This happens to me far too often. When my girls were young, I blamed it on “Mommy Brain.” Someday I’ll probably call it a “Senior Moment.” For now, I’ll stand firm that I’m a writer—not a speaker.
Anyway, a few years ago, I suffered through one of those dreadful moments. I’m not sure it was an all-time, most embarrassing moment, but it definitely ranks among the top ten.
At the time, Curt and I were building a house and facing the monumental task of picking out lights. One day, while browsing at a home lighting store, “mother nature” gave me a call. I left the girls with Curt while I searched for a bathroom.
After finishing my business, I washed my hands and reached for a paper towel. Nothing. I looked under the sink and peeked into a cabinet. Still nothing. I shook my wet hands and returned to the store.
Immediately, a thought crossed my mind. I can’t shake his hand; I still have dripping wet hands from no paper towels in the restroom. But when the words left my mouth, they came out all wrong.
“Sorry,” I said. “I can’t shake your hand. I was in the bathroom and there wasn’t any toilet paper.”
Wait! What did I just say?
The salesman’s jaw dropped along with his hand. Curt busted out laughing. My girls looked horrified. I wanted to crawl under a table.
“Paper towels! Paper towels!” I blurted out. My face burned hot. “You’re out of paper towels!”
Years later, my husband still teases me about it.
So how do you recover from a moment like that? You can do what I did: gasp in horror, turn bright red, and kick yourself for being such a dork. I also never returned to that store.
Since then I’ve had plenty of practice handling embarrassing moments. Usually, it’s after I’ve tripped. (Thank you, multiple sclerosis.) How do I respond? There’s the ever-popular, “Another one bites the dust,” or my personal favorite, “I’m not drunk, I just have MS.”
- Change the subject. Pronto!
Your first instinct may be to find the closest exit and make a break for it. But in that moment, the best thing you can do is take a deep breath, dust yourself off and move on. The sooner you push past an awkward moment, the sooner everyone else will too.
- Keep it in perspective.
In the whole scheme of things, how much will this one little incident affect the rest of your life? Not much. Who cares if that salesman went home and had a good chuckle with his wife at my expense? I’ll probably never see him again. Besides, he probably needed a good laugh. You’re welcome, mister.
- Laugh at yourself.
Seriously, nobody’s perfect. People say and do dumb things ALL the TIME. Laugh at yourself, and that embarrassing moment will lose its power over you.
- Commiserate with a friend.
If it continues to bother you, call a good friend. (Don’t call my husband; he’d probably still be laughing.) Call someone who loves your dorky-little-self unconditionally. Share and compare embarrassing stories. You should feel better in no time.
- Blog about it.
Yep. That's right. If sharing my own humiliating blunder can help even one person overcome their own face-reddening awkwardness, it was all totally worth it. Sort of.
How about you? Would any of you dare to share your embarrassing moment with the world? How did you handle it? Do tell! I may need some advice.