Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Embarrassment (01/12/12)
TITLE: It's Hard to Be Me
By Ed Arrington
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I often can be a general klutz. I am not particularly coordinated with my hands, my feet, or my brain. My mother tells me that when I was a young boy, less than two years of age, I got accidently dropped on my head. If this did happen I don’t think it has made me unintelligent but it might contribute to what I call a “scattered mind syndrome.” In other words, I am interested in so many things at one time, all the time. This means that I often talk to myself, and most of the time I have profound answers for statements or questions that are part of my self-directed conversation; of course, the main recipient of any answer is me. That can cause humble embarrassment when I am taking a walk in my neighborhood, waving my hands in the air, expounding on the important issues of the day. My actions will draw a curious, puzzled, sometimes awkward glance from people I pass on the street. I rarely stop to explain myself, but rather just walk faster, hoping these folks will forget about that “crazy” guy they just saw.
I suffer distressing embarrassment when I stutter. Three million Americans stutter and scientists don’t know why. One of the worst things about stuttering as a youngster is that your peers may tease and laugh at you, leaving verbal scars that can last forever.
I will never forget the ultimate zenith of embarrassment in my life. I was in the United States Air Force, stationed in Texas. I was in my early thirties and worked as an administrative clerk. One of my jobs was to answer all incoming telephone calls. I received a routine call one day. The only other person in the office was an Army Major – he was a kind man; I liked him a lot. My telephone conversation that day was brief. I said hello, identified myself and then waited for the reply. I was requested to comment on a particular subject concerning my office. Sadly, I was unable to comply because I was in a state of psychological terror. I still had a bad stuttering problem. That day, believe it or not, in full view of that Army guy, I just hung up the phone, arbitrarily ending the call. I hung my head in absolute shame and probably cried, although I cannot remember.
Not all embarrassment in my life has been that negative. Fortunately, I have been blessed with an understanding wife and two compassionate daughters who love me primarily for who I am, period. Their congenial attitude reminds me of another time when we all got a big kick out of an embarrassing experience.
We were living in Denver, Colorado. We went out occasionally to a restaurant called ‘Just Plain Binky’s.” They served Mexican food and we loved it. One Saturday evening we had settled in at a table and I got up to use the restroom, which was past the front entrance on the other side of the room. When I was returning to the table, I bumped into an object. I looked to my left and saw a person. I stuck out my hand and said, “Oh, please forgive me, I’m sorry…”
That was all I said, however. I quickly discovered that I was talking to a mirror and apologizing to myself. I subsequently heard a great deal of laughter at my table and turned to see my family howling with unrestrained glee. With a red face, I returned to the table and sat down. We all enjoyed the rest of the night, eating fine food and talking about my embarrassing but humorous experience.
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