Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Do You Have a Highlight Reel?

I did something stupid yesterday. Long story, but suffice it to say that it was a stingingly embarrassing social faux pas. When I realized what I'd done, I wrapped both arms around my abdomen and moaned and fell into a chair. The syrup of humiliation slowly ran down into the knobs and levers of my conscience and something short-circuited. It was my own personal China Syndrome.

Today, the situation has been righted. I worked at it, bared my throat to the injured parties, and life went on.

The thing is, any time I do something asinine or just not very well thought out and it leads to embarrassment, I have this deeply annoying movie theatre that opens in my head. I can hear the projector rising slowly on its platform, and the whirring of the old stale reels beginning to turn.

White background--3--2--1

MOVIE. Not just any movie. The highlight reel of All the Embarrassing Moments of Candy's Life. It's like my brain just waits and waits at the controls, longing for the opportunity to remind me.

Hang on there, Candy. You think THIS was moronic? Look at all THESE pitiful messes you cooked up! You jackass!

And here it comes. The collection of images flying by. There I am, at "kindergarten" graduation (We didn't have kindergarten back then...just a 3-day pretend-school to acquaint us with the process). I get my little blue construction paper mortar board and put it on my head and then I sit down. BUT EVERYONE ELSE IS STANDING. At the moment, I thought I'd ruined my whole life.

Oh, and there's the morning I walked through the snowy yard to the waiting school bus and our German shepherd, Casey, bounded out of nowhere and knocked me facedown in the snow. I pretended to be dead so that I did not have to see the laughing faces inside the bus. Also because I was sure Casey was humping me in his too-jolly Carmen Miranda dance and I wanted to be dead. My mother finally came outside and stood me up like a crooked tripod and walked me inside. She drove me to school.

And the piece de resistance: My ten year high school reunion. In my high school reunion nervousness, I had too much of the cheap Holiday Inn wine and misplaced some of my cognitive functions. A girl in our class decided we should have a moment of silence for this guy name Ted who had died in a car accident somewhere between the 5th and 10th reunion. (He wasn't even really in our class. He had flunked a couple years and landed in our graduating class.) ((Though that is beside the point because I'm trying to avoid telling you what happened.))

I did not hear the girl correctly. I thought she said something else. Something merry and happy. I clapped. Loudly. In the dead silence around me. I was clapping during a moment of silence for the dead guy.

Forget the syrup of humiliation dripping into the controls. This was like 500 lava lamps filled with the boiling snot of Beelzebub exploding and covering me all the way from my scalp to my high heels.

My fingers, while typing this sad tale, have curled and buckled like overcooked fish sticks. Because that was the single most embarrassing moment of my life. And I am really sick of the highlight reel. But it continues to play.

Please tell me I'm not alone. And give me details, if you dare.


  • At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well, for one thing YOU CAN FORGET THE FIRST EVENT!!!! Wipe that one from your REEL - forget it!! It ended well we are all better for it and I should know because I was involved!

  • At 8:15 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thank you, Sis. :)

  • At 11:56 PM, Anonymous JWebb said…

    I have literally terabytes worth of embarrassing moments that would take a closet full of DVDs to store. As a history buff(oon), I can only say it depends upon your view of history; cyclical or linear. If it's cyclical (Buddhists) then we're all pretty much screwed. If it's linear (judeo-christian) then there is light - beginning, middle, end. What's past is past; we can't do a danged thing to change it, but I understand living with the results.

    I've learned to drop it and live in the present (a reality a parent afflicted with dementia has taught me).

    "Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday." Hackneyed piffle, but true all the same.

    Have a great tomorrow!!

  • At 12:39 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thank you for that, JWebb. It is so weird to me that I have never considered that this bad habit has a spiritual component. My brother mentioned to me that I need to accept God's forgiveness and let these things go.

    True. But getting your brain to let up, to finally put away the highlight reel, is next to impossible.

    I'm better at my reaction than I used to be. Now I feel uncomfortable instead of sickened and ready to take to my bed. So I guess that's improvement.

    And yes, most certainly, having a parent with dementia has taught me about this and about SO many other things.

    Thank you. XOXOXOXO

  • At 11:37 PM, Anonymous JWebb said…

    Loved one,

    It is not a "bad habit" but the very nature of our existence as fallen humans dealing with the world, the flesh and the devil. Paul's epistle to the Romans masterfully outlines his struggles with the very same things.

    Just sayin'....

    Love - JW

  • At 9:17 PM, Blogger MamaMidwife said…

    Ok Candy. I've been trying to load this page on my crackberry forever. Finally got it.

    This humiliation/social faux whatever is bound to make SOMEONE, hopefully you, feel better and possibly laugh. Evertime I do something embarrassing/socially deviant/stpuid/etc, my mind runs a highlight reel that includes this.

    I grew up in TX. We were very poor (because my dad was an alcoholic and generally would trade our foodstamps for beer, to name a few reasons). Even run-down, ghetto-y apartment complexes had pools that were kept up, because it's effin' hot in TX (we even had central air, in an apartment).
    We didn't get to swim very often. But I loved to swim - like a fish in water, my mom used to say. It was my favorite way to pass the hot, thick-aired days.

    One fine afternoon, my brother and I talked our dad into delaying the start of his usual drunk inducing beer run to take us to the pool. We suited up, grab a towel each, and headed out the door. Dad was even nice enough to allow us to run ahead of him across the complex to the pool.

    I got there first. I was so excited to swim. So excited to see the blue water, the deep end where I could dive and do turns and flip around. I was giddy. I had my towel wrapped around me and a t-shirt that I had to remove before I could get in.

    In my excitement, I not only removed my towel and my t-shirt, (I can't believe I'm typing this), but I also removed my swim suit. There I was, eight years old, standing next to the umbrella topped poolside table, buck-naked. I suddenly realized there were other apartments with windows near the pool and people might see me. I realized my dad would probably be so mad he might beat me (literally) you think I put my suit back on? No. I ran and hid next to the soda machine. *smacks forehead* Without my suit.

    My brother arrived next. I beckoned him over to me and asked him to grab my suit. He looked at me like I was crazy. He was right. He got my suit and I managed to get dressed and in the water before my dad got there.

    Just typing that out makes me sick to my stomach. Ugh.

    But my point is that I totally get your highlight reel mentality about this crap. It sucks. The fact that this happened over 20 years ago and it still shows up in my thoughts every time I do something slightly off is testament to my ablity to hold onto shit. Your pal JWebb's got a point about forgiveness and letting go. :)

    I hope that story at least helps you feel better, if only to know that it's not just you!!

    (Of course, I have many more. Writing that one reminds me of a bunch of others.)


  • At 10:09 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    MM, Wow.
    I am so, so very familiar with that sick stomach you got while typing this.
    Still, I am so grateful that you did. I, of course, hear your story and I think "Oh, what a cute little excited girl," and I would never think to condemn her. (I am quick to condemn the dumb drunk 27-year-old who clapped during the moment of silence.) But I know it's different when it's US we're talking about. We don't cut ourselves ANY slack. The horror you felt (and still carry in your psyche) is just like mine. How can we make ourselves so sick SO many years down the line?
    It truly must be the fallen human condition.

    I'm going to pretend that I'm an 8-year-old back there with you, and I will make you laugh by taking off my flip-flops and smacking myself in the forehead with them. Meanwhile, you'll put your swimsuit back on and jump in the pool and all that embarrassment will dissolve.

    Thanks for being a friend.

  • At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Gail Storey said…

    What I have instead of a highlight reel is "3 A.M. Remorse." Sometimes alcohol was involved. Embarrassment is like guilt, more than ten minutes of it is a waste of time. (I'm paraphrasing the contemplative Trappist monk Fr. Thomas Keating here.) So I allow myself ten minutes to wallow in embarrassment, then hug the poor little embarrassed one, and let go. Good post, thanks.

  • At 6:57 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Gail, that 10 minute rule seems massively reasonable. And almost as massively difficult to practice. But it's about practice, isn't it?

    I don't spend nearly as much time being embarrassed as I used to. Age has brought perspective, and then there's that whole "Life is over fast. Do you want to spend it whining?" thing. I remind myself about the clock running down.

    Thanks for writing about the "3 a.m. Remorse."

  • At 3:37 AM, Anonymous オテモヤン said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Ana said…

    My personal favorite: I was a teenager--of course--and out for a movie with a guy. We had our snacks and were walking to our seats in the front and I tripped. Bad enough that I tripped and fell and looked like a dumbutt, but I was holding the popcorn. Which flew everywhere. Like a million buttery doves of humiliation. And the entire theater, in unison, went "Awwwwwwwwww." I literally thought I was going to die. I sat down and the guy who was trying really hard not to pee himself with laughter sat down next to me AND I WOULD NOT LET HIM GET UP. Don't ask me why. I think I might have even pretended to be injured. My God it makes me sweat thinking of it. Wait. There's more.

  • At 2:42 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    "A million buttery doves of humiliation." Oh how I love that.

  • At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Ana said…

    My soon-to-be fiance and I went out for a fancy schmantzy dinner at a fancy schmantzy restaurant. Valet parking, expensive EVERYTHING, cute new dress, adorable shoes. Dinner was great. We went walking around after dinner and I was walking on the ledge around a fountain that was off. No water running. It was a thick ledge. But it was shiny polished stone and those were high heeled sandals and one little misstep landed me in that dry fountain. Which, as it turns out, was not so dry. Because although it wasn't running, it most certainly did have water in it. About four inches. So I find myself face up in this trench of stagnant fountain water, in a nice dress, after a nice meal, with a supremely wonderful guy, and I'm literally NOT MOVING. And he's standing over me saying, "Get up." And I am honest to goodness expecting that I AM GOING TO DIE. The earth is going to swallow me whole and I am going to wait in this fountain until it happens and surely it IS going to happen and it's going to be any second now, please Jesus. And he keeps saying 'get up!' and I'm NOT MOVING. Happily, he gave me his jacket and the valet--who surely had seen some things in his life--was likely wondering why in the hell I was soaked from head to toe. We got married. Me and the guy. Not me and the valet. Did I ever tell you about the time I tried to jump over a tennis net and underestimated it's height? That happened with my not-yet-husband too. These are the funny ones. The ones that make my fingers curl up like fishsticks I keep in a special cellar where they age and ripen for my own personal humiliating consumption. Usually when they come to mind I try to distract myself. By stabbing my eye with a pencil.

  • At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Ana said…

    I thought you'd like the doves.

  • At 3:36 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    I feel as though I've just opened a magnificent Christmas present. Laughed my innards out here. We now have a bond which cannot be brokeneth. Which I think happens when embarrassment refuses to let Jesus take us, because it likes the fish-stick reliving of all these things.

    The valet who surely had seen some things in his life. Heh.

    What breaks my heart the most is that this all happened while you were wearing adorable shoes.

    And he STILL married you. This guy has got it bad. As he should.

  • At 8:14 AM, Blogger Jerry said…

    First you have to understand that I was a very shy boy in the 7th grade - painfully introverted. Embarrassed to be alive and apologetic for being noticed.

    700 kids and I are attending a play in the auditorium; waiting for the principle to say whatever stupid crap he was going to say about God, motherhood, and the American way.

    I bend over in my seat to retie my shoe...for a 120 lb. boy the volume and decibel level of the ensuing flatulence was akin to standing next to a 767 during liftoff.

    The most popular boy in the school sat next to me and laughed and giggled while pointing at me repeatedly. All the beautiful girls in my class that I secretly admired but was desperately frightened of looked at me laughing and giggling.

    That was the day that I learned how to escape inward - to go to some internal spot and hide and protect myself from reality.

    The real fun was the next day - approaching all these people behind the school where we all used to congregate before classes began. At that moment when I forced myself to walk up to 20 people (who had all night to ponder and rehearse my life-changing faut pas), I learned something about myself that is still with me.

    The lesson is that you can survive anything; you just keep going.

  • At 11:26 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Jerry, that made me laugh out loud (because you're such a kickass writer) AND feel real pain for you. Thanks for writing it here. I wish we could've gone to junior high school together and found each other in our common embarrassment to be alive. We'd have been the kind of friends that change our lives together.

  • At 1:53 PM, Blogger Jerry said…


    That kind of experience certainly sensitizes you to the kind of pain that teenagers can feel when mocked or bullied.

    Lessons like that have taught me compassion; when I see other sensitive souls suffering, I can identify. Had we met in high school, we would probably have been too shy to say hello, much less to get to know each other well enough to validate our fears and anxieties through sharing.

    I've never met a woman who I considered my "soul mate," (I'm not even sure what that means). I think one must have a charmed life to actually meet that person.

  • At 12:50 AM, Anonymous JWebb said…

    Good grief! Ana's fiance fancy-shmantzy restaurant experience relooped another reel. Circa, 1974. My fiance was dressed in a fine evening gown and I wore a nappy black double-breasted corduroy suit with lapels that almost eclipsed the shoulder pads (it was the "style" back then.) She wore stiletto high heels and I wore black Beatle Boots (no kidding!) Drove my beloved for a special evening at the Old Warsaw restaurant in Dallas. Very high-class place. Drove up to the entrance in my AMC baby-blue Gremlin. It was only three years old, but aptly named. Had to turn on the radio to get the windshield wipers to work. Car body welds as reliable as week-old bandaids. Long story short, the driver side door was inoperable for several months, so we both had to crawl in through the passenger side to go anywhere. When we pulled into Old Warsaw, we were met by a polished valet in full Polish regalia (complete with military fur headpiece). He came to open my door, and when we had to scoot aside through the passenger door he cackled and guffawed like you wouldn't believe. He helped my love out while kissing her hand and kind of left me to scramble out behind her on my own. I can still hear him laughing as he slid over to the driver side to park the Gremlin.

    Excellent meal. Very excellent. So excellent and expensive that I only had $5 bucks left for a tip on a $125 meal. Needless to say, we left quickly and found our own car without the help of the valet - that would've required another tip - which I didn't have. Then we both went back to my place, fell on the floor and unloosened our uncomfortable clothing from full bellies and fell asleep giggling. Them was the days....


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