I do not embarrass easily. Chalk it up to my lifelong lack of grace and coordination. Blame it on my own big mouth and my propensity for landing in awkward situations.
Whatever the reason, I am a hardy little soul when it comes to potential "move-to-Tunisia-and-change-your-name-to-Melba-Zitzuphat" moments.
Take the church's Christmas musical my ninth grade year. This was a huge to-do, with all the bells and whistles. A cast of high schoolers with period costumes and painted sets. An adult choir with over 75 members backing us up.
I had a starring role.
I practiced hard. I played the part of the stereotypical strict, irritable, old-maiden teacher faced with a class of rascals. My costume was a black suit from the forties and a yard stick (all the better to slap your knuckles with, my dear).
It should have been my shining moment.
I was a size 4. The suit was a size 18. There was no time to alter. The costume manager decided safety pins would do the trick. The difference between a size 4 body and a size 18 garment is about ten large safety pins. The costume manager had three.
She pinned me up and sent me out on cue.
All was well, at first. I took my place on stage, a full crowd in front of me, the entire adult choir behind me. The director motioned for the play to start and we were off.
Disaster struck within two minutes.
Four lines in, my blocking called for me to hurry across the stage and wack the yard stick in the general direction of the afore-mentioned rascals.
The safety pins broke.
My skirt headed quickly for my ankles. I snatched the fabric at my waist with my free hand and held on for dear life.
The good news: The audience never knew. I gestured wildly with the yard stick, kept my other hand on my waist, and faced forward at all times just in case.
The bad news: I forgot about the choir (waiting in the darkness behind me for the moment when the play would end and their triumphant song begin.)
About the time I remembered the 75 adults behind me (many of whom were good friends with my parents and had known me for years), I realized it was breezy up on stage. And I was feeling the breeze on skin supposedly covered by that blasted skirt.
So yes, there I was, in church, surrounded by grown-ups with nothing else to look at, and the back waistband of my skirt was hanging down around my knees.
I was not embarrassed. There was no point. The cow had already left the barn and all that was left was to be thankful that my underwear had the good sense to stay firmly in place.
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