Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Most Embarrassing Moment in Middle or High School

Well, it's been a month since my last writer's group meeting. The title of this blog post is the writing prompt for this month. I usually bring things to writer's group that I've written the day of writer's group! I think I missed one meeting since the last blog post. How's that for accountability? At least I write maybe once a month! I wrote a blurb about Brandon's Habit Trainer for the last writer's group meeting. Brandon needed a "How it works" page for the site, and I had a lot of fun writing it. I've been busy doing end of the school year wrap up, summer activities, and preparations for Maia Jo, our baby who's due September 3. Lately, Baby Thoughts are beginning to consume my being, since Maia is coming in less than 8 weeks! I think I'd like to write about the silly dreams I've been having, but I want to write the writing prompt first.
Truly embarrassing moments are ones you would prefer to completely wipe from your consciousness. Maybe that's why I can't remember many from my middle school and high school years. I tend to be an awkward sort of gal, so I think I've developed a healthy tolerance for embarrassment. As a shy, young elementary aged girl, I encountered embarrassing moments daily. As I've matured, I've noticed my these tragedies have naturally lessened. Maybe that's a natural part of growing up or just that some healthy ego callouses have had time to develop.

There are two times in my teenage years that I was mortally embarrassed. Beyond that, I just had the weekly "foot-in-your-mouth" comments I always wished were boomerangs I could bring back to me. To have true embarrassment you must endure an event you most likely never would have foreseen. You are also required to have an audience of people paying direct attention to you, preferably large. Can you be embarrassed when you're all by yourself? Maybe. But I think this question ranks in the level of "If a tree falls in a forest all alone, does it make a sound?"
I grew up in Hawaii, and swam at the beach with friends and family often on weekends. I was a late bloomer, and started my period when I was in 8th grade. I didn't know how to tell when it was coming, and therefore was never prepared. The most embarrassing moment for me in middle school fell on that fateful first day of one of my early menses. I was blessed to never get debilitating Midol-style cramps, and had decided to wear some cute white shorts over my swimsuit that day. I frolicked across the beach thinking people were admiring me in my lovely attire. Heads turned as I walked by, and I was flattered. I didn't know I was much to look at, but I guess I was! Pretty soon, a friend came up to me and told me "I think you have your period...." The pedestal i was pirouetting on crumbled in seconds as I looked at the big red spot on my pristine shorts. Somehow I made it to the bathroom and got a hold of the right equipment, slinking into the background for the rest of that beach day. In retrospect, I am sure no one was disgusted by my experience...half the population is female, and has, or someday will experience the joy of that time of the month. Periods are private and largely ignored in larger society. I think that's where my feelings came from. I remember seeing commercials for tampons and douches that made periods equivalent to a peaceful run through wild flowers... as long as you had the right product. Well, I found out what happens when you don't have the right product at the right time! I am sure there were other girls or women who watched me that day, and recalled that moment as they endured their own similar moments. Maybe I helped them. Maybe they said...well, at least it wasn't as bad as what happened to her!
My second moment of sheepishness happened on a statewide TV broadcast. I liked schoolwork, and had gotten very good at speaking German. Being a quiet person, I was a little perturbed at having such an impractical gift. I was very determined, however, to go to college so I could figure out what I was good at. What can shy people do for a living? The University of Puget Sound was going to be the place I would discover the path for my life. Unfortunately, it was an expensive place to learn this lesson, and being from a family of average income, I needed to help with the costs by getting lots of scholarship money. There was a scholarship program that gave rewards to students who excelled in specific areas like Mathematics, Science, and Foreign Language. I had been disqualified for a high school German speech competition because the judges believed I was a native German speaker. I though that I might actually be able to compete for this scholarship, so I made my portfolio, trying hard to look like a person whose life revolved around speaking the German language. I must have succeeded, because I was chosen as a finalist in the competition. There were only 2 other people in my category. We were required to do an interview with linguists. After that, we were to find out the winner of the scholarship live on a tv show that would be broadcast to all of Hawaii! Oh dear! On top of that, the event was held on the collossal stage of the Polynesian Cultural Center. Normally, people ate fire and danced impossible looking hulas on that stage, but this time, we, the scholars of Hawaii's schools were the performers. My heart sunk to the level of my belly button as I walked onto the stage. I noticed that the male newscaste named Dan Cook, who was emceeing the show had about 1/4 inch of make-up caked on his face. Well, at least he'd look good, I guessed. I chalked up my lack of stage makeup to youthfulness, and stepped up on to the platforms made for us. Many awards were given, and soon it was time for the foreign language award. Mr. Cook built up to the moment by telling all the wonderful things he could about the winner before announcing their name. He started vague, and got more specific, so that it was obvious to the winner that they'd be stepping forward. As he worked his way down the list for our winner, I started to think it might be me! Pretty soon, he said, "Born in American Samoa...." and I knew it had to be me! Who else could be born there? So i went ahead and stepped forward...quickly halted by quiet snickers, and an awkward silence from the microphone. He had not said my name! I stumbled awkwardly backwards and up to my rightful spot and waited, praying that I really was the one to win. Gosh, what if it was someone else???? Soon, my name was said, and I breathed again. I stumbled up to receive the large block of wood that was to be my lifelong reminder of this day. Soon, I realized I had won, and, yahoo, that meant money for college, and a smile graced my face. Later, I discovered that my husband, who I had not yet met, had watched me at that very moment. He says he thought I was cute. He couldn't have remembered me unless I had my embarassing moment, and so I am thankful for that sweet connection we have.
Today, I am happy to be married, and to have children. I find it's so much easier to live through the less graceful times when you know you don't have to impress anyone. My husband knows i pass gas, and laughs with me when I do goofy things. My kids do odd things all the time, but they make me smile and wrinkle my forehead more than anything else. I've helped create a family, and am no longer the center of my own world. It's a refreshing feeling!

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