncut version of this post exists and is available for a price.

    Second, something tells me Steve has not yet begun to blog. Stay tuned…

    And third, we all love you, Steve. Once again, welcome back.

    And cue the theme song of the classic TV show, “Welcome Back, Kotter.”

    Welcome back,
    Your dreams were your ticket out.

    Welcome back,
    To that same old place that you laughed about.

    Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
    But those dreams have remained and they’re turned around.

    Who’d have thought they’d lead ya (Who’d have thought they’d lead ya)
    Here where we need ya (Here where we need ya)

    Yeah we tease him a lot cause we’ve got him on the spot, welcome back,
    Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

  50. Dear Anne,

    You’re too kind, but thank you for over-estimating my ability. I can assure you I am not Oscar-worthy. Unlike you, I can’t even win a Niblet. In fact, I couldn’t even win a Giblet for Worst Blog from a rediculous (sic) chihuahua and was narrowly defeated by some blog no one’s ever heard of.

    It was like CRASH over BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (sigh).

    In any case, on my drive back to L.A. my wife and I would love to stop by and take you to dinner at the finest restaurant Cedar City has to offer.

    It’s still an Arby’s, right?

    Just joking, didn’t mean to take a cheap shot at your hometown (and seriously, those mocha shakes they serve are to die for).

    Sorry I missed you in L.A., but I hope to see you when my work is done here, and although I can no longer speak for Septimus, I for one would love to be your honorary son-in-law.

  51. Sometime in the wee hours this morning I realized that I can add the inability to do simple arithmetic to my list of embarrassing failures.

    It was 2050 years, assuming any of our calendars are correct.

  52. Yea Steve! You do us proud.

  53. I only came back to comment and say hi.

    1984: I pray to be able to do more pull-ups than one. No angels lift on 2nd pull-up attempt. I stop praying for around 8 years.

    1992: I return to elementary school-yard and do 2nd pull-up; realizing in a moderately spiritual experience that some exercise/”works” were required to exercise my faith and make the prayer of 8 years ago work.

    I wonder how common this type of experience is?


    [clap clap clapclapclap]

  55. Steve Evans says:

    I’m just glad I squeaked back in before March Madness started.

  56. Hmm . . . Steve and Aaron return from the grave and post in quick succession, and not a day later, J. Stapley is griping about heirarchy and kings and Councils of Fifty.

    I suspect that I know who got left out of the Council of Fifty this time around. :P

    And thus we see the underlying politics of BCC, a true blogging theodemocracy existing under the benevolent (but iron) fist of King Steve and his fearsome Council of Fifty. . .

  57. I knew once they let in S. Mack Dazzle and D. Golden Shizzle that Steve would come back to BCC.

  58. Welcome back, Steve!

    You’ve been sorely missed.

  59. Justin H says:

    Ditto to Flanders. Glad you’re back.

  60. Meh.

  61. Since I have only known of your existence at all as of last night, I have not much in the way of grounds to welcome you back or anything like that, but I figured I’d chime in.

    Darling self-deprecatious humor.

  62. Thanks Naiah – now you know that I am precisely the same IRL.

  63. Hi. You don’t know me, but WB anyway. I’ve heard alot about you!

  64. Having a last name of Fail, is no picnic, either. Hee!

    Two weeks overdue, after 3 failed inductions (36+ total hours of unproductive horrible labor) and checking back into the hospital . . . the nurse says, maybe this time you’ll PASS.

    Um, no making fun of the horribly overdue, exhausted, pregnant lady. Or ELSE!

    My husband got teased MERCILESSLY on his mission . . . you know, he always Fail-ed to meet every goal, etc.

    I must say, though, a last name of Virgin . . . eeeee!

  65. Shannon Keeley says:

    Steve Evans is back, and Shannon Keeley is making a comment that for once has nothing to do with embarrassing her husband. Miracles clearly have not ceased.
    One addition to your original post:
    1994: (Age 22) Distracted by two brilliant and beautiful women in English class, Steve fails to make friends with Brian Gibson, thereby missing out on years of comradeship and potential adventures. Thankfully, the miracle of the internet reunites them years later.

    Now that you’re back, maybe I’ll actually read once in a while.



  1. […] Steve Evans, a contributor to the LDS blog By Common Consent, has posted a list of his personal failings.  It’s entertaining (come now, who hasn’t urinated in a kitchen drawer at some point?), but this entry caught my eye: 1990 (age 18): In my freshman BYU ward, I get up to bear my testimony and declare that “I believe the Church is true,” under the impression that my intellectual honesty would be appreciated from the pulpit. Sigh. I discover that I am mistaken both as to the purpose of testimony and as to the nature of intellectual honesty. […]

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