A number of corporate events I’ve attended have included ice-breaker sessions where we attendees are asked to share our “most embarrassing moment”. I’m always amazed when people stand up and rhyme off an anecdote about that one time they did something stupid. Are you kidding? How can I possibly choose just one? My cup runneth over. My only consolation is that I’ve tried to take a life lesson from each humiliating incident.
Like that time in Grade 8 when I had a role in a school play, cast as a news reporter named “Lena Lampoon”, and I had to burst onto the stage and fling open my coat and say “Lena Lampoon to the rescue folks”, – except for I flung open both my coat AND my blouse. Life Lesson – Even when you’re a perky teenager, you should always wear a bra.
Or … maybe it should be the time in Grade 11 that I went for a job interview as a part-time office assistant for Ontario Hydro, and underwent a five-minute typing test to see how many words per minute I could type. I’m a really speedy typist – contrary to popular belief, that is why they called me “fast” in high school. During the speed test my fingers flew like lightning across the keyboard. I knew I was about to impress the heck out of my interviewers, and I would have too, if my left hand hadn’t shifted off the home row, and I hadn’t typed a solid half page of letters, numbers and symbols, with a noticeable absence of any actual words. What made it worse is that I had to go through the whole charade as the girl took my “test” into the Manager in the glassed in office, and the two of them just stared at it for the longest time, before he called me in to interview me to see if my other skills were as remarkable as my typing. I completed the interview and was surprised to get a call from them shortly after I got home. It was to tell me that I had left my purse hanging on the back of my chair. Life Lesson – Public Utility job postings are bogus – they already know who they’re hiring.
Or let’s see … it could be that time we went to Bahamas on our honeymoon, with 2 other couples. (I know, I know, you don’t usually take friends on your honeymoon, but we were going down south ANYWAY, and it kind of morphed into a honeymoon.) I got a big kick out of teasing one of my girlfriends, because she was shy and self conscious and worried about what people thought of her. I was always reminding her that since nobody knew us in Bahamas, we could be as outrageous as we wanted. To illustrate my point, I tried to hold hands with her every chance I got, because that really flustered her and she would get super-embarrassed (It was, after all, 1979). One day we were all six of us snorkeling, and I swam up to her and tried to take her by the hand, underwater. She yanked her arm away and swam from me as fast as she could. I kept grabbing at her, and then she turned and started swimming like a maniac toward my husband … with me right beside her, groping and grabbing at her the whole time. The faster she went the faster I went. Except, when we got up closer to the guy – I saw that it wasn’t my husband after all. I turned to her to say, “Wait -that’s not him”, but when I did so I looked into terror-filled eyes because it also wasn’t “her” – it was a total stranger lady, and she was swimming for dear life toward her own husband, trying desperately to escape this underwater, unprovoked lesbian attack. Life Lesson – Nearsighted snorkeling is extremely dangerous.
Or, how about when I had FINALLY matured and settled into my role as wife and a front-runner for mother-of- the year, with 3 little ones, the oldest in Kindergarten. It was time for my very first parent-teacher interview, and I was feeling like a very capable and contemporary version of June Cleaver. As usual it was hectic getting everyone ready, but I loaded the kids into the car at the appointed time to meet my son’s teacher. I sat across from her, and in my most mature and parental voice, asked a number of important and appropriate questions. Mrs. Mitchell smiled broadly throughout – I could tell she was impressed with my awesome parenting skills. We finished our chat, shook hands, and I returned to the car and buckled everyone into their carseats, feeling quite pleased with myself. I got into the driver’s seat, and then caught a glimpse of my reflection in the rear view mirror. The turtleneck sweater I was wearing was not only inside out, it was also on backwards. I had conducted the entire conversation with a very large rectangular gold label right at my throat. Life Lesson – Teachers have a dark side.
And sadly, that only brings us up to the early nineties. I think that from here on in I’m going to see if these corporate events can switch it up a bit – and ask the question: “What was your most successful, effective and mature moment?” That way I will have much less trouble standing up and rhyming off about that one time…