Sometimes I ask random questions in an effort to get to know you, the Reader, a little better, and to help you get to know me. Today I thought that, instead of asking and answering silly questions, it might be fun to share a silly story from my life. Specifically, a time when I completely embarrassed myself. Like, embarrassed myself in a way that was potentially non-recoverable. You know, like in The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when Arthur is talking to Tricia at the party and everyone gets quiet right as he’s saying loudly that everyone at the party is an idiot? Yeah, like that. Here’s the story…
I started dating my wife in January of 2005. We were both in college, about an hour and a half or so from home. So it was a little while before I got to meet her friends from high school. In fact, I met them at her birthday party that May.
Michelle had really been looking forward to me meeting her high school friends. She had a fantastic group of guys and girls that she hung out with. I mean, really good people. She was understandably excited, and a little nervous, for me to meet them. She really wanted us to like each other, because they were really important to her, and I had become pretty important to her in the 5 months that we had dated up to that point.
For my part, I really wanted them to like me. Other than parental approval, I knew that friend approval was one of the biggest tests of a relationship’s potential. If the good friends don’t like you, the relationship probably won’t last. So I combed my hair real nice, put on some of my nicer casual clothes (I may have actually worn a collared shirt…), and I thought about being funny. Everybody likes a funny guy, right?
My roommate James came with us to Michelle’s birthday party. That made me more comfortable, kinda like having a wingman. At one point, James and I were telling a story about a friend of ours at school. The story was mildly humorous, and I started thinking, “Here’s my chance to say something really unexpected and funny to make people laugh.” So as James finished telling the story about our friend Margaret getting us to perform a funeral for a dead bird she found, I casually said, “Oh, Margaret… She’s such a tree-hugging hippie liberal…,” followed by a soft chuckle at my own comic brilliance.
Unbeknownst to me, Michelle’s friends from high school were not merely diverse in terms of gender, nationality, and religion. They were also a pretty diverse group politically. After a few moments of everyone awkwardly avoiding my gaze, one of them, Sarah, spoke up and said, “Um, Joe, there are some tree-hugging hippie liberals in this group.” As it dawned on me what had just transpired, my gaze lowered, then lowered again, then lowered a third time to the point that I was staring straight at the edge of the picnic table directly in front of me.
Thankfully for me, Michelle’s friends from high school are also (in addition to being diverse in terms of gender, nationality, religion, and politics) very cool people who are very forgiving. They laughed it off, which enabled me to laugh it off. And, after a few minutes of studiously not saying anything or looking at anyone at all, everything was cool. They have since become people that I consider friends, and not just Michelle’s friends from high school.
So, that’s one of the most embarrassing situations that I’ve ever talked myself into, only to be let out of by someone else’s grace. What about you? What’s an embarrassing situation that you’ve been in that you’re willing to share? Don’t be shy!