Monday, 15 September 2008

Shame Week #1 :: What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?

I was 18. I was a few months into my second attempt to get me some A Levels, after having dropped out the first time round. In my English Literature class there was a girl called Marie.

Marie had long, beyond shoulder-length, slightly wavy, jet-black hair, light blue eyes and the most dazzling mouth a human being ever had. She wore a black duffle coat. I had a debilitating crush on her. I adored her. I really adored her.

It was December and the one decent friend I had made, Kyle, who was considerably more popular than I was, had been invited out with a bunch of people from my class. He asked me if I’d like to come along. Marie would be there.

No one knew about my crush on Marie, but anyone who cared could have easily guessed. I was particularly bumbling and inhuman in her company. If I had ever dared speak, I would have stammered like a pneumatic drill. If I had ever dared catch her eye for more than a second, my brain would have eloped with my heart and I think I might very well have passed away from longing.

However, I was going through a stage of trying to force myself into difficult situations - which is how came to find myself at college in the first place - so I said yes.

I was living with Keith at the time in Dartford. On the night of the get-together, which was a Thursday, Keith’s Dad popped round to our house. I told him I was going out with some friends (a slight exaggeration) and I told him about Marie. ‘I feel sick,’ I told him. ‘I feel physically ill. I don’t think I can do it.' He rolled his eyes in good-natured mocking. 'I’m not going.’

I wonder how different my life would be now if I had stuck to my guns, or if Keith’s Dad had been a less caring person and had said nothing. Instead he gave me a little speech about missed opportunities. ‘You never know what might happen,’ he said. ‘You should only regret the things you do in life, never the things you don’t do,’ he said. ‘There is nothing worse than missed opportunity,’ he said. ‘Believe me. Come on, I’ll give you a lift. Drink some milk. It’ll settle your stomach.’

I drank half a pint of milk and took him up on his offer of a lift. He dropped me a few doors away from the pub and wished me good luck. I still felt sick with worry and shame and fear. As he drove off, I considered turning round and walking away. But I didn’t. I went into the pub and joined the group of around ten students who were all standing together in a large loose cluster. Kyle was there. Marie was there, wearing her duffle coat. I got myself a drink.

It was awful. They were most of them a year younger than me but they all had so much more confidence. I felt completely removed from them, like I was another species. They were from a species that chatted with ease, and laughed and joked and were perfectly comfortable with one another. I was from a species that shuffled around in the background, maybe even in another dimension, unable to think of anything, not a single damn thing I could say that might connect me to them.

At one point, a guy called John turned to me and attempted conversation. But he soon gave up because I was useless at it. I was still feeling nauseous too. Seriously so. I drank more lager. It would pass.

Marie was talking to two other girls whose names I can’t recall. I was loitering behind them, a really uncomfortable smile glued to my uncomfortable face, when Kyle took a break from enjoying himself and asked me how I was.

‘Fine,’ I said.

‘Are you sure?’ he asked, looking genuinely concerned. ‘You look really pale.’

‘I just feel a little….’

And then it happened.

It wasn’t exactly projectile vomiting, but it came out with quite a violent spurt. Kyle saw it coming and managed to hop back out of the way. Marie wasn’t so lucky. Most of it landed in the hood of her duffle coat, but some of it made it onto her head where it clung to her beautiful black hair like rancid clotted cream.

Amidst the gasps and emotional chaos of the next few moments, one wag – I believe his name was Nick – captioned the moment with the following words: ‘Premature ejaculation.’

That didn’t help.

On the plus side, I finally got to speak to Marie. ‘I’m so sorry,’ I said, milk sick on my breath and my face hotter than the sun. ‘I think I might have an ulcer.’

She didn’t say anything in response however. She couldn’t actually speak because her mouth – her gorgeous, sexy mouth – was still wide open in abject, absolute horror. Frozen in this portrait of disgust, her friends tentatively took hold of her arms and rushed her off to the toilet to clean her up.

By the time she came out again, I had shrugged off one or two feeble protests, ignored another heartless gag or two, and left.

What’s more, I never went back to college.


Although this wasn't the last time I vomited on a woman - there was also this time - it was by far the most embarrassing. Plus it had far more important consequences. If it hadn't happened, for example, I might have stayed at college. I might have finished my studies and gone on to university. I might have met all kinds of people at university who might have loved me and nurtured me and encouraged me, and by now, I might have been King of the World. Or something. But never mind. I'm here. And I can't see a duffle coat without wincing.


So. What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done? Share your shame in the comments. Or if you fancy running with the shame, meme-style, and posting something on your own blog, then if you could let me know, that would be truly awesome.


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Gordon said...

Well I can't run it on my blog, my mother reads that...

Most shameful thing was probably dumping one twin for the other, in the same night.

OK, not really THAT shameful but it's the best I can do!

Misssy M said...

In summary I was in my brother's band, I was nervous, I drank too much before going on stage, fell down an overflowing toilet, then went on stage and nearly ruined my relationship with my brother for good.

It happened over 20 years ago and I am still too raw about it to convert it into a blog post.

To make matters worse, my brother is getting married in the same venue next year.

Wincing, you say?

Anonymous said...

No doubt Marie is out there in Blogland right now, composing soul-searching posts about her first crush. The boy who vomitted into her duffle coat. Ah, whatever happened to vomitboy and his charming elbows...?

That's not so embarrassing really, Bete. Not nearly as shameful as the admission about living in Dartford. Now that really is something to be embarrassed about. I grew up in Welling, but I try not to think about that, and certainly don't admit to it in public.

By the way, did you get to see Leonard Cohen on his recent tour? I saw him at the 02. I thought he was incredible. So handsome and charming still, and in great voice. He seemed genuinely touched that so many people had turned out to see him perform.

Keep that bit about me and Welling to yourself, right?

Mrs. Hall said...

I can say, with some authority (i work inthe mental health field), that when trauma happens and we cannot deal with it, we shelve it far away in our psyche.

It stays there, hiding and hurting us until we can bring it into the light and heal.

This is what you are starting to do with this story.

And I must say,


There are all sort of ugly things I am bringing to light in the blogs I write for. On the Mrs. Hall blog, it is under the tags "recovery".

So yay for you writing this!

I am glad you feel safe writing here.


Mrs. Hall

Selena said...

Umm, I guess I haven't done anything really humiliating in a while. When I did, it normally involved the over consumption of liquor- so, My take on people thinking badly of me for it is, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Embarrassing things don't really bother me for more than a day or so; life moves on and so do I.

Watch! Now that I've said this life will chuck it's best shame on me. I'm pretty sure that I've just jinxed myself.

Anonymous said...

Is there a character limit on these comments posts?

Cat said...

Ah Bete, I'd love to share and believe me there are plenty of truly awful moments in my life but I am such an emotional cripple I seem to have completely submerged them.

There is a recurring theme of getting crushes on inappropriate individuals, getting very drunk and confessing to them, whereupon they completely lose what little respect they may ever have had for me. So let's never never meet for drinks!

I think I have to stop now.

The throwing up thing seems to have some precedent. Wasn't there a South Park character that kept throwing up over his crush? Milk is the work of the devil anyway, I hope you've given it up now.

Our Glamorous Heroine said...

Your story reminded me of one of mine so here you go. This was also pretty fucking embarrassing but I do seem to have a talent for humiliating myself in spectacular ways. Still really enjoying your blog.

Lauren said...

Most embarrassing moment:
Last Tuesday
New Job (Busser at Fine Dining Establishment)

While pouring water for a very very VIP client, randomly sneezed. Badly. All over said very very VIP and very very germaphobe client. It was either sneeze or drop the water (and the glass water container, that would have evidently shattered). Since sneezing is an automatic reflex... well....

I was almost fired.

Andrea said...


My story isn't too different from yours actually. It was summer 1995 I was 18, technically I had left school having just done my A-levels but was on a school coach holiday in Eastern Europe. My main reason for going was because of my huge crush on one of the teachers. What people didn't know was that I was/am bulimic and had got into using laxatives during revising for my A-levels. I vowed not to bring any on holiday with me and didn't. Our first stop was Berlin and one of my friends wanted to go to a chemist and I couldn't resist. I asked for the strongest laxatives they had, and boy did I get them. They were much stronger than I was used to and worked very quickly. I just managed to get to the small loo on the coach in time but no-body else could use it for the rest of the holiday, no body would talk to me (apart from the teacher funnily enough) and my secret was out.

Tim Footman said...

I'm still intrigued by Mrs Hall's reference to 'the mental health field'. I picture a fenced-off area at the Glastonbury Festival, full of Mad Pride banners and ironic straitjackets.

I suspect the truly embarrassing things I've done are still too raw to come out (unless or until my autobiography gets serialised in the News of the World, and the money makes it worthwhile). But the most embarrassing thing that happened to me is recounted here.

I did poo myself at school, but I was only six, so that doesn't count.

kittyrex said...

Here we go. A non-vomiting story but really, really cringe making regardless.

Lily Lane said...

Hmm... take your pick.

Totally freezing up in a public debate. I got up with my notes, stuttered out about half a sentence and then... nothing... it was horrible.

Or having to formally ask a particular group of people if I could attend a particular event with them. That part went fine of course, but I had so much nervous build up that when someone made a funny joke about a minute afterwards I burst into tears as I burst out laughing, and couldn't stop crying until I left the room. Obviously they all stared.

Singing karaoke. Ugh. Why the hell did I do that?

Or how about having drunken sex in the bathroom at a bar and unexplicably gushing blood? (It wasn't my period; I still don't know what happened to make me bleed so horrifically)

Hmm... I don't really feel better for having written that one down.

Mina McKay said...

I vomited nachos on the lobby floor of a roller skating rink on a 8th grade field trip...THAT was embarrassing...Other than that...hmm...nothings coming up.

curly said...

I love the way you make me (almost – as I’m sat at work) laugh out loud and at the same time want to cry a little inside for you. I can relate to those awful sickening squirmy feelings that almost disable you from carrying out any normal social functions. I can’t recall anything to top your vomming into a duffle coat. I think I’ve shut out such horrendous memories or perhaps I was just too busy hiding. But you know, as much as you seem to be berating yourself for not doing brilliantly in those situations – at least you tried. At least you went along. At 18 I crossed to the other side of the road to avoid people. If someone at the bus stop laughed I was convinced they were of course sniggering at me and my obvious general un-coolness and ugliness. I spent evenings in my bedroom numbing myself on Gin and letting my mum bully me. And more fool me for being so cowardly. And HURRRAH to you for at least getting out there… took me a while longer. And I remember ‘storing up’ all my little social disasters, embarrassments and horrendous incidents and mulling over and over them thinking ‘I should have said this and done that’ and really making a mountain out of small things. But am sure that if Marie-in-the-present-time happened to think of that incident, I’m sure she’d more than likely think ‘poor bloke, he must have been mortified’ rather than think ‘that fucker vommed in my hood’. Hmmm I tell you what - I'll tell you the 2nd most embarressing thing about me - I lived with my parents until I was 30. Quite stupid considering I had a pretty horrendous relationship with my mum for 90% of that time. Some of the reason was financial and family problems I had to sort out. But I'd say at least upto the age of 26/27 it was sheer and utter pathetic-ness. But yes am embarressed and ashamed of that to the point that I gloss over the fact if I'm talking about my past to people!

suburbanhen said...

I was a bed wetter until the age of 14 making my entire childhood was a festival of embarrassment.

Also, during the anual school swimming carnival when I was 12, I had my swimming goggles stolen by another kid. My teacher forced me into the 50m freestyle event without them, convinced I was lying about having them stolen to get out of it. I have hugly sensitive eyes, and pool clorine is like acid to me. I was forced to swim with my eyes tightly closed, and not being a strong swimmer as it was, I struggled, slowly making my way crookedly down the pool, bumping into the lane ropes all the way. At one point I swam under the ropes, realised my error, tried to swim back...
I did the walk of shame back into the stands and I just gave my teacher a look of utter contempt. I think he was actually ashamed of what he'd done.

And at the age of 18, on my very first night club visit, I came out of the loo with toilet paper trailing out of my jeans. I was with some people I didn't much trust (or like, TBH), but I think they were more embarrassed to be seen with me than I was of myself, so it all went down very quietly and with not much fuss.

LyleD4D said...

I'd have to say that my most embarassing moment was having an interview for a job where I'd had a one-night thing with one of the interviewing panel a couple of years prior.

And left the wrong number as a contact. Oh OK, and left the wrong name. *cough*

Needless to say, we both recognised each other, and the atmosphere was positively arctic throughout.

Didn't get the job, either. Funny, that.

La Bête said...

Hey, Gordon. I can’t help feeling that your shameful confession is more of a boast.

Blog it, Misssy. It’s part of the healing process.

Hello, Wellington. No, I wish I had seen Len recently. I’m afraid that might be my last opportunity too.

Thanks, Mrs H. Quite. Every day, in every way, we're getting better and better.

I think you have the right attitude, Selena. I salute you. You boozehound you.

NotKeith, I know, I know, you could write a book. Stop threatening to do it then. DO IT!

OGH, what a fantastic blog you have. I’ve only just read the two posts you link to above, but if they’re anything to go by, you’re a fine raconteur and a truly cursed individual. I am blogrolling you this instant.

Jesus, Lauren. That’s horrendous. Not only for you but for your innocent victims. And it reminds me of a horrible incident with a pint of Guinness. Don’t do it again, please. And thanks for sharing.

Eww, Andrea. And they say Germans have no sense of humour. I hope your school life wasn’t made too hideous after that, and I hope everything is wonderful now.

Thanks for that, Tim (you big spaz). What’s an ironic straitjacket?

And thanks for that, Kitty. Yes. I agree. Horribly cringe-making. I don’t suppose it would have been anywhere near as bad if he hadn’t been so fanciable, huh? Still, a proctologist with a sense of humour is a fine thing. I guess you have to though, considering what you do for a living.

Oh, Lily, I just want to give you a big old hug. At what stage did you gush blood I wonder? You don’t have to answer though. It’s just morbid curiosity. Thanks for sharing.

That’s just about all nachos are good for, Mina. You did the right thing.

Hey, Curls. Yeah, I’m sure you’re right about Marie, that she’d have nothing but sympathy now. I wonder where she is now. It’s weird how the memory of her still engorges me. Actually it’s not weird at all. Anyhow, as for your mother, you’re free now. Free, I say! And happy. So that’s good, isn’t it? Hurray for you!

Hey, Hen. That school story is really sad. I hate it when teachers don’t come through with the goods and do right by their kids. Or at least have the courage to admit they were wrong. You’ve reminded me of Mrs Goole. What she did was nowhere near as bad as what you describe though. I’m sorry. Well done on your look of contempt though. I bet it was withering.

Lyle, that is fantastic. You kind of deserved it too.

Thank you all. That was immense fun.

42 said...

I think I'll answer this one on my blog :)

mumbo said...

You breathed life into 'Little Nipper' on my bloggage. Merci.

Michael said...

My story is staggeringly similar (beautiful girl with black hair and blue eyes etc.) with the exception that my agony was more prolonged. In my first year of college I developed an horrendous stomach complaint which caused me to bloat loudly ALL THE TIME. I sounded like a cross between a consumptive cow and a shitting elephant.

Clare Sudders said...

I'm really hard to embarrass, and I have no shame, so although I have done millions of things which have embarrassed my nearest and dearest (my very blog is quite probably an embarrassment to some), I can't think of anything except right back in the mists of childhood, and even that's quite tame.

I was playing in Heath Moor Drive, which always seemed like a superior street, even though it was just another series of cul de sacs full of semis like the one I lived in myself. But it was where all the cool kids lived, so it was Better. And I was playing there, and for some reason I got inside some random kid's house. I can't remember who it was, but it was ever so clean and neat, and I never got further than the passageway, but I felt very nervous and awkward. So I tried to do the nonchalant thing, and leant against the wall with one leg up, my foot against the wall behind me.

And apparently, I left a footprint. On a pristine nice white wall.

We didn't have pristine walls in my house, or pristine clothes, or pristine anything, and I was regularly shunned for my scruffiness. This was suburbia, remember. One of my friends' mums didn't even like her playing with me because I had holes in my knees and wore jeans. She wasn't allowed to come to my birthday party cos her mum said I was a gypsy and lived in a caravan. Even though she knew full well that I wasn't, and didn't. Not that there's anything wrong with being a gypsy or living in a caravan. But anyway.

It was all round the school, Scruffy Clare And The Footprint She Left Behind On The Wall.

I minded terribly at the time, but it wasn't long before I could see the funny side. That's why I'm impossible to embarrass. I just think it's all hilarious, and take a strange delight in being as embarrassing as possible and then laughing at all the silly embarrassed people and forgetting all about it myself. There's something to be said for being the scruffy one in suburbia, with parents that don't care, surrounded by silly people that do.

My poor sons are either going to be permanently embarassed or will quickly learn to share my attitude. I mean, for God's sake, they're going to have a mum with a non-anonymous blog called Boob Pencil, with a pencil drawing of her saggy boobs in the background and published books about sex and drugs and stuff. How embarrassing is that?

Clare Sudders said...

Ooh! Blood! (have just read previous comment)

I was once sitting on the arm of an armchair. My boyfriend was in teh armchair itself. We were watching telly. I was supposed to be being intimate and friendly. We hadn't been going out long. He was too cool, and made me nervous. I was only 16 and still at the gawking stage, when I couldn't stroke skin without my hand sort of stuttering.

Well anyway, I stood up to go to the loo, and suddenly realised my period had started, and I had gushed blood all over the arm of this chair, as well as all over my clothes and myself.

That was pretty embarrassing. He was very good about it though, and helped me clean it up, which only made it all the more embarrassing.

La Bête said...

Thanks, 42.

De rien, Mumbo.

Hey, Michael. Those black-haired, blue-eyed girls are a source of torture, aren’t they. I guess this is why Allah decided that they should all be covered up. But then why stop at the eyes? Loud bloating sounds diabolical. My commiserations.

Hey, Clare. I must say, I do like your attitude and I’m pleased to say I’m becoming more and more that way myself. Unembarrassable I mean. As a child, everything embarrassed me. During my teens I was afraid to even go into shops because I was embarrassed by my very existence. Through my 20s I stayed home most of the time for similar reasons. Now I’m learning more and more to really not give a fuck. If I say something or do something which instinctively causes me to flinch, I think, ‘Fuck it.’ And it’s very liberating.

I’m glad I don’t menstruate though. That’d kill me.

Clare Sudders said...

"it’s very liberating."

Isn't it?

"That’d kill me."

Probably would, yes. All that blood loss and no natural biological way of replacing it. Then again, how much blood is actually lost? Possibly not that much in fact. Hmm.