I seem to have a special talent for embarrassing myself on a regular basis, but the most embarrassing thing in my entire life happened when I was in high school. The events of the whole day led up to the worst moment I can remember.
It all started on spring choir tour my sophomore year. We had a great director whom we all loved and respected, but strict he was. In the middle of the concert the choir all filed off the platform and sat in the pews while the ensemble sang a few songs. While I sat there listening to the ensemble my nose started bleeding. We were under strict orders to stay in our seats like perfect statues or face Mr. Rhodes’s wrath. Figuring I had just enough time to run to the bathroom and get back before we sang again, I risked everything and was so happy to make it back just in time. I filed back up to the front with the rest of the choir and endured the severest of glares from my beloved teacher. I was not feeling well, however. I felt so dizzy that I consciously made sure not to lock my knees so that I wouldn’t faint. Somehow I made it through the concert, and when I was given the chance to explain, I was forgiven all trespasses.
Five of us girls traveled in a van to the rural home of an older couple. I was glad that on this occasion it wasn’t up to me to carry the conversation with our hosts. I tried to rest, but was feeling progressively worse. Finally, the van came to a halt. As I stepped out, my foot slipped off the concrete driveway and sank ankle deep into mud. I shook it off the best that I could, but it was dark and I didn’t realize how much mud still clung to my foot.
As we walked inside, a wave of dog smell engulfed me and my stomach churned. The lady of the house told us not to mind her dear old dog that was a sweet old thing, but was suffering from some skin disease. Concentrating on not covering my mouth and nose, I followed her as she showed us around the house. Coming back down stairs I noticed clumps of mud all over her otherwise sparkling floor.When it dawned on me that the mud was coming from my very own shoes, I crumpled to the floor to try to clean up the mess, but I was feeling nauseous and dizzy, to say nothing of horrified to be the culprit who made such a mess.
All at once it was just more than I could handle and I started sobbing—no, wailing is more like it. A couple of the girls grabbed me and escorted me upstairs where we had the whole floor to ourselves, while the others assured me that they would clean up the mud. Meanwhile I just boohooed. My poor friends had never seen me like this and were very concerned. All at once the whole ordeal and their worried faces struck me funny, and I burst out laughing. Then I’d remember the horror of it all and wail all over again, laughing hysterically between sobs.
Somehow I finally managed to calm down and walked back down stairs. Upon my descent, our kind hostess asked if I could use a glass of water. Oh yes, a glass of water sounded wonderful. With glass in hand I joined the others in the living room. I looked down at my tall glass of refreshing liquid, and that’s when I saw it—a huge set of foreign red lips smiled at me from my glass. Normally this wouldn’t have bothered me, but on this particular occasion it took all the will power I had left not to make a mad dash to the bathroom. Completely oblivious to the conversation going on around me I plotted how to discretely rid myself of the drink. It occurred to me finally that I was the only one of us girls that had a drink.
“Lynette, would you like a drink of my water?”
“Sure!” she replied and took a big swig then handed it back. I smiled to myself and sat there a little longer.
Then, “Maria, do you want a drink of this?”
“Ok.” She too grabbed the glass and took a big drink and handed it back.
I sat there looking at the big lipstick mark and thinking how clever I was when all of a sudden it was just all so funny that before I realized it I shrieked with laughter. The room froze. It was deathly silent. Horror was unmistakable on every face. I looked down and I realized that at that precise moment Maria had just handed me a picture. It was of the son of our hosts who had just died a few months before. As if someone finally pushed “play” on a movie that was paused, everyone jumped up at once.
“She’s not herself tonight. She’s usually not like this,”were the last words I heard as someone grabbed me and led me from the room.
The next year our choir sang at the same church. The dear elderly couple specifically asked for five boys to stay with them.