Well, I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and I’ve finally unearthed some memories of times I’ve really felt stupid. Well, 2 times I’ve really felt stupid, and 3 times where I probably should have but didn’t.
The times I should have been embarrassed are as follows:
-I attended a sleepaway camp, Camp Allegheny, one year for three weeks in the summer. One of my activities was theater. Mind you, Camp Allegheny happened right after I finished attending that summer’s Performing Arts Camp, so I fancied myself pretty much a pro. I think I got a part as a doctor in some play, maybe “Murder on the Orient Express.” The details are fuzzy, and not just because I have a crappy memory.
When I first met the director, I thought she was a pretty cool lady. We got into rehearsals, and it was really laid-back. We spent entire sessions just picking out our costumes or “learning lines” while the director was not in the room. Yeah. I kept thinking, “Gosh, she is so different from all the PAC directors who just yell at you all the time to be quiet and stop messing around! They’re mean!”
Fast forward to the performance where literally no one knew more than maybe one of every three lines they were supposed to be speaking. It was in front of the entire camp, and it was almost funny, as we kept ad-libbing excuses to get off stage and leave the poor other actresses in front of the whole camp’s glaring eyes. But it wasn’t funny. It was awkward and may have been the cause for subsequent years of nightmares for me. But I don’t remember being too embarrassed at the time. Maybe it was because I actually knew my lines, but no one knew the ones that prompted mine. That was probably it. I’m great.
-I feel nauseous if anyone offers me breakfast before 10:00 AM. Justin sweetly offered to make me a scrambled egg one morning he had off and I had to go to work, and all I could imagine was a slimy wiggly chicken embryo. Anyway, I didn’t eat breakfast in high school either.
One day, we went on a field trip to the PPG chemical plant. I started feeling a little lightheaded and nauseous on our walking tour, but I’ve had stomach problems my whole life, so I pretty much ignored it. That is, until I started seeing in only black and white. In mid-sentence of telling my 4-foot-tall female tour guide (I was and still am 5’7″) that I didn’t feel well, I passed out on her.
I awoke a couple minutes later in some back room, where some people were nervously handing me a Sprite and other stuff with sugar in it. I guess my big scene sparked a scandal amongst the rest of the class that I had been felled by an evil chemical leak, but the people in the room told me that it was because I was hypoglycemic and I should have eaten breakfast.
Whatever. It hasn’t happened since, but since I can’t climb up walls or rip through my shirt when somebody makes me angry, I guess I should have just eaten breakfast that day.
But again, it’s hard to feel embarrassed when you can’t even be bothered to stay standing up. I wonder if the woman caught me or dropped me like a sack of flour. I guess I should feel embarrassed if I crushed her.
-This one happened about a year ago. This was a time where I didn’t work Mondays, and Justin and I shared a car. Translation: unless I wanted to be homebound and forced to watch Forensic Files all day (not actually a bad thing), I had to get up at the crack of dawn and drive with Justin to work so I could have the car the remainder of the day.
Now, this is probably illegal, but I was frigging tired, so I hopped in the car in just my pajamas and slippers. I don’t know. Maybe it’s not illegal. My mom just always told me to drive with shoes on. I guess this is why.
We got a flat tire on the way to work. Luckily, I didn’t have to walk or anything, but I did have to sit in the lobby of the tire place with bed head, cloud pants, and bee slippers, angrily reading a National Geographic and daring anyone to look at me funny. I guess I could have been a little embarrassed there, but I was more mad that I wasn’t asleep in my comfy bed.
So that’s my not-embarrassing stuff. My embarrassing stuff is probably going to seem wussy to you, but I noticed that all the stuff I’m not embarrassed about happened with me doing something dumb in front of strangers. The stuff that embarrasses me is what I do around friends.
-This one’s short. In high school, I decided to participate in a talent show, wherein my friend Tom would play the guitar, and I would sing Jewel’s “You Were Meant For Me.” I don’t know what other people do at talent shows, but I always thought they would dance, juggle, act out a scene from a play, whatever. Anyway, I sat one day at lunch with the cool kids, and I thought they were going to make fun of me for participating. Instead, my friend Sarah said, “No, I think it’s cool. I’m gonna give you props for doing that.”
To which I replied, “Um, I really think we’re just gonna need the guitar, but, yeah, I guess it would be more interesting if I used some props.”
Listen. The damn slang word “props” was invented like a week prior! Come on. I can’t keep up with all the cool slang now, and I couldn’t then!
Agh, and then they all laughed at me because I’m a moron.
-This one happened more recently, at Performing Arts Camp last summer.
First I need to preface this story by saying this — I once had a physics teacher who was pretty young, and he was always joking with and almost kissing up to the popular kids in class, even though they weren’t the best students. This may be a regular thing at some schools, but the kids would even suggest that he call off class, and he would kind of look around the room and ask, “Should I do it?” It’s hard to explain — he was meek, yet adventurous. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized that he was reliving his childhood. He was finally getting respect from the popular kids, and getting street cred (hah! See? I’m hip!) for daring to break a rule.
The same thing happens to me at Performing Arts Camp. By the time the students reach their last year, they get so talented but still cool that I have flashes of all the talented-and-cool kids that never gave me the time of day when I was young. Since I’m a faculty member to them, I try to remain professional, but inside I yearn for their acceptance. Sick, no?
Anyway, there was one such guy last year, and I will leave out his name, even though some of my camper readers know him. After the first day of camp, everyone was waiting outside for their friends at the end of the day. I hadn’t seen him since the year before because I do office work on the first day, but watching him waiting for his ride, I noticed that he had some stage makeup in his hair to make him look like a dignified character.
“Gee, you’re looking a little older, buddy,” I joked with him.
“Huh?” he asked.
As I got a closer look, my inner monologue was like out of a sitcom: Gosh, they really did a good job on his hair. Yeah, there aren’t any streaks or anything. It’s uniform around his whole head. It’s almost too good — HOLY CRAP THAT’S HIS REAL HAIR.
I literally turned on my heel and just walked away. He hadn’t had it a year ago, and I have no idea if he was even embarrassed about it. But I’m guessing people don’t often walk up to someone with acne and go, “Gee, you’ve got something all over your face!”
Anyway, those are my stories. I still feel awful about the last one, just because I would hate to be the reason for embarrassing someone. Accidentally anyway.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my trip down repressed memory lane. I think I’m going to curl up in the fetal position and go rock somewhere now.

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