The World of Embarrassment
I’m two months into cohosting/coproducing the Strangerville podcast and I already think we’ve produced the best thing we’ll ever produce. I love our latest episode about embarrassment, some of the worst embarrassments you can fathom, so so much. My life is essentially a series of embarrassing moments, and conducting these interviews made me feel less, um, special.
But it wasn’t until after Eli and I finished this episode that I remembered one particularly humiliating moment from my past.
It was the last high school track meet of the season. I thought I’d try hurdles for the very first time. In my life. In front of a crowd. I wondered, how hard could it be, leaping over 10 stiff metal bars half my height having never done it before? Turns out, hard.
The race began. At first I kept pace with the other runners. Because I knew how to run fairly fast. What I didn’t know was how to jump. I approached the first hurdle and had no idea what to do with my legs. I slowly lifted one leg over the hurdle, and was almost successful in lifting the other, but then my foot caught the top lip and I tripped. I still had 9 hurdles to go. I tried pushing the next hurdle over, but hurdles are resilient I guess and it popped right back up. I tripped again. I tripped a lot. Eight more times, actually. And it took me about nine minutes and two bleeding knees to finish the race. It took the other runners about twenty seconds. When I did cross the finish line, the crowd, which I swear had doubled since the race’s start, clapped. They applauded me, the poor, sad, uncoordinated loser. For trying? For my bravery? Because they didn’t know how else to respond? And, I get it, but also, it was the worst possible thing they could have done. I would rather they had booed, honestly. Or just everted their eyes. Or laughed. I would rather they had done anything but clap, because their clapping only confirmed my fears, that they pitied me and my bleeding knees.
You know when pity doesn’t feel good? When you’re pitied for your stupidity. And that was 100% the case here.
But I did get a participation trophy. So.