You haven’t really been a parent until your child shouts out, while you’re dropping him off at school, “Hey dad! Did you know that the male opossum has a forked penis?”
My kids are way older than that now. Daniel was, I think, in 7th grade when that happened. I couldn’t be ashamed. He was correct, if a little bit loud in his trivia shoutout.
We all do stupid embarrassing things that humiliate others more than they embarrass us. When I was a teen, we went to Spada’s, one of the only pizza places in Gold Beach, and my mom, for no reason I can remember, started clucking like a chicken. I, and I believe Lori, begged her to stop. “I’m not going to!” she said. “Why should I? I’m not embarrassed!” Then she threatened to hoist herself up on the seat we were sitting at, and flap her arms & scratch the booth.”
For me, it’s music that embarrasses others. At work, I regularly sing, and loudly too, “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.” What? It’s a great song! I also have been known to sing, “I’ve Got a Brand New Pair of Roller Skates,” and “Per La Gloria D’Adorarvi.” Maybe a few show tunes: “I Feel Pretty.”
But far more often than embarrassing others, which I’m sure I do with amazing frequency, I embarrass myself, usually with my words. Ever get tongue tied at the wrong moment? Or forget what you were saying in the middle of something important? I led a public prayer during my 2-year stint as the Music guy at the Presbyterian Church once. Before I realized what I was saying, I was praying for the souls of rocks and trees and nature or some such ridiculous tripe. I shut up, regathered myself, and closed the prayer. I was nothing if not horrified.
Then there was the time, in Sophomore chemistry, where we were asked to describe the smell of a solution in a test tube. It was astringent, acidic. Slightly dizzying. I said, using all the brilliance of the English language at my command, “It smells like my grandma’s underwear.” I maent to say the word basement. Where she had moth balls stored to keep away bats and moths and things. God only knows where the word underwear came from. I guess you could go all freudian and say “your dirty mind,” but it was probably because I was in the presence of a couple pretty girls and got tongue-tied. When you’re fifteen it doesn’t take much.
Sometimes my actions lead me to embarrassment. On the long (45 minute) bus ride home from school, I was too ashamed to ask the bus driver to pull over. I peed my pants. I had to tell her before I left. I wouldn’t want to leave anyone to discover that later.
Or maybe the actions of another: I left a wrestling practice an hour early once, because I crunched my shoulder up when I was thrown (it turned out I sprained my collarbone). When I was getting out of the gang showers, there, standing in the boys locker room, was one of the prettiest girls in the school. Now, I was wayyyy over by the shower. My towel was wayyyyy over by my locker. She ran out of the locker room. Of course, the coach found out. Then the rest of the team. Why wouldn’t they? The coach, Mr. Sosky threw his arm around me and grinned like a wolf. “Brian! You tricky guy!”
Yeah. That’s me. I’m a tricky guy. A real cad. By the way–want to hear my rendition of “Little Bunny Foo Foo?” I’ve sung that at work too. With all the hand motions. Nobody else would join in. Sometimes you just have to suck up the embarrassment and get over it. Or maybe dole some out to a few others. It’s the only healthy thing to do.