Embarrassment, My Close Personal Companion
It is fun to recollect the good times you’ve had. And I dare say every one of us have spent time musing over the ‘good old times’ one time or the other. As we pass through life, the highlights get embedded into our brain, ready to be triggered at the appropriate moments, the respective neurons in charge of the triggering process awaiting the right time.
The highlights, however, do contain the good as WELL as the bad memories. And there are times embedded within each of our personal histories which make up memories you can hardly regard as ‘fond’. Moments of depression, sadness, grief, and embarrassment gets indiscriminately recorded in our brain as much as the good stuff. The brain apparently isn’t all as smart as one would have expected.
But on the other hand, such memories do have advantages of their own. When a group of friends gather around, at some point in time, some guy pitches forward with something like “You would not believe what happened to me last week. Blah blah blah. Yada yada yada. It was so embarrassing!!” This in turn, prompts the others to pitch in with their anecdotes, each topping the previous one. It goes to show how competitive the world has gotten. It doesn’t matter what the competition is. The title is irrelevant. People just want to win it, whatever it is. Even if the way to win it is relating anecdotes that would have rendered them laughing stocks of their respective neighbourhoods.
At times like these, I smile subtly and observe silently, much like Sherlock Holmes would have done, had he been watching a debate between Inspectors George Lestrade and Tobias Gregson over the origins of some tobacco ash found on the floor. In the matters of embarrassing situations, I yield to no man. Or woman, for that matter.
Once the amateurs exhaust their tales, I simply move in for the kill. There is no dearth of material. Embarrassment has been a dependable companion for far too long to ditch me when its needed. I just pick one anecdote at random and dish it out, usually sufficing to set the matter rest. Judgment on the contest is usually quick, silent, and unequivocal. Occasionally, the customary silence is broken by the words “Really?”, which, I understand, is their equivalent of a standing ovation.
You never know when or where the next embarrassing situation is going to come from. For example, I couldn’t have possibly expected an e.s. arising from Miss X. Miss X, who I met in college, is a sweet, gentle, and reserved lady, a genuinely interesting conversationalist, a rare find. But she tended to be moody at times. I, of course, had to learn that fact the hard way. The incident is several months old, but the memory is painfully fresh. The brain has recorded the ordeal to the tune of a drama theatre setting.
(Bright sunny afternoon. College Auditorium. Typical college activities going on. Energetic students displaying athletic skills on the table tennis board. Less energetic ones lounging on the chair watching TV. Sleepy spectators watching a chess game. Diligent students making chits to combat upcoming exams. Another group chatting by the canteen, waiting for their coffee. In short, the usual stuff.)
(Miss X sits in right side corner. Alone.)
(Enter Hamish, stage left. He scans the auditorium for familiar faces. Turns head 180 degrees before he spots Miss X. Delighted, he sits in a chair next to her, not unlike what he had done before, on other occasions.)
H: Hello there. Fancy meeting you here
H: Are you ok? You seem a bit… distracted?
X: (mumbles something inaudible)
X: (mumbles something audible, yet incomprehensible)
H: Ummm… I… errr… I still didn’t get that.
X: (at top of her voice) Hamish! Will you JUST leave me alone!!!!
(Hamish jumps from chair, the height of the jump still in serious debate. Looks around at the startled crowd in the immediate vicinity. Most faces looking in a ‘what-have-you-been-doing-to-that-poor-woman’ manner.)
(Hamish looks closer at some of the spectators. Perhaps he misunderstood their look. Perhaps, they were just startled, as he was, that such a meek lady could produce such high volume. No. That was not the reason. It became increasingly apparent that the time he further spent in the audi would be inversely proportional to his health.)
(Exit Hamish, stage right)
A scene right out of a Ben Stiller movie, I think. The next time I met her, things were normal. As if nothing like that ever happened. Looking back, I think I can understand her frustration. I’ve had dark brooding days too. Although I’ve never vented out at someone else, I sure can understand how that can result. Perhaps the most troubling facet of the matter was the startling contrast. On her sunnier days, it’d be a hard job to find a more genial soul than Miss X. We remain the best of friends (until maybe she reads this article. Just kidding.) I don’t think she’s that moody nowadays, but I’m not planning to find out. Of course her name isn’t really X. I’m just using that to provide some protection. To me, that is. If it turns out that I told 20+ friends about this incident AND revealed her identity, moody or not, there is a significant risk of evoking Miss Hyde out of the timid Miss X once again, and probability of my surviving it is moot.