Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Most Embarrassing Moment

RHYS: One thing I've learned about writing books is that my own most embarrassing moments make great stories, especially in my Royal Spyness series when I want my heroine to do stupidly embarrassing things. My readers chuckle because they can identify with Lady Georgie and know that similar things have happened to them. Isn't that the essence of comedy--that we appreciate the situation because we can see ourselves in it?

Anyway, as we all know, the embarrassing incident wasn't funny at the time. In the first Royal Spyness book, I describe Georgie modeling an outfit for her friend the fashion designer, only to find she has put both legs into half a pair of culottes. This actually happened to me and I wanted to die at the time. So it counts as one of my most embarrassing moments. Another that springs to mind from a whole lifetime of mini-disasters was when I thought I saw my friend out jogging, early morning. I was driving. I screeched my car to a halt in front of her,leaped out and did my best monster imitation. Only it wasn't my friend. It was a guy with long hair. A look of terror came over his face. He turned and sprinted away in the other direction as fast as he could.

So... confession time, dear Jungle Reds. Inquiring minds want to know your most embarrassing moment--at least your most embarrassing moment that can be put on a blog.

HALLIE: Mine was recent. I'd gotten up really really early to catch the subway to the airport for an 8 AM flight out of Logan, schlepping my rolling suitcase. When I get into the subway station, I hear the announcement: "The next train to Alewife is now arriving." My train. I can hear it rumbling into the station, squealing to a stop.

I find my subway pass, race through the gate, pick up my suitcase and hold it in front of me like a shield as I charge up the escalator. The train is there, doors open, I can see it... Just a few more feet.

Then my foot catches on the top of the escalator, I fall and go sliding, like I'm tobogganing ON the suitcase, across the platform. My glasses and purse (which is of course unzipped) go flying.

Fortunately the doors of the train are closing and the platform is empty. And I lie there, unhurt, wondering what in the world I was thinking? Later, when I get to the airport I'm still 2 hours early.

RHYS: Oh no, that's more scary than embarrassing. Did you get close to the railway line? I felt really stupid when I tripped over a concrete berm in the parking lot and broke my wrist. But then it hurt so much that I forgot about feeling stupid.

HANK: Ah, horrible, Hallie. And I agree, Rhys. Scary. And yours is just--hilarious.

Do I have to tell this? Sigh.

Short version: Someone asked me if I knew a certain guy. Instead of just saying "Yes," and stopping (like a normal, reasonable, smart person), I said, "Oh, yes of course I do. Are you his mother?"

And of course, it was his wife.

HALLIE: Reminds me of when I asked someone when she was due, and turned out she'd had the baby six weeks ago.

DEB: Oh, God, Hank, I'm cringing for you!!!! But it is pretty funny. I'm sure I've done too many embarrassing things to count over the years, but one of the most recent happened in London last year. I occasionally have severe rotational vertigo related to an ear condition. What "severe rotational vertigo" actually means is that you have a sudden drastic fluid shift in your inner ear, and your brain translates this along the lines of the world flipping upside down. Meaning you go down like a felled tree.

The day after I arrived in London last spring, I went, as I usually do, to Saturday Market at Portobello. I visited with my photographer friend who has a Saturday stall, went to get something to eat, and as I was walking back to the stall the vertigo struck. I just managed to get both hands out in front of me as I fell, quite literally, flat on my face. On the cobbles. I suppose it was better that it was in front of someone I knew, as strangers might have called an ambulance, but oh, ow, so HUMILIATING.

ROSEMARY: I had to think long and hard about this - perhaps because I've buried the memory of the truly embarassing moments in my life. (Why remember the bad stuff?) I do remember complimenting a man on his book at a dinner party once and I was actually referring to a book written by someone with a similar name. He was very gracious about it. I felt like a total idiot.

JAN: TOP THIS GUYS. When I was a cocktail waitress working at The Eliot Lounge, during college, we had to wear black Danskin skirts. Or maybe they just had to be black and the only one I owned was a Danskin skirt. Anyway, it was nylon, and it tied around your waist. As I was walking through the crowd with my tray full of drinks over my head, the skirt untied and fell off. The only saving factor was that the floor was SO crowded, very few people could see. Also, I was only twenty, that helped.

I also went through a plate glass window at The Heidelburg Lounge in Passaic, trying to sneak in when I was only fourteen and the drinking age had just lowered to eighteen years old two weeks before. Yes, I was an adventurous teenager all right. It was on a Friday the thirteenth. Luckily I didn't get hurt or arrested.

HALLIE: Oh Jan! I was hoping that 'the only saving factor' was that you had on a slip... or were wearing underwear... or...

RHYS: I notice that Julia and Roberta are not coming forth to share embarrassing moments. Perhaps we can persuade them to confess in the comments.
Can anyone else top our embarrassments? I actually do have some that could not be put on a blog without serious damage to my reputation...

ROBERTA: Okay, it took me a while to dig this out of the recesses of my repressed memories. I was a freshman in college and desperate to be cool. So when a guy I liked suggested attending a porn flick, I borrowed an ID and we went. They questioned me at the ticket office and wanted a drivers license too, but finally we got in. The movie was DEEP THROAT. Utterly, utterly humiliating to sit through that next to this boy I barely knew--other people got up and left but I was too embarrassed to say a word. your turn Jungle Reds...


  1. Oh, which embarassing moment to pick? I was a bridesmaid at my brother's wedding. A friend of the bride's had volunteered to make the bridesmaids' gowns as her wedding gift to the couple. Since I lived out of town, she did mine by measurements and I went for a quick fitting the day before the wedding. Long story short(er), the zipper was only basted in and the stitches disintegrated as I was dancing at the reception. The top half of the gown fell to my waist. A few strong saftey pins later and I was back on the dance floor.

  2. Laura, that's called "wardrobe malfunction" :-)

  3. It's kind of reasurring--to hear it's not just me.

    Jan, you're right--that's PRETTY HORRIBLE! (So why am I smiling?)

    And yeah, Debs, it still haunts me.

  4. When I was 17 I went hitchhiking with a friend through France and Switzerland. I was somewhat bladder-shy in those days. I also was intestine shy. I held in my poop for about a week until thankfully we landed at my friend's family's house. I dropped my knapsack after a perfunctory hello, asked for the bathroom, was directed down the long hallway, walked to the end and turned left. Locked the door, squatted over the bowl and took the biggest dunk. When I tried to flush it I realized I had just crapped into a BIDET! There is no drain for feces in a bidet, especially a mini-log feces! I panicked. Since there was no toilet paper I picked up the log bare-handed and went to the window. It was one of those high small windows. Luckily it opened. I threw my dreck out, washed my hands in the sink. When I came out I noticed that their damned "water closet" was on the right, not the left!

    I looked down the hallway. The whole family was sitting around the table watching me. Needless to say I wasn't the most beloved house guest during my subsequent and brief stay there.

  5. Anonymous... I can see why you posted that Anonymous... That moment is one for the major leagues.

    Reminded me of the time I really really had to go at a friend's parents' house... got into the bathroom, read the sign "If you lock the door, defenestration is the only way out." Since I had no idea what defenestration meant, I locked and went. Oh, and I was pregnant at the time and defenestration (small window) was not an alternative. They had to take the door off its hinges.

    Another example of going to the bathroom as an IQ test.

    I'm stunned by these people who really have to DIG to find embarrassing moments. Really??

  6. Yeah, for me, it's which one to choose from....

    And Hallie, I WAS wearing underwear -- yikes, how weird would that be?

    And Laura -- you and I are wardrobe malfunction soulmates.

  7. Without a doubt: I was chatting to a near-retirement colleague and noticed a stray hair on her chin. I politely pointed it out and she said to remove it so I pulled it... and it wasn't a stray hair but a long, attached one. I let go and she said to pull it out... so I had to. Eek.

  8. The Marx Brothers have nothing on you lot.

  9. Nothing can top your own admissions.

  10. Hallie: I just did the same thing (asked someone when she was due). But not only was she not pregnant, she had never been. I had resisted asking her in the past, thinking it was just the way she was built, but then one day she seemed larger and was wearing what appeared to be a maternity top. It wasn't.

  11. My most embarrassing moment still convulses me with shame. I'll tell you about it in another year or two, maybe, when the horror wears off. It was so dreadful that I was struck speechless, and so embarrassing that it was five days before I could even tell Harold what was wrong with me. Aargh. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

  12. Dear, dear Kate..we will give you whole day here whenever you decide to discuss it. You're saying it's WORSE than asking someone's wife if she was someone's mother??


  13. Hank, I've got the mirror moment of shame to yours. I was a 24-year-old college admissions officer, tired at the end of a long "on campus" day (we'd switched from the coy "maybe if you're good enough, we'll let you in" mode to the pleading "you're billiant and accepted, and won't you please enroll?" mode), and I asked a white-haired (honestly, fully white hair!) gentleman if he was a potential student's grandfather. Nope, father.

    I don't think she enrolled.

    I also have many privately shameful (or only public to my husband, who doesn't count) moments related to self-diagnosing a gluten allergy over the space of a year, which involved severe intestinal distress and many, many instances of sprinting to a bathroom. But I'll just leave those alone, or I'd have to go all anonymous on you, too.

    (Captcha word is "colfoo" ... is it trying to tell me something?)

  14. When Hubby and I got married, we took my mom along as a witness when we applied for the license. After filling our all the paperwork, the clerk took the papers and stood there with them not saying anything. Hubby-to-be and I had not a clue. Mom pulled out a $10 bill and handed it to the clerk. Needless to say my sisters still tease me that Mom had to pay get rid of me.

  15. Howdy, Reds. I'm running late tonight. Mine came in the lobby of a 4-star hotel. There was a celebrity event and they were all staying at this hotel. We were there to pick up friends for dinner (the wife and sons of one of the celebrities). I went in to call up to their room and wait for them. Sam Elliott was checking in. Now. I have a HUGE crush on the man and my dear husband knows. Well, Sam came to get his hangup bag from the racks, rather than waiting for the bellhop. Yes. I was standing there by the racks, out of the way in the crowded lobby. He moved down the rack looking for his bag. I kept moving out of his way. Until I sat in a potted tree. He laughed, said he was glad he could still sweep a gal off her feet, and helped me back to my feet. My friends came of the elevator, said hi to him (yeah, her husband did movies with Sam so she knew him), and we headed out. DH was laughing so hard he couldn't drive. He and daughter watched the whole thing through the front window. *sigh* That was a loooong time ago. Lawyer Guy and The Only STILL tease me about it.

  16. Kate: I was there, saw it for myself, and I know you will NEVER tell that story in public.

    Morgan: And so you grabbed that hair ONCE AGAIN to pull it free?

    Anonymous: Stay that way, please. We could never look at you and see anything but a brimming bidet.

    This should be a regular feature, or a spinoff for daily guest bloggers. I keep rereading and rereading, associating the behavior with faces. Amazing fun, ladies. Thank you.

  17. Silver - that is the SWEETEST story! Sam Elliott proved himself to be a mensch. Lovely.

  18. SO, JAck we can maybe get YOU to tell what happened to Kate? Hmmmm????

  19. Oh, well, all right, I can see I'm going to have to tell the story. It was at Left Coast Crime in Los Angeles. I was having a cup of tea with two writers and a civilian, a mystery fan who worked in an office across the street. All of them ladies.
    We were talking about ring tones on cell phones, how some of the office lady's younger colleagues used offensive songs for ring tones that grossed out people in the office whenever they got a call. I mulled that over for a while, considering what might be the most offensive song to use for a ring tone, and finally blurted, "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw."
    None of the ladies, as it happened, had ever heard of the Jimmy Buffet song by that name. They thought I was proposing an activity to relieve a dull afternoon. They all turned pale (except for the African-American lady), their mouths hung open. I have never seen such shock on human faces, and I have made some bizarre remarks in my time. I was speechless with embarrassment, unable, in fact, to explain that it was a song title.
    Maybe one of them will read this. Maybe they will finally understand that I'm not quite as strange as they thought.
    Or maybe not.

  20. Kate, you inspired me! Think of all the other song titles you might have come up with... fodder for a future blog.

  21. These admissions have been hilarious! Kate, I raise my Parrot-Head Margarita glass to you for coming clean on the blog! ;)

    I've had so many, it's hard to choose, or admit on a blog.

    OK, one night several years ago we had a party and friends brought over a newly married (for the 2nd time around, each) couple...the wife, who was 4'10" came into the kitchen to chat and offer help with appetizers. Trying to make conversation, and after 2 glasses of wine, I thought I'd ask how they met, how long they'd been married, etc. Instead, what I blurted out was "So, how long have you been that short?"
    MORTIFIED! She just laughed, and we became friends ever since! Lucky, stupid me!

  22. Kate, really really funny-awful moment--so glad you brought it out of the dark because it's honestly not so bad! I'm sure they realized it later...but so sorry you suffered over it!!

  23. Kate,
    You should not feel bad about that. That was THE PERFECT offensive song title to come up with.

    I mean, you pretty much hit the nail on the head.

  24. Jersey Jack,

    The bidet wasn't really BRIMMING. I am a slim person and my body couldn't possibly hold that much excrement in its proportionally-sized intestinal tract. No, what came out of me was just a log. A long log.

    Don't you worry though, there was plenty of room left in that bidet for other bodily excretions/secretions and tomfoolery!