Well, it seems my week of Mortifying Maineiacal Madness has run its course.
I realize my contest was probably not as much fun for you as it was for me and the dozens of neighbors I invited over to my house so we could all read your submissions aloud while eating popcorn.
But you rose to the occasion (after I threw some thinly-veiled threats your way) and dug deep down to unearth some of those embarrassing memories for me (and obviously, to win the world’s coolest baseball hat).
It was hard to pick just five as I had 30 entries. So I asked my husband to help me choose, as he is, after all, the connoisseur of colossal clumsy calamities. (The man drove off after our second date with his gym bag that contained his rollerblades still sitting on top of his car.)
Our main criteria in judging was simple: a good story–the more mortifying, the better. You guys didn’t disappoint.
If your story wasn’t chosen as a finalist, don’t worry. I plan on throwing them all together into a video auto-tune mashup on YouTube where I act out each story while singing, rapping and dancing. I’m sure it’ll go viral.
Here are the finalists:
1) PEGOLEG of Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings:
I was 18 when I landed a summer job as a waitress at a swanky, nautical-themed restaurant. The only problem was it was out on the edge of town. With 4 teenage drivers in the house I often had to ride my bike to work. On that fateful day I had been having a little trouble “going”, if you know what I mean, so I took ½ of a little square of Ex-Lax. ½ a square, mind you.
I was in the dining room, taking an order from a nice, older couple. I had just got the drink orders (martini; dry with a twist and an old fashioned; extra cherries) and was recommending the filet mignon when it happened. The Ex-Lax kicked in without my prior knowledge or consent. Right down my legs.
I froze, just for a second. Then I dropped my pad and pen on the table and sprinted for the bathroom. The squalid hellhole of a bathroom that the employees were allowed to use was through the kitchen, clear on the other side of the place. We were strictly forbidden to use the customer washroom, but at this point I needed the nearest port in the poop storm. I dashed in there and bolted the door.
A few minutes later my tough old boss, Gail, was banging on the door. By this time the immediate crisis had passed and I was desperately trying to wash my pants in the sink. Thank God the jaunty, nautical uniform we had to wear was navy blue on the bottom and white on the top and not the other way around. “I’m sorry, but I’m sick!” I wailed through the door.
Eventually I had to leave the bathroom. Since this was the pre-cell phone era, I had to go back through the lobby, through the dining room and into the kitchen to use the phone. I’ve blocked out most details of the Bataan Poop March, but I suppose the patrons dining experience was not enhanced by the breeze kicked up as I passed by. This WOULD be a day I rode my bike, so I had to call home for someone to pick me up. Riding a bike in my condition did not seem advisable.
Dad showed up in the old, green station wagon. He’d brought along my 15-year-old brother Pat, nominally to help with the bike, but I suspect he volunteered so he could bear witness to my shame.
My brother kept up a running commentary (who could blame him?) as they loaded my bike into the car. I suspect he would insist he exercised admirable restraint. The cherry on top of my misery sundae came when Dad suggested I sit in the back. He had the whole bench seat covered with industrial-strength, black garbage bags.
2) CASSIE BEHLE
Years ago, I went on a date with my boss’s nephew, who was in town for the weekend and staying at her place. Before the date, I had been playing with my cat, Chloe, when she took a swipe at my face, scratching my nose. Enter: blood everywhere. I cleaned the wound, covered it with concealer, forgot all about it and left for the date. Later that evening as my date dropped me off, he leaned in to give me a long goodnight kiss and the wound broke open (with neither of us knowing in the darkness of my front porch). Afterward, I went inside only to discover in horror that there was blood smeared all over my face like some sort of horrible clown make-up job. I immediately thought that if it was on me, then it must be all over him, too, so I texted him and apologized profusely. (dun-dun-duuuuuun) It was too late. He had already gotten back to his aunt’s house (remember, my BOSS) and went into the kitchen to chat with her and his brother when they, too, stared at him in horror. I couldn’t look my boss in the eye for weeks, and although her nephew and I ended up going on another date, after I fainted on him from being out in the heat too long THAT day, well, that was the end of that.
3) APE NO. 1 of The Simian Monologues
It happened when I was about 11 years old. I was at that age when girls made me feel uncomfortable, nauseous, and stupid when they were around but for some reason I still thought they were neat. My gran had come visiting from overseas, Ape was not born in Oz but was a Latin import from South of the Border, and she had brought presents for her two cherished grandsons. My little brother I was given some kind of cuddly toy which given his young age was quite appropriate. I, on the other hand, had a real surprise coming my way. My gran had made me, with her own little gran hands, an outfit to wear while she was here. You know you are in for a bit of wild ride when your gran says, “I am not sure if the kids are still wearing these?”. These words haunt me to this day.
I remember slowly opening that package wondering what could possibly be awaiting me in those multiple crepe paper folds. When I finally made my way through the multiple layers of wrapping I was able to hold up the garment in the light of day and fully appreciate the magnificence of the garment. I held in my hands a pair of deep cherry red corduroy lederhosen. Yep. Friggin’ red lederhosen. To add to my suffering she had made them a few sizes too small and there was no way to adjust them. I know my parents thought this was hilarious but they insisted that I wear them to make gran happy. I reluctantly took them upstairs, put them on, and came back downstairs with a less than impressed look on my face. I am still convinced to this day that gran had won some sort of bet that day.
That day we played tourist guide for my gran and took her around the many sites of Sydney, my parents in cool 70s gear, my little brother with his little cuddly toy, and me the weird hunchback kid, damn small lederhosen bending my back, moping about just behind them looking like a 1700′s era Bavarian character out of the Munsters. Nothing says Aussie chick magnet like a skinny hunchback in red velvety lederhosen with a constant grimace on the face due to the awkward pressure points of an ill fitting vintage Bavarian style garment.
Damn friggin’ lederhosen!
When I was a little girl, my older sister would get me into all kinds of trouble. Like the time she talked me into climbing out onto the roof of the sun-porch, just outside our bedroom window. Naked. Like the time she talked me into going into the neighbor’s garden and picking their vegetables because she wanted them. Or letting her give me a pretend injection in my left buttock with a pencil when we were playing hospital and then threatening me into silence when I wanted to tell our mother that there was a piece of lead in my left ass-cheek. (The “get the lead” out jokes are still funny to at least half of this sister team). Who knows why I was so easily led astray. In my defense I can only say that she was bigger, meaner, hit harder and usually had some kind of “dirt” on me.
One morning while we were walking to school, we stopped to visit a horse that was grazing on the other side of an electric fence. Somehow she convinced me that it would be okay to touch that fence. Being the trusting and gullible child that I was, I grabbed onto it with both hands. I don’t really remember the jolt, but I am told that I opened my mouth as if to scream and nothing came out. I came to on my butt in the grass, with dampened panties. But that is not the humiliating part…
There was no going home to face the sure whipping I would get, so I did what any child with electrically challenged synapses and a fear of disappointing my parents (who could not understand how such a quiet child could get into so much trouble) yet AGAIN could do – I ditched the wet panties in bushes, brushed off my dress and hustled on to school.
Everything was going well, considering my “commando” status until recess and the monkey bars…
5) ANGIE Z. of Childhood Relived
An Epic Adventure in Babysitting
In 1987 I saw the movie Adventures in Babysitting in my hometown theater. The babysitter, played by Elizabeth Shue, was badass. She clobbered carjackers, walked on high rafters, sang in seedy nightclubs and could dropkick brats to the ground.
I was the youngest kid in my family, never changed a diaper and could barely care for my pet hamster.
But I was in 8th grade, and it was now The Thing to babysit.
To be asked to babysit showed you were, like, mature or something — and if you were, like, mature, then that meant you were probably, like, really good at french kissing too or something.
Except that I never got asked to babysit. I was 14 and looked 10. People assumed I needed a babysitter. And I probably did.
But finally, a woman in desperate need of a babysitter called me. I don’t know who referred her. She didn’t know me from Adam Ant. And I didn’t know her. But my parents owned the town’s Ace Hardware– so everyone thought they sort of knew me.
She likely saw me in our store lying face-down on the hood of a riding lawn mower. I was probably using the tags in the pricing gun to craft press-on fingernails for myself while chewing an entire pack of Juicy Fruit gum before my dad could spot me with the wrappers. She must’ve thought I seemed responsible.
Would I babysit for her kids? Lots of details were left out of our phone conversation. Boys or girls? Were there two, ten? She didn’t tell me, and I didn’t ask. Of course, my adult-conversing skills at that time were Rain Man at best.
I wrote down the woman’s name, the date, the time – but I failed to ask how I’d get there. I recalled friends saying their parents dropped them off at all their babysitting gigs. So when Saturday night rolled around, I pulled out the local phone book, looked up the address, and my mom and I hopped in the car.
I knocked on the door and an older girl of maybe 10 answered — my mom peeled out of the driveway, apparently satisfied with merely spotting a dark figure in the doorway. The girl flung the door open, and I walked in unannounced. Three other dirty-faced kids spanning the ages of 3 to 7 sat around the television set playing Nintendo, looking away from the game for only a moment to smile shyly at me.
I sat on the couch and tried my best to relate to them, asking if I could watch them play video games. Because of course everyone loves to watch other kids play video games. Watching other kids play video games was the highlight of my future high school dating.
I’m Elizabeth Shue. I’m the coolest babysitter on the planet.I juggled legos, quoted lines from a new Disney movie, pointed out Super Mario’s secret warp zones, and soon I had them eating out of my hand — Ritz cracker crumbs I’d found in the couch cushions.
Twenty minutes passed, maybe more, and I began to feel uncomfortable by the length of time it was taking for the parents to get on their way. I could hear things going on down the hallway but no one came out to greet me. There were sounds of heaving, grunting and pounding wood – the kind that is actually pounding wood and not the kind that would qualify for the worst babysitting story of all time – and an electric saw buzzed off and on.
Finally a messy-haired man with sweat stains on his shirt emerged from the hallway and strode through the living room on his way toward the kitchen.
His head whiplashed backwards when he saw me on the couch.
“Hi there! We’re playing Nintendo.” I plastered on my best Eddie Haskell smile, upbeat and pleased as punch with how well I’d integrated myself into the man’s family. I was a natural. The kids loved me.
“What’s going on? What are you doing?” His face lacked all traces of recognition. There was a dead pause, and my stomach shot upward toward my mouth. I coughed on a chunk of Ritz cracker, one of the bigger crumbs I’d kept for myself.
“Um, Carol? She, um, Carol said she needed me to sit for your kids tonight?” I could feel my face was scalding red-hot by then, horrified that I’d obviously had the date wrong. I flipped through my mental calendar of appointments for the week to see where I went wrong.
Watch Cosby Show on Thursday, shower on Friday, sleep until noon on Saturday . . .
“Who’s Carol? What?” His face flashed from confused to angry.
“Um, Carol Brady?” Not her actual name but I don’t remember her actual name and I thought you’d appreciate the nostalgia nod.
“Carol Brady? Oh.” His face relaxed. “The Bradys don’t live here.”
For several seconds I couldn’t process what he was telling me. Why did Carol want me to babysit for another family’s kids? Why didn’t she tell him? Was she his mistress? What’s a mistress? Is it the opposite of a mister? Why was I here? Why were any of us here?
He continued. “The Bradys moved out last summer. We’ve been living here since September.”
And that’s when it finally hit me — my mom had left me at the wrong house. Oh, Holy Misunderstandings. I WAS AT THE WRONG HOUSE.
At that phase in life, I didn’t have the adult verbiage to effectively express myself in this type of situation — because I only watched kid shows like Miami Vice and Falcon Crest back then. But here I’m pretty sure I would’ve said,
Had I used words like that.
Here’s the best part of the whole thing. Better than the babysitting for unaware strangers at the wrong house for half an hour and not even getting paid for it thing. Better than the most wretchedly embarrassing moment of my entire life thing.
So after the man looked up Carol Brady in the phone book, called her house and got no answer, we figured out she had probably gone to pick me up at my house where my mom hadn’t been waiting since my mom was off dropping me off at the wrong house. So then the nice, sweaty man offered to drive me over to Carol’s house across town to wait for her return.
So we jumped into his pick-up truck with the 10-year-old and headed to Carol’s house. Leaving the three younger kids at home. Alone.
And I couldn’t help but think as we pulled out of the driveway, waving goodbye to the bewildered young faces smashed against the front window – they probably could’ve used a babysitter.
You have until August 6th 2012 at 8 AM EST to cast your vote for the entry you think is the most embarrassing.
Thanks to all who entered! May the best shame win!