Admit it. You sometimes have to slap yourself because even YOU are embarrassed to be you on occasion, right? You have to wonder – if God is watching you, is He enjoying the show? And when you see your life flash before your eyes on that final day, will those embarrassing moments stand apart from the rest and sparkle?
Maybe they hold awards shows in Heaven. My stupid things might win me a prize. Would yours?
I think about that some nights when I climb into bed and pull the blankets up to my chin. They sometimes get caught on something (my feet?) and when I tug harder, my fists fly off the blanket and I punch myself in the face. Self-inflicted bruises are difficult to explain – “Wow! What happened to your face?” The truth sounds so absurd.
Sadly, I have a habit of embarrassing myself practically every day with the stupid things I do. And I’m an expert at sabotaging myself too. Want proof? Read 15 Ways to Sabotage Yourself on a Daily Basis.
My lifelong habit of embarrassing myself by saying and doing stupid things started when I was very young.
I was about five years old, maybe four, living in an apartment with my parents and my two sisters. The window was open and a cool breeze was blowing. An early riser who was probably bored because everybody else was still sleeping, I grabbed one of my father’s socks and held it out of the window to watch it blow in the breeze (yes, holding a sock out of a window is so much more entertaining than watching parents or siblings sleep).
Oops! Suddenly the wind lifted the sock out of my hand and dropped it to an apartment beneath ours, where a strand of it caught on the protrusion of a brick. I glanced at my parents still sleeping behind me and knew I’d better retrieve the sock before one of them awoke.
What could I use? Oh, I know – my toys! So I grabbed a toy, aimed it directly at the sock, and attempted to knock it off the brick. With my great aim, I knew it was only a matter of time before I could knock it to the ground, open the front door, run downstairs to retrieve it, and get back inside before my parents awoke.
I focused. I aimed. Ready, set… Hmph! Must have been a fluke. I tried again. And again. And again. I probably would have been able to get it – eventually – if my uncle hadn’t seen me and awakened my parents to tell them I was throwing all of my toys out of the window.
Uncles can be so stupid sometimes. Why would any kid throw her toys out of a window without having a very good reason for doing so? I still think my method was very innovative.
Stupid things occurred in other areas of my life as well. I made it a point to know all of the sounds that each letter made, because pronouncing words correctly was important to me.
One day, probably while I was in the second grade, my class was given time to read a story. “When you finish the story, I’m going to ask you what the story was about,” my teacher warned. On every page I saw pictures of elephants, decorative tents, clowns, rides, children holding balloons, trapeze artists, etc.
Perspiration trickled down my forehead. I was terrified of being called on. Why couldn’t this be a game show? Why couldn’t I call somebody for help? I had no idea what the story was about.
Pictures aren’t worth a thousand words. Pictures are meaningless. I was seven years old and my brain was about to hemorrhage from the pressure.
What the heck was a kirkus? Who ever heard of a sirsus? And why didn’t anybody tell me that one word could include two different “c” sounds in it? (In my defense, I had never been to a circus.)
Words continued to haunt me as I grew older. Every Sunday my dad drove the family to the south side of Chicago to visit my great aunts. On the way there I made sense of the signs along the way and when I couldn’t pronounce or understand a word, I would quiz my parents.
One day I saw a word, that even after sounding it out, made no sense. I wondered why anybody would be “against” Qs. What could Qs do that was so bad? So I asked, “What are Anti-Qs?”
My parents didn’t know.
How was that possible? They were adults. Adults are supposed to know everything. Of course, my parents thrived on watching me writhe in confusion as they laughed their Dracula laughs and sucked the blood out of my little soul. They KNEW what antiques were – but they weren’t about to waste another reason to laugh at my expense.
Probably the most humiliating thing I ever did to myself as a child was the time I stared into a monkey cage at what I thought was one of the strangest faces I’d ever seen. I couldn’t find its eyes or its mouth, so I squinted my eyes and concentrated as I searched for them. Crowds of people came and went, but I kept looking until my mother dragged me away in embarrassment. WHY are you staring at that????????
How was I supposed to know I was staring at a monkey’s butt?
For some reason I find it important to embarrass myself in public when I’m surrounded by LOTS of witnesses. A whole zoo full of people works much better than being in my home alone.
As I got older I changed my humiliation tactics. Once I made t-shirts for myself and all my female family and friends (also a homeless shelter) that read, “I think; therefore I am…a woman.”
I wore it to the grocery store and stood in line to pay for my groceries. The checkout guy read it, looked directly into my eyes, and then rolled his. I paid for my groceries, lifted my eyebrows and my chin, and walked out of the store.
When I got outside I had to figure out how I was going to go back in to retrieve the cart filled with paid-for groceries that I had left at the end of Mr. Rolling Eyes’ lane.
Grocery stores are not the only places I like to embarrass myself now that I’m an adult. I especially like to embarrass myself in the workplace. No better place is there to make a real fool out of yourself than the place where you spend most of your days with people who will see you day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year.
One day, for example, when I was working for a printing company, one of the owners’ sons was repairing the air conditioner by placing a gutter over the door so that the condensation would drip onto the pavement by the front door without falling onto customers’ heads.
I was surprised to see the gutter placed so close to the front door. When I noticed a puddle developing, I became concerned. “Won’t that be a problem in the winter when the water turns to ice?” I asked him.
Time halted as realization struck and everybody paused to look at me. Yes, I had done it again.
I don’t intentionally embarrass myself. Sometimes I think I’m just oblivious to my surroundings. I used to work downtown Chicago and a group of us would walk west down Washington Avenue together. One day, I was walking nearest the curb. My hair was long and I was looking toward one of the girls who was talking.
Suddenly stuporized (yes, I tend to make up words) because my hair had blocked my vision, I found my arms wrapped around a telephone pole. Nobody in my group noticed as they continued walking, but a strange man did.
Through the fog in my brain I heard, “Are you all right?” And then I felt him removing my arms from the pole, one finger at a time. “Are you OK?”
Apparently not. I’m hugging a telephone pole. Thank you.
My children are probably the saddest recipients of my stupid behavior. When they were teenagers and they were supposed to be home by ten, they knew that if they didn’t want to be embarrassed by Mommy (I wear my pajamas inside-out because I can’t stand tags and I don’t mind parading myself in front of their friends at parties or anywhere else), they’d better be home by ten.
Every event they attended as kids came with a warning – for me – “Do NOT embarrass me this time, OK, Mom?”
On one occasion, my son told me repeatedly not to embarrass him when I went to the home of a friend to take pictures of his homecoming dance. There he was, my gorgeous teenage boy ready to go to his first Homecoming Dance with his date and all of their friends.
We arrived at the home, and I, along with all of the other parents, walked around taking pictures here, there, and everywhere. And when it was all over, I (oops) discovered I had forgotten to take the lens cap off my camera.
When I made the announcement, I watched my son shrivel. Once again, time stood still as I felt the daggers from my son’s eyes penetrate my soul. Once again, I had not heeded the warning.
Despite the problems that have resulted from some of my insanely stupid actions, some of the stupid things I’ve done to myself have rewarded me.
For instance, my most embarrassing moment once won me a dinner for two at a very classy restaurant, and more recently, that same embarrassing moment won me a Kindle (with this article, Vacation Destroyed by Tube Top).
So what does somebody who frequently does stupid things do about those stupid situations? She writes an article to admit to them and she asks her readers to share theirs. Please share your stupid things in the comments section below.