Friday, March 20, 2009

Why Me?

It seems like all of my adult lifeI have been involved in embarrassing moments. I trip, I fall and rip holes in my stockings on my way into a memorial service full of strangers; I drip food on my clothing or spill coffee on my husband(who forgave me) when I'm all dressed up and we both thnk I can safely be taken out; I start coughing in the middle of a wedding ceremony and stand outside the church, unable to get it under control until the wedding is over---oh well, there was still the reception; I have had strangers zip my skirt up from behind, tuck tags in that are hanging down my back; I have sung a song at a wedding that I knew like the back of my hand, yet kept repeating the first verse until the words of the second verse came to me---fortunately, noone except my accompanist noticed; I have spoken to people of status without realizing it, and babbled away as if they were my next door neighbor; I have taken my youngest son to a walk-in clinic and mistakenly given his brother's name instead of his own---and when the Dr. addressed this little guy by the wrong name, I was so embarrassed I didn't correct him and even sent the info into our insurance under his brother's name. What is the matter with me?

I have come to believe, perhaps to convince myself as part of my inability to circumvent these moments of humiliation, that others see them as charming, or funny, or as fodder for entertainment, such as when, one Sunday morning, I asked a young couple where they had spent their honeymoon, and as I watched an expression of horror appear, the sickening realization came that not only were they NOT married, they weren't even engaged!! The young man was the son of dear friends, and his brothers were both married, but he was not. I KNEW this!!! He was incredulous and horrified at what I was asking, as was his mother, who caught the drift as she approached. His female companion, on the other hand, not only looked absolutely delighted with my query, but speaking aside said to me: "Keep it up! He needs all the encouragement in that direction you can give." We all parted in relative good humor after I apologized several times over; I found out later that the family spent the following week using my blunder as material for table conversation, teasing and joking. Glad I was able to oblige.

Somehow I survive these humiliations, partly because my daughter has inherited a bit of my tendency in this area, and we comfort each other with our ever-growing number of stories of fumbles, foibles, faux pas and foot-in-mouth disease. My latest comedy routine took place at a gathering I was really looking forward to at my son and daughter-in-law's home. There was an abundance of yummy breakfast food and an interesting variety of people, some of whom I had heard about but not yet met, some whom I knew but didn't see very often, and others that I ran into pretty regularly, but didn't always have time to engage in significant conversation. Ages ran from a majority of 20 and 30 somethings, to a minority of middle age and beyond. I happen to be in the last category, but I don't consider that a social impediment. I just can't keep myself to myself, so I began working my way around to most everyone and thoroughly enjoyed interacting. I was having a GREAT time!

I eventually decided to settle in the living room and made the fatal error of perching on a papasan chair----one doesn't perch on a "p.c." but must cautiously sink back into it and not move again until one has help getting up again. Nevertheless, I choose to perch, the better to hear the interesting tale being unfolded across the room. I leaned forward so I wouldn't miss a word. And wouldn't you know it, my not-so-petite body teetered sideways, as the top and bottom of the papasan chair began to separate from each other. Uh-oh, this was not good...the law of physics took over and I spilled out of the chair, my chin colliding with a tv tray on its way down. Another law of physics sent two cups of coffee flying into the air, spreading their contents far and wide. Brown slpotches appeared on the pristine papasan cushion; half of my hair was drenched and the rest of the coffee puddled on the wood floor, after splashing the pantlegs of the unfortunate occupant of the chair next to mine. Could it get any worse? Oh, yes.... I continued to roll, in slow motion, toward the floor. There was no wayto make a graceful landing, so I ended up in a miserable heap, looking and feeling like a beached whale. As I lay there, a bamboo wall decoration dislodged from the wall (another law of physics?)and landed like a cherry on top.

Gasps and OH's and Are you all right? sounded in a chorus around me as I got to my knees and groaned my way upright, ready to help clean up the mess I had made. The hosts were gracious and let me spray and dab at the papsan with a cloth, followed by trips to the kitchen sink to rinse it out. On the last of these, weaving through the crowd, I noticed one of the guests wiping off her camera case---spattered with coffee, of course. I apologized for the mess and with my usual panache I added, "I guess my mission in life is to make OTHER people feel good about themselves." No disagreement was voiced.

Post Script: my dear daughter in law(hostess of the event) wrote me a very sweet note about the "misbehaving chair" and she hoped I did not feel bad about what happened; she was glad I had come and been able to meet her co-workers and talk to others there. It was balm for a post-middle aged woman with injured pride (and a sore chin). And life goes on......