So, this happened via email today:
Welcome to ChicagoNow’s first-ever Surprise-a-palooza! Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to publish a post on the given topic and publish before you go to bed tonight. Here is the topic: “Write about something you’ve done in your life that still really makes you cringe.”
I can’t resist a challenge like this, so here you go Jimmy Greenfield:
I sometimes live in my own private Idaho. My interior world hijacks me from the exterior where folks can see and hear me. I get lost in a repetitive loop.
Like the time I used pencils and crayons to curl my hair. It was 5th grade and I had long hair. I would take a few strands of hair, run them through my mouth until spit made it wet and then I wound the hair around the pencil. As they dried I’d pull them straight down to make a long curl.
I was halfway through the process, having used all the available pencils and was admiring two or three curls, one of which was perfect. My styling technique did not embarrass me at all. However, I realized it was dead quiet in my classroom and looked up to see all the other kids and my teacher staring at me.
“Miss Morris, would you like to tell us what you’re doing?”
Well, I was dying, that’s what I was doing. Twenty pairs of eyes were a spotlight of shame. I was a kid.
And to this day I hate being called “Miss,” “Ms,” or “Mrs” Morris. Why do teachers ask questions like that anyway? You can admit that you’re an ass, say “no,” or stare helplessly. I chose the latter.
But this is by no means the most cringeworthy thing I’ve done. It’s just indicative of my particular type of cringeworthy behavior. I’ve done the same sort of thing as an adult, which is, of course, much worse. So here’s my confession.
My husband and I lived in Ada, OH, a town of about 5000 people, but only when the university where I worked was in session. It was so small that we could eat lunch, drop off dry cleaning and rent movies over a lunch hour. On foot.
Everyone knew us and knew our names. Sounds cozy, right? Not so much, in my opinion. Everyone knew everything about everyone else, including the fact that we had once purchased a grocery cart full of “Wanker” beer, mostly because the brand name was stamped on the caps. A friend was making earrings out of them. But I digress.
We were in the drug store one day, an old fashioned family owned store. It was charming, except it was small and the pharmacist and his technician had never heard of HIPPA and so chatted at volume about all of our meds.
“So Mrs B,” using my husband’s last name, (which was not then and never has been mine, a fact of which he clearly disapproved), “How are those low dose hormone birth control pills working out for you?”
Everyone else turned to hear my answer. I was in the makeup aisle.
So we were there one day waiting for a prescription to be filled and the pharmacist was on the phone.
“Okay Mrs Smith, we’ll try and send it,”
He said it in a way that caught my attention, as if it were one word that sounded like “transcendent.” I was curious how the long “i” morphed into the short “a,” so I said to myself:
“Try and send it”
And then, “Trah and send it.”
And finally, “Trah-n-send-it.”
Unfortunately I was saying this to myself out loud. My husband elbowed me. I looked up and the pharmacist and half a dozen customers were staring me.
I did the only thing possible in the situation. I turned beet red and ran from the store.
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