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The Day I Made an Ocean

That's me in the back in hideous circa 1977 clothing.

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.

26 Comments Post a comment
  1. OH MY, I bet that WAS embarrassing. We all have moments like this huh? I am sitting here trying to remember something in my childhood that would match this and I don’t think I can.

    August 19, 2010
    • It was traumatizing at the time, but now it is just kind of funny to me.

      August 19, 2010
  2. Michael Carnell #

    Ummm…. How to top that? well, I honestly don’t think I can. Most of my really embarrassing moments didn’t happen until I reached middle age and promptly decided to have the stereotypical mid-life crisis.

    But, when we go to Zia next week, I will make sure to get a table closer to the restroom. 😉 Your welcome!

    August 19, 2010
    • I guess I should count myself fortunate that I haven’t had anything more embarrassing happen since I was 7.

      And, we can sit in our usual spot at Zia. I promise that I can make it to the bathroom from just about anywhere now.

      August 19, 2010
  3. Well now, would a package of “Depends” be more appropriate in this situation? I guess that depends on Andra and what she decides to wear to lunch huh? Haw Haw Haw…. Ok, I am sorry, I just HAD to say that. Please forgive me. See what happens when you give me the ability to comment on your block. (Giggle)

    August 19, 2010
    • I certainly needed depends that day, James. I hope that’s the only time in my life that will constitute a depends moment, but women typically aren’t that lucky.

      August 19, 2010
  4. That definitely qualifies as one of the most embarrassing moments I’ve ever read.

    Mine was 8th grade. I’ll tell you about it in private, because even today, it still embarrasses me.

    Your courage is admirable.

    August 19, 2010
    • Really, no. My idiocy in putting these out there is questionable, but I still love this story. I survived. I went back to school the next day, and I never had to wear that outfit again. Everyone eventually forgot it (or at least stopped mentioning it.) So, it was a good lesson to me.

      August 19, 2010
  5. You are such a good writer but I can hurt for that little girl that day! I was a bedwetter and wanted to spend the night with my girlfriend but remember wetting her bed and nearly died. We were about 7 and the last image I had of her mother was of her hanging out my sheets she had to wash. I don’t remember any more scenes like that so maybe that was my last time.

    August 19, 2010
    • Thankfully, I wasn’t a bed wetter, but my brother was. I know your pain thru him. That must’ve been awful, Marie.

      August 19, 2010
  6. You have given me much happiness laughing at this today! I recall and pair of purple corduroy knickers that were overalls on top. My Mom made we wear a purple plaid shirt, purple bows, and purple knee socks.

    Thankfully no dark hose and white sandals, that is just cruel!!

    August 19, 2010
    • Oh my God. I’m trying to imagine purple cord knickers. I had brown cord knickers, but purple? With overalls on top? How many times did you wear them before you found a way to ruin them?

      August 19, 2010
  7. alice #

    Amazing.
    I am sorry I didn’t read this BEFORE our lunch today – we would have had another thing to laugh about. My mom dressed me in some horrors too – like these beige courduroy’s with little orange and green houses on them. Maybe the image of those vile little orange cottages burned into my brain and made me into the architect I am today.
    I try not to MAKE Cayleigh wear anything – school uniforms save alot of heartache, but I do try to make her brush her hair. It is just what moms do.

    August 19, 2010
    • I’m sure daughters the world over have these stories, but my God, clothing in the 1970’s was so butt-ugly, and the versions they made for kids were even more frightening. In almost every photo I see of myself from that era, I’m like, “WHAT in the world is that outfit? HOW did someone actually sell that ugly concoction? And, why did my mother find so many of them for me?”

      Maybe that’s just all there was. If my photos are any indication, that’s true.

      August 19, 2010
      • most of the clothes my mom made me wear were pretty ordinary, but I do remember this one checked outfit she always made me wear whenever I had to dress up nice

        http://imabug.net/gallery/v/EugeneAlbums/OldPictures/

        August 20, 2010
      • Eugene, that outfit is precious. I know it is the checked jacket, right? I agree with you, though. I wouldn’t have wanted to wear something like that as a kid. Thanks for sharing those photos.

        August 20, 2010
  8. mark #

    I had a first grade teacher who would take away recess if you went to the bathroom during class. My desire to play was very strong. Needless to say I had a similar incident to yours. I still hate that teacher, and even with the advantage of age and perspective, I can’t figure out her logic.

    August 19, 2010
    • Our whole school was like that, Mark. They somehow believed asking to go to the bathroom was ALWAYS a ploy for getting out of class and goofing off. I don’t get it, either.

      August 19, 2010
  9. Bless your heart. I’m so glad that you can laugh about it now. I knew this was going to end badly when you decided to go just a little. It is indeed crazy logic that we can have at that age. It’s almost as crazy as the clothes we had to wear back then. Almost.

    August 19, 2010
    • You’re right, Tammy. I don’t know which was worse, the clothes or the logic. Or maybe the bad clothes made us have bad logic? 🙂

      August 19, 2010
  10. Teresa Mello #

    Oh, Andra, I can relate…I had an accident in second grade…elementary school and the kids can be so cruel.

    August 20, 2010
    • It seems like first and second grade are rife with these little moments……

      August 20, 2010

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