A Toast to Embarrassment

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


You’d think that getting older would mean that you don’t get embarrassed as easily as when you were younger.  Maybe people just assume that with age, wisdom and knowledge of the world that their thicker skins would filter out life’s more embarrassing moments.  They’d be wrong, of course, but they’d still be making a fair assumption.  I’m living proof that the above theory just isn’t correct. 

I’m not speaking of people who don’t have a conscience or who never have sleepless nights over trivial matters such as ethics, honestly or bodily outbursts.  I’m referring to regular people like you and me that like to set positive examples for others.  We’ve paid our dues, sometimes at full retail, but still have to deal with the annoyance of embarrassment. 

I speak from personal experience when I reminisce about embarrassing events that have occurred in the span of my ordinary life.  When my mind happens to stumble upon a not so savory memory from the archives, I still cringe at the thought, and can hardly believe that I was a party to that disgusting moment.  Believe it or not, my first memory of being publicly embarrassed (or should I say humiliated) was at the tender age of four or five.  They say that your first time is the most memorable; I don’t think that “they” were referring to embarrassing moments, but the concept still seems to apply here. 

I was over at a friend’s house for a sleepover.  We had French toast for breakfast.  How could I possible remember a breakfast item that was served one morning, at someone’s house – roughly a lifetime ago?  I’ll reluctantly tell you how.  I sneezed that morning.  I don’t remember if I sneezed in the bedroom.  I don’t remember if I sneezed in the bathroom.  What I do remember is that I sneezed at the kitchen table that morning, right onto my French toast.  Hello.  I was five years old.  I don’t know many five year olds that have expert control over the contents of their nostrils.  Apparently, I didn’t either. 

Was the resulting sneeze funny?  I might go out on a limb and suggest that if I saw a five year old sneeze, and shoot a projectile out of his or hers nose, I might find it mildly amusing.  If said object flew out and landed on a freshly cooked piece of French toast, I even might turn aside and chuckle a bit (with my inner voice, of course). What I do recall is that the mom thought it was very funny.  My friend, following his mother’s lead also thought it was hilarious.  They both made it abundantly clear that it was one of the funniest things that they had ever seen. 

I’d like to think that I’m way beyond that event.  I was young, and was not fully schooled in the ways of proper tissue-manship.  In fact, I’m fairly sure that I didn’t know too much about anything.  But I learned an important lesson about embarrassment.  For one thing, it permanently stains you like a bloody nose on a white t-shirt.  I’ve had a few of those in my time, so I know from where I speak.  It also raises self awareness.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, when sprinkled sparingly on the brain.  I always sprinkle on a little too much self awareness.  I don’t mean to, but I think the holes on my shaker are a little too big. 

I’ve moved on; at least I’d like to think so.  I still get embarrassed in new situations and continue to open the wounds of old ones.  But, I suppose that I do get a little stronger every day.  I’m a professional sneezer now.  I never sneeze near food, and can say “bless you” in five different languages.


Britton Minor April 12, 2011 at 1:31 PM  

Ironically, if you use your shaker over moisture, the holes become smaller. Perhaps the sneezing-Netty Pot-combo could work.

Meanwhile, I like the way you season your writing...so don't attempt to close the holes on the creative spices please!

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