Thursday, November 13, 2008

Praying for a Hole in the Earth

Gutsy Writer recently challenged her readers to remember their most embarrassing moment and then share it with the world. At first glance, this would seem like a simple task until you realize just how many times I have prayed for death so as to escape ultimate humiliation. I still have regular moments when I remember things I said and the exact looks on people’s faces as I said them and pray for a time machine so I can beat that younger, far more naïve version of me with a club.

Many people might erroneously assume that I can’t be embarrassed. After all, I’m the girl who refers to herself as “Fat Girl,” and thought that my “Footloose” solo in grade eight was cool. I am, when all is said and done, the girl who embarrasses herself just about every day without meaning to. Which only makes it more difficult to narrow down my list to this one earth swallowing moment.

Moment Number 732

When I was in grade eight, my class had 21 kids, most of whose names I can still recall to this day. I had known at least half of them since kindergarten, including Sven Rabbie on whom I had been crushing pretty much since the moment we had met. I briefly flirted with “like liking” other boys but my heart always returned, somewhat pathetically, to Sven.

By the time of our final school dance, Sven was dating Cathy for several months. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t moping about their handholding status – I wasn’t that lame! We were all friends and played foot hockey at recess and took the TTC home together. Dating was something done during school dances or on the weekends.

That day in the gym, I was being something of a wallflower and wasn’t keen to ask anyone to dance. After all, who would support the wall to the right of the stage if I didn’t stand there? (Yes, I actually remember exactly where I was standing.)

Groups danced together during the fast songs but no one was going to go out of their way to ask me to join them during the slow ones. I didn’t mind since there were good snacks and I was enjoying the music. No matter how I felt, I evidently looked fairly wretched because after an hour of fast dances and several handfuls of cheesies Sven approached me.

“Do you want to dance?” he asked carelessly. At the time, I failed to notice the looks he kept throwing over his shoulder. The desperation in his voice.

“Sure!” I replied hesitantly. “But won’t Cathy…”

“It’s cool,” he smiled.

I took his hand as we made our way to the dance floor. I put my hands around his neck and swayed in time with the music. A minute or so later, I noticed my friends Marie, Chrissie, and Jenny, standing together whispering. Pointing discreetly. The light dawned and I knew what was happening.

“Sven, did you want to dance with me?” I asked trying not to cry.

“Sure. Why wouldn’t I?”

“Did they ask you to ask me? Is this a pity thing?” By now I had stopped swaying and was embarrassingly close to tears.

“They just wanted you to smile.”

“Thanks. You’ve danced with me now. It’s done. Thank you for making me smile.”

I walked out of the gym. The girls probably followed me but I don’t remember. I just remember that I was the girl they pitied. These people whose names, faces, and families I still remember to this day pitied me. It was kind of them to care enough to ask someone to ask me to dance. But to this day, I remember where I stood in that gym, where they stood watching us, and the look in his eyes as he broke the truth to me.

I learned that day that I had good friends who were willing to do anything (or rather have someone else do anything) to make me “happy.” I was a lucky kid. And although I have since lost track of most of them, I still remember them all fondly. Even Sven – my crush who cared enough to dance with the fat girl he had known since he was four.


Christine Gram said...

Ugh. School dances. My gut wrenches for you.

My version was the cool new kid, Rodger. Everyone wanted to date Rodger. He was goth, before we knew what goth was. At the first dance we attended together, I miraculously got up the nerve to ask him to dance. His reply:
"you want to dance?"
"well, have fun"

All the snickering and oh!s still echo as I tried to play it off like nothing happened. Where's that hole in the earth?
(yes, I know I'm burying my embarrassing moment in your comments)

Anonymous said...

OH ... how embarrassing and a bit sad really. Reminds me of how awful certain parts of my youth were...

Well done you for being brave enough to share!

Anonymous said...

I hate school dances. And you weren't fat then.
I went to an all girls' school and, if we were taller, we had to learn how to dance like boys--slow sextrots etc. Ugh is right.
...and then there were all those high school dances I supervised. I won't even go there!

Connie said...

I usually had just made a new boyfriend, or just broke up, right before a dance... either of which actually made the whole socializing/dancing thing really easy. I had a lot of fun, no complaints there. But I can't look back on any of the few pictures that still exist w/o cringing. My mom always picked my dresses, and hair styles.. it was the '80's, and I'd be wearing '50's or '60's or something.. I dunno, her money, I had no choice. I mean, at that age, self-image is hard anyway... it's embarrassing to me now that I didn't stick up for what I wanted... and I wasn't going for obscene, low-cut or anything - I was more punk/goth, but mom wanted PINK frills - ugh! I'd want one thing, mom would make me do something else AND convince me it would be ok - no, it was utter, horrifying dorkness. Dance after dance... you'd think I'd learn. Now, I just shred.

Brenda said...

ahhh, thats kind of a sweet story. School dances are fertile ground for embarrasing moments!

Anonymous said...

School dances - oh the horror, the horror. Those are hard years, those 12-13-14 years old years!

Caution/Lisa said...

Well now, at my daughter's middle school, the boys are left alone altogher while the girls dance with each other. Let's rephrase that, they grind against each other until the principal breaks it up. I shed no tears the day my daughter said she thought she was done with the dances.

Anonymous said...

this tale remind me about those movies which tell about school adventures, English school adventures cuz apparently you are a Briton, you know like harry potter :)

Unknown said...

Oh bless... My heart is breaking... BEEN THERE Done that. That is why i was always the class clown... wanted to keep people laughing with me...

But looking back you can see that they all did care about you.... Hugs

Laural Out Loud said...

I went to a few torturous middle school dances, and then not one in highschool. My school was HUGE, so no one noticed if you were there or not. Oh, I did go to the Prom. That one night made up for all the drama I'd missed out on the last four years, lol.

Keys to the Magic Travel said...

You got me all teary. Because you felt that way. And because your friends wanted to do something nice for you. And that Sven was game.

I tell you there is just nothing worse than middle school.

I don't dance. Ever. Because that would be the thing that would result in laughing. Pointing. And injury on my part :-)

Corinne said...

School dances, yuck! You know, I never got asked to a dance. I was always paired with someone's date's friend, just to make the group whole. The perpetual third wheel to be paired with the male version of the third wheel. That's my memory of dances! Never went to junior or senior prom... eek!

Oh well, chocolate ice cream and a sleepover with my other non-promed girlfriends took care of that!