I don't know why flight attendants put a skinny plastic swizzle stick in your cup of coffee, but there it is, and the other day, I brought the coffee to my lips and stuck the stick way up into my nostril, which gives an odd sensation, pain and also shame, of course.
-Garrison Keillor, from his 11/19 column in the Chicago Tribune
While perusing the newspaper today (and by "newspaper" I mean "Tribune website," and I am truly saddened that you now have an image of me staring slack-jawed at a computer monitor punctuated by the occasional finger-twitch mouse click, instead of the glamorous scene of me thumbing through an actual paper while sipping a hot cuppa [with milk and sugar] at a cafe table and wearing a stylish trench, rain drizzling noirishly outside the cafe's picture window).
Er, where was I? Oh, yes. While perusing the newspaper today, I came across Garrison Keillor's column from a couple weeks ago and was completely caught off guard by the literary and humoristic perfection of the opening paragraph. Once I got over it, I truly appreciated the sentiment. So Mr. Keillor knows he's not alone (since he certainly must read my blog), I've decided to throw caution to the wind and confess some of my own mishaps.
Of course, there was the time at a recent dentist appointment that I ended up spitting the wash water, cherubic-fountain style, across the pristine white floor. But...
Just a few months ago, while wearing one of my purposefully stylish outfits no less, I was walking to my car in a pair of fabulous, but precarious, metallic wedges and face planted after tripping over a tree root in the parking lot. Not only did I fumble my car keys, but they flew a good three feet from the impact.
It seems that the younger one is, the worse the potential for inadvertent, self-inflicted degradation. Back in college, Noah and I were walking from the student center to his dorm, holding greasy chicken tenders and large cokes in those nondescript cafeteria Styrofoam cups, and quite suddenly and inexplicably my Birkenstocks betrayed me and I collapsed—and skidded—across the pavement, scattering my tenders and tenderizing the palms of my hands.
In high school, most of my public humiliations revolved around gym class. As if changing in front of your peers during puberty isn't horrific enough (this was a new concept to me in Chicago, since in L.A. we didn't have gym class, because we didn't have a gym; we just had P.E. outside, in which we played basketball, did the 1-mile time trial, and other various sportish activities in our street clothes), I had swimming. In the winter. At 8 a.m. So there was the terror of shimmying out of my clothes in the (meat)locker room, a terror because I typically wore flannel pants under my jeans (I didn't break 100 pounds until college, so I could get away with it) to approximate a tolerable level of warmth and also because peeling out of a wet bathing suit is anything but a discreet endeavor.
And then there was the terror of being forced to pencil dive off the high platform to prove...what? That I could obey the command to jump overboard if I ever found myself in a Titanic-esque tragedy? Newsflash: Although having to be coaxed for 5 minutes into jumping off the high dive in front of the entire class approached a tragic proportion of embarrassment, I'd prefer to save my heroics for actual life-or-death situations. Lucky for me, most everyone lost interest in watching me pussyfoot around and false start after a minute or two and instead stared at the pathetic handful of dweebs whose fear of water outweighed their fear of ridicule, and so spent their mornings in the shallow end, learning not to have panic attacks when the water sloshed up around their chins while they paddle-boarded back and forth in enormous, theatrical flourishes of splashing.
So when volleyball season came around, fielding the ball with my face and having my glasses knocked off and bent was far less embarrassing than it would have been if swimming hadn't come first.
I never did, thank goodness, experience the worst of all adolescent embarrassments: farting in class. Noah says that his dad, once a teacher, ritualistically asked "How was your day? Did anyone fart?" whenever he picked them up from school. I'm definitely glad that I never had to endure such shame, because Kim and I still talk about the time a guy named Travis farted in class in 8th grade (uh, 13 years ago). This fact is all the more compelling when I tell you that I was a year behind them and not even present when The Incident took place.
Lucky for me, my high dive shame was quickly forgotten, when the next unfortunate soul stepped up to the ladder, courage withering with each scaled rung.
And I'd like to think that the time in third grade I enthusiastically pronounced "Arkansas" as "our-canzis" has faded in the memories of those who pointed and laughed. A girl can dream.
I once farted in social studies in the sixth grade, after a mind-blowing sneeze. Tried to blame it on the dorky kid behind me. And told myself that worked.
And another time, while debating theology with my friend Brenton, a Catholic, I tried to say, "But Brenton, Catholics are Christians, too." It came out as, "But Brenton, Catholics are Protestants too." It doesn't seem that embarrassing (but I was such a know-it-all that it was), and you wouldn't believe how many times that showed up in my yearbook, or how people still mention that to me on facebook.
One of my most embarrasing moments was when I was in high school as well (seems like a lot of people's are..)
I was in a youth drama group at our church and we toured and performed all over California at youth weekends (I was very popular with the ladies and felt like a Rock Star!) Most of the skits we did were lighthearted, but they had points to them. Anyway, we had one skit that was pretty serious and I had one of the most serious moments in the it. I was supposed to be a police officer telling some parents some bad news.
So let me set up the scene for you.
Two brothers were sailing on a lake when a really bad storm came up. The boat capsized and one of the brothers drowned.
We didn't have a lot of props so everyone had to use their imaginations. Then it was my time to shine in this serious moment.
Enter stage left:
I walked up to what was supposed to be a pretend door. I knocked on it (but someone forgot to make the noise...strike one..)
The kids playing the parents opened the door and asked me in. That was OK until they walked through what was supposed to be the pretend front door onto the pretend porch which now magically turned into the pretend livingroom (strike two).
Needless to say a few chuckles from the audience ensued and made me a little more flustered.
We sat down and I was supposed to deliver this poignant line: "I'm sorry to tell you this, but Jack drowned in a boating accident..."
Did those words come out of my mouth????? NNNOOOOOOOO (you have to make this sound really sarcastic).
This is what I said:
"I'm sorry to tell you this but..."(long pause as I tried to remember his name...I blanked on it at this point). I'm sorry to tell you this but....(another long pause...I'm sure everyone was on the edge of their seats and waiting for the line thinking that it was a hard and emotional moment for the officer)...I'm sorry to tell you this, but WHAT'S HIS NAME died in a boating accident."
That's right, I called him WHAT'S HIS NAME. I could've said "I'm sorry your son has died in a boating accident", but my thespian prowness let me down and I came out with WHAT'S HIS NAME.
Needless to say, my dream of big screen stardom died with WHAT'S HIS NAME that night.
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