When I was 19 a student journalist asked me to contribute to an article she was writing on people’s most embarrassing moments. I wasn’t sure why she’d asked me but had a feeling that some people had the impression that my life was one littered with embarrassing moments. As I began to sift through my rather long list of candidates for most embarrassing moment, I realised they may have been right. I even had my own top ten.
For years, the number one position had been held by ‘The Changing Room Incident.’ I was six and my mother had dragged me to a cleaners to buy a pair of trousers. A cleaners? This was 1961, money was tight and it wasn’t that unusual for shops to sell a few extra lines – like a cleaners selling the odd item of clothing. Thinking about it now, maybe they were selling unclaimed items? Anyway, for whatever reason, they were deemed one of the cheapest shops to find clothes but, not being a purpose built clothes store, their changing facilities were somewhat ad hoc – looking like those curtains on wheels that nurses used to pull around hospital beds. There were two small stalls and they were parked against the sidewall of the shop.
My mother selected a pair of short trousers for me and gave them to me to try on. Being six, I was adamant I didn’t need my mother in the changing room with me. But, being six, my powers of balance were not as highly developed as I’d hoped. I got one leg in the new pair of trousers, but my other foot caught in the waistband and I began to fall. Being an athletic six-year old, I attempted to regain my balance by hopping vigorously in the direction of the fall. This caused me to accelerate across the tiles and, in panic, I grabbed for the curtain. It wasn’t that well connected to the metal frame and – pop, pop, pop – now it wasn’t connected at all.
I hadn’t realised there was a woman in the stall next to me. I did now. I half fell, half hopped past her and threw myself at the far metal pole. I grabbed hold of it but my momentum carried me past it and swinging out through the curtain door into the shop, bringing the metal pole with me. The flimsy changing room began to topple and fell apart. A woman screamed. I fell to the floor, lying there in my underpants for all to see.
Strangely, I wasn’t the most embarrassed person in the shop. That title went to my mother who couldn’t get me out of the shop quick enough. We never bought the trousers. Or returned to the shop.
So, what was number one when I was 19? Well, that honour went to “The Three Nuns in the Railway Carriage.” Again trousers figured prominently, but what really made the incident stand out was the fact that it wasn’t an embarrassing moment, it was an embarrassing sixty minutes. And, unless you’re one of the nuns, you’ll have to wait until next week to find out what happened.
What’s your most embarrassing moment??
Chris Dolley is an English author living in France with a frightening number of animals. His novel – Resonance (Baen) – can be downloaded for free here. More information about his other work can be found on his BVC bookshelf .
International Kittens of Mystery. If you like a laugh and looking at cute kitten pictures this is the book for you. It’s a glance inside the International Kittens of Mystery – the only organisation on the planet with a plan to deal with a giant ball of wool on a collision course with Earth. Forget Bruce Willis and his team of miners. Send for the kitties!