Before you read on, I can promise you that this isn’t one of those “I was soooooo drunk and it was soooooo funny, yah” posts. Not that I wasn’t sometimes drunk. And it was sometimes funny, in my humble opinion.
But my point is, there are stories you tell because you secretly think they make you look cool. Those are the kind you end up telling your friends on the bus with frequent interjections of “OMG” and raucous laughter. And then there are the situations you really, really hope nobody recorded on CCTV and then got their mates round to re-watch. These confessions are supposed to be some of the second type – in the vain hope that by TAKING CONTROL of them and MAKING THEM A STORY, I can somehow stop the urge to cringe and hide behind somebody every time something reminds me of them.
Those of you who have read my Eight Most Embarrassing Things My 3-Year-Old Has Said post will appreciate that I like to blame embarrassing situations on other people. Particularly people who aren’t old enough to use social media yet (we’ll ignore the Frape situation that happened a few weeks ago… He didn’t quite realise what he was doing there). However, the attempt to claim that other people do all the embarrassing things to me has been weighing heavily on my mind. I decided it was time to ‘fess up, and tell you about the things I’ve managed to do entirely by myself. Or occasionally with the help of a little glass/can/bottle of something. But honestly, I’m not sure I generally needed the help…
1) The Clothing Fail
I’m going to kick off with a recent one. It’s still fresh enough to make me go “arrrggghhh!!” every time I see anyone involved.
Not infrequently, I realise that despite having felt super organised by doing some laundry, I’ve then managed to forget about it overnight and leave it in the washing-machine, so when I come to get dressed, all the clothes I have clean smell like they’ve been buried with something that rotted. My usual plan in this circumstance is to throw on something from yesterday, put them on to wash again whilst I drop Rufus, then change when I get home.
On this particular day, that plan backfired on me because a) the clothes in question took a little bit longer to dry than I’d predicted and b) I’d forgotten all about a package dropped off the day before by DHL because my neighbours were out.
So I was hanging around in the (front-facing) kitchen wearing the pants I’d managed to find in the back of the wardrobe, waiting for the dryer to bleep at me, and doing as any self-respecting girl would do in this situation and tricep-dipping off the counter. When a guy’s face appeared at the window, and I had to abandon the tricep dip, drop to the ground (landing painfully hard on my ass) and scuttle sideways to the hallway where I managed to find a skirt in a bag and my raincoat.
Armed in this manner, I had to apologise for a great deal too many things at once, who very kindly didn’t laugh at me (I could see it was a temptation).
The Moral: Front-facing kitchens are not for naked exercise routines.
2) The Big Mouth
This is not a unique one by any means, but the particular style was a winner…
I was at a work event some years ago with one of those spangly, posh conference dinners at the end of it. Having spoken at the event, I’d already had to get round a sticky accidental-innuendo in the middle of a Q & A situation, and was relieved to be past that.
Making small-talk with a nice young exec type at the same table, I asked her where she got her dress. It was fabulous, and I sort-of wondered if I could get one too…
HER: It’s a TK Maxx dress
ME: Wow!! How did you do that?! I always seem to come out of there with rubbish!
HER: Oh, well I suppose… I know what to look for?
It was probably only five minutes later that the woman next to her asked her where she worked.
HER: Oh, I’m a head of department at TK Maxx.
I had to spend the whole rest of the dinner sitting next to her. Good thing she was too nice a person to be mean to me…
Always be nice about EVERYTHING until you’ve discovered any conflicts of interests.
3) The Mishearing
I spend a lot of time writing in coffee-shops like a great big cliche. But hey – I get a comfy seat, a change of scene and there are cakes.
There are also people to annoy when I am in need of a break. So I end up having a lot of conversations with people I don’t know all that well.
One such conversation happened when I was having a really stressed-out kind of day a year or so ago. I had agreed to do too many small things, I was having a self-confidence crisis (I know, seems unlikely when I’m such a font of ego, but they do happen) and a guy I know vaguely who was sitting near me made the mistake of asking how things were going.
ME: Ah, not so very great today. I’m getting nothing done because I’m too busy worrying about how much I have to do, plus I’m feeling like everything I do is BAD.
HIM: Have you tried medication?
Aha, I thought. Someone else who’s tried it! And not a friend that I’d feel embarrassed talking to.
In response, I told him all about the anti-depressants I had tried (and was still trying), including the side-effects, and then basically the life-story side of how I’d got to the point of needing them. And then I asked him whether he’d asked because he was on them too.
HIM: Oh, no. Ah, it was… meditation. I was just wondering if you’d tried meditating.
ME: Oh, right, no. No, I haven’t… [Awkward silence] I’m just off to get another coffee…
Luckily for us both, he’d scarpered by the time I got back. I still have to leave Starbucks whenever I see him in there.
Don’t tell your life story to strangers. Even if you think they’ve asked you.
4) The Oxbridge Interview
Given that interviews are supposed to give people a really good idea of what you’re like, this was in some ways a triumph. Only it wasn’t, in sooooo many ways…
The interview in question was the one-on-one session with my prospective Director of Studies in English. As part of it, he gave me a poem to analyse. It was by the Earl of Rochester, and at that point, I had no idea who he was. As such, I missed any innuendos and overtones, and gave him a whole spiel on how it was all about existence and mortality.
HIM: That’s fine. But do you think it could be a read a little differently, with the “little death” described in it actually referring to orgasm?
I looked back at the poem with a dawning light of understanding, and then back up at him.
ME: Oh, no I hadn’t. Wow. [Big beaming smile] I’m evidently too pure.
Personally, I thought that was hilarious. He clearly did not, as there was a really, really long silence which was broken by me saying: “Aaaaaanyway…”
I still can’t believe he let me in. But then, I did discover later that he’s got an evil sense of humour.
Don’t go for silly humour in interviews. And maybe mug up on renaissance poetry in future.
5) The Work-Meet that Got Wine-Jacked
This was less an embarrassing situation, and more an embarrassing 24 hours of my life that I’d like to swap out for a day doing nice things involving puppies. Or just boring work or something.
I was having a meeting with someone from a fairly powerful Governmental Department in London, back in the day when I was young and formally employed. This, somewhat unfortunately as it turned out, involved a 5pm drinks’ meet with one of them, straight after a solid day of me workshopping with people nearby. The vegetarian meal requested hadn’t materialised, so all I’d had to eat all day was a croissant on the King’s Cross train at 7:18am. After the meeting, I might add, I was supposed to head back to Cambridge for a 9pm rehearsal.
There is a large gap in my memory after 5:30pm and a single glass of white wine. The next thing I knew, it was 11:30pm, and Mr. Governmental Department was holding my hair out of my face while I vomited into a flowerpot outside a totally different wine bar. Some attempts at conversation later, we established that there was no earthly way I could get on the train back. Fortunately, the gallant chap agreed to let me stay at his house.
This might have all turned out to be merely humiliating, had getting there not involved a trip on the tube. Shortly after the train moved off, I became aware of a powerful need to continue ejecting wine from my system. I managed to hold it in until the train stopped and the doors opened, at which point – out of necessity – I continued to vomit between the train and the platform edge. I’m told it was actually quite lucky that I never made a constant stream between my mouth and the live rail, so there’s one face-saver right there.
At any rate, I was still being violently sick when the doors started to close. They continued to close in spite of my garbled protestations of “I haven’t finished!” Miraculously, however, I was just able to get it all out there and straighten up before the doors closed – some half-centimetre in front of my face.
Now in that situation, I felt pretty darn impressed with myself for that feat. I turned around, beaming, to accept the congratulations of the other passengers – only to be faced with some thirty staring, disgusted faces, including Mr. Governmental Department, who was looking increasingly like he was pretending not to be connected with me in any way.
On the way back to the house, I vomited in one builder’s yard and one wheelie-bin, and it took me four hours to get home in the morning after the need to get off the train at most stops and wait for the next one. The only mitigating factor was that the guy left his job to go travelling about two weeks later and I never, ever ever ever, had to see him again.
Errrmmm… Don’t be me?
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