Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Most embarrassing moments

I was watching a TV show the other night where some friends were having a few drinks in a bar and after they’d “had a few,” began to discuss their most embarrassing moments.

One couple confessed that they’d once forgotten to hang up the phone and inadvertently had allowed the person on the other end of the line to hear everything going on (and I DO mean everything) in the room. Another guy admitted to singing a sappy love song and crying on videotape and then sending it to a former girlfriend…who allowed everyone, including her new boyfriend, to watch it.

Naturally, the show made me think about my own most embarrassing moments, which probably could fill a book the size of “War and Peace.” Way back when I was single and dating, just about every date involved something I did that made me want to crawl under a table and hide.

For example, there was the date who was waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs, and when I, wearing new high-heeled shoes, started to walk down them, I slipped, fell, and slid all the way down on my back, landing right at his feet…with my dress hiked up nearly to my ribs.

And then here was the time I was invited to play tennis, which I’d never played before, and I accidentally sent the tennis racquet flying like a missile at my date and nearly gave him an ear-ectomy.

There also were plenty of embarrassing moments that didn’t involve dates, such as the time I once was a presenter at an awards banquet. I’d forgotten to bring my reading glasses, so when I opened the envelope and announced, “And the winner is…” I couldn’t read a single word on the card. Dead silence fell over the audience as everyone stared wide-eyed at me and waited to hear the name of the winner, while I stood there smiling feebly and praying that someone with good eyes would come to my rescue.

Another time, my friend and I auditioned for a variety show by performing a modern-jazz dance we’d spent weeks choreographing ourselves. “Great! You’re in!” the director shouted up at us from his seat in the crowded auditorium. “But you, on the right, please do something about your bouncing body parts. They’re very distracting!”

I have to confess, however, that one of my most embarrassing moments happened very recently. In fact, I still get red just thinking about it.

For a year, I’d been taking care of a baby snapping turtle I’d found injured along the side of a hiking trail. The turtle, which I named Snippy, grew to be a big turtle, too big for me to keep, so a few months ago, I contacted a woman who specializes in rehabilitating turtles so they can be released back into the wild, and she said she would take him.

The day before I was supposed to deliver Snippy to the woman, I lifted him out of his aquarium and gasped. It looked as if his innards were hanging out from beneath his shell. I flew to the phone and called my veterinarian, who referred me to another doctor, a reptile specialist. In a panic, I dialed his number. He said it sounded as if Snippy had a serious condition called an intestinal prolapse, and to bring him right in.

When I, carrying a big snapping turtle, walked into the veterinarian’s waiting room, I heard people chuckle. There they were, surrounded by cute little dogs and fluffy kittens – and there I was, carrying a turtle that I’d haphazardly wrapped in a long length of dripping wet, paper towels (the vet had told me to be sure to keep the innards moist).

Finally, after what seemed like years, Snippy and I were escorted into the examining room. The vet carefully unwrapped the turtle, flipped him over on his back and just stared at him.

As I nervously awaited the verdict, the vet, biting at his bottom lip, said, “Um, Sally…those aren’t his intestines…that’s his…well, let’s just say he’s a male turtle…very male.”

My face felt as if it might burst into flames. The vet took one look at my embarrassed expression and couldn’t hold back his laughter any longer. “Have you thought about calling “Play-Turtle’ magazine?” he teased. “Or maybe a turtle escort service?”

As it turned out, poor Snippy’s situation wasn’t normal and he needed a couple stitches to prevent him from becoming an unintentional habitual “flasher.” It cost me over $100.

I’m happy to report that he now is doing just fine and is thriving in his new home.

The problem with living in a small town, however, is that if you tell someone an embarrassing story, which I did about Snippy, word spreads like wildfire. Now, at least twice a week, someone will come up to me, smile and say, “So-and-so told me to ask you about your turtle story!”

I have the feeling that, unlike my many other embarrassing moments, I’m never going to live this one down.