Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Have you ever wanted the ground to open up and swallow you up? I have had many embarrassing moments in my life - events that were so traumatic that they remain etched in my memory and my face burns as I recall them.
My first memory of public humiliation was at a sports day at school. Along with the egg and spoon race, sack race and three-legged race was the obstacle race which had a large net that we had to scramble under. The race was over and the winners congratulated when an observant teacher noticed a wriggling lump still under the net - that was me - My hair grip had got caught in the mesh and I had been crawling for 10 minutes on the same spot.I had to be rescued and I remember that I got a bigger round of applause than the winner except mine was accompanied by laughter - my family seemed to be laughing the loudest. I realised early on that I was destined to be an embarrassment in the sports arena and this was confirmed when, aged 13 I climbed out of the pool triumphant after a neck and neck finish in the 400 metre swimming race to discover that my swimming costume was around my waist! My mother didn't have time to fix my costume straps properly and used safety pins which were no match for my lightening arm movements! Although I was at an all girls school my embarrassment was unforgettable and I never trusted my mother’s mending skills again!

Do you remember the time you passed your driving test and the freedom you felt on your first solo excursion? I remember mine for a different reason - I jumped out of the car and walked towards the shops across the busy car park, car keys in hand, trying to look like a sophisticated and experienced driver - when a stranger tapped my shoulder and drew my attention to the L Plates which were securely fixed to my bottom! I had ripped them off and thrown them in the car when told I had passed my driving test, and then had promptly sat on them. My face was as red as "L".

An anti natal visit - often embarrassing at the best of times - is another unforgettable moment. The weather was getting cooler and I treated myself to a mohair jersey which I couldn't wait to wear under a floral tiered dress. Sat in the doctors waiting room I realised that it wasn't mohair jersey weather yet and I was getting warmer and stickier by the moment. I was called in for my exam and hopped on the bed to find that when the doctor exposed my rather large bump- it was covered with fine black hair!! Mohair had become 'my-hair' as the jersey had shed its fibres which had stuck to my very warm body. The doctor's expression of astonishment is one I will never forget!

My children have contributed very generously to my library of embarrassment like the time we arrived in church fashionably late, with Paul dressed as St George complete with sword, helmet and chain mail vest and sporting a large St Georges flag - only to find that this was not the required dress code and he had somehow got confused between looking like a crusader and wearing his cub uniform for St George's Day.

Mark confided in me as we set off to school one parents evening,that his teacher had a glass eye and I spent the whole evening looking deeply into both of them trying to determine which one it was. When we arrived home I commented what a lovely teacher he had and that you would never have guessed his disability - only to be told that he had made it up and his teacher had perfect vision. What that man must have thought of my intense gaze, I shudder to think!

When I should have been glowing with pride at Sean's university graduation, my face reddened by embarrassment as he wore a pair of false hillbilly teeth! What was worse is that I forked out R200 (payable in advance) for photographs of him in his cap and gown, on stage wearing them (as illustrated).

Thank goodness for a sense of humour - the ability to laugh at awkward situations and at oneself is a blessing! I could write much more on this topic but some of my embarrassments are best left buried deep in my subconscious - to surface when I least want or expect them to - causing even more embarrassment and laughter!


  1. I still remember the time on holiday at some campsite party when we were playing a kind of musical dads...kids run around the circle outside, Dads shuffle about on the inside circle...when the music stops, jump on Dad...your OWN Dad, not someone else's. I think his name was Jim. He wasn't very pleased!

  2. Oh dear! How funny - I wonder if Jim ever recovered and I wonder if his wife is speaking to him yet!