Tuesday, July 12, 2011

RemembeRED: Embarrassing

Prompt: Know what's NOT funny? People laughing at you. Take us back to an embarrassing moment in your life. Did someone embarrass you, your parents perhaps? Or did you bring it upon yourself? Are you still embarrassed or can you laugh at it now?

As an Army brat, we moved around a lot. I often ended up in places where the kids at my school had known each other since kindergarten. The pecking order had already been established; I was the outsider. Consequently, I tried extra hard to be 'cool', which was an exercise in futility.

I was a twelve year old starting seventh grade wearing hand-me-down clothes. This included polyester pants with a seam on the front crease. You read that right. Polyester. With a seam. On the crease.

Elvis himself wouldn't have looked cool in those kind of pants.

I couldn't wear jeans like all the other kids did. Not me. My mother refused to buy them. They cost too much, she said, completely oblivious to my pain.

I distinctly remember trying to explain to her that ALL the kids at my school wore them. Even the kid who wore a helmet all the time wore jeans, Mom! I really WAS the only kid, Mom!

My general lack of denim automatically placed me on the bottom rung of the social ladder, an object of ridicule for the free for all that is junior high. The other girls would smirk at me, then lean toward their friends and start whispering and giggling. I hated it, of course. To a teenager, negative publicity is traumatizing.

One day, I was morosely standing around by myself in the courtyard one morning waiting for school to start, and I noticed a group of boys looking in my direction. I warily moved a few steps over. Their eyes followed me. They were smiling, and talking to each other, but I was too far away to hear them.

Were they looking at me? I looked around again, certain that there was someone behind me or in my vicinity which was the object of their attention. I found myself alone; those boys WERE staring at me! ME. I stood up a little straighter at the happy thought that I had been finally noticed. My toes curled in delight at the idea.

"Hi." I turned. There was a girl standing next to me.

"Hi." I smiled, giddy at my sudden popularity. I remembered that this girl, who had curly blonde hair and thick framed octagonal glasses, was named Cathy. She was in my choir class; we sat in the soprano section together.

"Your pants are unzipped."

I looked down, horrified. The zipper on those stupid polyester pants had 'unzipped' on a day that I wore the only pair of hot pink underpants I owned. At that moment, my face turned the exact same shade as my underpants.

"Thank you," I managed weakly. I zipped that stupid zipper, and the boys lost all interest in me. As far as social status went, I was no longer on the bottom rung; I was underneath the ladder.

But then a funny thing happened. Cathy started talking to me! She wasn't sneering at my polyester pants! She wasn't looking at other girls and rolling her eyes! She wasn't laughing at me! I was nonplussed; this had not ever happened to me, and I wasn't sure if I could trust it. I was so desperate to have a friend, however, that I started talking to her back.

We are still friends.


  1. Oh gawd I'm blushing in sympathy. I was so desperately uncool as a kid. (still am, only now I'm fine with that.)
    Hot pink knickers sound fab tho! xxx

  2. Oh you poor thing!

    I so love that you're still friends! That's the good stuff right there!

  3. "My general lack of denim automatically placed me on the bottom rung .."
    Oh dear .. general lack of denim. I can relate. Oh how I can relate.
    Sorry it's taken me a bit to get here - life.

    I too found friendship under the ladder. Some of life's best friends are found there. It's a good place. More oxygen.


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