When someone says, “Hey Meg, you should tell me the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you.”
I’m very likely going to respond with, “Which time are you talking about?”
I’m a magnet for misbehavior. Not just for myself, but if you hang out with me long enough, I’m pretty much guaranteed to embarrass myself, my family, you, your family, your friends, your pets, and even people you don’t necessarily like very much.
I could be at a horse race in Ireland with your extended family, and in the midst of an adult conversation, and interject and ask why it’s so windy even though there are no trees anywhere in sight. I could be in third grade, using a calculator on my multiplication math test and ultimately shaming the intellectual reputation of my family by getting caught by my teacher. Or I could be in college trying to get to class by cutting through a mud puddle that sucked my flats clear off my feet.
All of those things could, and did happen, but those are not close to the most embarrassing moment in my life.
That moment came and went whilst I was in kindergarten. A mere five years old.
It was the best day of the week, show and tell day. I was prepared, brought my favorite book along with my favorite page already marked with my favorite colored (green) post-it note. I was ready.
We all do stupid things. And if you don’t do stupid things, here’s a hint. You’ve done stupid things, you’re just not willing to admit they were stupid.
But I digress. My friend Hayden was showing me the latest in Barbie greatness, and this other kid, Kyle had a badass gold encrusted slinky that glistened every time a pocket of sunlight hit a curve, or slink, or whatever. Sarah was showing off her aggressive collection of photos she had taken with Disney characters.
I’ve always been competitive by nature. I never like to lose, and I always like to be the best. In the kindergarten battle of who’s got what, I was getting completely outdone. That was not going to be allowed. Not in my book. Not in my school. Not today. Not ever.
In this game of show and tell, I was going to win. So, in every effort to steal the spotlight from all the children in the room, I did the only thing I could in order to solidify myself in with all the greatest showers and tellers.
It was at that moment that I decided the best possible course of action would be to take my red dress and lift it all the way over my head. I would show my fellow kindergarteners my underwear. And I would win show and tell for life.
Except the only thing I won was a first class ticket and a front row seat in the Principal’s office. Principal Dunlap to be exact.
Mrs. Camarotta marched me down, clenching my left hand with an adult dismay, to Principal Dunlap’s office. This woman was the epitome of my childhood terror. She wore a tight black fitted skirt suit, stockings, and pointy black heels. Her hair was perfectly gelled, combed, and styled. It never moved. Not even when she was angry. She was an artist of discipline and I was her next project.
Letting go of my hand, Mrs. Camartotta turned and walked out the door after making sure I was seated in the chair facing Mrs. Dunlap’s desk. She closed the door behind her. Then the lady in black turned around in her swivel chair, and spoke to me.
“Hello, Megan.” She said sternly, “What brings us here today?” I was unaware there was more than one person involved in this ‘us’ situation, but I made the motion to say that I understood what she asked me, yet I still had no idea how to respond. Then I heard a sound that normally wouldn’t alarm anyone, but scared me straight to my grave (metaphorically). Right then, her office door opened.
I turned around, not knowing who to expect, when I saw my mother. And then I saw her face.
It was at this point in time that I realized who she meant by ‘us.’ She meant me and my mother. Why ‘we’ were here. Essentially, my mother had to drop everything she was juggling, which at the time meant my two infant brothers in each arm and my four-year-old brother in a front facing backpack, to come to hang out at the bad kid party in the principal’s office.
“So what brings us here today, Megan?” She asked again. I was astonished. My skirt show just brought my mother into school. This was not going to go over well with my father. Pulling the hems at my dress, “Um, I think I did something bad.” My face was as red as the skirt I had just pulled over my head. I was mortified.
“You know, Megan,” Principal Dunlap lectured, “there are appropriate ways to get your teacher’s attention, like raising your hand, calling out for help.” She simultaneously counted on her fingers listing the ways to be appropriate.
“Do you think lifting your dress up was appropriate?” The question was rhetorical, and this was not the time to be smart ass, as my father would say. “No, not it wasn’t.” I sounded apologetic as I looked up and nodded in agreement with my mother. My face was still a very dark shade of “humiliation red,” and I didn’t see it fading any time soon.
“Good. As long as we’re clear, your mother can go home and you can go back to class. Mrs. Tuccio will bring you back to show and tell.” She reached to grab my hand and led me out the door, but not before my mother sarcastically added in, “Make sure you show your book this time.”
My conference with the devil was over. I survived.
I marched down the hallway back to my classroom. I was still filled with unease at what my classmates would think when I entered after the whole dilemma. But then I thought about what the kids would have been talking about while I was gone. They would have been talking about me.
I had made it into the Hall of Fame of Show and Tell. Reputation cemented in history. Right where I belonged.