Things That Make You Cringe In the Night

A perfectly acceptible gesture in the Mediterranean.

I’m sure everyone has those embarrassing moments that, when they feel like torturing themselves, they drag out into the light to recall. Mine usually come just as I am about to go to sleep. I cringe under the covers, turn this way and that and picture myself hitting a home run to dispel the bad mojo demons that are assailing me. I don’t know what you do, but that’s my story.

So, in an effort to exorcise those demons (and in an attempt to put together an enjoyable blog), I am going to make public all those worrisome moments. Feeling nervous? Me too.

OK, I was in graduate school and there was a particularly attractive girl in one of my classes. I was in a relationship, but I wasn’t blind. I made some very harmless smalltalk from time to time—nothing to it, I was a good Catholic boy. So this one time our class was changed to a different room, away from where all our cars were parked. After the class we all had to make the hike back to the parking lot en masse. Particularly attractive girl turns to me and says, “You have time?” Taken aback but trying to play it off I reply, “For what?” She says, “THE time. Do you have the time?” So my face turns three shades of crimson and I give her THE time…of DAY, which is all she apparently wanted. Squirm.

I started playing men’s softball quite young, like sixteen. I started as a center-fielder because relatively I was pretty fast. But during practices I would wander up to shortstop and I would make some good plays there. Sooner or later the coach saw me making all these practice plays and thought I should give shortstop a try in a real game, except he didn’t tell me this until the morning of the game. I had just bought a new mitt, so I brought the stiff new one and my broken-in old one down to the field. Our third-baseman (who was far and away our best fielder) somehow forgot his glove. So, schmuck that I am, I lend him one. And, double-schmuck that I am, I give him my broken-in glove instead of my new one. See how this is all coming together? I didn’t catch a thing all day. Everything near me went right through me into the outfield. 99.5 percent of success in baseball defense is confidence. That day I had all the confidence of a Texian soldier at the Alamo.

In high school I was the editor of the school paper. Always on the lookout for a story, I had heard through the grapevine that the hockey team was not happy because the school wasn’t funding their sport. I made a few phone calls and found out that although some of the players were complaining, according to the coach there really wasn’t much to the story. So I let the matter drop. Except the kid who was elected class president (and member of the Spirit Club that helped out the hockey team) somehow found out that I was asking questions and got his nose out of joint about it, basically telling me to mind my own business. So one day after classes were done I walk back to my car and it was covered—I mean covered—with copies of the school newspaper, on the windshield, rolled up in the windows, over the tires, about a hundred copies. I was a bit upset, to say the least. To make things worse, I happened to turn around and there was the class president five feet away, laughing his ass off. I saw red. I rushed at him, grabbed him by the neck of his sweater and kind of whirled him around until he was on the ground. He started to protest that he didn’t do anything. So I left him there, got in my car and peeled out of the parking lot at about 90mph. I had to go to work at the Bradlees across the street, so I went there, parked and tried to start breathing again. That’s where three of my friends found me. They had papered the car as a joke, and had watched for my reaction from across the parking lot. When they saw me flip out, they suddenly realized that their plan had gone horribly wrong. I felt like an absolute jerk. The next day I had to drag what was left of my pride over to Mr. President and apologize for going berserko. That can still get me twisting for a good half hour.

Let’s see, any more PG ones? Oh yeah, this is another “angry youth” embarrassing moment.  Sometime in my early twenties, I was coming to a light where there were two lanes for a left turn. The driver in front of me was in the right hand lane and, probably not realizing that she could turn from either lane, she jerked her car in from of mine. It wasn’t a cut-off as much as it was a stiletto-off. I had to slam the breaks to keep from ramming her, everything in the car came tumbling into the front seat and I just missed creaming my head on my front windshield. I was doubtlessly the wronged party in this scenario, so with a sense of justice you can only have in your twenties with a driver’s license I pulled up along side the offending car. When I was even with it I leaned on my horn, yelled and gave a certain gesture that means something particularly nasty in most of the free world except the Mediterranean. We weren’t in the Mediterranean. I looked across and there was a woman about the age of my mother looking flustered and abashed. The light was red. So there we were waiting for the light to turn, with all that unpleasantness just sitting there between us. I cooled off a little. Then I took a deep breath. Then I…felt like the worst person on the planet. I just yelled at somebody’s mother. The light turned green and I slunk away into the night.

I could go on. Believe me, I could. Now that these examples are out there in the electronic ether, I can only hope they won’t be coming by to bother me when I try to sleep. Somehow I think not.

    • Anonymous
    • March 25th, 2016


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