Tag Archive | "embarrassing moments"

Boy, Was My Face Red!

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Although not celebrities whose public faux pas, such as wardrobe malfunctions, are exposed on national TV, we’ve all suffered our share of bloopers.  Who among us has not exited a public restroom with toilet paper trailing behind us or stuck beneath our shoes?  Have your pants ever split, or worse, at an inopportune moment?  Maybe you stepped into the pounding surf in a skimpy bikini and came out wearing only one-half of your bathing suit.  Did you trip over your own two feet, roll down a short flight of stairs at say, the theater, blather something totally inane, or had your tongue tied when you had to present a critical speech, such as proposing to your beloved or explaining to the IRS man why you weren’t really trying to hide those undisclosed funds from Uncle Sam.

Being only human, I’ve suffered plenty of self-made humiliations.  In high school one day, I was suddenly the butt of secret jokes.  As I walked down the corridors minding my own business, my peers snickered, tittered, and pointed at me.  Finally, I looked down … to see that the zipper on my jeans was unzipped.  The moment I did, it seemed as if the entire student body was present in that particular hallway.  Peals of laughter rang out upon my discovery, while all I’d wanted to do was fall into a black hole at that moment.  Remembering how awful that experience had felt, I make sure to alert my customers whenever I notice that their own flies are unzipped.  As my job entails extensive customer service, I find that I have many opportunities to do just that.  I do hope that my patrons don’t think I’m some kind of a pervert; I’m only trying to save them a little embarrassment.  And who knows the long-term consequences of this small act of consideration?  For example, how professional (or normal) would a customer appear if he showed up at a job interview with his tighty-whities exposed?

Like zippers, customer service jobs have their ups and downs.  I once had a regular customer with whom I had many conversations.  He used to walk into the store alone during the late shift, when things were slow, so we got into some lengthy and rather personal conversations.  I came to learn that he was unhappy in his marriage.  He was not sharing this information in order to hit on me, and I was not interested in him romantically; he was just a lonely guy and we talked.  One night, he came in with a lady.  As usual, I greeted him with a smile and a “Hi, how are you?”  In return, the woman attacked me verbally and vociferously for coming-on to her husband!  Whether she had caught him with his hands in the cookie jar before, or whether she was just plain deranged, I’ll never know.  But I do know that my face was flaming with embarrassment — over an accusation that was completely unfounded! 

Some people’s egos are so inflated, or perhaps they are so oblivious, that nothing makes them blush. The majority of us, however, have a strong sense of social mores as well as some semblance of privacy.  Do you remember the mortifying days of having to ask the pharmacist or whoever was behind the counter for your birth control products?  This goes for women as well as men.  Because the condoms and foam were kept behind the counter, we had no choice but to involve this third party if we chose “barrier methods.”  I guess the old adage, “In every bed, there are at least three people” is true.  We would turn every shade of pink and red stammering out our orders, and would keep darting looks behind us to see if someone we knew was there … such as our pious priest or quiet 85-year-old “little old lady” from next door.  Perhaps the most hysterical look at this particular situation can be found in the movie Booty Call, starring Jamie Fox.  The entire film revolves around a hot first date, but the lady in question refuses to oblige Jamie’s character until he comes back with protection.  Since the film took place on a Saturday night in “The City That Never Sleeps” (New York), you would think that Jamie might have caught a break.  Exactly what he caught, well, I’ll leave that for you to find out if you choose to enjoy this movie.

Perhaps worse than the condoms and foam are the … well.  Being a woman of somewhat delicate sensibilities, let’s just call them “digestive aids.”  These range from the time-honored candy-pink bottled elixir in the bottle to Bean-o® tablets.  Then there are the adult diapers, shampoos designed to kill lice, Over-the-Counter treatments for feminine infections, and oh yes, sexual enhancement pills that can now be bought without a prescription.

No matter how we may try to sandwich these items between the more innocuous paper towels, TV dinners, and produce in order to disguise them, they always stick out like sore thumbs on the cashier’s conveyor belt.  We cling tightly to our privacy, but the fact that we are voracious consumers leaves us as naked as jaybirds.  The items that we purchase tell strangers a helluva lot about us.  No wonder Bob Dylan sued the guy who wrote his unauthorized biography based solely upon the things found in the celebrated singer/songwriter’s trash!

Some people, however, have no qualms about the things they toss out or purchase.  For these folks, issues of Playboy, Playgirl, or Penthouse peeking out of the trash, or lying for all the world to see on a convenience store counter, are no big deals.  Others wish the magazines were sold in plain brown wrappers.  Those possessed of a shy nature require full metal jackets and gas masks before venturing into an adult bookstore — not for purposes or raiding or destroying the store, but to shield their identities from the world at large.

Mortifying moments happen to all of us, not just what British Petroleum execs deem “the little people.”  High profile politicians, for instance, seem to have been born with an embarrassment gene stamped firmly into their DNA, as well as another gene that enables them to emerge like Teflon® from their uncomfortable moments.   To wit, incumbent President Barack Obama admitted in his 1995 autobiography Dreams From My Father that he had experimented with marijuana and cocaine during his college years.  He was a little smarter than former President Bill Clinton, who claimed to have toked a few joints but never inhaled (yeah, right).  And before Bill was caught with his trousers down with Monica Lewinsky, he’d had an affair with celebrated madam Gennifer Flowers.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled that he’d smoked pot, participated in an orgy (what, just one, Ahhhhnold?), and used derogatory speech when talking about gay people.  Ex-President George W. Bush admitted to … no, he did not admit publicly to a bad case of stupidity, but anyone listening to his speeches could have figured out just how bad a case it was.   He did, however, admit to having a problem with alcohol before he was elected as our 43rd  President.  Former Mayor Marion Barry served two terms before getting caught smoking crack.  But, even after spending some time as a “guest of the State,” he re-entered politics and was elected as a member of the City Council.  With public leaders such as these, no wonder our nation is in such lousy shape!

Douglas Engelbart was the co-inventor of the computer mouse and the man who once said, “The rate at which a person can mature is directly proportional to the embarrassment he can tolerate.”  Obviously, he was omitting politicians when he dreamed up that truism.

On the whole, though, I think Mr. Engelbart gave us some good advice.  Embarrassing things happen to us all.  Whether choreographed or spur-of-the-moment, they are going to happen.  Our best bet when they do is to keep our chins up, display a healthy sense of humor, and just go about our lives, waiting for the next inevitable awkward moment to occur. 

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