Currently Listening to: Era Extrana by Neon Indian
It’s an overcast day, could rain, but there’s enough sunlight seeping through the pattern of wispy, white clouds to say otherwise. You’re on the way back home from getting groceries at your local grocery store because you like to support our local businesses. You think about what’s to come for the rest of the day while cruising down the road. You’ll pack away your fruits and veggies, you’ll kick off your shoes and enjoy a few episodes of Parks and Rec since it’s an easy thing to have on in the background, and think about that one time you jumbled up your words at Applebees when the hostess greeted you and you responded with ‘hello, how are you going’ and in return gave you the look of ‘aw this poor nerd can’t speak correctly’… Wait why did you think of this? This was two months ago!
Have you ever had an experience such as the scenario above? A completely pointless memory that serves you no purpose or significance with how life goes from here other than to make you groan and question yourself. Hell, I don’t need to even ask I know you have. There’s enough memes on Twitter for me to know that everyone feels this at some point. This doesn’t necessarily have to be an embarrassing moment from your past, it could be something that got under your skin in the past and for whatever reason just stuck with you. It could also be a weird phrase or song that you can’t tell who wrote/said it, where it’s from, and the name of it. An earworm.
For me, these stupid memories always come in at the worst times. I remember going to one of my first job interviews and in between the time I was waiting for the manager to return and interview me and the interview itself my mind wanted to re-introduce the memory of being four years old and walking into one of my classmate’s birthday party gift in hand only to enter their home and see the exact same gift already set up in their living room. Upon opening the punk kid said “hey we already have this! Why did you give me a second one?” Then everyone at the party looked back at me, people walking their dogs stopped and stared through the window, and mister Jesus Henry Christ himself beamed down in all his glory and smacked me a good one upside the head and said you’re on your own homie (bonus round for thinking that Jesus’s middle name was Harold when I was younger)…
…And then my interviewer sat down. Suddenly, tell me a bit about yourself seemed like a trick question. What did he want me to say? That I was a track-star and earned the medal of honor for skipping? Oh boy, the pits are getting sweaty. Surprisingly I didn’t get a call back after that. Their loss, the team at Corner Bakery really suffered without me. I can tell every time I go that they really just wish I could save them.
We’ve all had these moments or little traumas that hold us back and actively try to suppress because for some reason you think people can read your mind in the moment. It is something that I face almost once a week and to be completely honest I create at least one of these memories a week. It’s like I’m a magnet for awkward situations. Given, I am much more confident than I was back when I had that first job interview at 16. Not too many things affect me like that anymore, but when they do they have to be the ones that burrow the deepest in the shelves of my mind.
With that in mind, I wanted to write about the different situations that I have encountered that induce these wonderful little memories and bother me when I’m trying to fall asleep at night. Trying to gather all the what ifs and what would’ve happened if I had just done this.
RRRGH Why Didn’t I Just Say *Fill in the Blank*
There’s an episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza spends the entirety of the episode wishing that he had said this good comeback to one of his coworkers that degraded him during a meeting for calling him a shrimp while munching down on shrimp cocktail. I have had so many of these moments in my life. I’ve dedicated hours on end thinking about what I could’ve said in the past to change different situations where someone had insulted me and couldn’t come up with anything in return. Don’t worry mom and dad I was barely ever bullied in middle school. With the kind of comebacks I had in elementary school I probably deserved to be bullied more.
I’ll give an example of this. One time during gym class in elementary school I accidentally bumped into this girl in kickball and told me in the snootiest way possible, with her nostrils extending a foot past her face “watch where you’re going dude”. I didn’t like this so I said “that’s why your shoes were untied” when she was actually wearing velcro shoes and flicked her nose when she looked down to check. The entire game stopped and everyone carried me on their shoulders including the gym teacher chanting my name throughout the halls. Or at least that WOULD be how it was if I had just said that. Instead I said “well someone fell through the crack of their bed.” What the fuck? Not only did I mess up one of the most common phrases known to man, but I KEPT GOING. I think I just panicked in response to messing up the phrase, but I only dug myself deeper into this hole that was basically a crater at this point. She looked at me all weird and walked away.
There are plenty of times where we get angry and wish we had said something to either de-escalate the situation or end their career with a deep cutting insult. While it’s not ideal to dwell on that kind of stuff, it’s still fun to think that if you had a time machine you can reverse the past and tell yourself a better insult. One that would make you endlessly desirable to the opposite sex and give you an autograph tent next to the playground.
You Stupid Idiot
I had referred to these moments in life as little traumas earlier and this is especially applicable for situations that make me angry. Like in the previous section, I can get dwell on situations where I could’ve said retorted with a better insult. Nothing is more frustrating when someone says some shit to you and you don’t get the chance to say anything back.
This happened very recently actually which is one reason why I decided to write about this. This woman, at least I think she was, she resembled a less attractive Dick Van Dyke in her profile pic but she left a pretty disgusting comment on my last post. In the very last line of my post I made a joke about the Cheeto Puff himself, Donald Trump. Had nothing to do with politics, nor did any part of the entry. This woman took it upon herself to say that “I had her until I mentioned Trump” and went on to mention how great he is and how we will all realize how great he is once he is out office. I just ignored it. Two days later the same lady responds and says that I backed out of a debate and basically called me weak. Funny, I don’t seem to remember putting anywhere on my site that I would be open to debating with a stranger, sorry, DUMBASS that from an entire entry only took away one sentence that had nothing to do with the content itself.
I chose to ignore this and just block her, which was probably the right thing to do since she wanted to be hateful, nor will I engage in negativity in this safe space. But there are times where things are shouted to us from a car driving off or a stranger on the street or we are told things by someone who is in a position of power that are hurtful, but we don’t get the chance to respond.
It’s not so far out of left field to say that we have all had management or someone in a higher position of power than us say rude or hurtful things to us in the past. Whether it was meant to hurt or not. This is also something that sticks with me and comes up at random, inconvenient times. I had a manager at my first job ages ago tell me that I don’t deserve to be working there. I just kind of stood there and wondered why she couldn’t have just told me where the bathroom was and left it at that, but whatever I’ll wet myself in front of you. It’s cool.
I also came across a situation about a month ago where my girlfriend and I were walking in a downtown area and we had eggs thrown at us from a truck full of teens and got called a faggot. I’m assuming by stereotype I was called that by the way I dressed because I looked very good that day, but nevertheless neither of us could do anything about it because of how fast they drove off and how shocked that something like that actually happened. I think about this situation all the time and know for a fact that it will become one of those memories where it’ll pop into my head at random and bug me again. I play out the different conceivable scenarios about what I could’ve done in response to this hateful action, but ultimately it’s a waste of time.
Alright, let’s lighten the mood and talk about embarrassing shit because that’s always fun! So whenever an embarrassing situation comes into play that’s the kind of suppressed memory that bugs me the most. I’ll start saying lalalalalalala in my head in an attempt to get that out of my head and just realize how annoying my coping mechanism is. I’ll start humming a tune. I will literally do anything in my power to escape that thought and just go on about my day. Even if that means wearing Crocs without socks into a public area.
The way I see it, embarrassment is divided into three categories. Anger, awkwardness and mortifying, and funny. In an angry sense it’s the things we say or do that messes up something we were working towards. Slipping up during a conversation that was going very well with a potential love interest or friend for example. One time I was really hitting it off with someone at a party a while back and I ended up sneezing. What’s that you say? Sneezing doesn’t sound embarrassing? It isn’t, but it is when you attempt to cover your face (that’s right, I was covering my sneezes before it was cool) and you end up smacking the person’s drink out of their hand. They storm off and you get angry at yourself and sort of at them in a weird way for leaving.
The second kind of embarrassment is awkward/mortifying. These are the situations where every conceivable thing that could go wrong does. This is the accidental fart (shart if you wanna raise the stakes) in an elevator or the unprepared speech in front of a bunch of people. For me, I’m goofy and I make jokes instinctively. It’s just the way I function. I find everything funny even if it shouldn’t be. I can look at a park bench and think of a funny scenario or find something humorous about it. When jokes don’t hit though in a crowd of people it makes it very uncomfortable. This is the kind of embarrassment I am getting at. The kind that makes you question why you didn’t just shut up. It’s such a small instance but I remember those almost as vividly as the actually funny things I brainstorm.
The last kind is funny embarrassing. This is actually a good kind of inescapable memory. Maybe the events leading up to it weren’t exactly admirable, but it lead to something greater than what just happened. This could be tripping and falling into a puddle in front of a group of people and someone is generous enough to come and help you up, leading to conversation. Another example could be telling a joke that you think is hilarious, but nobody else laughs at it. You sit in shame until later someone comes up to you and tells you that they thought what you said was actually funny and not in an act of pity, but genuinely. Since I have given embarrassing examples for most of these I’ll give one last one. One time during class I dropped my pencil and when I dropped down to grab it my head hit my desk and all my other materials fell off onto the ground. This made people around me laugh at my pain, but someone saw something special in the way I ever so gracefully smacked the goofy out of my head. I made a new friend that day that must’ve thought the way I handled it was unusual but intriguing.
Wrap it Up Buddy
So despite there being copious amounts of moments that are super embarrassing, there is good that follows it. Even though I’d rather forget the time that I sung the lyrics to a song wrong during a concert and someone corrected me, at least I am able to look back and realize there is a life after that moment. It sounds super over-dramatic and it is, but in the moment that is how it feels no doubt. The only thing that halts this way of thinking is when these memories DO come up, it kind of makes an insecurity come up too. Sort of like a barrier to progress and move on. If you were humiliated in the past why try again and just spare yourself the shame?
There was a small period of time where I wanted to minor in psychology because the mind is an amazing, peculiar specimen, but also an asshole and I think there’s a lot to learn from it. I wanted to understand why we remember these things above others. Why we think of the negative things more frequently than the positive. My psychology professor a few years ago told me that trauma is most commonly associated with the bad memories and experiences, but is misunderstood. Good trauma exists too. I find myself remembering the negative stuff more often on my own and the lighthearted, fantastic memories having to be brought up by friends and family. The “hey remember when we did this!?” kind of discussions.
To wrap this all up as the section title presents, we can’t prevent these memories from popping into our heads are conveniently awful moments… I have nothing positive to say about it actually, they’re just flat-out awful. At the very least we learn from these moments in time and try to be more cognizant or aware of future outcomes assuming we come across it again. I just hope I never come across a situation again where I slip and fall in the mud while playing soccer and end up having to sit in what looks like shit-stained pants for the rest of the day.
I’m ending this entry like this because I want someone to comment “you had me until you brought up shit-stained pants.”