The Day I Made an Ocean
Everyone has a “most embarrassing moment.” Few people are stupid enough to put them out there in cyberspace for anyone to read.
I guess I’m stupid.
My mother, the good Southern woman that she is, always wanted me to be girly. She dressed me in frilly dresses, bedecked me in loads of bling and ribbon and lace, and diligently wrangled my rat’s nest hair into the requisite girly-girl do’s of the 1970’s.
I compliantly went along with this mistreatment until second grade. I wanted to wear Levi’s, specifically the dumpy corduroy variety. Knee socks were so much cooler to me than itchy lace tights. I started being much more opinionated about my coiffure (which meant I walked around looking like a frightening freak show much of the time, because I was the anti-coiffure girl.)
Well, my mother was having none of it. She took me shopping and refused to buy me anything other than HER version of the perfect seven-year-old outfit – culottes, graphic t-shirt, panty hose in hideous dark, totally-not-matching-my-skin-tone-tan, and blinding white sandals. That she put this vomitous outfit on me and sent me to school in it should be classified as child abuse. I still think so.
My second grade teacher believed that reading out loud to the class effectively taught reading and built poise at the same time. To this day, I don’t disagree with her. That I would be called on to read in front of class on the day that I was dressed in my own split skirt version of Hell became a drama of outstanding proportions in my tiny second grade mind.
Dutifully, I acted out a version of being fine as I went to the front and assumed the reading position. For the life of me, I cannot remember what the book was, because it is all still blotted out by my burning desire to go to the bathroom. I had NEVER felt the compulsion to relieve myself so urgently in my entire brief life.
So, I rocked back and forth as I read. I paced as I read. It became a theatrical, all-characters-acted-out version of the story as I desperately tried to hold my water in. I wiggled. I gesticulated wildly. I strained. I crossed my legs. I did everything my pea brain could conceive to keep from creating my own mini version of Niagara Falls.
Not once did I think asking the teacher to go to the bathroom would be the best course. Oh no. Instead, my private melodrama played out with me deciding to just go. If I went a little in my hideous split skirt, maybe I would ruin it but no one would know the difference.
So, I let myself go – only, it was a flood that can only be akin to the breaking of the world’s biggest dam. I couldn’t stop it once it started. As it ran down my legs, pooled on the floor, soaked my vile split skirt and wretched panty hose, I screamed out, “I have to go to the bathroom!”
Ken Smith, wherever you are, I can still see you and your blue, long sleeved, 1970’s era boy shirt on the front row. Ken stood up in his chair and shouted, “She’s doing it RIGHT THERE!!!!” as he pointed to my self-created ocean with little boy glee. The whole class joined in, and I wanted the floor to open up and flat-out eat me.
On the upside, I never, ever wore the split skirt combo again. I guess the lesson is that even life’s most embarrassing moments can have positives – if we know where to find them.