Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Chewing Tobacco, Spiral Staircases and Cute Lawyers - (or Some of My Most Embarrassing Moments): #AKwritingChallenge Day 13

I was on my walk this morning thinking about this topic. I was surprised when I couldn't really come up with any embarrassing moments - not because I haven't had any in my life, but because I realized I must be much better at suppressing memories of unpleasant things than I realized. I'm an idiot. I do stupid stuff all the time, but  I just couldn't remember anything that would make for a compelling blog post.

Maybe it was just that I wasn't awake enough. I pretend to be a morning person when, in reality, I'd much rather sleep in. It was seven and I had my tennis shoes tied to my feet - it was a bit chilly and I was forcing myself to walk at a quick pace through my neighborhood. It took a while for the blood to start pumping, and when it did, I started remembering a whole bunch of embarrassing moments.

There was the time back when I was twenty, going through a really bad patch in my life and working a full time job, then a part time job on top of it just to pay for my tiny apartment, gas for my car and the Ramen and macaroni and cheese (without butter) that I pretty much lived on. I was at my part time job - a cashier for the now defunct Cub Foods grocery store - and pushing through my shift on very little sleep. A guy came through my line with chewing tobacco, so I called the manager. That was the drill. I was under twenty-one, so I had to call someone in charge who was at least that age to check the customer's I.D. The guy was in a hurry, and I was playing by the rules - except that I hadn't looked closely enough at the chewing tobacco that wasn't chewing tobacco. Nope. It was shoe polish. Oops. Not a horrible situation, but I was embarrassed and felt pretty dumb, especially since I'd involved a manager and made this guy, who was obviously trying to polish his shoes to get to wherever he was going, even more late than he already was just because my sleep deprived brain hadn't been paying better attention.

There was also the time my soon-to-be in-law's took me to Gunther Toody's for my birthday. Have you been to a Gunther Toody's? It's a fifties themed restaurant with poodle skirts and the whole nine yards. It's actually pretty fun - until you're forced to put on a crazy hat and do the twist in front of all the cheering diner's while the wait staff sings happy birthday to you. I really hate being the center of attention. I'll celebrate someone else, especially if that person is special to me. I'll go out of my way, bend over backwards to do anything I can to spotlight another person - but I like to keep a low profile. I was trying to impress my husband to be's family. They thought it was fun and hilarious ... me? Not so much.

I also recalled the time just a few years ago when my family and I traveled to Paris. It was a day trip. We'd boarded a train before the sun came up, packing everything we might need for the four of us into two back packs. It was late September - that time of the year when it's not really summer still, but not quite fall, and Mother Nature is moody. I'd opted for layers thinking I could shed or add as the weather dictated, but that along with my pack didn't make me the sleekest of travelers. 

We decided to have lunch in a wonderful little cafe across the street from Notre Dame. My daughter and I needed to use the bathroom, which was a tiny little affair atop a skinny little spiral staircase and down a narrow hall. I guess I wasn't thinking very clearly. I was in Paris for crying out loud. I didn't drop my pack off at the table first, and, even though I was somewhat overheated, I didn't shed any layers before Maya and I decided to find the facilities. I went first and halfway up that little spiral staircase, my backpack got wedged in the metal framework. If I'd been able to get my arms free of the straps, I'd have been okay, but I had too many clothes on. Thank God for Maya who pushed the pack from underneath to get the damn thing dislodged. The whole thing made me laugh - I mean, it was a ridiculous situation - but laughing was a bad idea because I had a full bladder. We were on our way to the bathroom, remember? I'm just glad Maya was able to get my pack unstuck and we found our way to the WC before it was too late. If not, I would have been much more than temporarily inconvenienced on the stairs.

I was about three quarters of the way through my walk at this point - sweating and definitely not cold anymore. I was looking up at the blue sky covered in fluffy, marshmallow clouds and even thinking that maybe mornings aren't so bad after all. I'd just allowed myself to get excited about the prospect of my first cup of coffee when perhaps the best embarrassing moment of all popped into my head.  

Back in 1997 Steven and I moved into his grandmother's house down by Washington Park near downtown Denver. She'd gotten to an age where it wasn't really safe for her to be living on her own anymore, so she went to live up in Idaho Springs with my in-laws. We were ambitious, and the two of us pulled up carpet, refinished hardwood floors, pulled up layers and layers of old tile in the bathroom and kitchen and laid down new linoleum. We also repainted the entire house. 

One day, while Steven was at work, I decided to finish up on some of the painting. The houses in the neighborhood were very close together, and the back porch, where we kept all the painting supplies, was closed in, but had windows wrapped all the way around it. To one side of us lived a group of really nice guys who were attending law school at DU (University of Denver). They were in their early twenties; all of them very good looking. Well, I was on the back porch trying to wrangle this contraption we'd bought - it was a paint roller on an extension so that we could cover the walls without using a ladder - and somehow I lost my balance. I fell backward and wound up landing butt first in a bucket, my arms and this long paint roller sticking straight up into the air. It took me a while, and I'm sure I burned a lot of calories while trying to get myself upright and free from the bucket that was stuck to my tail end. I was frustrated once I'd straightened everything out again, but not really surprised. I mentioned before that I'm kind of an idiot. Me falling down or doing something stupid is not really newsworthy. 

Once I'd gathered all my painting equipment again I happened to glance out of the window and realized that Chris, one of my cute lawyer neighbors was watching me from his back deck. He was drinking from a mug and had a bemused look on his face. He gave me a wide grin and a wave, which made me turn four different shades of red. Me falling down is one thing - being caught doing it is a whole different thing. He then wiped the smile from his face, pulled his fingers across his mouth like a zipper and tossed a pretend key into the air, silently telling me that he wouldn't share what he'd seen with anyone else. I'd like to think he kept that promise. If he did tell any of his roomates about my struggle - and dramatic defeat - with gravity, they never let on.

Now my walk is over. I'm sipping from my second cup of coffee and coming up with a whole assortment of different stories I could tell you - but I think I've traveled down this uncomfortable path of memory lane long enough for one day. I kinda liked it better before my brain woke up and I couldn't recall an embarrassing moment. Oh, well. Life happens to us all, right? And some of it is undeniably embarrassing.