Posts Tagged ‘embarrassment’

The Riches of Embarrassment

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

I’ve been time-traveling quite a bit. I think you have, too. It’s built into our humanity. We move forward through time, the linear path, conscious perception staying just a split-second behind the actual vanguard point of existence. And every so often we push a tack into the timeline. We don’t stop. We can’t stop, even when we wish with every fiber, every struggling neuron, that this Time thing could freeze.

But we do go back. The tack is node, a return point. It stays hard and fixed, and our fluid lives flow around it.

Here are a few tacks:

Backwards Day. I don’t remember how old I was. Eight? It was Backwards Day at school. Everyone shows up dressed “backwards”. I embraced it, went all-out. Backwards pants and shirt. Glasses. Inside-out socks. Straight-jacket approach to a backwards coat. My coat was brown. I remember that. When something becomes a tack, there are very specific visual details that remain flawless and sharp.

When I got to school, all backwards-jacked, one of the teachers came over, concerned, and let me know that it was not Backwards Day. I was the only person dressed like that. A black hole funnel opened beneath me, and I buried my face in a brick wall near the front doors, crying into my backwards brown coat.

I don’t remember switching my clothes forward. Don’t remember anything else of that day, that week. But I feel it, right now, immediately. The desperation. The embarrassment.

It was the embarrassment that created the tack. The tack is immobile. Hard. Cold. It is a fact. It is present, today, right now. I’m there, leaning into the brick, crying, hating the stupid coat. That moment has become autonomous, existing persistently, unaffected by time. I can travel there without effort. To a degree, I am always there.

The First Date. Yeah, I bet this is a tack for quite a few people. It was a good date, actually. I took her to see Rocky 3. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a particularly strategic date. Back then, there was a single theater, one movie, that’s your option if you want to stay close. And I wanted to see Rocky 3. Sue me.

We came back to the house, sat in my room and talked. Watched some television. Talked a little more. And when I dropped her off we kissed, made out a bit. On the whole, the date was a bit emotionless, not particularly awkward, just sort of present. Kissing changed that. That was the moment when emotion entered the picture. I was feeling good, full of something new. Something.

So I assumed that I was full of love. And I told her that I loved her. She backed up, wrinkled brow, and said, “But you just met me, we don’t even know each other.”


I’m there, right now. I can’t even remember what I said, trying to explain myself. I was wearing my nicest clothes. She had long, dark hair. We were in front of her family’s townhouse, my car running and not even in Park – I had my foot on the brake the entire time. And the embarrassment materialized, fully-formed and metallic, and has remained present. Right out of the gate, I second-guessed what love might be, and have never really recovered from that.

We never went on a second date. I couldn’t bear to call her. This wasn’t a case of having my heart broken. That would come soon enough, with a different girl, a guitar and flowers waiting in my back seat while she decided that we weren’t working out, that we should be friends, blah blah blah. That’s vivid, too. But a broken heart is both a moment and a process, and, while elements weave through your soul, it remains within the flow of time. That’s how we heal, or just become different, from those few people who were able to get inside and change us forever. The heart is mutable.

An embarrassment becomes self-defining, impenetrable. It becomes distinct from the moments around it. You carry it like a Mind Stone, never to be passed.

But every now and then, something challenges that corporeal parasite. You see, the tacks of these moments do not encapsulate other people. They are reactions to reactions. And maybe those other people carried their own embarrassments from those very same moments. Or maybe they carried nothing.

I shared a tack with someone recently. Recalled a tack that involved this person, from quite some time ago. For me, it was present, alive and true. But for her- she couldn’t even remember it. It was nothing, washed away in the time-stream.

And now that tack is breaking apart. The moment remains, but now it has been attached to a new moment, this debrief, a bookend of realization that allows the embarrassment to exist as a normal part of my additive lifeline. And maybe it will fester every now and then, flare up, but I know that time will have its way with that moment. Now it’s just another story, another goofy part of the person I am always becoming.