In reverse chronological order...
Last fall I was trying on shoes in a local boutique mere days after wearing a pair of slightly-too-big flats that left a big blister on my right heel. I had on little ped-style socks and started with two pair of shoes to try on. Both were too tight. I had the owner bring me a few other pairs and styles, and made small talk with him and his wife in the meantime. Because in Brooklyn, land of the small boutiques, we are all friends and everyone likes to chat and oftentimes, a shopper may be the only person in a shop, save for the shopkeeper. And so, the shopkeeper and the shoppers get friendly, which is lovely and charming and one of the things I like best about my Brooklyn neighborhood. It’s not like shopping at the mall, or Target or at Macy’s, where the shoe floor stretches on for acres and no one pays you any attention. Not even if you try on several pair of shoes that are too tight only two days after getting a bad blister, and as you try on your fourth pair or so, you notice that your heel has started to bleed. And at Macy’s, if you noticed your bleeding heel and then looked inside the shoes you’ve tried and rejected, and saw a blood stain, you might be inclined to just get the hell out of there and figure worse things have happened in Herald Square than a bloody blister. But in cute, quaint Brooklyn, when you are the only shopper in the teeny shoe store, and you are friendly with the owner and his wife, if you notice the blood, you panic. I bled! In a shoe! I panicked. I panicked and showed the stained shoe to the owner, apologizing like mad and wanting to cry. I offered money. I offered money again. He wouldn’t take it. “No, really, it’s no problem. I’ll just take them to the shoe repair across the street. I’m sure he can fix…that.” Kids, I was so embarrassed I wanted to run and hide. But instead I apologized and told the truth and spent about $180 on a pair of shoes I didn’t particularly love, but had to buy because HELLO I BLED IN AN 8 ½ and it was the least I could do.
My friend and former co-worker Alexis had a Halloween party and I went dressed as my dog, which is embarrassing enough, all on its own. I was the first person there (well, me and Kent, who was dressed as…Clark Kent), and immediately started drinking wine. Then sangria. Then wine again because there was no more sangria. Then someone found another pitcher of sangria, so I had more of that. Then we went into the basement, which as everyone knows, is where trouble starts. So I went downstairs with the other stoners and smoked and smoked, and went back upstairs to get food, and saw my boss and her husband. JENNIFER YOU HAVE TO COME WITH ME OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS YOU SERIOUSLY HAVE TO COME DOWNSTAIRS COME WITH ME WHAT’D YOU SAY WHAT I’M DRESSED LIKE MY DOG COME ON WITH ME IT’S AWESOME! So I took my BOSS down to the basement and um, got her high. The rest of the night is a total blank haze in my memory, except for continuously calling my friend Susan’s boyfriend Captain Shiny Shirt. Because his shirt was shiny and it was Halloween. I somehow stumbled home and passed out, woke up, threw up, passed out again, and slunk into work on Monday with many an apology.
While house-breaking our puppy in the dead of winter, Kent and I got into the bad habit of placing her Wee-Wee Pad right in front of our door, partly because Tuesday was a puppy who couldn’t hold it very long, but more because it was cold out and we were lazy so we just let her peat the door. And on a few occasions, we let her pee outside our door, sans Wee-Wee Pad. Then, we got a message from our upstairs neighbor trying to find the most polite way possible to say that she could smell dog pee and could we please wash the outside of our door with some bleach, and oh yes, thank you for remembering to take out the recycling when they were out of town and unable to do so.
I once sent an email about my boss (several bosses and jobs and lifetimes ago, and it was not about him in a good way) TO MY BOSS on accident. 'Nuff said. Always check your "To:" fields, kiddies. ALWAYS.
I called in sick one day when Kent and I were first dating and went to Bed, Bath & Beyond instead of going to work. I bought pillows and cleaning supplies and storage containers and candles and bags and bags of other crap for Kent’s apartment, crap I thought would make him fall in love with me once he saw the makeover I gave his crappy little apartment. It turns out, true love does not come in Bed, Bath & Beyond, but that is not the point of this story. The point is that once I bought all the crap, I had to get it home. So I walked over to 7th Avenue to catch the 1/9 train at 18th Street. New Yorkers will note that at this particular stop, the turnstiles are right on the platform, just yards from where one boards the train. I tottered down the stairs into the station with all of my packages clanging and banging. The train was there in the station, doors open. I managed to get my MetroCard out and in hand and rushed for the turnstiles, angling my hips to fit with all the bags and lifting my arms to yank the rest of the crap over the turn-y thing, at which point part of my body got stuck and the rest went flying, over the turnstile, onto the concrete, directly in front of the open subway doors and about 30 people. One good Samaritan came to my rescue and helped me up, grabbing Bed, Bath & Beyond bags from the commuters behind me, still waiting to get through the turnstile. Someone else held the door, and somehow, we all made it onto the train in one piece. Which was unfortunate, because my good Samaritan ended up being good and looney, and talked to me the whole train ride to Brooklyn, offering to walk me home and make sure I was okay.
In a similar vein…the first year I lived in New York I worked as an administrative assistant for the most boring company in the world. Our offices were adjacent to the Stock Exchange, which was kind of cool but required that I take three subway trains to get there. (To be clear, the office was maddeningly close to my apartment, yet still took three trains to reach…five stops total, but three trains.) One of the transfers was at Fulton Street, which is a fairly big station, and to get from one train to another, I had to go either up or down a large concrete ramp. On one of the rare days I donned a dress, I was hurrying down the ramp, tripped over absolutely nothing at all, and went flying. I scraped my hands and my knees and my [cheap, ugly, fake-designer-brand] bag went flying. Asswipe commuters were stepping over me without so much as a second glance, and the worst worst part was that I had to ride the rest of the way with torn black tights and a bloody knee.
Before I moved to New York, I drove cross-country with my friend Ang and spent three days with her in Washington DC. She was starting an internship and living in a dorm-type room. On our first night in DC, her roommate took us out drinking. The next morning I woke up early with an upset stomach. I went into the bathroom, and promptly had "issues" if you get my drift, and if you don't then let me say that by "issues" I do not mean vomiting. When my issues quieted down, I tried to flush and instead (of course), clogged the toilet and flooded the whole damn bathroom with my issues. Ang and her perfect perfect roommate were still asleep, so I tried to call maintaince. They promised to send someone "right up", but of course, did not. Ang and her roommate woke up and needed to use the bathroom. I literaly burst into tears and explained the situation, at which point we placed several more calls to maintainance. Still no help, and we all had to shower. I cried and cried and cried, I was so embarassed. Maintainance finally came, while we were at the Lincoln Memorial.
When I was a teenager I spent most of my weekends at swim meets. Some were small, some were big, and my friends and I generally knew most of the other swimmers, either by sight or reputation. I went to a big, important international swim meet one summer when I was 14 or 15 and was standing by the blocks, getting ready to warm up, chatting with my friend. “I hope those hot twins are here this weekend!” I said as I stretched and put on my goggles. I was referring to a set of blond twins from Sacramento who came to most every meet and totally appealed to my hugely prudish teenage self, as they were blond and tall and nameless and lived an hour away from me, therefore posing no threat of french kissing or going to third or anything at all. At 14, note-passing was more my speed, but these twins were CUTE, so I had a sterile crush on them. “I hope those hot twins are here this weekend!” I said, and immediately heard, “…OH, You mean THESE TWINS???” as I turned my head and saw that the twins’ team was directly behind me, as were the nameless blond twins. I dived into the water and tried not to cry, but a 14-year-old girls’ ego is a fragile creature, and the embarrassment stung for a while. (Ironically, in college, the twins reappeared in my life. They did not go to the same school as me, but came to Davis to drink and hang out and meet girls. I was out with friends when I saw one of the twins, and we each did a double-take, then he bought me a pear cider and spent the rest of the night talking and talking and TALKING. I would see him or his brother from time to time, and the funny thing was that sometimes, the guy seemed like the biggest tool in the world, and other times, I really liked him. But I never figured out if it was the same guy over and over, or if I liked one twin and hated the other. Yes, I know exchanging names and numbers would have solved that problem, but you have to understand that in college, I was TOO COOL to act like I cared enough to get your name.)
When I was eight my dad took me to dinner with some of my friends and their dads too. We ate at an Italian restaurant, and midway through dinner, I reached over and took a piece of bread from a basket that was near me. Honey, that’s Mr. Salcido’s bread, my dad said, and I dropped it, horrified that I took someone else’s bread, no worse, someone else’s DAD’S bread. The grownups laughed and Mr. Salcido didn’t care if I had some of his bread or not, but that memory was burned into my brain, and for years, I considered it my most embarrassing moment.