22 November 2008

Embarrassing moments

Unlike me, my partner is one of those good people who carries their cell phone with them everywhere they go. Yesterday, though, he called me from his lab phone to finalize our Thanksgiving travel plans. We got off the phone, and I was about to click Confirm when something caught my eye.

We'd just gotten off the phone, so I called the lab phone back, thinking my partner would be right there, turn around and pick it up again. Sure enough, the phone rang only once before I heard a 'Hello?'

I said, "Hi, again. Sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if you'd prefer 285 square feet with a king-sized bed or 315 square feet with two queen-sized beds?"

The male voice paused for a moment and then said, "Who would you like to speak to?"

I was speechless. And instead of saying 'Wrong number' and absolving my partner of all future embarrassment, I said his name and then his full name, as if on autopilot.

It wasn't the worst thing in the world. I know. It wasn't like I told some stranger that my genital warts were especially itchy today or something like that, and my partner kindly forgave me. I was still embarrassed, though. Especially because thirty square feet would likely not change anything-- who cared?

The only memory I have that can top this one is when I was an undergrad, my friends and I started a magazine. At our intro meeting, in which we were trying to recruit the coolest and brightest, our editor-in-chief explained that our goal was to be a cross between Rolling Stone and the Atlantic Monthly.

And what did I say? I decided that was the moment to raise my hand and ask how often the Atlantic Monthly came out.

Completely irrelevant. And whoever said there was no such thing as a dumb question obviously hadn't been in that room that evening. So, now I try to be understanding when I hear people say silly things or ask silly questions, because I know I've done worse.

What has humbled you in life? Do you remember any particularly mortifying events, or have you blocked them from your consciousness?

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