Sunday, October 5, 2014

Guest Post: Polka Dots And Frocks: The Art of Embarrassment

Jean Leon Gerome Phryne Before The Areopagus
Good morning lovelies. How are we feeling today?  Not humiliated like poor old Phryne I hope.  In case you thought last weeks post was a bit heavy duty, a bit hard on your head and heart, this week we're lightening the mood.
The lovely Liz from Polka Dots And Frocks has taken it upon herself to reveal several of her most embarrassing moments, just for our general amusement.  Thanks Liz.  Can't say I'd be game enough myself, so I applaud your bravery.  And we're laughing with you, not at you.  Promise.
The Art Of Embarrassment by Liz from Polka Dots And Frocks

One of my favourite things is the joy of embarrassment. This may sound a little odd but please allow me to explain.  Over the years I have had my fair share of embarrassing moments.

Primary School Embarrassment
Masculine Feminine
My teacher was testing our class on the masculine and feminine of animals. “Ok class, the masculine of horse is? Stallion. Correct!” Damn, Erin had jumped in before me on that one. “And what about a male chicken? Rooster. Yes that’s right!” Gah! Charlotte had nabbed that one. Ok this time I’m going to be ready. I’m going for glory.  I’m going to jump right in without waiting to be called on. “Can anyone tell me what the masculine of pen is?”

Well. I did go for glory. I aimed for the moon and fired. I could try consoling myself with the idea that I landed among the stars. But I really didn’t. My excited answer was incorrect. Cue the burning feeling of embarrassment. Not going to live this one down in a hurry I thought. Just in case you’re wondering, the masculine for pen is actually ‘cob’ – not pencil.

High School Embarrassment
Broken Chair
I was absent for a history test so was doing a catch up exam. My teacher sent me to a desk which had been set up in the corridor opposite the classroom. The chair only had three legs but I figured I have two legs and between me and the chair I was dealing with five legs - more than enough to be going on with.

I started the exam and was getting along fine. The chair had its wobbly moments but it was manageable. After some time the classroom door opened. Naughty Jarrod had been sent out for being naughty. My 15 minutes of isolation were clearly too much for a chatterbox like me.

I turned around to wave to my friends. Carlee was looking at me! Human interaction! “HI CARLEE!” I yelled. My cheery salutation wasn’t sufficient on its own. I decided an elaborate wave would be nice too. BANG. Sadly that elaborate wave was to be my undoing. I was on the floor and my pride was about 20 metres below me. I had fallen off the three legged chair in front of the whole class. Cue the sinking feeling of embarrassment. I didn’t live that one down through the whole of high school.

Embarrassment At The Gym
Time for new shoes. Really.
Life was peachy. I had joined a gym in my local Westfield. I had dusted off my ten year old trainers. The trainers were absolutely pristine. Time to rock and roll! I started out with the rowing machine. It was kind of hard to get along with the rowing machine. It didn’t matter how tightly I strapped my feet in they just didn’t seem to feel secure. I also noticed a pile of black dust near the wheel. Maybe it needed a bit of a clean or something. Time to try something else.

I hopped on the treadmill and started at a slow pace. My shoes were feeling a bit loose again. Maybe I needed to redo my laces. I stopped the machine. Redid the laces and got back to it. I heard a flapping noise and wondered why on earth someone would wear thongs to the gym until I looked down.

Oh. My pristine ten year old trainers were falling apart. I hit the stop button (again) nearly tripped over my soles and bundled my things up. Time to go.

As I walked out I noticed a Hansel and Gretel-esque trail of shoe sole. I picked up the pieces where I could and hoped no one in the busy shopping centre would notice that my shoes were disintegrating with each step. It wasn’t to be. The shared elevator ride was my undoing. “Um, love, I think you need some new shoes” Cue the hazy feeling of embarrassment. I can just imagine the story my lift buddy was telling around the dinner table that night. Shameful.

Finding the fun in embarrassing moments
These are just some of my embarrassment highlights.

As a reasonably private person, one who typically doesn’t like to attract attention I probably dwell on embarrassing moments more than the average person. I recall lots of tingly cringe worthy moments and used to dread them. Until I read Chrissie Swan’s deliciously funny book: Is It Just Me?: Confessions of an Over-Sharer. Here is a passage from the book which has changed everything:

“I also really love it when something embarrassing happens to me. It gives me a thrill. Even as the humiliating event is unfolding, with me at the centre of it, I am at the very same time delighting in the thought of the imminent retelling of the excruciating details of the story to an appreciative audience of friends/sisters/colleagues. When you have a group of like-minded people to enjoy your mortification, everything is funny.”

Oh.  Embarrassing can be funny! Ok. I love funny! I’ll try this one on for size the next time I feel that uncomfortable blushing feeling.

Dermatologist Embarrassment
Here's a tip Dr. Keep your (non-medical) opinions to yourself.
Cut to a couple of weeks ago when I was showing my dermatologist a rash on my leg. I was experiencing a bit of an eczema flare up so I hadn’t been able to address my somewhat hairy legs. I figured the man is a professional so I’m sure flashing a little hairy leg isn’t too offensive. The middle aged man with elbow patches studied my leg, looked at me, looked back at my leg and announced in a matter of fact tone “well, not much of a leg shaver now are you?”

Cue the embarrassment. This time though it was only a momentary sinking feeling. It quickly soared to excitement and anticipation at the thought of being able to tell my Mum and friends about my embarrassing Liz moment. The story is only a couple of weeks old but it has already had plenty of giggly recounts.

I now LOVE embarrassment. Thanks Chrissie!  How do you feel about embarrassing moments? Do you see the funny side or do you like to pretend it never happened?

So how do you handle embarrassment? I can't say I'm as gracious as Liz - I tend to just be embarrassed, rather than seeing the funny side.  You?

Listen to Madness Embarrassment

Images Licensed Under Creative Commons or via Polka Dots and Frocks