Contest! Win a first-printing hardbound copy of Faith versus Fact

Okay, I have my pile of free hardbound copies of Faith Versus Fact (it’s part of my contract), and I’ll offer a few to readers over the next few weeks.

But they’re not free, for you have to win a contest. The single winner of this contest will get an autographed copy of the book with a cat drawn in it (to your specification). This week’s contest is easy. Just put in the comments of this post the answer to the following question:

Recount the funniest or most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you. (Note: it doesn’t have to be embarrassing if it’s just funny, or it can be both.)

Remember, the quality of writing counts: your anecdote should be written as a very short tale.

The deadline is a week from today: Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 1 p.m. Only one entry per person, please, and late entries will not be considered.

The winner decided by our secret crack panel of judges, and the book will be sent out shortly after the issue date (May 19).

41hFTc4TNbL

There will be at least one more contest after this.

427 Comments

  1. Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Shouldn’t that be May instead of March?

  2. Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    My brain has conveniently blocked embarrassing moments from my memory. 😉

  3. NewEnglandBob
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Subscribe (while thinking)

    You could publish an anthology of these as your fourth book. 🙂

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      Life Versus My Readers: Why the Universe Mocks Them

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Oh no not the crack panel! 🙂

    • Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Crack panel?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Jerry wrote, “The winner decided by our secret crack panel of judges….”

        I was being deliberately obtuse for LOLz.

        • Posted May 3, 2015 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

          And I was being dense….hey, Rob Ford could be on this crack panel;-)

          • Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

            …and Marion Barry?

            b&

            • merilee
              Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

              Ford, Berry, there you go for your crack panel, Jerry;-)

        • Posted May 8, 2015 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

          Snort! As long as it’s not a *secreted* crack panel…..

    • Posted May 5, 2015 at 3:08 am | Permalink

      I think a “grass panel” would be more effective for finding the humor in other people’s misfortune.

  5. Barry Lyons
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    It’s Midtown Manhattan. I have a bad cold. I’m walking along and then — *blurt* — some white goop hits my shoulder. Was it an avian gift? I wasn’t sure because I happened to be walking past a site that had paint buckets and the like several floors above me (though I couldn’t see any workers). So what did I do? I put my fingers in the goop and smelled it — but I couldn’t smell anything because of the cold!

    I then immediately thought of what a passerby might have been thinking had he or she witnessed the whole thing: “Look at that dingbat! A pigeon just shat on him and then the guy stuck his fingers in the crap and smelled it! Gross!”

    I washed it off as soon as I reached my destination. I never did figure out if it was paint from a painter that I couldn’t see or if the goop came from a bird.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      A year or so after I graduated and started work, I reached the joyous day of having paid off my overdraft from student excesses. I came back from the rig, and there was a pay packet sitting in the bank, un-molested by malingering bank managers. And only a week and a half to the next pay day (joys of working offshore)!
      I had noticed a nearby shop had leather jackets – biker jackets – on sale, and since I hung out with some such people, I went, felt leather, rolled it looking for creases in the skimming … chose a good one from the rack and brought it. Then back across the road to the cash machine, for food and beer money.
      As I extracted my hard-earned from the machine … kersplat!! No question of the identity of the sky rat. A dotted line of bird turd all along the sleeve of the jacket, over the chest, through the middle of the wallet, over the cash, my hands and dotting into the distance like a malevolent theropod machine-gunner.
      How the bar staff howled with laughter (while passing rolls of paper towel and floor-sponges). Allegedly this is considered a sign of good luck in Glasgow. Which says more about typical Glaswegian luck than about events like this.
      Nearly a decade later a bunch of Hell’s Angels stole the jacket from a bar I was in. Left my keys and wallet – just took the jacket. By then it had acquired a patina of age, gravel rash, creases that fit it to me in the rain and a “lived-in” look. I took that as a nicer compliment than the “Glaswegian luck”.

  6. Jean-Marc
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I am French. This is important for my story.
    Some years ago, I went to California with my wife, and we spent a few days with our American friends there. One day, we went to a restaurant near a beach. While we were eating I noticed a seal a few meters from us, and I told, in French, to my wife : “Oh, regarde, le joli phoque !” ( “Oh, look at this beautiful seal” ). And she said ‘Oh, what a beautiful “phoque”‘, and then, ‘Look, there is even a baby “phoque” over there’, and so on. 1 minute after that conversation, I noticed that everyone in the restaurant had stopped eating and was looking at us. My American friend just told me : “Seals. These are seals…”. As you have already guessed, the pronunciation for “phoque” is pretty much the same as for your F word…

    • Hempenstein
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Semi-relatedly (and not an entry, or course). There was a GI in WWII who had corralled a bunch of German soldiers in a cottage or something of the sort, near the end of the war when Germans were happy to surrender. With gun aimed at the door, he shouted in primitive German, “Everyone out, hands up, or else I’ll shoot.” But what he actually shouted was “Everyone out, hands up, or else I’ll shit.”

      Apparently it was hard for them to keep their hands up since they were laughing so hard.

      • Jean-Marc
        Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for making me literally laugh out loud!

        • Hempenstein
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

          My pleasure. I heard the story in a WWII documentary some yrs back, as a reminiscence by the actual GI who gave the order.

      • Posted May 3, 2015 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        yeah, schießen vs scheißen

        My mother used the wrong past participle at a diplomatic party in Vienna while trying to say that my dad was off hunting with some mucky muck. Nobody batted an eye at the time, but a friend told her later. She was mortified…

        German’s great at tripping furriners up like that.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      (Also not for entry.) Jess Jackson, the grand old man of the English department at Wm&Mary in decadesboth before & after WWII also taught Old Norse. My father went there for summer school in 1935 to take Old Norse from him and they became friends, which is how this story got handed down Apparently Dr. Jackson was invited to Iceland to give a lecture or something of the sort, and at a welcoming banquet he rose to thank his hosts, intending to say something in Icelandic (nearly = Old Norse) like “I bring you greetings.”

      Instead, he apparently said “He shit.”

      That could be cause for some embarrassment.

    • Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      This reminds me of a giant roadside poster I saw some years ago. A Dutch aeroplane manufacturer want to boast about how many passengers could fit in their plane. So they put out these ads which said in giant letters : This Fokker seats 291 people. As you are French let me point out that the pronunciation of this word sounds like our F word with “er” on the end!

      • @MrAdaLovelace
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        In Dutch, a breeder of horses is called a horse fokker. This amuses me to no end.

        Also, Cinderella is called Assepoester. I find that slightly salacious.

        • Posted May 5, 2015 at 4:08 am | Permalink

          So the Dutch Cinderella is a Kardashian? Who knew they had Instagram back then!

      • Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        Sounds like it was the mother of fokkers!

    • Graham Martin-Royle
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Many years ago, when I were a lad, I went on a scout trip to Norway. There were scouts from all over Europe there and lots of friendships were made. One day I was with a group of Norwegian scouts, male & female, when one of the girls ran away shouting what sounded like “Mister Booksen”. Along with my other English friends we ran after her calling out for this “Mister Booksen”. None of the other Norwegians came along, they just burst out laughing. Later they told us that the poor girl had a problem with her trousers/pants and was shouting that she was losing them and was trying to get away from us.

      At the same camp I was also asked by a very attractive young lady if I had had a “shag” that morning. Being only 14 and rather naïve I just blushed and ran away! Apparently the girl was actually asking if I’d had a shave. I’m sooooo glad I’m not a teenager anymore.

    • noncarborundum
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      When my wife and I (both Americans but also near-fluent in French) traveled to Montréal many years ago, one of our souvenirs was a postcard with a picture of a seal with a sunrise in the background and the caption “Bébé phoque le matin”. You can imagine the jokes.

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Also semi-relatedly (and not an entry, of course): While doing field work in the British Virgin Islands some years ago, I visited one of the smaller islands, whose owner had built an open-plan house (a common style in the islands) on the island’s ridge crest. I was surprised to find emblazoned across one of the large timbers that supported the roof over the entrance to the main living area the words “Fuck Brasil”. I was later told that the timbers used to build the house had been supplied by a prominent Brazilian timber firm whose founders were Dutch, “Fuck” being their name.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted May 5, 2015 at 5:43 am | Permalink

        Also not an entry and in this case not a true story:
        A WWII pilot was speaking at a ladies luncheon club. “…all of a sudden a fokker was heading towards me from out of the sun and another fokker was attacking me from behind…”
        The president of the luncheon club interrupted “Ladies, I think I perhaps ought to inform you that a Fokker was a type of German aircraft”
        The ex-pilot resumes “The Lady President is quite correct but these fockers were Messerschmitts!”.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

          A couple of years ago I was touring with some friends and due to meet them in Andermatt (Switzerland). At the end of a long tiring day (and several mountain passes) I went over the Furka Pass which goes up like a wall on the west side but has lots of reassuring Armco. I had guessed the east side would be like the east side of the Nufenen, a gentle valley. Was it hell, the road sticks high on the mountainside with nothing but those stone posts at intervals or sometimes a handrail out of water pipe which wouldn’t stop a bicycle. I couldn’t face it.

          Luckily there was no traffic, so I crawled down there on the left (wrong) side of the road at 20mph and at the few blind bends or when I saw a car approaching, crept over to the correct right-hand side (the side with the view) at 10mph till it had gone. My friends caught me up near the bottom and wondered who this idiot was till they recognised me.

          But at least I could say to them, “Well I’ve done the Furka and I’m never going near the Furka again!”

  7. Peter B
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I offer this story, and report honestly that it fortunately did not happen to me:

    Calling in sick to work makes me uncomfortable. No matter how legitimate my excuse, I always get the feeling that my boss thinks I’m lying. On one recent occasion, I had a valid reason but lied anyway, because the truth was just too darned humiliating. I simply mentioned that I had sustained a head injury, and I hoped I would feel up to coming in the next day. By then, I reasoned, I could think up a doozy to explain the bandage on the top of my head.

    The accident occurred mainly because I had given in to my wife’s wishes to adopt a cute little kitty. Initially, the new acquisition was no problem.’

    Then one morning, I was taking my shower after breakfast when I heard my wife, Deb, call out to me from the kitchen.
    “Honey! The garbage disposal is dead again. Please come reset it.”
    “You know where the button is,” I protested through the shower pitter-patter and steam. “Reset it yourself!”
    But I’m scared!” she persisted. “What if it starts going and sucks me in?” There was a meaningful pause and then, “C’mon, it’ll only take you a second.”

    So out I came, dripping wet and buck naked, hoping that my silent outraged nudity would make a statement about how I perceived her behavior as extremely cowardly. Sighing loudly, I squatted down and stuck my head under sink to find the button.

    It is the last action I remember performing.

    It struck without warning, and without any respect to my circumstances.

    No, it wasn’t the hexed disposal, drawing me into its gnashing metal teeth. It was our new kitty, who discovered the fascinating dangling objects she spied hanging between my legs.

    She had been poised around the corner and stalked me as I reached under the sink. And, at the precise moment when I was most vulnerable, she leapt at the toys I unwittingly offered and snagged them with her needle-like claws. I lost all rational thought to control orderly bodily movements, blindly rising at a violent rate of speed, with the full weight of kitten hanging from my masculine region.

    Wild animals are sometimes faced with a “fight or flight” syndrome.
    Men, in this predicament, choose only the “flight” option.

    I know this from experience. I was fleeing straight up into the air when the sink and cabinet bluntly and forcefully impeded my ascent. The impact knocked me out cold.

    When I awoke, my wife and the paramedics stood over me. Now there are not many things in this life worse than finding oneself lying on the kitchen floor buck naked in front of a group of “been-there, done- that” paramedics.
    Even worse, having been fully briefed by my wife, the paramedics were all snorting loudly as they tried to conduct their work, all the while trying to suppress their hysterical laughter… and not succeeding.

    Somehow I lived through it all.

    A few days later I finally made it back in to the office, where colleagues tried to coax an explanation out of me about my head injury. I kept silent, claiming it was too painful to talk about, which it was.
    “What’s the matter?” They all asked, “Cat got your tongue?”
    If they only knew!

    Why is it that only the women laugh at this?

    • Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Is this a made-up story? I seem to have heard it before, and at any rate if it’s not real it doesn’t count.

      • Peter B
        Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        I do not know whether this really happened to somebody. (It seems plausible though.) I did not submit it as an entry to the contest. Just for fun.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          I’m glad it’s not an entry; I don’t think I could ever top that.

          • Doug
            Posted May 3, 2015 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

            I heard a version of this story decades ago, only it was a dog who stuck his cold nose where the sun don’t shine, causing the man to bang his head.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:49 am | Permalink

          Well, I hadn’t heard it before and I was laughing to the point of tears! 😀

          • dearmore
            Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:05 am | Permalink

            I had heard it before, but I was laughing to the point of tears anyway. It’s just too easy to imagine being real. 😉

            • Diane G.
              Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

              😀

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        This one isn’t an entry, and is true:
        I had a colleague – let us call him “Tippex” for another story involving him. I worked with him on and off for about 4 years.
        At 2 in the morning on night shift, he was wont to get a bit sleepy (after midnight meal; graveyard shift ; I suffer those yawns my self)/ And he would retire behind the instrument racks to a convenient “nest” of cardboard boxes on the floor for a snooze, clutching a spanner.
        Why the spanner? Well, if the Rig Boss comes into the unit and it is unattended, and “Tippex” hears the door slam, then “Tippex” makes grunting and spannering noises, gets up and makes words about tightening up a gas line. And if “Tippex” didn’t hear the approach of the Boss, then his plan was “I was working on a gas leak behind the instrument racks and I remember hearing the door go, went to get up, and remember nothing more”.
        “Tippex” tried to teach me about the importance of a clipboard, but I knew that one from working in a paper mill. He was also a damned good pore pressure engineer and taught me a lot. Not just about how to get away with being a lazy-so-and-so. He’s probably retired now, but some of our contemporaries (Mick The Mudslinger ; Red Hand Les ; Jar-Jar Steve ; Gaffa-tape ; Braincell [Gaffa and Braincell were walking down a street in Northern Iraq last month and bumped into each other for the first time in 20 years. It is a small world!]) are still in harness and will know exactly who I mean.

  8. darrelle
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if I could narrow it down to the funniest or most embarrassing moment. But this one was pretty high ranking.

    I was sixteen years old. Tan, fit, proud. I was at the beach with a couple of other male friends. We had been hanging out with a group of young women and I had become enamoured of a particular one. She and I had been talking for some time and things seemed to be going very well. Suddenly, taking me completely by surprise, my baggies (swim shorts) were ripped down to my ankles in one fell instant, and there I was standing in front of the young woman I was hoping to get to know better, and her friends, buck ass naked. Courtesy of my good friend. Hey, what are friends for?

  9. DireLobo
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I was in Mexico, living on a boat (as I am wont to do) and I needed to defrost my freezer, which was 3″ deep in ice. I had to remove all my frozen food and place it in a cooler, and I wanted to add dry ice to keep everything frozen – regular ice wouldn’t work of course to keep meat frozen solid.

    I asked someone who spoke English (I do not speak Spanish well enough to talk my way out of a wet paper sack) how to say “dry ice” – he told me the translation is “hielo seco” – literally Ice Dry.

    Next I went around asking people “donde esta la hielo seco?” – where is the dry ice? Finally someone told me to take a certain bus and get off at a place which sounded like a construction supply company, and in fact, when I arrived I found myself in front of a lumber yard as we call it in the US.

    I found the manager in a small office and I told him “por favor, yo quiro hielo seco” – I want dry ice please. He smiled and said No Problemo – he led me out across the yard to a bin which was filled with STYROFOAM. Big long pieces in varying thickness. I gasped with my mouth hanging out and started to laugh. They looked at me like I was crazy of course, and from somewhere deep inside my brain, I came out with “yo quiero hielo de carbon dioxide” – I want ice made of carbon dioxide! And then THEY all started laughing, the manager, the workers, the secretary. All of them. I should have mentioned, I had already paid them for it! I should have known when he asked me how big a piece I wanted, then wrote up the invoice and it was like $2. Duh! Most embarrassing and funniest.

  10. bobbiej1
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    It happened 40 plus years ago, yet it remains etched in my memory and is still a bit difficult to recount. I was a high school cheerleader and considered being tan and being a cheerleader as two of the most important accomplishments of my life.
    I had been taking gymnastic lessons, and in about one out of every ten tries I could do an aerial cartwheel (a cartwheel without placing hands on the ground). For some reason I decided to try it at the school pep rally, because I knew it would make me famous!
    The moment arrived and it was my turn. I ran out onto the gym floor to execute the aerial cartwheel, and, just as I was supposed to push off forcefully with my left leg while kicking my right leg up behind me, my worn down tennis shoe slipped on the gym floor so there was no push, yet my right leg brought me off the ground. I continued flipping over, but my head was only one inch from the floor and I landed flat on my side and slid along the gym floor on my side for what seemed like forever! As soon as I stopped sliding, I quickly jumped back up and jumped a few times like cheerleaders do, with my hands on my hips and smiled, trying to look as cute as possible; hoping that no one had noticed that I fell.
    As I looked up at the upstairs track encircling the gym, filled with students, they were slapping each other, rolling with laughter and pointing at me! The entire gym reverberated with howls and hoots – hundreds of students witnessed the downfall of “the most popular girl in school.” For months afterward, fellow teens in the halls stared at me and whispered, “There’s that poor girl who fell in the pep rally!”
    Sometimes I just covered my head with my cheerleader sweater and tried to hide. I think I am over it now, or perhaps I have just learned to make fun of myself to hide the pain.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      In modern times your event would be duly recorded and put online with a zillion views. At least you went for it! Thats’ gotta count for a lot.

      • bobbiej1
        Posted May 3, 2015 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

        True! Glad it was long before cell phone recording!
        For the longest time I tormented myself, asking, “Why didn’t I just do a safer move?” Of course, it’s because I was a show off – that’s why! I paid dearly for my personality!

  11. Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Awww, so many embarrassments, so little time…

  12. Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t tell you any of the worst hundred of my most embarrassing moments for a copy of the Old Testament signed ‘God’.

    • Peter B
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Now you really got us interested.

      • Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        Just the result of social awkwardness, a keen sense of embarrassment, and a good memory.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:55 am | Permalink

      LOL!

  13. Mark Cagnetta
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    When I was a police officer I was asked by a distraught pet owner to determine if the deceased dog we had temporarily stored outside the department’s kennel was his pet. He apprised me that his dog was a black lab and had a red collar. The dispatcher told me that the dog was in a garbage bag, which was placed next to a stockade fence next to the kennel. Unbeknownst to me, there was a Rottweiler inside the kennel, behind the fence. I walked out into the dark of night and began to unwrap the bag to identify the dog. Just as I got it opened, the Rottweiler began to bark. Due to the proximity of the deceased dog to the live dog it seemed as though the dog in the bag was barking. This scared the living crap out of me and I jumped three feet in the air. (I know it’s sad the dog was dead, but it shouldn’t take away from the hilarity of the story.)

    • Jeff Rankin
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Funny! (and RIP d*g)

  14. Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Well, since you ask…

    …some years ago I had a wedding gig at one of those posh resorts — the real fancy type, suited security at the gate, marble everywhere, fountains, not a flower showing the slightest hint of wilt despite the searing heat only June in Phoenix can bring, the works.

    Anyway, at some point I need to use the facilities and find my way there. This, too, is over-the-top posh. Gold everywhere either solid or with plating so thick it showed no signs of wear. Lots more marble. Expensively unobtrusive scents in the air. And even a tie rack by the door with an impressive array of what looked to be very fine silk ties!

    As I’m washing my hands, in the mirror I notice the gentleman before me pause by the tie rack on his way out the door, pick one of the ties at random…and, then inexplicably he wipes his feet with it and tosses it in the bin before heading out. All in full view of the attendant who didn’t even bat an eyelash.

    So, on my way out, I asked him what the bit with the ties was all about. Wasn’t it a bit strange?

    “Not at all,” he replied. “You see, these are the ties that dry men’s soles.”

    …thank you, try the nut-crusted cheese-stuffed fried flatfish, I’ll be here all week, and not for consideration in the contest….

    b&

    • Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      NO FAKE STORIES!

      • Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

        Sorry…but I did mention, didn’t I, that the nut-crusted cheese-stuffed fried flatfish really is quite tasty…?

        b&

        • NewEnglandBob
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

          Taming Ben is like trying to herd cats….LOL

          • Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

            Oh, cats are often heard. In fact, I think I hear one right now….

            b&

        • Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

          Do you deliver??

          • Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

            Ha!

            Sure, but not necessarily promptly…and the mileage fee might get up there….

            b&

  15. DSG
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    When my two adorable daughters were 5yo and 3yo we were trying to get them toilet trained and to be “big girls” and put on “BIG GIRL PANTIES” all the time and to stop using diapers completely (diapers are for babies they were told and you are now “BIG GIRLS”. WE must have said that 1000 times over the weeks.
    One evening, I had them fed and watching the Disney channel intently, so I thought I could go to my room and take a quick shower before bedtime stories began.
    I was done in record time, put on a robe, and was drying my hair, when I thought I heard something. I turned off the dryer, and sure enough I heard 2 distinct giggles and I didn’t know how long they were there or what they “saw”.
    I turned around and gave chase, and the two trespasser’s ran down the hall toward the TV,
    and I distinctly heard the 3 year old say to the five year old
    “I’m gonna tell my teachers, that I saw my daddies BIG GIRL PANTIES!!!!!!”
    The following day I installed a lock on my door.

    • Graham Martin-Royle
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Many years ago I went to visit my mother and my sister was there with her two young daughters. As I was eating a dinner that mum had left for me the youngest, about 4 years old at the time, was sitting next to me watching me eat. She looked at me very solemnly and said “You’ve got a beard”. I had a mouthful of potato so couldn’t reply straight away and she continued “Daddies got a willie”! Cue one mouthful of potato over the table.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 3:00 am | Permalink

      That’s funny!

  16. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    When I was in grad school working on my PhD thesis, I let a tree steal my shoes.

    There was nothing to do in the lab one summer afternoon, so I and a friend of mine were trying out a Nerf boomerang in the middle ‘quad’ of our very large campus (this was at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). The quad is a large, park-like area in the middle of campus where people come and go between buildings.
    Before too long the boomerang became stuck in a very large cottonwood tree. So I took off a shoe and threw it into the tree to attempt to dislodge the boomerang. After a couple of tosses I succeeded in getting the shoe firmly stuck in the tree. So now I had to resort to throwing my second shoe into the tree to try to retrieve the first shoe. This shoe soon became firmly stuck in the tree. So there I was without shoes! The sun was setting and I had a couple miles to walk home since the bus would not let people like me on (no shoes, you see). There was a scattered crowd people who were watching the whole thing, and I am sure they were pretty amused.
    But I was quickly rescued. A nice and very athletic student then chose that moment to offer help. He ascended the tree like he was born to it, and quickly rescued all three items. This was actually quite amazing since the tree had a large diameter, and the lowest branches were easily 15 feet up. I naturally thanked him profusely.

    This is not, by the way, the stupidest thing I have done. Not by far.

    • Marella
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 1:33 am | Permalink

      Well come on then, fess up!

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 8:01 am | Permalink

        Not yet! This is a contest for funny or embarrassing. I am holding out for a Stupid Contest before I tell you about the various ways I have tried to kill myself with spiders.

        • Marella
          Posted May 4, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

          Goddammit Mark, that’s just cruel. I’m dying to know how you’ve nearly killed yourself with spiders now!

          • Mark Sturtevant
            Posted May 9, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

            I bide my time. I was young.
            One involved black widow spiders, another a very busy state highway; but also with spiders.

  17. Michael Finfer, MD
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    I was at a conference at work. I shifted my weight slightly, and the right rear leg broke off my chair. As I went slowly down, clawing at the table while trying not to knock my lap top to the floor, I looked around, and I saw that look in the eyes of every other doctor at the table. They all were going to run over and pound on my chest!

    Fortunately, they didn’t get the chance!

  18. Jeff Rankin
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I was having lunch with a few friends one Saturday at a local Italian restaurant. After a few beers, I got up to take a restroom break. Neither I nor my friends knew where the restroom was located. Not to worry, I spotted a waiter several feet away, standing motionless next to a large potted tree.

    “Excuse me, where’s the restroom?”

    The waiter, standing with his or her back to me, didn’t respond. In the meantime, I could hear my friends laughing about something.

    I walked a few feet more.

    “Excuse me, can you tell me where the restroom is?”

    Guffaws of laughter from my friends. Someone must’ve told a joke!

    A few more feet and I reached the waiter, his or her back still to me. With some annoyance – “Excuse me!”

    Uproarious laughter from my friends.

    I walked around the potted tree to face the waiter, and then hung my head in embarrassment. I noticed another table or two had joined in the laughter with my friends.

    The “waiter” was a decorative mannequin.

  19. bonetired
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Many many years ago, whilst I was at university I was in a bar watching some friends play darts in one of the student bars ( Cwrt Mawr in Aberystwyth to be precise ) when one of the players completely mis-threw a dart and it stuck firm into my upper thigh. Dead silence for a second from everybody followed by “Are you OK? Do you want an ambulance?” I looked down, heaved the dart out and handed it back and said “Sure I’m fine ….” and I carried on as before. The guy’s game, understandably went from bad to worse ……

    I wasn’t a complete sod though so I told him much later in the evening that I was an above-knee amputee and that he had hit my prosthesis ……

    • DireLobo
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      More embarrassing for him than you…

      • bonetired
        Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        It was .. but it was extremely funny for me !

    • Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      That’ll be a tough one to top….

      b&

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted May 3, 2015 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        A pointed story, and right on target.

    • Posted May 5, 2015 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Lucky he only his your leg & not your middle wicket!

      • Timothy Hughbanks
        Posted May 10, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        Explaining that that was a prosthesis would be a sticky wicket.

  20. Les Robertshaw
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I must tell you a story about my brother Hugh.
    At the time of the story Hugh and his family were living in an old farmhouse on the Sixth Line and ran a horseback riding enterprise. Unfortunately the ancient roof leaked when it rained. One sunny Sunday morning Hugh decided to climb up on the roof, with a bucket of tar, and fix that bothersome leak. So, rope in hand, up he goes. (I, thoughtfully, volunteered to hold the ladder and guide the bucket.)
    The house was an early 20th century,two story frame building and the roof had been repaired,with tar, many times. As well in order to prevent snow buildup the roof was very steeply pitched .
    Hugh struggled up the roof. On reaching what he thought was the site of the leak he began to apply tar liberally to broken shingles. Very diligently and much too liberally. After an hour or so he was satisfied and admiring his handiwork decided to ‘deroof’ himself.
    But he can’t move! He is stuck fast to the hot,tarry, sticky roof! Damn! He curses. He wiggles. He bellows. He squirms. But as he frees one limb another gets stuck in the hot ,gooey, black mess. Hands, knees, feet and finally buttocks. The shouting and cursing soon attract a crowd.
    Nobody can help! Hugh has been up there for hours. By now it’s late afternoon. The heat and earlier sunshine have melted the tar Now it begins to rain.The wind rises. In the distance we hear thunder. In resignation Hugh raises his fist skyward and shaking it angrily shouts, “Well you son of a bitch, you’ve got me where you want me. Now do your worst!”
    Hugh finally got down covered in tar, cursing and appealing to God to take him now.
    BTW he is a Christian believer!

    • Les Robertshaw
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Should be : So rope in hand up he went.

    • Posted May 5, 2015 at 3:22 am | Permalink

      Has your brother been to the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles? He might have a unique empathy for the mastodons, sabre-toothed tigers, dire wolves, and other poor creatures trapped there – tens of thousands of years before Genesis, just to point out.

      • Posted May 5, 2015 at 3:52 am | Permalink

        I was thinking, is he a rabbit? (And where’s his briar patch?)

        /@

        • Posted May 5, 2015 at 4:03 am | Permalink

          That’s funny. I was picturing Basil Fawlty. “Thank you, God! Thank you so bloody much!”

          • Posted May 5, 2015 at 9:05 am | Permalink

            And then cue a moose head falling on him…( i know it’s outdoors, but maybe from the sky??)

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 5, 2015 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

          No doubt just a North Carolinian.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar_Heel

  21. JJH
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Background: When our children were toddlers, my spouse thought that I was way too indulgent in letting them take (reasonable) risks and learning from them.

    Story: One weekend afternoon, I’m playing with the kids and the spouse says, “I’m going to the store for a couple hours. Please, no “science experiments” or rough housing while I’m gone.” I dutifully – and sincerely – promised it would only be Legos and Barbies until she returned.

    Well, after a while, my daughter became tired and fell asleep on the couch. My son and I continued to play on the living room floor. Then I suddenly had the urge for a bowel movement. I thought, he has legos and cartoons. What could possibly go wrong in my absence?

    After completing my business, I open the door to the bathroom at almost the same time my spouse opens the front door to the house and we both walk to the living room. When we both arrive in the living room, we discover that our son has climbed up three shelves of our entertainment center and is hanging there.

    She screams out, “Joe, what are you doing up there?” To which he replies, “I’m Spiderman.” Her gaze then turns toward me with “the look.” The only reply I could muster was, “Well, he’s Spiderman.”

    Happy note: No children or electronics were damaged in the incident.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 3:10 am | Permalink

      Good reply! 😀

      • JJH
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        Thanks!

        For an instant, I thought about replying to her with the actual story. But, I didn’t think she would believe it. Hell, based on history, I’m not even sure I would have believed me if I were in her place.

  22. Hempenstein
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    A memory prompted by Ben’s mention of fish, and in the funny category which could possibly have been embarrassing if I’d been unaware, this happened at the FASEB meeting in Dallas in ’79. We’d gone out to dinner at the Baby Doe Lost Mine Restaurant, which seemed to be a hopelessly pretentious place. But one of the appetizers was Rocky Mountain Oysters. As a consummate omnivore I seized on this first-ever opportunity, figuring I might have to wait another 28yrs for another chance, I ordered them along with catfish in slivered almonds (I said the place was pretentious).

    The waitress comes to take my order, first turning to flash me some leg thru her slit dress, and I say I’ll have the Rocky Mtn Oysters with the catfish. “Ah, you know sir,” she says with a certain false sincerity, “the Oysters are not seafood.”

    (For any who don’t know, RMO’s are bull testicles. These turned out to have been sliced on a microtome with enough breading to smother any flavor they might have had, so I have no idea what they actually taste like.)

  23. NewEnglandBob
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    In April, 1970, I was a freshman living in the men’s dorm at college in Boston and the guys on my floor were heavily into pranks. One day, someone got ahold of compressed air canisters and someone else had a long metal pipe, so someone had the stupid idea of getting nails and seeing how far we could expel them.

    Our dorm was an older building and had windows that would open. Across the street was a parking lot for about 75 cars and behind that was a newer women’s dorm.

    We opened the window and started shooting the nails by loading one in the pipe and putting a compressed air canister in the other end and hitting it with a hammer. Being on the fourth floor, the projectiles flew across the parking lot and were hitting the side of the women’s dorm.

    Now this was a couple of weeks before the Kent State shooting but after the “Days of Rage” riot and a time of protest, so when someone called the police, they thought it was a sniper and the TPF arrived in riot gear with armored vehicles with lights and sirens. The guys disassembled the “weapon” and we all went down to the cafeteria for lunch. They never figured out where the projectimes came from.

    Yes, I know what we did was incredibly stupid, even for 18 year olds, but we learned our lesson.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I know what we did was incredibly stupid, even for 18 year olds, but we learned our lesson.

      Pardon? you were carrying out chemistry experiments? nitrogen tri-iodide? Pardon? What you saying? Pardon?
      Young and stupid. And immortal. Pretty much everyone does it, and the majority survive.

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      I have a comparable story. We were much younger (14-15)and had threaded 3/4 inch pipe and put a cap with a hole drilled in it on one end. Fire crackers (preferably 2 inchers) were inserted with the fuse coming through the drilled hole in the cap, and either marbles, or our own lead shot – made by pouring molten lead from a height into water – packed in. We had a well-hidden “camp” high in the bluffs above Puget Sound and would fire it toward the water from there.

      One day, about 2 hours after we had started our firing, two cursing, red-faced, and scratched cops came at us from the heavy brush behind us that was at least 200 yards from the nearest road access (we always climbed the bluff from below and had no idea that it was even accessible from another direction).

      Apparently a scuba diver in the Sound was near one or more of our shots and swam frantically to the beach and called the cops to report that someone was shooting at him. We had a good talking to from the police and our weapon was confiscated.

      Re nitrogen tri-iodide: yeah, we made that in our teenage mad scientist lab and went upstairs to play cards while the filter paper was drying out in the garage. A lot later, the homeowner mother of my friend came upstairs after pulling her car into the garage and started slapping him silly. What is with all these people who are so paranoid that loud bangs make people think that others are shooting at them? Of course, since we had more concentrated nitric acid, a few weeks later we attempted – unsuccessfully I am happy to report – to make nitroglycerine.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

        (Not an entry)

        When I was at Engineering school in the old hostel at Ardmore, I was the ‘smoke bomb specialist’ (zinc dust and sulphur mostly, also used by amateur rocketeers). On one occasion we thought it would be fun if a few bushes on the main campus emitted clouds of smoke randomly. Dumb I know. So I tried to devise an extremely slow-burning time-fuse. Some friends and I drove into town at 1a.m. and they sat in the car while I went out to deploy the infernal devices. I planted one in the bushes by the main University entrance, then went round the back to plant another, I found a nice bush about 3 feet high, when a security guard and a dog walked out of the main building. So I crouched down behind this tiny bush while the guard and his dog walked slowly past six feet from me. (The dog must have been deaf if he couldn’t hear my heart pounding). How they managed not to notice me I still don’t know. So calling on all my reserves I lit the thing and sneaked round the front of the building only to see flames in the bush by the door – the cardboard toilet roll holder which I had used to hide the slow fuse had caught fire, kinda predictably. By now my nerve was gone, and I didn’t know where the guard was, but I removed the holder, re-lit the slow fuse and walked as casually and innocently as I could (at 1.a.m.) back towards the car. I’d got about ten feet when the damn thing went off, not with a puff of smoke but with a crack like a gunshot. I instantly stuck my head down and ran like hell straight across Princes Street, I was still accelerating when I disappeared into the flax bushes in Albert Park. My friends in the car were killing themselves laughing. Sadly this was in the days before cellphone cameras.

  24. Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I have many stories in my life but this is a good one worthy of a book or a free turkey. If you reside in Toronto, Canada you must be aware that a major landmark is being reduced to rubble because it is not a historical site but a commercial site that in my books should have been redesignated as one of the most distinguished capitalistic trademarks of Toronto. That site is Honest Eds. It was literally the ideal day dream of Mad Men. It was architecturally depraved with red letter signs of low prices that would attract all socio-economic backgrounds. The owner Ed Mirvish would offer a door crasher on special days that would attract customers from around the city and beyond. I worked there for the summers while attending university. One day I had the pleasure of handing out the special door crasher , the once a year turkey. Now this was a gift that, once announced , motivated line ups throughout the kingdom that found its way to the door of Honest Eds where the security guards and myself would give out a limited amount of turkeys but just enough to earn some publicity. This was my first time and I planned to make a splash and just maybe I could do it every year. We opened the doors and the each person exchanged pleasantries and received a turkey. Now many of these people were wealthy enough to own a turkey farm but free is free. We finished and I sent the security guards back to work and I apologised to the crowds that the turkeys were no more. One outraged individual yelled, “what is in the box behind you?” I replied, “What box?” “This box” as he lunged towards a medium brown cardboard box that I realized that I had missed. He ripped the box open like the Hulk in heat . Others followed and to my dismay there were more turkeys and the others had seen them I felt like the female character in I Zombie. They were trampling all over me and fighting over the turkeys. The legs and breasts were flying and so were the turkeys’. Next thing I saw was darkness and a security guys arm holding some turkey stuffing. I awoke in a Honest Ed Sales Car which had Honest Ed Sales Car written all over it . We were on our way to the hospital to check me out after the turkey attack. Bottom line is that nothing is free in this world.

    • Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      In response, I have no choice but to reply with this classic:



      b&

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for that! I still remember it – it was great to see it again! 🙂

    • Posted May 3, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      Gonna miss Honest Ed’s! Years ago my ex was trying to find a plastic jesus for his brother’s new used van. He had a backpack on and sort of a smirk on his face as he cruised the jam-packed aisles. The house “dick” started following him so he left without getting his jeebus.

      • Posted May 3, 2015 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        Ed had what ever you needed or desired for a cheap price.

        • Posted May 3, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

          Except that they appeared to be out of plastic jesuses on that day circa 1980…

  25. Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Some years ago, I landed in Bombay (as it was them called). I was using a rather distinctive old green suitcase (I was on a budget so my baggage was kinda primitive). I saw this funny old suitcase coming around the baggage conveyor grabbed it and headed off to my hotel.

    On the way, I noticed that I must have somehow gotten a bit stronger during the flight, because the case suddenly seemed lighter than I’d remembered it.

    When I got to my hotel, I sat down, rested for a few minutes, and then happily opened my suitcase and it was full of Bibles translated into Hindi. This was an undeniable fact; a simple matter of perception. But it was unacceptable. I found myself doing what I’d only ever seen in comedy shows, and didn’t believe it could be a real-life reaction. I impulsively slammed the lid down, waited, and opened it again very slowly and timidly peeked in. It was still full of Bibles translated into Hindi.

    I was not happy.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      You’re wise to double check; sometimes the brain likes to hallucinate!

      So did you pick up the wrong luggage or had your possessions been replaced with the bibles or did you possessions turn into bibles (like how all music turns into Queen in Good Omens?

      • Posted May 3, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        Yeh, shoulda explained that a bit better. I’d grabbed the wrong suit case. I assumed that I’d be the only one with such an unusual old brand.

        I eventually got mine back again. Maybe I saved a few souls though by rescuing them from been missionized.

  26. Daniel A. Villar
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    I am in high school, and recently my friend, lets call him M, won a close election in the class SGA. To celebrate we decided to spend an evening about town with a few friends, having dinner at a cheap Italian place and then seeing Chekhov. Afterwards, we went about some more, and we began walking down the main street, all together. Now its around midnight, and my friend who had won the election had been in a production of “Fiddle on the Roof”, so my and my friends (of which only one can sing) begin the seranade M with an awful rendition of the song “To Life” from that musical, with the lyrics changed to say “To M, To M, L’chaim. To M, our treasurer, our friend” etc. We went about this with arms interlocked walking down the main street in our town, and must have seen mad. Anyway, the evening ended with a nice game of D&D, and no one said anything in school the next day.

    I was purposefully vague on location and names because I rather not embarrass my friends.

    PS; I accidently put this comment in the wrong place before, so, ya…

  27. Andrzej Lodynski
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I once lived in a garden flat in Rehavia, an upscale neighbourhood of Jerusalem, frequently visited by 5 or 6 of the city’s stray cats. Now Jerusalem’s cats are legendary. Neither completely wild, nor quite domestic, they are everywhere, like a signature of the town, and many people feed them. I let the cats roam freely inside the flat, but on my last day, when I wanted to pack my things, I kept them locked out all day. One brief moment of inattention, they sneaked in and, in an act of obvious vengeance, urinated all over the open suitcase. There was no time to do anything. I had to catch the flight. I still think about them…
    P.S. In unlikely case of winning, could I have a copy without a cat drawing?

  28. quiscalus
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    well, I guess I’ll share one just for the fun of it. When I was taking a philosophy course at Penn Valley community college, our prof. decided we should take a class trip out to the University of Kansas natural history and anthropology museums(this is the same prof, Verle, Muhrer, who introduced me to Dawkins, Dennett, and Hitchens) for a quick tour of science and evolution. I, being a single father, was given permission to take my son, who was maybe 4 or 5. So, we met up at the museum, walked in as a group, wandering around the first floor quietly observing the stuffed animal and ecosystem dioramas. My curious and clever young son noticed a large stuffed bear, standing on it’s hind legs in a nice bipedal position, points to the appropriate area and in his loudest little boy voice boldly states to the crowd:
    “THERE’S IT’S PENIS!” and walks off.

    • barn owl
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      At age two, I embarrassed my parents during a guided tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport RI by demanding to know whether “the naked babies were going to have a bath?”

      Because why else would the cherubs in the paintings be naked?

      • Posted May 3, 2015 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        When I was about 3 and we were seeing the Lipizaner horses perform in Vienna, I apparently piped up ” But Mommy, where are the cows?” ( not embarrassing for me, but possibly for my parents.)

        • barn owl
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

          But where are the cows?
          There ought to be cows.
          Well, maybe next year.

          • merilee
            Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

            LOL!

            Fortunately for all, I did not sing…

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:08 am | Permalink

              Decades back, some good friends invited me and my flatmate out for a special occasion, to the classiest restaurant in Auckland. So classy it even had escargots on the menu.
              So after a couple of glasses of wine my friend persuaded us to try these escargots. So they duly arrived and my flatmate took one look and announced in a loud clear voice (with a mixture of surprise and amusement that could be heard clear across the restaurant) “but these are SNAILS>/i>”
              We cracked up.

  29. barn owl
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    In gross anatomy labs for first-year medical students, we have fourth-year (senior) medical students as teaching assistants. Everyone, including the faculty, wears university hospital-issue scrubs, which are flattering to no human body type that I’ve seen. Each of our gross anatomy suites (all interconnected) has about 55 students, 2-3 TAs, and one or two faculty. And so the stage is set for this humiliating drama.

    I was working with a group of students at their cadaver tank (the height of which is awkward for a tall, long-legged individual such as myself), when one of the senior TAs walks up behind me and whacks me across the buttocks with a clipboard. THWACK!!! It made the LOUDEST noise, whether due to the body-builder phenotype of the TA, the muscle/fat ratio of my gluteal region, the presence of my keys in the back pocket of my scrubs, or a combination of all of these. 55 heads lifted in unison from their dissections, and directed their attention at the source of the noise. If the human auricular muscles allowed it, they would have swiveled their ears. The freshmen medical students reminded me of zebras and gazelles, when the lions show up at the waterhole and start squabbling over the best drinking spots.

    As a person who has given a horse-trainer friend a wedgie (while both of us were cantering down the practice field on our respective mounts) in retaliation for his snapping the back of my sports bra during a ride-off, it was very difficult to refrain from responding in kind to this masonite assault launched on my posterior. Since I’m faculty, and the thwacker of my butt was a student, I had to settle for running through every shade of red and purple available to my complexion. And although I genuinely like and respect the majority of my MD and almost-MD colleagues, I feel that this incident was a metaphor, and a warning, for some of my less-than-pleasant interactions with physicians.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      I’d call that an assault. Wouldn’t anyone?

      • Doug
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 7:15 am | Permalink

        What that jerk did is completely inappropriate. Why would you put up with it?

      • Diane G.
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 7:41 am | Permalink

        I’d call it life as a woman.

        • Doug
          Posted May 4, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

          Nothing will change unless people speak up. This woman is a teacher-an authority figure. She should act like it and put that bozo in his place; not only for herself, but for any women this boor will be working with in the future. Consider it part of his education.

          • Doug
            Posted May 4, 2015 at 9:56 am | Permalink

            Telling him off would also make it clear to the other students present that this behavior will not be tolerated. A teachable moment.

      • barn owl
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

        Of course it was a completely inappropriate assault. However, had I told the student off or humiliated him in front of the freshmen and his peers, it almost certainly would have been seen by the university administration as “punching down.” The TAs are taking a course for a grade while they’re working in the gross anatomy labs, so that sets up a hierarchy in which I’m at least partially responsible for their evaluation and grade. I did inform the two course directors about the incident, but have no idea whether the TA was punished or even chastised.

        To their credit, two of the freshmen students at the tank bucked the hierarchy to chastise the TA. One, a woman, said “I can’t believe you did that. Why did you hit Dr. Barn Owl?” and the other, a man, said “What the hell were you thinking?” The latter was actually visibly angry, the former appeared upset, and one or both may have reported the incident to the course directors as well.

        • Doug
          Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

          I’m sorry to hear that a teacher can be accused of “punching down” (I am already sick of that phrase) for insisting on being treated with decency.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 5, 2015 at 5:32 am | Permalink

          In many such cases it’s much better to have bystanders do the objecting. I’m glad a couple spoke up for you. We should all act similarly for each other.

  30. Michael Michaels
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I was 15 years old and was starting the first night on my very first job working in one of the largest drinking establishments in Western Canada. Most bars don’t allow children to work, but British Columbia had (has?) a lot of strange liquor laws and licenses depending on the type of bar. This one was a night club, which the license requires to sell food. Minors could work but were not allowed to handle alcohol. One of the very first things the bar manager had me do was to take a case of menus the head manager just had printed, and put them the dumpster.

    Once I returned I was put to work as a busboy, carrying clean glasses to various bars throughout the hotel and bringing back the dirty glasses. I did that once to learn where the bars are and the best way to get there. The rest of the night I spent in the tiny kitchen loading and unloading the dishwasher. The hotel had five separate bars each with it’s own theme, of which the largest bar, the nightclub, had three bar-tending stations where customers and waitresses could get drinks. It wasn’t very long before the place was packed with heavily inebriated customers, soon it was standing room only. The music was so loud my ears rang the next day.

    To this day I can remember the smell, stale beer mixed with stale sweat and a special deodorant that was used to cover up the smell of vomit. It came in gallon jugs and they bought it by the caseload. Frequently.

    Most of the bartenders screamed their demands through the internal phone system, using the kind of language that would make their mother cry. Except for Dave, who was unfailingly polite. I never got to work Dave’s bar.

    Later I would start having dreams of washing never ending trays of lipstick stained glasses full of cigarette butts and the occasional condom, but those nightmares were in the future.

    McPhail was the busboy who was teaching me the ropes. He showed me how to wash and stack glasses, which half empty dirty drinks can safely be consumed and which not. His rule was to avoid drinks with cigarette butts and lipstick. I never drank any although in the future I witnessed many more busboys finishing unknown customers drinks. McPhail had just shown me how to remove the can of insecticide from the automatic sprayer in the kitchen, which he drop kicked into the garbage while telling me “If this F-&*%& crap kills insects, imagine what it’s doing to our brains”, when the bartender kicked open the door and screamed “Where the F*** are my glasses?” I asked for a tray of highballs and a tray of collins glasses! Get them on my bar NOW you useless pieces of turds!

    I turned around to see if McPhail was getting those, since I had been stuck on the dishwasher, but somehow he had managed to disappear and I was the only useless piece of turd left.

    I grabbed a tray of highball glasses that had sufficiently dried and cooled and made my way towards the door. I went outside the kitchen since the glasses had to be stacked on the outside of the bar, I lifted it up to place on the single tray left. Just at that moment the band stopped playing and someone flung open the door right beside me. It hit the tray and the entire set of glasses, all 36 tumbled to floor and shattered.

    Naturally many of those in the bar yelled, whistled and clapped. I turned beet red in my busboy uniform, my over sized black velvet bow tie contrasting my bright cherry red face. I quickly cleaned up the glasses and dumped all the broken glass into the garbage and went to stack another set of glasses onto the bar.

    Of course, since I was so embarrassed and mortified, I never realized the error I was making and the door opened yet again. A second entire tray of glasses fell onto the floor and broke. It felt like every single person in the night club clapped, whistled and cheered. Those making the most of it were my fellow employees, the bartenders and other busboys, as the bars could be clearly seen as elevated islands of light in the bleakly dark nightclub. Even the waitresses were having a good laugh at my expense, in their slinky silk dresses.

    This time the person who opened the door was the mufti-millionaire owner of the hotel. Lucky for me, he didn’t fire me right then and there for destroying almost 72 glasses in five minutes, he just told me to hold the door open while I stacked the glasses.

    He didn’t even treat me like I was some sort of incompetent moron. And that’s what I remember most about him, that he was kind to me when I was new and being stupid and destroying his property. That and the naked woman dancing on his bed when I delivered room service later that night.

    The twenty dollar tip didn’t hurt either.

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      That brings back 40-yeal-old memories of working as a hotel busboy in Yakima, WA. I’d almost forgotten those room service deliveries to the manager’s room on the top floor.

  31. Steve Pollard
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Only moderately amusing, but with the added bonus of involving Royalty.

    In the late 80s I was Chair of a prominent London choir, which gave a regular carol concert for charity in the Royal Albert Hall.

    One year, HM the Queen honoured us with her attendance. Along with others, I was lined up to meet the Royal party during the interval. After bowing to HM, I met Prince Philip, who asked how long our choir had been going. I said “About 20 years; we started out as a sight-reading club”. He replied: “What? A cycling club?!”

    I have earned quite a few pints over the years with this (absolutely true) story.

  32. kieran
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Embarrassing story
    Were to begin, as a child I suffered from asthma attacks which progressed into chest infections. I would miss a week or more of school and on my return I wouldn’t allowed out for break time (recess). This wasn’t a major issue when I was in the main school building but when I was in senior infants (ages 5 – 6) the classroom was in a two room prefab with a central common area and three toilets outside of the classroom.

    At break time the teacher would lock the classroom and go for tea in the teachers’ lounge (actually the principal’s classroom) this wasn’t an issue when they only took a ten minute break but they were notorious for taking an hour at this break for meetings.
    I had been out sick for a week and as always my parents had sent me in with a note to say I had to stay indoors for a few days to prevent any further infection. The teacher left and said she was locking the door to prevent other students coming back in. There were two of us in the room for that lunch break. After ten minutes there was no sign that the teacher was returning, twenty minutes pass. I have a small issue, I needed to use the toilet and unfortunately I need to void my bowels. My fellow student tried to help by lifting me up to climb out the window but they are small and very high off the ground since the building is on a raised platform. The emergency exit is screwed shut. So pacing, crossing legs and everything we can think of to stop the inevitable defecation occurring.

    As if reaches the thirty minute mark, I can hold no more and proceed to fill my pants. Another ten minutes pass before the teacher returns and I then have to quietly tell her what has occurred. I am made to stand at the back of the room, normally a punishment. Nearly every one of my friends is trying to find out what terrible crime I’ve committed to be forced to stand for the next hour and a half. Class ends, luckily it’s a half day and my parents are there to collect me. My parents say that the note my teacher sent was the most apologetic and concerned one they have every received.

    I am lucky that the other boy never told anyone what happened as I can just imagine the bullying I would have received.

    • Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      5-year-olds are left unattended for up to an hour?! By teachers?!

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 3:31 am | Permalink

      You poor thing!

  33. Jeff Rankin
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    winner of this contest will get an autographed copy of the book with a cat drawn in it (to your specification)

    Should I win – I know, unlikely – I’d like my cat to look like Cyrus the d*g.

  34. Posted May 3, 2015 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    📖

  35. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    At age 11, knowing that our landlady was baking a birthday cake for me, I was prowling in her kitchen. I saw a jar of what I believed to be cake frosting, opened the lid dipped in my finger and put my finger in my mouth without much thought. It was a jar of bacon-grease.

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      And the problem with that is … ?

      /@

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      My mother used to keep a large pot of soup in the spare refrigerator downstairs. As a little kid, I thought the orange crust of congealed grease on top looked like cheddar cheese and took a big bite.

      • Posted May 10, 2015 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        One semester I was somehow required to teach 10th Grade Math in the Home Ec room, with me holding forth from the stove and mirrors on rhe ceiling. One of my brighter lights snuck the fridge door open and took a glug of what he thought was apple cider. Turns out it was the used oil for frying French fries. He did not live that down among his classmates for quite a while.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 11, 2015 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

          Bleargh!

  36. krzysztof1
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Although I am an introvert, I sometimes have to do something funny to get attention. Once at a party I was carrying a healthy slice of lemon meringue pie on a styrofoam plate. I had the sudden urge to do a pratfall over an ottoman while skillfully saving the pie intact. Unfortunately, styrofoam is quite slippery, and the pie flew into the air and disappeared between the arm and cushion of the host’s lovely sofa. Nobody laughed. But everyone was concerned to know if I had hurt myself in the fall!

  37. tubby
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    This isn’t so much amusing as me being a jerk, but several years ago I had the dubious pleasure of living in what I guess could be termed a boarding house with people of mostly foreign origin who did not speak English well or at all. One of them thought she owned the place, and liked to have take over the kitchen for the entire evening. She also got me to (foolishly) give her the Wi-Fi password so she’d not only entertain her friends in the kitchen all night, she had Netflix parties and produced prodigious amounts of garbage. The result was I had to take out her garbage every morning, and wasn’t ever able to fix dinner and the internet she wasn’t paying for was unusable by anyone else. So I lost it one night and complained with the name of a certain god and with the word for a sex act inserted as a middle name.

    Another of my ‘roommates’ was of the evangelical variety. And she was quite upset by my taking her god’s name in vain. So she told the other lady and her friends (who were quite angry that I dared question their Netflix parties) I was a selfish Jew.

    The next day she ‘confessed’ to me, said it was only because one of the people there mispronounced ‘selfish’ and because I had deeply upset her with my words. She also let me know that Jesus loved me.

    I let her know that so did Allah, the Buddha and a thousand Hindu gods.

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Interestingly, to Jews of the not-sitting-by-cootie-girls-on-a-plane variety, “shellfish” Jew would be the greater insult: there’s no mitzvah against selfishness!

      • tubby
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

        Considering they prevented anyone else from making dinner for themselves, were using up all the bandwidth so no one else could use the internet while not sharing the cost of the service, and then left tons of garbage for others to take out for them I’d like to think I wasn’t the selfish one in that situation. The person who told them I was a selfish Jew? The day before I moved out she asked me if there were black people in Brooklyn. In hushed tones, as if there were black ninjas lurking in the walls who might strike if they heard.

        (/lagniappe)

        • Posted May 5, 2015 at 2:05 am | Permalink

          Wow. All I can say to that is Jesus F**king Christ!

  38. John Dentinger
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Ok, so when my wife & I were at Le Bar Hemingway at the Ritz in Paris (yes, I’m a big fan of Hem’s writing, and at the time I was working for the Hemingway Home in Key West) I ordered a Sidecar. It was a fave of Hem’s, so I thought, what the hey.
    I was sitting at the end of the (very small) bar, nursing the drink and looking at the Hem pics on the wall next to me, when I saw it: the official doc from The Guinness Book of World Records proclaiming the Ritz Sidecar the world’s most expensive cocktail–700 Euros (at that time–now it’s over 1300).
    I couldn’t speak, but tapped my wife’s shoulder and pointed. When I had regained the faculty, I asked the bartender if I were really on the hook for that much, and he said, “oh, no–you must ask for the Ritz Sidecar specifically–yours is only 22 Euros.” Whew!
    My wife then asked who typically ordered them, and he pointed at a gent at the other end of the bar. “That man orders them for his friends,” he said. At that, my wife called over to him, “can we be your friends?”
    He laughed–but he didn’t order anything for us.

  39. Posted May 3, 2015 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Not short, but true…

    My wife and I went to Houston on a Saturday to take our teacher certification tests. While there, we stopped at the Natural Science Museum, to meet some friends and see the exhibits. That was the “Lord of the Rings’ movie exhibit for those taking notes.

    We sat on a park bench and read for a bit, waiting. The missus commented on the size of the squirrels. Half joking, I said, “here squirrel” and made cute squirrel-like sounds. Four little fuzzy heads oriented on us like mammal missile launchers.

    The leader of the pack… pride… doom of squirrels, a rather robust individual who was more obviously male than most dogs I’ve seen, approached. He sat and looked cute, waving his paws in the air. Oh boy, was it a trap.

    I went to the car and found something for them to eat. I wouldn’t call it healthy, even for humans, but these squirrels were obviously on the fast track to clogged arteries. Fortunately, they live across the street from the largest hospital complex in Houston. The mind boggles at the idea of a 2nd year intern trying to perform a triple bypass on a four- pound squirrel… anyway.

    The treat that I found was an old bag of cheese Ritz Bits ™. I said, “Well, I’ll show him.” and held one of the delectable and stale sandwiches in my outstretched fingers. I continued to make cutesy little noises. The squirrel approached me with the bravado of John Wayne making an example of a few hundred Mexican soldiers at the Alamo.

    I got an excellent view of the special feature of order Rodentia as he delicately reached out and grabbed the morsel… from my now shaking fingers. You see, rodents specialize in teeth. Teeth that grow continuously, unless sharpened and honed to a razor edge by sharp foods like acorns and human fingers. Unfortunately, this leader of the ‘rat pack’ hadn’t eaten anything tougher than Wonder Bread and bologna for far too long. His incisors were a wonderful length for picking a painfully small Ritz cracker from my fingers.

    Emboldened, the remainder of the mob approached. I quickly handed out sandwiches and observed these obese squirrels chewing on them like fat little four year olds. The smallest squirrel, ironically having the longest and bushiest tail (having bright eyes would be too obvious a joke here), was assaulted by a pair of grackles, thinking him an easy target for their murderous beaks (get it? Murder of crows… nevermind). Obviously, no animal smaller than a great dane would attack the leader of this squirrel herd. That little, small squirrel, holding onto his morsel like Lance Armstrong holding the lead at the Tour de France, made slashing motions with his claws. Grackles fled the scene, embarrassed at their inept theft attempt. This leader had trained his squad mates well. No mere bird was going to cash in on their cuteness factor.

    Finally, after each squirrel of the pod… gaggle… whatever, extorted a handful of treats from us, I came to a painful realization… the Ritz Bits were gone. That’s when things turned ugly. I had lost sight of tactical reality and found myself surrounded by a pride of agile rodents who meant to get their treats. I faked left and dove for the car to find another bag of anything. My wife was left to appease the flock.

    She began getting nervous when the runt, He of the Longest Tail, started making eyes at her ponytail and approaching (on the picnic table) with amorous intent. I returned with nothing more than a half full glass of water and some squeezed lemons. The leader was NOT HAPPY with this development. I sensed our relationship had taken a turn for the worse.

    We decided that the restrooms and cool, air-conditioned, rodent free confines of the Museum offered a way out.

    Thus endeth the tail, not with astounding victory or bitter defeat, but all the world looking like we had been chased out of the park by four squirrels. Look damnit, they were huge squirrels!

  40. muffy
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Short, but *very* embarrassing. I cannot digest egg or potato. Both give me gas. Horrible, terrible, painful uncontrollable gas. So, anyway, when I was a pre-teen, I had the great fortune to snag an invite to the birthday party / sleepover of the most popular girl in school, + all of her popular friends. I made the fateful mistake of eating French fries that day. I also would not be surprised if the cake had egg. At any rate, the problems didn’t start until late that night, when we were all sleeping. 10+ girls in the basement rec room. I got out of my sleeping bag and tried to slowly make my way to the bathroom – I had to pee. I naively thought that I could walk while severely bloated. Twas but a fantasy. For the entirety of my walk to the bathroom, a stream of very loud farts exited my body. So loud that *everyone* woke up, asking wtf was going on. Some bright person figured out that it was me, and the entire room of the most popular girls erupted in laughter. To a pre-teen, such an event was really the most embarrassing thing that could happen at that age, especially if amongst other girls.

    I try to avoid eggs and potatoes as often as possible.

    • Posted May 3, 2015 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      How awful for you! We females do get so much more embarrassed by farts than males do:-(

      • Posted May 3, 2015 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

        For sure.

        Farting is positively de rigeur behavior at a boys’ sleep-over.

        • merilee
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

          Probably even when you’re 50 or 60! ( I have three brothers…)

          • Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

            I am still waiting to grow out of this phase. 36.

            😉

            • merilee
              Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

              don’t hold your breath (or other gases);-)

            • Diane G.
              Posted May 4, 2015 at 3:46 am | Permalink

              Having sleepovers?

              • Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:31 am | Permalink

                Ha!

                Unfortunately, I don’t get invited to many any more.

                But no, I meant the more aromatic phase.

                This seems like a good spot to put this warning: do not consume more than one FiberOne bar (General Mills) in a 24hr period. Trust me.

              • Diane G.
                Posted May 4, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

                😀

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      This isn’t my entry to the contest, as we’re only allowed one, but I’ve had a similar experience.

      I had to go and relieve in the office at another branch when I was in my early 20s. I was put up in the flashest hotel I had ever seen, and was feeling pretty important. I was in the lift (elevator), trying to look like I stayed in places like this all the time. Someone got in with me, and farted revoltingly. He got out asap, leaving me there alone. A couple of floors down a gorgeous man joined me in the very smelly lift. His obvious assumption by the look on his face was that it was me, and who can blame him.

      Saying something would have made it worse, so I just hoped I’d never see him again.

      • Posted May 3, 2015 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        Just your luck:-(

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

          It is actually! 🙂

          • Diane G.
            Posted May 4, 2015 at 3:59 am | Permalink

            LOL! (in commiseration!)

  41. Randy Schenck
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    A little funny but mostly embarrassing and costly. During those pesky working years I was required to move around from time to time. One of those moves was to Waco, Texas, where we bought a house and moved in. I then decided we needed additional storage space and purchased one of those 8 X 10 build it yourself, metal storage buildings that come with all the parts and five million little screws and nuts. A real cheap and fun thing to put together in the back yard.

    Once completed and the weekend nearly shot there was just one more thing to finish this masterpiece. There were four anchors you must screw into the ground and some light cable tied to the anchors reaching over the roof to tie down and hold the shed in case of high wind or bad weather — similar to what you see on trailer houses. I finished this off and went back to work the next day.

    When I got home the next evening my wife did not mention anything but said to look in the back yard. I could see a small pile of dirt next to the storage building. What the heck is that, I asked. She then proceeded to tell me about the telephone company coming by to ask if our phone was working and she said is was. They said nearly every phone in the neighborhood was out, as well as the hospital down the street and they needed to check the line in the back yard. They soon discovered I had cut the phone line when I screwed one of the anchors into the ground. So, after they spent the rest of the day digging and repairing the line, I received an additional $400 to my phone bill for the month.

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      How deep did the anchor go? I’d have though that phone lines would have to be buried a yard or more below ground.

      /@

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

        Since phonelines don’t have much power, they don’t need to be buried very deep. I’ve seen a phone line only a few inches deep. Cable TV too.

        • Posted May 4, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

          I wasn’t thinking of that — just an “obvious” precaution against this kind of thing!

          /@

          • merilee
            Posted May 4, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

            I think our cable was only about 1/2″ deep because the teenager my neighbors hired to aerate their lawn with one of those mechanical hole-punching thingies killed our cable on Friday. No cable till Monday night.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 5, 2015 at 5:15 am | Permalink

          We cut through our phone line digging a post hole. Stupid how shallow and flimsy they are! Not to mention, unmarked.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:16 am | Permalink

            Very low voltage cables, I don’t think there’s any ‘safety’ depth. And the cost of burying them deeper and/or marking them probably outweighs the cost of occasionally replacing one.

  42. rickflick
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    It had just stopped raining and I was eager to get outside. I was all of 8 years old at the time and already a budding naturalist. My personal collection consisted of a garter snake, 3 or 4 chubs from the local creek, and toad found in the rhubarb behind the garage, and an assortment of bugs. You could say I was animal crazy and dreamed of having a complete menagerie of all the world’s creatures.

    I was out on safari, you could call it, along the unpaved road a block from home when I spotted an enormous, black bird, standing still in the ditch, and soaking wet. I got pretty close and it cawed a bit but did not fly. But, how could it? It was slicked down with rain water. Clearly in distress, a little shaky looking. My instinct for capture was alerted as was my desire to rescue the gleaming beast. I would take it home and dry it’s ruffled feathers and feed it back to health. Then I’d release it here on the road where I found it so it could rejoin its family who must at this very moment be perched in the trees at the other side of the field. They must be watching me now, I thought.

    I’d have to make a trap to get hold of the bird for I sensed it would not let me get much closer. I raced home running, and grabbed a cardboard box and string and a few slices of bread. Back again to the road I went, hoping the sad, wet, bird was still there. It was. I propped the box on a stick and tied the string at its base ready to pull. With bread as bate, I placed the box as close as I dared to the shivering bird. I tucked myself down low in the ditch on the opposite side of the road with the string in my hand to wait. The bird must be starving I knew and would soon be tempted by the bread. I decided to just wait him out. Soon he’d see that I was his and friend and rescuer, and I’d have him in my collection, at least for a while.

    I was greatly upset when I noticed a man at some distance strolling toward us along the rain soaked road. He’s going to pass right over my sting and frighten the bird away! As he drew nearer I saw he walked with a cane, had a white beard, and black coat and hat. A tramp I thought. I was going to be thwarted in my mission of mercy by this hobo. There was nothing I could do the send that fool back the way he’d come.

    Just as the man reached my string, he looked down,…and at my box trap, and then at the bird. “Come on Sammy”, he said, and the bird squawked once and flew up straight to the man’s shoulder. With the black bird perched on the black coat, the man continued down the road and didn’t even look back.

  43. Posted May 3, 2015 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    There are so many, it is hard to pick just one. At least I like retelling this one.

    When I was a teenager, my Dad decided that sending me on a 3-week Outward Bound course would be a good experience for me. I wasn’t too keen, considering the course included 2 days of rock climbing (100 ft cliffs, and I was scared of heights); and a 16-day canoe expedition during which you might be 3 days travel from a communication point if you needed rescuing, plus you also had a ‘solo’ in which you were left alone for 3 days with only 2 cups of trail mix for food. Fun.

    While we had many memorable moments throughout that course, including portaging 80 lb aluminum canoes for a mile and a half, up to our knees in muck, it is what happened at the end of the canoe trip I wish to recount.

    We survived and had returned tired, hungry, and dirty to base camp. So we quickly dumped our packs, set up our tents, grabbed dinner, and went to bed. Now this was in the 80’s, so we still used the older-style triangular tents with a zipper on the base as well as the diagonal. We had had problems before, with mosquitoes and black fly getting in when someone forgot to completely close one of zippers. In any rate, I was not the last one into the tent, so what followed was not my responsibility.

    I was sleeping in the middle, with one person by the tent door, and another on the other side of me. Not long after we went to bed, I was almost asleep when the person by the door said, in not more than a whisper, “Don’t move.”

    Personally I thought he was just talking in his sleep, so I didn’t do anything other than continue trying to fall asleep.

    A few minutes later, the person on my other side whined quietly, “There’s a skunk in the tent!”

    You wake up like that!!!

    Very carefully we checked the tent and found that fortunately it had left, after having nosed its way through the zippers. However I then learned that it had brushed the first person’s head with its tail (“Don’t move”), it must have gone by my feet since I was totally unaware of it, but it then had put its paws on the other person’s forehead, presumably to get a better look around!

    A close call, although I understand they make good pets once they are descented, but obviously not as good as cats.

    In retrospect, I was glad of the skills I learned on the course (kayaking, rock climbing, canoeing), but I can’t say I enjoyed the solo being a ravenous teenager and all, but luckily I had some blueberry bushes in my area.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 4:04 am | Permalink

      Whew!

      “A close call, although I understand they make good pets once they are descented, but obviously not as good as cats.”

      The search function is failing me, but PCC has mentioned more than once having a pet skunk some years ago (grad school?). Good thing you put in a good word for them. 😀

      • Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I had a de-scented skunk for about 7 years and it was a great pet. And if you don’t startle the wild ones, they won’t spray you. I once fed about 30 wild skunks on an island in Florida: I sat at a picnic table and gave them peanuts. I didn’t even come close to getting sprayed.

        Skunks are great animals and get a terrible rap.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 5, 2015 at 5:07 am | Permalink

          30!

          I had no idea they’d reach that density in a given area!

          Cool! 🙂

  44. C.Hall
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Some number of years ago near the end of my senior high school year a group of about 15 of my friends decided to celebrate our impending graduation with a trip to a nearby amusement park that was about an hour’s drive away. We split up into separate cars and I drove my Dad’s LTD sedan with my good buddy riding ‘shotgun’ up front. Two girls in our group ended up riding in the back seat. The guys chit-chatted during the drive but the girls in back didn’t say much.
    Well, about 45 minutes into the trip, having absent-mindedly forgotten the girls in back, I decided to ‘impress’ my buddy, as high school guys are known to do, with a dramatic show of flatulence. Volume and duration being key attributes.
    I still clearly remember the terror in my soul as I realized my situation initially from the complete lack of expected response from my buddy and then from the suppressed giggles in back. The embarrassment was forced on me all day long – the initial terror, the remaining silent drive, the inevitable disclosure to the others in our group. My deed was the focal point of discussion for the entire day and is still occasionally mentioned to this day.

  45. Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps not prize-worthy funny or embarrassing, but I’ll share it anyway:

    At Mcdonald’s late one evening (I don’t regularly frequent, but my wife was having a very specific pregnancy-related craving), I ordered myself a chicken sandwich, and was sure to indicate that I did *not* want mayo.

    I waited for my sandwich in what I thought was total solitude, and when the box appeared on the counter I spied some suspicious white glops on it. I opened the box and took the sandwich apart. I mean, I really manhandled it. I loudly complained that I had asked for no mayo. The attendant angrily replied “this isn’t yours. It’s hers.” He pointed to a very small, very elderly lady that had somehow sidled up to me without my knowing.

    I could’ve sworn the place was deserted when I began my order.

    • merilee
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

      At least McDonald’s didn’t say NO SUBSTITUTIONS!

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 4:05 am | Permalink

      That’s actually very funny! 😀

      • John Scanlon, FCD
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 7:02 am | Permalink

        It’s like Doug Adams’ biscuit story, with less Englishness.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 4, 2015 at 7:34 am | Permalink

          Yes! 😀

        • Posted May 4, 2015 at 8:39 am | Permalink

          I immediately thought of the Adams story after it happened!

  46. cherrybombsim
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    The funniest thing that ever happened to me is already public knowledge, so no need to go into it here.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 4:06 am | Permalink

      I somehow don’t think that’s going to win you a book…

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure I remember what that is. . .

      • Diane G.
        Posted May 5, 2015 at 5:08 am | Permalink

        That makes two of us!

  47. Chris
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    Hi all – can someone please explain if there is a way to submit emails to Jerry, or is adding a ‘comment’ the only way to contact him? There doesn’t appear to be any means to attach photos here, so how are folk submitting their wildlife pictures?
    Thanks, Chris.

    • Marella
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:09 am | Permalink

      If you Google Jerry Coyne you will find his email address at the University of Chicago website.

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Or follow the Research Interests link at the top right of the page.

      /@

  48. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    We own a small d*g, Hugo, a smallish, headstrong cairn terrier which is perhaps where the trouble starts. On a summer day we were walking Hugo at a local country park which features a modest pond on which invariably a few Mallard are to be found swimming. On this day Hugo entered the water and started to swim towards the ducks which rather than flying away chose to out-swim him instead. For a while it was quite amusing to watch as he would start to catch up with the ducks and they would then accelerate away from his reach but as the minutes stretched by it was time to move on and we called in vain for Hugo to return to dry land. Uttering a succession of manic ‘yips’, the dog swam grimly on after the ducks on whilst they kept just out of his reach.

    After the umpteenth circuit of the pond my patience wore thin and I determined that the next time they passed close to the edge I would stride in and grab Hugo, never mind the wet shoes and trouser legs that would result. On putting this plan into action I immediately discovered that the pond deepens a lot more steeply than I’d reckoned and I was in up to my neck! “In for a penny,in for a pound”; I thought I’d swim after the dog and I set out across the pond. At this point the ducks decided the game was no longer worth playing and flew off and it was now me in pursuit of the dog who proved as adept at out-swimming me as the ducks had been at out-swimming him.

    By the time I got to the centre of the pond and the weed got thicker and my woollen pullover got heavier, I started to doubt the wisdom of my actions and the purpose of my mission switched to simply reaching the other side. Fortunately the pond is not very wide and the small crowd that had gathered finally watched an insouciant Hugo and a rather less dignified man haul themselves out onto the shore.

    The finally ignominy was having to make my way home in a torn (but dry!) paper boiler suit which scarcely covered my dignity.

    Hugo and I are still friends but on that day he definitely pushed his luck!

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 4:09 am | Permalink

      Ha, ha, I totally enjoyed that!

    • rickflick
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      I had a similar experience except a lab, geese, and I didn’t join in. But good for you! 😎

  49. Kerry Kilborn
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    The lesson I learned: Avoid experimenting with your children. I was recently minted experimental psychologist specialising in developmental psycholinguistics, with a particular interest in bilingualism. My two children, ages 4 and 1, had approximately equal exposure to English and Dutch since birth. One day I was having breakfast with them, and the older child observed that her younger brother had a nasty looking rash on his cheek. “Papa, that spot that on Dylan’s cheek is looks bad.” I agreed with her about the rash, and then I couldn’t resist . . . “Erin, the way you said that sentence sounds more like the way we say it in Dutch. Here’s how I would say it in English: The spot that is on Dylan’s cheek looks bad.” She listened intently, nodding. So I asked her to say it again, as we would say it in English. “The spot that is on Dylan’s cheek looks bad.” Perfect. She formed the English relative clause correctly, placing the finite verb “is” after the relative particle “that” (in Dutch, the finite verb should go to the end of the clause). So I thought, hey, I’m on a roll here, and I playfully said: “Erin, when we say something like “that is on Dylan’s cheek” we call that a relative clause. Can you say relative clause?” And she repeated, “Relative clause.” We ate our breakfast for a minute, and then I said, “Erin, remember what you said about Dylan’s cheek? Can you say it again the way we do in English.” And she didn’t hesitate: “The relative clause that on Dylan’s cheek is looks bad.”

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 4:19 am | Permalink

      Ha, ha, that’s funny!

      Reminded me of my daughter when she was maybe 3 or 4. U-Haul rental trucks at that time had various illustrations on their sides, relating to what state they were from. One day we passed one with a picture of a cowboy on its side–I believe it was from Wyoming. My daughter said, “look at the clown on that truck!”

      Her older brother was quick to inform her, “that’s a cowboy.”

      Daughter, without missing a beat: “Look at that clown on that cowboy!”

    • rickflick
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Kids.
      One summer day when my daughter, Amy, was about 2, my wife and I took her on a hike with us. As we moved up the trail we encountered wet conditions and my wife took off her sandals for better traction. “Look. Mommy has bare feet”, I remarked.
      “…and I have mouse feet”, said Amy.

      • Diane G.
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        Awwwww!

        • Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          Which reminds me of when we were out for a long country walk on a very hot summer’s day and, looking forward to some refreshment, we pointed out the ice-cream van by the roadside some way ahead.

          “It can’t be an ice-cream van,” my (maybe) eight-year-old daughter said, “or it would’ve melted.”

          /@

          • Diane G.
            Posted May 5, 2015 at 4:20 am | Permalink

            😀

            Most perspicacious of her!

  50. Posted May 4, 2015 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Last year I traveled to Tanzania with my father and two friends for a bird watching trip. One day, we were staying at a monastery and we decided to go for a short walk before dinner. Suddenly, we noticed a large owl in a tree. But when we set up our equipment, the owl flew off. So, we grasped our stuff and tried to follow the bird. Running through fields of tall grass, climbing crooked fences and jumping over tree logs, we eventually lost track of the owl. Catching my breath, I suddenly felt something moving on my arm. I checked it and saw an ant crawling on my elbow. Our guide also started checking himself and suddenly cried:”Ants! Everyone take your clothes off!” Immediately, we started undressing and witnessed numerous ants crawling all over us. So there we were, half naked in the middle of an African forest, hitting ants of our bodies.
    The next day, we again went for a walk and encountered an owl sitting in a tree. He kept quiet, so we were able to watch him peacefully. And while I had my binoculars pointed at his face, I could swear he winked at me…

  51. Posted May 4, 2015 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Last spring I went to the Zoo with my mother. We were touring the Wetland exhibit, which displayed an array of the diverse avifauna of Australia’s wetland ecosystems. We came across a male Blue-billed duck, and whilst males of this species has a brilliant blue beak, no doubt a product of sexual selection, our attention was drawn to what he was doing with his beak: he seemed intensely interested in using it to tamper with a long, pink, vermiform thing protruding from his rear end. “Ew, I think there’s some sort of worm coming out of it’s bottom!”, my mother loudly remarked, drawing the attention of other zoogoers. As a zoologist who has had the “privilege” of undertaking a lab in undergrad involving dissecting the various reproductive anatomy (aka “rude bits” as my Lab demonstrator would say) of a range of species, I knew that my mother’s interpretation was amiss and informed her, and incidentally the numerous people around us, that the long, coiled pink thing extruded from the duck’s cloaca he was so interested in was in fact his penis, which, unlike in most birds, is remarkable long and when used in the appropriate context, is eversed “explosively.” I think the couples around us got more than enough info on the birds and the bees that day!

  52. Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    After an academic conference in England, my wife and I spent a lovely week in St. Ives as vacation. Our first afternoon in town we walked down from our hotel to the village pier, and at the top of our agenda was noms! Famous Cornwall pasties! As we purchased two warm, and lovely pasties, the vendor warned us to keep them away from the gulls. I laughed, having grown up in New Jersey and protected many a hot dog from the Jonathan Livingston Seagulls that dive bomb tourists on the boardwalk.

    I hadn’t gone ten feet away when the English variety of seagull demonstrated exactly why the British won the Battle of Britain in WWII. Two of them teamed up, and one dive bombed my head while the other went for the pasty that was clutched close to my chest.

    KABAMM!

    I sheepishly picked up my hat and asked my wife for a bite of her pasty.

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      EXACTLY the same thing happened to me, and in St. Ives, too! I think the gulls there are like pasty drones–they seek them out and remove them.

      • Posted May 9, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        Did you meet a man with 20(?) wives? Kits, cats, sacks, wives…

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      We had a similar experience with the gulls on Lindisfarne and our sandwiches. We ended up eating them in the car, rather than picnicking on the grass.

      /@

      PS. The pasties are Cornish pasties.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Gulls learn well. I’ve seen the same behavior on beaches in St Maarten, Massachusetts and Florida.

  53. John Hamill
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    During May of 2014, I agreed to write a piece for an Irish newspaper on the Irish blasphemy law. The copy that I submitted included the following passage:

    “… the Catholic Church can tell atheists that some day an Iron Age Jew will return to earth (riding on a cloud, while blowing a trumpet) and resurrect their dead bodies, for the singular purpose of torturing them in fire for all eternity. However, if an atheist simply states what they might think about this doctrine of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus and the character of Jesus Christ who preached it, they can be prosecuted for blasphemy in the civil courts.”

    The sub editor that I was dealing with refused to publish the full paragraph as he believed (probably correctly) that many of his Christian readers would be offended by the idea of Jesus riding on a cloud while blowing a trumpet. I pointed out that since in Matthew 24:30-31, Jesus prophesized his own return in exactly these terms, it would in fact be blasphemous to suggest that the second coming would not occur in this manner.

    As you might imagine, the sub-editor had little interest in debating the theological or legal definition of blasphemy and simply wished to avoid any prospect of litigation. As such, the easiest thing for him to do was simply to censor these words. The Irish blasphemy law therefore caused the words of Jesus to be censored as they were perceived as too ridiculous to be tolerated by Christians.

    True story.

  54. Cole
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    There are six stalls in my office bathroom: five standard and one handicap. My business was urgent and not well-suited for a urinal. I solemnly swear that all five standard stalls were occupied; it was around 1:00pm, so the post-lunch rush was in full swing. The only available stall happened to be larger, better equipped handicap stall, which I entered without hesitation.

    I’m not a monster. There really was no other option at the time, and there was exactly one handicapped man in my entire office, an elderly we’ll call Victor. Victor used a walker and had recently returned from retirement to work part time. I considered his arrival in the next three minutes a low probability worst-case scenario.

    The moment I closed the stall door, flushes, jingling belts, and the clicks of locks signaled an exodus. It was eery, really, almost as though all five men synchronized their bowel movements. Within two or three minutes, hands were washed, and I was practically alone.

    As I exited the stall, Victor was acting out my unlikely nightmare. He was struggling to back himself and his walker into a standard stall. And there I was, emerging from *his* stall like a buffoon. I deserved a citation. What I got was a good-natured smile from Victor, who then promptly lost his grip on his walker and stumbled backward onto the toilet with a grunt.

    To seal my embarrassment, the universe conspired to send my boss around the corner just as Victor was taking his spill. My face was hot with shame as I asked whether Victor was OK, which he thankfully (for my own sake, I confess! I AM a monster after all!) was. I wound up apologizing to him later, but he seemed a little awkward and confused at my bringing it up. Needless to say, I will never, ever use a handicap stall ever again, ever.

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Ha! That’s a good one.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Oh, you are a master of timing! 😀

      FWIW, I don’t see that as a faux pas. Many places have just replaced a normal stall with a handicapped stall, which may mean there’s just one of each. Even at 5 to 1, I’ll bet that doesn’t begin to resemble the ratio of able-bodied to handicapped in the work-force (or public, or wherever the case may be, save certain particular venues like, say, rehab homes).

      So I see the handicapped stall as being available for anyone who needs it and is there first. Obviously, when there is an able-bodied stall available manners would dictate that the able-bodied use that first. But if there’s a line, it should be that the next person takes the next available stall, handicapped or not. Just because someone is not able-bodied doesn’t necessarily mean they have more urgency than any other person.

      It’s not the same as parking spaces, IMO.

      • Posted May 4, 2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        A reasonable view.

        Additionally, I often had to use the handicapped stall to change diapers, because that’s where the diaper-changing station usually is.

  55. Kevin Meredith
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    When my youngest son was about 10, he was trying to register at a website for kids, possibly related to a cartoon or toy or something, but every login name he came up with was rejected by the site as already having been taken. He asked me for help and, trying to be funny, I typed in a name I’d once heard his kindergarten teacher call him (which he didn’t particularly like): SweetPotato. “Sorry,” said the rejection screen, “you can’t sign up with a name that has ‘pot’ in it.” So next we asked my middle son, age 13, to help. He typed in “Crackhead.” Because that’s the kind of person he is. “Sorry,” said the rejection screen, “that name is already taken.”

  56. Donnie Rowlett
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    “I know how to use the pay toilet without paying” I told my best friend Billy after we stopped into the mens room at the store my father managed at the mall. I didn’t have a dime, so I dropped down onto my belly and squeezed under the door of the locked stall. I realized something had gone horribly wrong when I came face to face with a pair of shoes sticking out from under a pair of pants that were draped around someones ankles. I looked up and was mortified to see my father’s assistant manager sitting on the pot, looking down at me and grinning like the Cheshire Cat. Amidst a flurry of apologies, I backed out of the stall only to encounter Billy laughing hysterically. For days afterwards I dreaded the thought of my father coming home from work, taking me aside and saying Son, my assistant manager shared something interesting with me today…”

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      Hilarious!

    • Posted May 9, 2015 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      Reading my way thru these and there’s lot’s of good ones, but this is the first one to make me laugh out loud.

  57. starskeptic
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I was being trained for a technologist job at a critical-access hospital in central Colorado. The Microbiology supervisor was showing me how they wanted fluid smears set-up for cytospin. As we are both intently concentrating, bent over the bench top – I became aware of an odd buzzing noise: which turned out to be the bottom corner of my BORROWED lab coat disappearing into a paper shredder sitting beneath the counter. Not strong enough to recreate Whoopi Goldberg’s scene in “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, it still trashed that lab coat. The good thing about this episode was that her near-death with laughter was the closest I’ve ever come to a serious laboratory accident.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Oh, my, Jerry’s going to have to give out so many books! 😀

      I.e., that’s hilarious too!

  58. Joyce
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Oh, the arrogance of youth, especially the arrogance of a 12-year-old nascent intellectual snob! I was proud, so proud, of my academic achievement, my admission to the elite gifted program in my public junior high school and, in particular, I was proud of my extensive and often esoteric vocabulary, a vocabulary gleaned from years of reading way above my grade level. I couldn’t wait to impress my classmates with a new word I had recently learned, and a class discussion regarding spending habits presented the perfect opportunity; I stood up, I looked around the room, then turned to face my teacher and confidently (and loudly) proclaimed, “I need to be frugal because I am currently prostitute.”
    Of course, I meant “destitute;” of course.

  59. Naomi
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I was skiing for the first time with my schoolmates. As the chair lift was arriving at the top of the mountain, I tried to jump off of it, but my winter coat got stuck in the chair. Henceforth I had my two feet on the ground, but my coat was pulled up, along with my shirt, revealing my very first bra. It was beige. I was 13. I had to wait in that position for the attendant to stop the chair lift and come to rescue me, while the other kids were staring at me. I hid in the chalet for the rest of the day.

  60. bonetired
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Leg story number two …

    I got married in a church ( I was more conventional and less atheistic then ) and, as one did, we had a rehearsal a week before the big day. As we ran through the service, the vicar told us when to stand, kneel and sit. After being asked to kneel, I was aware of a grinding noise from my knee joint, which then promptly locked solid straight up and down. The priest looked at me, I hissed at my then fiancée ( and now my wife of almost 30 years ) “I can’t …. my knee joints gone….. I can’t kneel”. My fiancée promptly got the giggles, wrecking the decorum, the priest looked horrified and we virtually had to abandon the rehearsal …….

    [ Following a rapid visit to the prosthetic centre , all went well the following week ….]

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Remember, one story per person. Which do you wish to submit?

    • bonetired
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Uh errr .. “One story per person” … Just enjoy the second one!

      • bonetired
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        To stay both within the letter and the spirit of the rules, the first one. I hope the second story, though, gave a smile ….

  61. Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory is so large that the lab runs a taxi service to transport employees from site to site. You would call in and give your name, location and where you wanted to go. With a last name like Swartzendruber, there was occasionally a bit of confusion when I called for a ride. The drivers were often Spanish-speaking, and one time the driver showed up and asked if I was Swartz or Druber. I caught on quickly and just said “I am both, let’s go.” He paused a moment, and then headed out, no doubt thinking “loco gringo.”

  62. Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    As a 7 year old, the opportunity to play with my older brother and his friends for a Summer day presented an exciting prospect. On this occasion, we would be hanging out with the Lerners at their lake front home. The Lerners were a fun loving clan with Tom 9, Cidney 10, and Jan 8, they were kept in line by their stern and overly regimented military father. On this day, the excitement got the better of me, and I was unable to contain myself-so to speak. Rather than announce the accident I decided not to show my cards, in the hopes that no one would notice, or if they did, would not be able to pinpoint the culprit of the growing stench. Apparently my plan was not well thought out, because in very short order Mr. Lerner had assembled all of us kids in a neatly formed row, each of us toeing the line in equal distances from one another. Down the line Mr. Lerner slowly and methodically went, like a drill sergeant inspecting his new group of recruits. Only this inspection included a bend over and smell test at each recruits backside. When it was my turn I knew the gig was up. Mr. Lerner snapped upright with a adroitness that let us all know the answer- it was me.

  63. Janet
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I was in the jungles of Borneo at an orangutan feeding station, having the time of my life watching the orangutans come down from the trees, grab armfuls (and mouthfuls) of bananas and then try to climb back up without dropping any, continually snatching bunches from one another. The babies would all have white muzzles from drinking the milk our guides had put in buckets. Now, it rains a lot in Borneo, so when I felt the first drops I quickly whipped out my trusty little pink umbrella. But then I noticed no one else had an umbrella up. Nor was anyone else getting wet. Ooops…it wasn’t rain, an orangutan was peeing on me from her perch above! It turns out the wild orangs had moved in (as opposed to the apes who had previously had human contact, for example as having been kept as a pet…the two groups tend to hang out separately) and they wanted us humans gone. They also started throwing branches at us. They quickly got their wish, we left them in peace. I still have the pink umbrella.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 5:13 am | Permalink

      Funny! 😀

      And quite the experience!

  64. Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    The first year I moved to the U.S. (from Japan), I was taking a music class at a community college in CA. I was talking to a classmate about music, and he said he likes rap. So, I asked him “Who is your favorite “rappist”?” – what I meant was “rapper”. I thought “-ist” works for a person who plays music; such as guitarist, violinist, etc. (and I guess I didn’t think about “singer”).

  65. Richard Gillilan
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Here’s my story:

    I was a chemistry graduate student at UPenn in the mid 80’s. Attendance at physical chemistry seminar was required of all grad students. It was pretty near impossible to sneak into the room since the entrace was midway between the front and the back. So being late one day, I quietly opened the door and dashed in, hoping not to be noticed too much. It was unusually crowded that day, but as luck would have it, I spotted a vacant chair in the darkened room and went for it. Just as I was starting to pant my butt … I can remember it all in slow motion … I noticed the Dean of the Graduate school (also a professor in the department) wildy making hand gestures at me. Was the seat taken? It was too late, of course. As my weight came down, the chair gave way. Aparently the two front welds holding the seat to the flimsy metal frame were broken and, like a trap door, it let my rear fall all the way to the floor with a thump. My knees were tightly pressed against my chest and my feet were off the floor. There was literally nothing I could reach to pull myself out. As I stuggled and flailed, the chair fell over with a loud metalic clatter. To my horror, I still wasn’t free of it. I had one leg free, but somehow, like a bear trap, the seat had sprung closed again clamping firmly to my other thigh. All I could do was try to shake the cursed clanging thing off me. By this time I had achieved some notice. The speaker paused and I could hear stifled snickers from the audience. Was I really going to have to ask for help? I know what they were thinking: “he’s a theorist, isn’t he”? I did eventually get free of it, and I did evenutally get my degree. In Theory, of course.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 5:29 am | Permalink

      Very funny! 😀

  66. penguin0302
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if this qualifies because it’s not something that happened to me, but because of me.

    My then-husband, daughter and I had spent the day at the beach in Biloxi MS.

    On our way home to New Orleans, as we crossed state lines, then-husband wondered out loud why there was one roadside announcing that you’re exiting a state and a bit further down was another roadsign welcoming you to the entering state.

    Spontaneously inspired, I said “it’s the geographic allowance for map lines.”

    As I said this I looked at him and saw his furrowed brow as he was seriously processing my answer.

    I was still folded over in laughter when we got home.

    I have to say he was a good sport about my successful troll.

  67. Posted May 4, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I was a second year medical student in a small group of second year medical students learning how to properly perform a pelvic examination on a volunteer woman. Everyone was already uncomfortable to one degree or another. The woman was lying on the table, knees bent, feet in stirrups, sheet covering her lower half. One by one, each of the students was supposed to glove up, lube up, and perform the exam. The volunteer (who had been doing this for years) did most of the teaching. One Orthodox Jewish student (non-married) who clearly had no experience in this area turned very red in the face and seemed to sort of go into a trance during his turn. The rest of us looked at each other with a knowing look, but of course no one laughed or even smiled. Still, we were all embarrassed for him and would give him hell later.
    I was not nervous. I had had enough fun in college that there was no longer anything mysterious or intimidating to me about vaginas. I should have been less confident. A pelvic exam usually involves inserting two fingers of one hand into the vagina, feeling around for various things, and then, with the other hand, pushing down from above on the lower abdomen and pelvis (to feel the ovaries, uterus, etc.). I inserted two fingers and began to feel for what I was supposed to feel for.

    “Excuse me,” said the volunteer, calmly but sternly.

    “Yes?” I answered, genuinely confused, but not concerned.

    “Where is your thumb?”

    I could actually feel all the blood in body rush up into my face as I realized what I’d done. I had been concentrating so hard on trying to feel various anatomical structures with my two fingertips that the rest of my hand apparently went on autopilot and fell into a well rehearsed pattern of activity. My thumb had (of its own volition) migrated north, and began (shall we say) walking in circles.
    A broken and desultory, “Oh,” was all I could manage to say as my brain retook control of my thumb and ordered an immediate retreat.
    The rest of the students had by now figured out what happened and put forth a valiant effort not to laugh out loud. The noises coming from the group of students doing all in their power to hold back the laughter, but not quite succeeding, was probably the worst part. I knew I would never live this down.

    Bonus related story (not for the prize): In anatomy lab during medical school, the professor had a very thick non-specific European accent (I don’t remember his name or ethnicity). Discussing the dissection of the female pelvis he said one day, “with this instrument you go to the introitus…” and he inserted the instrument into the vagina. But to me, with his heavy accent, it sounded like, “you go in to Detroit…” Not until I asked a classmate later why the professor was talking about Detroit, did I understand that I misheard him. For years after, the phrase “going to Detroit” was a wonderful euphemism among my close friends.

    I also have a bonus related story #2 if anyone’s interested.

    • merilee
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      That poor volunteer must have seen – and felt – it all;-)

  68. Blue
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I gave birth 35½ years ago. That entire deal? Stunning. Also funny: it channels Ernestine such that I, by then myself already a BSN(ursing) of human patients .and. a practicing veterinarian, having never known her actual name nor, for that matter, any other thing about her, have also … … never forgotten her. Ernestine of Ms Lily Tomlin’s genre.

    Two other, very, very wee kiddos of mine, only 13 months old and 37 months old at the time, needed to be looked after when, alone with only them beside me, I went in to labor with my and my belly’s third baby boy — then grown by me to bulldozing – maturity.

    I telephoned my daddy. His line was busy. I tried again; the line was still busy. This was 1979, around noontime: lunch time for the two with the weer one longingly and so, so sorrowfully stating in to my eyeballs, “Mommy, I hungry.” At this plaintive plea of Jacob Thomas’ his two tiny hands gripping both of my kneecaps, I recall, at that time of the next pain, thinking how many women everywhere every hour registered in their ears and up in to their brains this same mewling: the World over, “Mommy, I hungry.”

    Contractions were five minutes apart; membranes intact, but I was allegedly exactly three weeks past Dr Hesse’s oft – stated ‘due’ date so this was it: the real deal. O, and my father by the back road, the one that led right in to the university housing complex’s parking lot, was over 30 miles away. At least and fortunately, the blacktop wasn’t iced over; it was September in Iowa, not February. Again, his telephone line was still busy.

    I pressed the ‘ 0 ‘ on my telephone’s pad; and when an actual voice came back in to my ear, stated to it — as if I were an amateur novitiate at all of this deal — thusly, “I don’t know if this is an emergency enough, ya’ know, enough of a reason to try to break in to my daddy’s line, Operator, I truly don’t. I am having labor pains every five minutes; I’m overdue, ‘nd it’s my third baby, and aaah, ah, well, my daddy needs to come to look after my other two little ones. No one else is here. He has to come, well, quite a ways actually. Um, it’s over a 30 – mile drive at least. Do ya’ think … … ? ”

    “HELL YES, Woman ! Now ! I’ll do THAT right now ! What’s his phone number ? Now ! And you, you Woman, call your doctor right away. Do it now. Hang up and do it now ! I am breaking in to your father’s conversation right now. I’ll get ‘im there. Call your doctor. ”

    Willard Albert William Maas drove, I know he did around that blacktop’s four S – curves and the rest of its length upwards the entire stretch of mileage at over 90 miles per hour, screamed his “baby” – blue Seville to a halt into the lot’s parking space at nearly a 45 – degree, askewed angle; and we three watched Daddy on those O – so spindly tibial pins of his and with that already thrice – attacked (at least once by that poliomyelitis virus of 1939 through 1941) heart – muscle actually .run. himself over to our itty – bitty apartment’s front door.

    Knowing precisely two things: i) that Jacob Thomas and Zachary Adam would now not only both be heartily fed but also well looked after and ii) at where inside that building its labor and delivery suite was located, I did not wait for any wheelchair nor elevator – lift but, instead, climbed the four flights of back stairsteps from the hospital’s entrance to it. The crown of the head of Micah Abraham Zebulon was exiting as I listened to Dr Hesse’s wingtips clamoring down the hallway. He burst in to the delivery room and, with no time left at all to scrub in, grabbed off of the equipment table a sterilized towel, turned around from it to me; and, exhaling that last Lamaze – laboring breath of mine at 2:16pm that Indian Summer – afternoon, I finished … … this particular matter.

    Blue

  69. jnorman67
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I am male. That’s important to the story.

    Three decades ago, when I was in high school, I worked a summer in my father’s truck tire retread shop. Out of the mold, tire tread is kind of “hairy” — excess rubber is directed into spikes that must be scraped off. Shaving the tires was one of my duties. We had a machine that extended two small, parallel shafts, ending in knobs. I would rest the tire on the shafts and step on a peddle, which would rotate the shafts and the tire. The shaving tool was like a hand-held rake. The claws of the rake pointed backward (toward me). On one of my initial work days, the rake got clogged with tire spikes and was ripped from my hand. It made one revolution and slammed into my chin.

    I learned my lesson. I positioned myself a step to the left while tire shaving. I also took care to hold on tighter.

    This proved disastrous. The next time the rake clogged, it jerked me forward. Remember the knobs on the ends of the shafts? They were slightly lower than waist-high.

    The swelling went down and normal skin color returned a few days later.

    Epilogue: I have two grown children.

    • rickflick
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      I see why male and epilogue matter here. 😎

  70. JoanL
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I am really not a morning person, and many mornings I don’t fully wake up till I’m driving to work. On this occasion – the hands down stupidest thing I ever remember doing – I was living in Syracuse, a medium size city in central New York.

    One winter morning, I stepped out of the house to a world of ice. A solid sheet of ice, no exaggeration, covering everything. It was so slippery that I snagged a trash can from next to the door and slid it along with me (like a giant hockey puck) just to keep my balance as I got to my car.

    The driveway is flat, so I backed out carefully. But the house was on a hill and the moment I got out into the road, the car started sliding down. Because it was a residential area, there were cars parked on both sides of the fairly narrow street. This is where I really woke up.

    Now the car wasn’t just sliding straight down the hill, and it seemed that my slightest touch on the steering was an over-correction. Two houses down the hill and I was into my 1st 360. That was unnerving; I was desperate. I decided to try a hot shot driver maneuver that I’d only seen on TV. So as the car came around the 2nd time, I whipped the steering around, trying to line up the wheels. It almost worked. The spin was greatly slowed, but now I was sliding down backwards.

    Going into the 3rd, and now slower, 360, I got to thinking about the traffic at the bottom of the hill. Couldn’t tell if there was traffic, since I was facing the other way. Nothing for it but to lay on the horn and hope anyone down at the stop signs would figure it out and wait for me.

    Well, I skated (ha, pun intended) on this one. Not a car was scratched; there was no traffic. But I still cringe to remember blowing that horn so that every neighbor would be sure to know what I was doing.

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      I think I would’ve needed a change of pants, had I been you.

      • JoanL
        Posted May 5, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        Well, once on level ground, I pulled over and shook for quite a while.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 3:30 am | Permalink

      ♫ Like a good neighbor…JoanL is there ♫

  71. Jeff Goodman
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    It’s amazing what I’ll write online for a free book…

    I live in the country. Hot water flow rates are too slow to expect a warm shower if water is being used elsewhere in the home.

    Some years back I was in the shower when my wife turned on a faucet. She quickly realized I was in the shower & turned it off. She then yelled out “Ah! Sorry, Jeff!”.

    But that is not what I heard.

    I heard “AH! FIRE, JEFF!!!”

    I immediately demonstrated my cat-like reflexes by leaping from the shower through the doorway in one quick burst. I ran naked to the kitchen to get the fire extinguisher. I wasn’t even very fast because wood floors are slippery when you’re wet.

    Anyway, thinking back on this, the best memory is the look on my wife’s face. Thank goodness we didn’t have company over…

    Funny thread, everyone!

    Jeff

    • rickflick
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      What? No pictures? 😎

      • Jeff Goodman
        Posted May 5, 2015 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        No pictures. You’re welcome. 😉

  72. rtkufner
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    I was 17 and a bottle-hardened drunkard. Family barbecue. Severe rhinitis, on heavy antihistamines. Noon. Had a few cans of beer when cousin offers a shot of a homemade golden cachaça (typical Brazilian spirit made of distilled sugarcane juice, close to 50% ABV). I drink it in one gulp, black out. I come to my senses in the shower, in my underpants, with uncle and cousin throwing cold water in my eyes. As I leave the bathroom in my cousin’s clothes, I notice the sun is setting. As I sober up, I’m told to my semi-letargic amezement that after that first shot of cachaça I actually kept drinking my beers, laughing and acting in my regular-when-torpid manner – until I sat down to eat and kept missing my mouth, smearing my face with a piece of beef. Then, they knew there was something wrong. I was laid down in bed when the pukefest(TM) started. When it ended, my clothes were bagged and I was thrown in shower. My cousin’s bedroom was quarantined for the week.

    Lesson: If you want to be able to aim your fork right, to not wake up in your underpants as people throw water at your face and not having your grandmother remind you of your embarassing behavior for five years straight, never mix alcohol and antihistamines.

  73. Chukar
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Once upon a time I was an aspiring mystic. As such, I attended the first – perhaps the last – Whole Earth Fair held on the campus of University of Colorado in Boulder in the summer of 1970.
    There, while seated among thousands of other ambitious young grokkers, and wondering just how long this process of developing Cosmic Consciousness was going to take, I devoutly listened to the wise words of Swami whosit, or Yogi Hummahumma or Roshi whats-his-name as he spoke about egolessness and oneness with nature. Just then, as I sat quite motionless, crosslegged on the grass, a masterless dog – perhaps a ronin – wandered up behind me, lifted his leg, and urinated freely all over my back. Everyone behind me witnessed this and all found it enormously amusing.

    Shocked, humiliated – exactly WHAT was the universe trying to tell me? – wishing I could disappear, I…did nothing. The dog was done, I was wet, angry, embarrassed beyond measure. The best I could hope for was for no one to know exactly who the pissee was. If I didn’t turn around to shake my fist fruitlessly at the dog, no one would know my face. This worked.

  74. Mobius
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Let’s go back to when the T-Rex tissue sample had been discovered and some of the proteins partially sequenced. One of the conclusions was that the proteins were similar to what we see in chickens.

    I was posting on an evolution forum, having back and forth with a creationist from West Virginia. He was saying it was ludicrous to think that chickens were descended from T-Rex.

    I pointed out that the scientists weren’t saying chickens were descended from T-Rex, just that they were related. Just as the creationist was related to his uncle, but wasn’t descended from his uncle.

    To this the creationist responded, in all seriousness, “How do you know I’m not descended from my uncle?”

    At this point I was howling with laughter. Well, I thought, the guy IS from West Virginia so maybe… (Apologies to West Virginians)

  75. Posted May 4, 2015 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Several years ago on a Friday morning I was teaching high school physics in a room that had a single door in the back of the classroom leading to the hall which I usually left open out of habit. I do a lot of acting in community theater (a necessary skill for being an effective classroom teacher) and at the time happened to have the lead in a production of Cyrano de Bergerac. One of my students, a lovely, vivacious young woman, had come to see the production the night before. Next morning I was in full flight before a class of 32 kids lecturing about Newtonian mechanics when this young woman, all flashing blue eyes and brilliant smile, swung around the door and in a breathless voice said, “Hey, Mr Czarny [all heads turn to her in the back of the room}, you were wonderful last night!” And then she was gone. Thirty-two heads slowly turn back to me, mouths agape and eyes wide in shock and amusement. “No, wait,” I stammered, “I was in a show last night, and she came to see it and…and…”, but I knew I was dead meat on a stick. Needless to say the rest of that hour (and that day, since word travels fast) was a lost cause.

    • rickflick
      Posted May 4, 2015 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

      Great story, but Newton would not have approved. 😎

  76. Dave Schulz
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    In June of 1975 my wife and I were on vacation with our daughter born on Valentine’s Day that year. We liked to travel on our vacations but could not afford to stay in motels, so we camped in State or National parks. We visited the Grand Canyon then headed to a park on Lake Powell, Arizona. Most parks in the 70’s were primitive so we were thrilled to discover the park we stopped at had modern restrooms with running water and even hot showers. We both wanted to take advantage of the showers since we had been over a week only washing off in the spots we had gone swimming, but our daughter was tired and fussy. She didn’t like camping in the heat and we took turns trying to settle her down. Finally about 3 am both daughter and wife fell sound asleep. I woke up about 4:30 and decided to take advantage of the opportunity and grabbed clean clothes, my shaving gear and a towel and went to take a shower. I took my time happy to use a toilet that wasn’t just a wooden board over a hole. I took a long shower using way too much hot water, shaved and hopped in the shower again to shampoo and rinse off. I took my time drying and got completely dressed in clean clothes. By this time the sun had come up and I decided I better get back and give the wife the same opportunity. I walked out the door of the restroom and waiting patiently was a group of between 20 to 25 women and girls, mostly Brownies, Girl Scouts and their troop leaders ready for their turn in the Ladies restroom. When I exited they began to clap and cheer much to my embarrassment. I wasn’t going to say anything to my wife but finally had to explain after about the 4th Girl Scout waved at me during our stay at the park.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      You forgot about the part where then your wife had to wait even longer…

      😀

      Good story!

      Kudos to both of you for managing all that with a 4-month-old!

  77. Jeff Chamberlain
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Way too many years ago I was working as a butcher in a North Carolina supermarket. One evening my colleague Wayne Garner and I were on duty when a man came in and perused the meat case, obviously undecided about what to buy. Wayne approached him and asked if he could help. I was eavesdropping. The man asked about an item, and Wayne said “that’s a beef tongue.” “Yuck,” said the man, “I’m not eating anything that comes from a cow’s mouth … where’s the eggs?”

  78. Coolred38
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    Having gone all of my 37 years of life never reacting to ant bites, imagine my surprise to suddenly go into anaphylaxis when an ant bit me in my sleep. Having never experienced an allergic reaction before I could only guess why my tongue was swelling, throat closing, and I itched like I had been tied to a post over…an ant hill.

    By the time my husband got us to the hospital (having nearly ended our lives several times in other creative and definitely interesting ways) my throat was nearly closed, my eyes were swollen shut, and my tongue would not fit in my mouth anymore, thus I couldn’t speak with any coherency.

    My husband wheeled me into the ER, leaving me with a nurse while he rushed off to move his car from the emergency lane…without telling the nurse what my problem was. Being a nurse one would assume she didn’t really need to be told what was wrong with me, after all, it was written all over my face, but what do I know?

    So there I am, sitting in a wheel chair, unable to catch a breath because my airway has swollen to the size of a pin head. I can’t see at all as my eyes are swollen closed like a boxer that lost the fight, and my tongue is sticking out of my mouth so I can’t talk beyond nah nah nah and other gutteral noises.

    For a few seconds it’s absolutely quiet and I have no idea what the nurse is doing because I can’t see her when suddenly I hear her voice asking me sweetly, “now what brought you to the ER today?”

    I would have face palmed but I was too busy clutching my throat because I COULDN’T BREATH.

    Thankfully, my husband returned just then and started explaining my medical emergency to this lady (nurse?) who kept asking bizarre questions while taking an inordinate amount of time to do whatever it is you do when somebody CAN’T BREATH!

    Just then a doctor walked by and took one look at me (I’m told) and jumped into action. He saved my life with a quick shot of adrenalin while berating the nurse the entire time.

    I spent a few hours in the ER until things had calmed down and then was sent home. Here’s the real kicker. Less than 24 hours later I would be right back in that ER for the same exact reason. An allergic reaction. Treatment was a bit more prompt that time.

    Thankfully, Nurse Betty was nowhere to be found. The incident itself was scary as anything I have ever been through but now that the danger is past and it is just a memory, I literally laugh out loud when I remember it. It was one of the most bizarre experiences of my life.

    • Posted May 5, 2015 at 3:05 am | Permalink

      “Well, my wife died last night – but at least my car wasn’t towed!”

      Oh my gosh it’s great that you can laugh at that story because it’s horrifying! So glad you lived to tell the tale and I hope you keep an epi-pen close by at all times.

      • rickflick
        Posted May 5, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        I sense this behavior is rather common. In a panic situation people often resort to the wrong action. The illegally parked car would have been high priority in a non-panic situation. Stress may cause us to seize on secondary issues we know how to deal with rather than focus on the urgency of the moment which may have no ready solution. I wonder if there is a name for this phenomenon.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 5, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          “Non-adaptive.”

      • Coolred38
        Posted May 9, 2015 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        The emergency lane at this particular hosp was quite narrow. His car literally was blocking the way for any other cars to get through, or an ambulance.

        I do keep an epi-pen near by but have never had a reason to use one.

        • Posted May 10, 2015 at 2:46 am | Permalink

          Thanks for the details – and I hope you avoid future “funny” calamities!

    • Posted May 10, 2015 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Technically speaking, that was not an anaphylactic reaction, anaphylaxis dilates all blood vessels and you go into shock (circulatory collapse). What you had is called Quinke oedema, can be just as deadly as anaphylaxis, btw.

  79. Posted May 5, 2015 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    When I was five or six years old I was at a holiday party “for the kids” at my dad’s lodge, and he introduced me to our town’s mayor who happened to be a former Grand Exalted Poobah (or whatever the lodge called their Dear Leader) from back when my dad was a kid.

    The mayor had a pretty bad stammer, and he told me “I knew your gran- gran- gran- grandfather [jerking his head back on every “gran-“], and you look just like him!”

    I replied “Wow! You must be really old! My gran- gran- gran- grandfather [jerking my head back on every “gran-“] would be my father’s father’s father’s …”

    Normal people (like my mom, for example) would be embarrassed if their kid said something like that – to the mayor! – but of course those old drunks thought it was wildly hilarious. I was ashamed though because I innocently thought he was saying he knew my great-great-great-grandfather, and, as kids will, assumed they were laughing “at” me.

    It took years of that story being retold for me to “get” the joke, at which point I was mortified that people would mock a person’s disability like that. My dad insisted it was an endearment, as were the racial epithets thrown at the non-WASP members, as well the rest of the nicknames based on physical features: everyone was “Shorty,” “Chubby,” “Stretch,” “Pumpkin-Head,” etc. One man was called “Pear-Shape,” which was kind of a clumsy name, I thought. My dad was “Red” because of his hair.

    My older brother called me “Woozie” because I was hospitalized for asthma when I was a toddler.

    The 1960’s were not a “safe space” … !

    • Posted May 5, 2015 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      My grandfather has similarly “endearing” terms for acquaintances.

      He always referred to a certain handyman he often hired as Krakschauer. I was talking to my mom (his daughter) and mentioned “that handyman grandpa knows, what was his name? I think it’s Polish or something.”

      She laughed. No. It was Crack-shower. Because of how low his pants sat. When he’d squat or bend to fix something, he’d show crack.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      “The 1960’s were not a “safe space” … !”

      No, and you evoke them perfectly! What a good time was had by all.

      My father & his maritime cronies were merciless with the ethnic jokes, many of which they told on themselves, all to great hilarity & usually fondness.

  80. Daniel O. Barrientos
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    “At 21 my english was pretty bad – possibly still is. I had just landed in London. 21, eager to imbibe the city. One night I went downtown and ate at an Italian restaurant. I still remember the red tomato sauce intercalating the linguini. The night was cold, and I had to take the train to go far, zone 5 I think. I walked to the tube station. So many people, so little I understood – of everything. In the pendular car I felt sick. But I had never been underneath the earth traveling at 80 km/h. I walked through the closest doors to the next wagon. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and breathed heavily again. We were out. The night was scintillating, moving fast in front of my eyes. My gut hurt. I needed to get off the train. I stepped out of the train and as a limping dog walked my way to the end of the platform. There, next to the rocks on the ground I vomited really hard. From the distance I saw a couple of policemen walking towards me. I was afraid (my first vomit abroad). I was cleaning my mouth when they must have asked – “Are you alright?” -“No, I feel terrible.” -“What happened to you?” And I blurted out -“I am intoxicated.” The policemen were taken aback by my confession. They immediate said with caution: -“What sort of drugs did you take?” Drugs? I was confused. And then, with much fear in my eyes I said: -“Drugs, no! I just ate a lot of pasta/” That day I learned the expression “food poisoning.” — Daniel”

    • randy fennell
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      Intercalating the linguine? Scintillating? Pendular car? Wow, there is nothing at all wrong with your English, mate: it’s more like poetry!

      Your first day in London may have been awful, but it does make a great story! Thanks!

  81. David B.
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    About 20 years ago, I was teaching a class in statistical thermodynamics. Stat thermo is very mathematical but very logical, and much of the lecture is devoted to derivations of important results that we then apply to real chemical systems. If you can stomach the derivations, the results and their applications can be quite beautiful (to a physical chemist, that is).

    In the middle of one derivation, I noticed something unusual that I never noticed before. Do you know what a lecturer REALLY wants to hear? Not the scratching of pencils taking notes, not the rustling of paper, not the clearing of throats as a student prepares to ask a question. No, what we really want to hear is ABSOLUTE SILENCE. That means that each and every student is hanging on to every word, not even the sound of breathing interrupting that magical moment of pure, rapt attention to the instructor.

    Well, in the middle of that derivation, I reached lecturer nirvana: absolute silence. As I paused to take a breath, there wasn’t a sound in the classroom of about 15 people, me and the students.

    And then I broke wind. Rather loudly.

    You know that joke that if there are two people in an elevator and one person farts, everyone knows who did it? Well, my particular elevator was rather crowded, and EVERYONE knew who did it. To my credit, I recovered immediately, turned back to the board, and continued the derivation. I don’t know how red I turned, nor did I try to meet anyone’s eyes, but to say that was my most embarrassing moment is rather understated.

    And I never experienced that sort of lecturer nirvana again. Maybe word got out…

  82. David Siegel
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    In 1982 I was working one afternoon in a video rental store on Chicago’s Gold Coast. The manager was in the back and I was all alone at the counter. Two men came in. One was sharply dressed and the other one looked like he had slept in a gutter and just woke up.
    The well-dressed man approached me and asked in a very distinct English accent if the movies were for sale. I said yes and told him to pick out the boxes he wanted. (We kept the actual VHS tapes in the back). He then started to collect tons of movies! I worked my butt off trying to retrieve the tapes and put them in the right boxes.
    Meanwhile the shabby-dressed man also selected some boxes but stayed near the rear of the store avoiding eye contact with me. Finally, the well-dressed man approached the counter and took out his wallet. It had an engraved “The Who” emblem in it. I asked if they were in town for the “Who” concert that was coming up in a few days. He laughed very hard but did not answer me. He paid and both men left.
    I came in to work the following day and was immediately met with chides and laughter.
    The well-dressed gentlemen I waited on the day before was the manager of “The Who”. And the shabby-dressed man? Well of course that was Pete Townsend.
    A day earlier they had gone into a bookstore across the street (where they were identified) and asked the owner who was a friend of ours if he knew a place to buy some movies to take on the concert tour bus!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 1:56 am | Permalink

      (Not an entry but…)

      In the 80’s I was working in Rarotonga and we had a major flood control scheme that included enlarging a channel that ran down one side of the Catholic Cathedral grounds. I was deputed to go and ask them for their permission. So I knocked on the side door of the residence and a priest answered it, let me in and invited me to explain our proposal. Aware that this could have a major impact on their land, I said as politely as I could ‘Should I be talking to whoever is in charge of your property?’ and the priest said ‘That would be me, I think. I’m Bishop O’Brien’. Oh the embarrassment.

      He was really pleasant about my gaffe and, though Catholic doctrine is anathema to me, I have to say he was absolutely public-spirited in giving permission for the works without any quibbles.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 10, 2015 at 1:57 am | Permalink

        P.S. The Bishop’s name changed because… well just because

      • Posted May 10, 2015 at 4:24 am | Permalink

        Historically, at least, you should have been talking to the dean (iirc).

        In the middle ages there are instances of bishops being denied access to “their” cathedrals.

        /@

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 10, 2015 at 7:57 am | Permalink

          Not sure about the Diocese of Rarotonga but it’s probably not big enough to have a major hierarchy. Quite possibly the bish doubles as the dean.

          • Posted May 10, 2015 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

            Quite possibly the bish doubles as the dean.

            Would that make him a bean dish?

            b&

  83. bobkillian
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I was sitting in a bank, across the desk from a loan officer as we were completing the paperwork for a loan. I saw on her desk name plate that her last name was Kekkonnen. “Is that Finnish?” I asked. She looked up and said “Yes, you can go now.”

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      🙂

    • Janet
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Made me laugh out loud.

  84. Bruce Lyon
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    As a graduate student many years ago I attended a large (1000+ people) international behavior conference. The coffee breaks included excellent pastries, but there was never enough to go around and the pastries always ran out quickly. I was in a plenary talk and needed a bathroom break before the coffee break but this could mean no doughnuts during the break. I had a plan. I left the plenary talk as soon as the questions began and rushed to the bathroom, smugly thinking this ploy would put in the pastry line before anybody else. Once ensconced in the bathroom stall I heard a woman’s voice. Before I could call out to tell her she was in the wrong bathroom, a few more women came in the bathroom. Oops, in my rush to get the bathroom break out of the way quickly, I had entered the wrong bathroom. It got worse. A woman entered the stall next to mine. I looked down at my hairy-toed feet in my sandals and decided it would be prudent to yank my feet up out of sight. I sat there waiting for the coast to clear for what seemed like an eternity. It was not happening, partly because several women were chatting around the sinks. With my chances a getting a doughnut sinking I decided I had to act. I covered my face with my hands, rushed out of the stall mumbling “sorry, got in the wrong bathroom”. Through my hands I could see that one of the women by the sink was Linda Partridge, then president of the Society (and now Dame Partridge no less). The second I got out the bathroom door the bathroom erupted in laugher—they had enjoyed the incident more than I had. I can no longer recall if I made it to the doughnut line in time.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      LOL!

      I love it when we commit a faux pas and then try a cover-up which only makes it worse. 😀

      (And by “we,” I mean everybody but me….)

  85. Posted May 5, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I am a non-jew married to a cultural jew, living in Mexico City. When newly married, 30+ years ago, we were invited to a Yom Kipur dinner and I was asked to bring the salad. I chose the best recipe I could think of: my delicious Spinach Salad (recipe below). Dinner was served, and all of a sudden, the guest of honor, the Israeli Ambassador to Mexico, said: “What part of the veal is this?” I had forgotten to exclude the bacon! I was making 50 jews all eat bacon for Yom Kipur. I turned to my husband, who was looking at me with I-can-kill-you eyes, and all I could say was “Let’s get the hell out of here!”.

    Spinach Salad (mind the date)
    2 pounds of spinach, 1 small romaine lettuce, 2 sliced green peppers, ¼ pound of sliced fresh white mushrooms, ¼ pound fried bacon in small pieces, 5 oz toasted sesame seed for decoration.

    Sauce. Mix in the blender the previous day: ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup corn oil, ¼ cup vinegar, ½ Tbsp black pepper, ½ Tbsp sugar, ½ Tbsp paprika, 3 Tbsp Catsup, a pinch of powdered mustard, 2 smashed garlic cloves, ½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, ½ Tbsp bouillon powder.

    • Posted May 5, 2015 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      Hahahahaha!

    • randy fennell
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      Oh, boy. Tough to live that one down! So it occurs to me, if you did this on Yom Kipur, are you “atoning” for that by telling us now?

      This is just idle non-Jew speculation, but is it so horrible to eat pork if you’re unaware of it? Apparently not so much.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 6, 2015 at 12:09 am | Permalink

      OMG you poor thing!

      I hate being invited to dinner and then being told to bring something…

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 6, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        Me too. I hate potluck too because I don’t cook and I don’t want to look like a jerk bringing only the buns.

      • Posted May 8, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        We invite people over a lot, and for the people who do ask what they can bring, we’ve finally settled on telling everyone to bring dessert. It’s usually the part of the meal we forget about, and it’s something they can just pick up from a bakery or freezer section if they don’t feel like cooking.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 9, 2015 at 5:10 am | Permalink

          Good idea!

          But some of us women have been socialized to think that any item we bring must be home-made. It would be most welcome if you included the bakery option in your reply! 🙂

          • Posted May 9, 2015 at 9:05 am | Permalink

            Not just women…I always feel guilty if asked to bring something and I don’t have a chance to make it.

            b&

            • NewEnglandBob
              Posted May 9, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

              Well, you can Fake it until you make it

              • Posted May 9, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink

                What, bring a bowl of plastic fruit?

                b&

            • Diane G.
              Posted May 9, 2015 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

              Well, you’re that kinda guy.

              🙂

              • Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

                Probably genetic…Mom and Dad are in the middle of a ten-day vacation driving up and down California, starting with a reunion of a bunch of Dad’s high school classmates, and he was worried about what he could bring that would survive the flight, including security….

                b&

              • Posted May 10, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

                You mean security might eat the noms?

              • Posted May 10, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

                That, I’m sure, Dad could deal with by bringing extra for the thugs.

                Alas, they’re more likely to declare anything and everything a nuclear biochemical weapon of mass destruction and toss it in the garbage bin with all the other superbombs too dangerous for a plane. He thought, for example, of bringing coffee beans before thinking better of it….

                b&

              • Diane G.
                Posted May 11, 2015 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

                You have great parents.

                Also–damnable TSA.

              • Posted May 12, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

                Yes, to both.

                I still remember one of, if not the last time I flew, several years ago…my parents and I had flown to Missouri to spend a week with one of Dad’s cousins. We went to an amusement park, and there was a vendor there selling honey. They had buckwheat honey which I had never had before and turned out to be really quite wonderful, so I bought a small bottle.

                Of course, the Stormtrooper back at the airport gave me a choice of throwing it in the garbage or being shot on sight for crimes against the Homeland.

                b&

              • Posted May 12, 2015 at 10:04 am | Permalink

                I don’t know whether you’re just unlucky or I’m just lucky. When we stayed one night at the Royal Palms in Phoenix for our anniversary. They gave us a jar of their own honey as a present, which I had in my bag at the airport for our flight back to the UK from San Diego. The TSA lady said it was technically prohibited by allowed us to take it through with a warning not to do it again.

                Maybe it’s my winning smile…

                /@

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 12, 2015 at 11:17 am | Permalink

                It’s your accent. While Hollywood tends to portray people with English accents as villains, in real life, Americans are transfixed by them.

              • Posted May 12, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

                Hollywood portrays people w English accents as villains – or ancient Romans…

              • Diane G.
                Posted May 13, 2015 at 12:49 am | Permalink

                @ Ben

                Oh, for chrissakes!

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted May 13, 2015 at 2:21 am | Permalink

                On a night flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, I was dying of thirst, I asked the stewardess if I could have some more water, and she produced a 1-litre bottle, 2/3rds full. She was an angel! That bottle (with refills as required) travelled with me on Air France to Paris, all round the Alps in the car, and back on Air France to Abu Dhabi, where it got through one security check no trouble, but then due to a stuff-up they re-routed us to the other end of the airport and checked us again and it was finally taken off me. I was most unimpressed and said so, though not so emphatically as to get myself arrested.

  86. Posted May 5, 2015 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I was a first year resident in the first month of internal medicine. Although I was an ob/gyn resident I had to serve two months taking care of critically ill medical patients and part of that responsibility involved carrying the code beeper.

    This entailed participating in code blues and performing life-saving CPR and ACLS under the direction of the chief ICU resident.

    The hospital was catholic and although I had spent 12 years in Catholic grade school I was lapsed and had not been in church for almost ten years. The very first day at 0700 hours we were all in morning report about about 30 docs and med students and the code beepers all went off. I had to run down the hall and up three flights of stairs to the ICU.

    Halfway down the first hall I could see a nun walking toward me about 50 yards away. I was in full sprint but cam to an abrupt stop when I saw her. My lizard brain kicked in and I was fully expecting some grievous physical insult for “running in the hallway.” I look down to make sure my shirt was tucked in and my shoes were clean.

    As she came closer, the nun smiled and said, “Good morning, doctor.” I thought, oh yeah, I’m a doctor. Holy cow.

    Then I resumed full sprint and left the mental scars to heal another day.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 6, 2015 at 12:31 am | Permalink

      That’s cute. 🙂 I hope the scars are now sufficiently mitigated!

  87. Anonymous
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    It was 1953 and I was thirteen years old and playing shortstop on the church altar-boy baseball team. Father McCue was the third base umpire. Suddenly the batter smacked a one-bounce line-drive straight to my position. My glove went up automatically in front of my face for protection. I waited for the impact, felt none, so removed my gloved hand to look… just as the baseball smashed into and broke my nose. “JEEEEZUZZZ CHRIST!!! I screamed. Father McCue came running over to me, put his arm around my shoulder and said “Don’t say that!!” “WELL THE SON OF A BITCH HURTS!! GOD DAMN IT!” I yelled. “Stop saying that and go to my car.” He drove me to the doctor where they set the bone and then sent me home. My career as a shortstop, altar-boy and Catholic, was washed up.

    • mhoule2013
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      I did not intend to post as anonymous. I am Mike Houle and I live with my wife Karen in a town called Dewey-Humboldt, AZ. about a mile from the famed restroom squirrel signs. I enjoy this site very much ever since my daughter Kelly pointed it out to me. Thank you WEIT and Thank you one-hop line drive.

      • Posted May 5, 2015 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        Ah, you must be Kelly’s dad. Congrats on raising such a nice and talented daughter!

        • mhoule2013
          Posted May 5, 2015 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

          Thank you very much sir. We are very proud of both of our daughters.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      What a perfect anecdote for this site! Gotta love those Catholic priorities…

      Too bad about the shortstop career, though. 😀

      • mhoule2013
        Posted May 5, 2015 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        Well thanks! I do have an epilogue: A couple of years later, while hitchhiking to my High School, Father McCue stopped to pick me up. Hop in he said. We rode in silence for a while and then he asked: “where have you been? Why haven’t you been coming to church? I thought for a few seconds and then said, “I really can’t believe in all that stuff anymore.” With an astonished look on his face he swung the car sharply to the curb, stopped, and said, “I have to go a different way now. Get out. You can walk the rest of the way.” I then walked the last few blocks to school elated, jubilant, and free!

        • randy fennell
          Posted May 5, 2015 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

          No wafer for you! One year!

          Pretty snotty of the priest, you’d expect a bit more forgiveness from someone whose entire life is supposedly devoted to just that. I’m very glad for you that it was an occasion for growth and elation!

          • Posted May 7, 2015 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

            Soup nazi. Nice.

            I was behind a person in line at a Subway restaurant (sub sandwiches custom made while you watch, for those that don’t know) who was not ready to order when she got to the front of the line, asked several inane questions while deciding, and made the “sandwich artist” start over a few times as she changed her mind. After the fourth or fifth restart, the guy behind the counter looked at the growing line (dinner time) and said “I can’t serve you. I don’t have time to play.”

            A customer sitting and eating nearby laughed and said “no soup for you!”

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted May 7, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

              Haha! I always did identify with The Soup Nazi a bit because I hate being behind someone that hums and haws because he or she didn’t think to consider what he or she wanted during the wait in line. It’s as if the person is shocked to be in a sub line all of a sudden.

              • Posted May 7, 2015 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

                Isn’t the etiquette to either not get in line until you’ve made your choice, or let people behind you go ahead of you if you still haven’t decided by the time you get to the front of the line?

                At least, that’s the way I’ve always done it….

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 7, 2015 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

                That’s how I’ve done it too but there always seems to be one person shocked to realize it is now time to order. I’ve seen the same with paying. It is like some people suddenly realize money must now be exchanged for the food.

              • Posted May 8, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

                …or the people at the grocery store who chat up the cashier only to wait until the total is announced before digging in some cavernous bag for a checkbook….

                b&

              • NewEnglandBob
                Posted May 8, 2015 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

                Or to look for cash in several different compartments in a pocket book, terminating in counting out the coins after digging, and still getting it wrong.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 8, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

                Oh so you’ve met my mother?

              • Posted May 8, 2015 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

                Oh, so sorry…and I hope she wasn’t like that when you were young enough to be embarrassed by being seen as her daughter!

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 8, 2015 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

                I was actually visiting my parents and I read your cavernous bag comment to my dad and he thought it was just like my mom.

        • rickflick
          Posted May 5, 2015 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

          The truth shall set you free.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 6, 2015 at 1:01 am | Permalink

          How very Christian of the good Father.

          😀

          How exquisitely satisfying!

        • Posted May 7, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

          So sad when Christians like that show their true Christian colors. But at least he was kind enough to give you liberation! One wonders if he ever found it for himself….

          b&

          • NewEnglandBob
            Posted May 7, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

            Lubrication? Oh, liberation. I need to clean my glasses 🙂

    • bluemaas
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      O, I so can relate to your saga.

      Yes, I do love ball; but I’m only the mama.

      Nowhere nearly as wicked – bad as your ordeal, my weest @ his very first Little League practice had nearly the same thing occur.

      That one specific “coach” of his was soooo less than, shall I say, “helpful” — we’re talking mean – spirited, hard – hearted and snotty thuggish — so out of a(nother) mouth spewed words of the same genre as had been yours.

      Not out of weest kiddo’s … … but outta that mouth which was mine.

      No regrets — neither.
      Blue

  88. randy fennell
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Ok, this one is way back in the Cretaceous, otherwise known as “Middle School”. I dressed in a hurry that morning, wearing my favorite pants;the white ones with the zip pockets (Cretaceous, remember?). I threw on the only clean socks left, sneakers, and out the door.

    As fate would have it, the physical ed/gym session that day was Square Dancing, and whose group got picked to stand up for the initial demo? Well, mine of course! What I hadn’t considered is that my white pants had shrunk into embarrassing “high water” pants, and my last pair of socks?

    Why, fluorescent International Distress ORANGE, naturally! There was more laughter than a ton of Tickle Me Elmos falling down the steps of the Capitol Building.

    Oddly enough, it didn’t occur to me until now why I didn’t have a girlfriend until the Tenth Grade.

  89. Dermot C
    Posted May 6, 2015 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    Eddie and I were 20, Grenoble, the Land of the Dauphin, much older: and the 3 mountain chains which lumbered over France’s flattest city, inhumanly so.

    Chamrousse, the nearby Alpine ski resort awoke, the jets’ cobwebs spinning in the big blue past a small, white sun. We had caught the bus from the parent resort to learn on the nursery slopes as the 4 and 5 year-olds, better skiers than walkers, whizzed around and between our legs. We were Bambi to their mountain goat.

    Lunchtime. The woman in the chair-lift kiosk directed us to the main village.

    “Take this chair-lift. At the top you can catch another down to Chamrousse.”

    “Are you sure? We can’t ski.”

    “Absolutely.”

    Up and up the mountain the chair-lift creaked, the Rhône valley miles below, white as a corpse bride.

    We jumped off at the terminus. A man sat in a shed reading.

    “Where is the chair-lift down?”

    “Up there.”

    200 metres above us through the deep-drift snow was the second chair-lift. Unreachable.

    “We can’t ski. Can we go down again on this chair-lift?”

    “No, it upsets the balance. Nobody is allowed to go down.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Absolutely.”

    So we trekked. Down. Skis on our shoulders, in a straight line down the S-bend ski run. ‘Franz Klammer’ stopped. We explained our predicament: he sympathized. Expert skiers whizzed past us on the precipitous slope. Now we slid and tripped on the cliff-like ice-rink, now we waded, waist-deep, drenched, through loose-pack snow.

    After an hour and a half we reached Chamrousse. Near the finish, a skilled skier drew up. It was Franz Klammer again.

    “Congratulations!”

    “Yeah.”

    Eddie and I dumped our skis in the après-ski café. We sulked and slaked our thirst; and drank till drunk. Punk-style, down in our digs in the Olympic Village, we d-i-yed our badges. “Je déteste le ski.” Grenoble, the Mountain Hall of the Dauphin, endorphinned, snow-lit in the twilight, ignored our self-pity. x

  90. Dermot C
    Posted May 6, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    A story my brother told me about his mate Nigel, ‘Niggah’ we called him innocently in the early 80s.

    Motorhead were coming to town. The management of the Hilton was checking its insurance policies, the weight of their tellies and the strength of the double-glazing.

    Lemmy and the crew sloped into the bar where Nigel was a waiter.

    “Good evening, gentlemen. Would sirs be wanting a drink?”

    “Yes, please. An orange juice if you have it.”

    “And a sparkling mineral water for me, please.”

    “And would Mr. Lemmy be requiring a drink?”

    “No thank you, but could you tell me of a decent vegetarian restaurant nearby?”

    Rahck ‘n’ roll! x

  91. Dermot C
    Posted May 6, 2015 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    So…as Seamus Heaney translated the first word of ‘Beowulf’, for this is an Anglo-Irish story.

    1966. Father Robertson summoned my dad to the presbytery.

    “About your son, Frank, Mr. C. Going to a Protestant secondary school. The Church doesn’t look kindly on this. Have you considered St. Phillips?”

    Dad was a lapsed Derry Catholic, the son of a gun-runner for de Valera. Who refused to attend my grand-dad’s funeral because it was held on British soil. In Derry. The anti-Catholic venom spewed out.

    “I’m a teacher and a parent. How dare you, a virgin priest, order me about how to raise my child? You know nothing about what it is to be a parent and nothing about education. I will not sit here and be lectured by the likes of you.”

    The interview ended. 5 years later my dad learned of Father Robertson’s back story.

    As a young man he had been married: with 2 young children. One day on an excursion he crashed the car. And his wife and 2 children died. The young man found God, took holy orders, and several years later took all the invective my dad threw at him. And never said a word.

    My dad made sure he never went near the church again. x

  92. shelterit
    Posted May 6, 2015 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    I have an odd one that happened just a couple of weeks ago that also passes the “nom” factor. Now, my “embarrassment factor” is very high, even by Norwegian standards, so I’ve been hysterically giggling about this ever since …

    I’m a consultant (doing UX) living in Australia that some times do stints for clients at their site, and I had been invited to lunch by the boss and his team I was working with. We were happily chattering away in a proper Chinese restaurant that had trolleys in all directions with food weird and wonderful coming and going. I had no idea what was placed on our table, nor did I know why it happened; there were some unwritten rules about the comings and goings of this place, and the people I was with seemed to be in some degree of control. I wasn’t worried, though; I’d like to try all kinds of food, and I want to try everything at least once.

    The guys next to me had a love affair with chicken feet, for some reason. He loved to eat them, and, of course, urged me and everyone to give it a go. Sure, why not? [They were ok] And so the topic of trying weird or different foods became the subject of conversation for the whole table.

    People offered all kinds of stories about foods they’ve eaten, and mostly it was the usual suspects of crocodile, ostrich, emu, dog, snake, different kinds of birds, sea cucumber, maybe the odd fish. But I thought I had the best one of all. I waited for just the right moment.

    “The best meat my mouth have ever tasted was … beaver. It was so delicious, so tender and moist.”

    What kind of meat was it?

    “Not red, but not white either, kind of a lush pink. Almost like a Barbie doll, you know?”

    Where did this happen?

    “We were at a special event, lots of people having a good time, like a fair for special people. [It was a medieval re-enactment camp] Me and a couple of friends got to share this beaver. We were all quite loudly agreeing on this, it was amazing! I still have the pelt!”

    I thought the conversation had gone a bit silent and smirky, but it wasn’t until a bit later I realized that unlike us Norwegians who have native beavers in the woods – and hence could have made my story a perfectly normal conversation there – Aussies hardly know what a beaver is … except, of course, the sexually explicit metaphorically one.

    Oh, my!

  93. Leo Glenn
    Posted May 6, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    While living in Japan in my early twenties, I embarked on a trip with a group of friends across the rugged northern island of Hokkaido. We travelled on the cheap, camping, hosteling, and stopping daily to take full advantage of the numerous local volcanic hot springs. We especially liked the little, out-of-the-way places largely passed over by the tourist trade.

    The Japanese patrons were sometimes apprehensive at first to see foreigners at their hot spring, but they quickly relaxed when they saw that we knew the proper protocol–wash first at the shower stations, rinse thoroughly, and remove all clothing before entering the hot spring. After the initial surprise at our presence, we were mostly ignored, apart from the inevitable side-long glances at our nether regions, to satisfy their curiosity about what Westerners really looked like “down there”.

    One day we happened upon a glorious, family-friendly hot spring waterfall, where clothing was required. I wore a brand new pair of bright red shorts. By the end of the day I noticed with mild interest that my red shorts had faded to a dull pink. When I pulled them off, however, I was shocked to discover that the red dye had transferred to my skin, turning everything from my navel to my upper thighs an incandescent red. The overall effect, in contrast with my naturally pale skin, was quite alarming, as if that section of my body was critically inflamed, or tattooed in some bizarre sexual ritual. My shock turned to dismay, of course, when I realized that we would be visiting another hot spring that evening.

    My only hope was to try to wash it off as discreetly as possible in the shower area and to slip into the hot spring without anyone noticing. Needless to say, it did not go as planned. In my determination to rub the dye off, I only succeeded in genuinely inflaming my skin, making it appear even worse, if that were possible, and my vigorous rubbing only served to attract unwanted attention. I looked up to find every head turned in my direction–not subtle, surreptitious glances, but full-on, wide-eyed, open-mouthed stares. I could not have drawn more attention to myself had I pulled my shorts down to a fanfare of trumpets. There I was, a pasty white foreigner amidst a group of 30-40 Japanese men, all of us naked, with my naughty bits the color of the lurid red barbecued pork-on-a-stick you find in Chinese restaurants. I tried my best to act nonchalant as I edged toward the pool, knowing my Japanese was not nearly good enough even to attempt an explanation. The stares diminished after I sank to my neck in the hot water, although it did seem to me that I had considerably more space around me than usual.

    The dye stubbornly persisted, despite my increasingly desperate efforts to remove it, and I got to repeat the experience daily for several more days. I can only imagine the conversations that must have taken place in those hot springs after I left.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 7, 2015 at 6:05 am | Permalink

      Now that’s original! 😀

      Still chuckling…

    • Posted May 8, 2015 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      Don’t I always say don’t put the reds in with the whites?!

      That was an excellent story, wonderfully funny and lurid, bearing the hallmark of a winner.

    • rickflick
      Posted May 8, 2015 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

      I have to assume all that was filmed and will turn up on Youtube soon. 😎

      • Leo Glenn
        Posted May 8, 2015 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

        Mercifully, no. It happened in 1990, many years before YouTube was even a concept. Nowadays, of course, someone probably would have had a cell phone handy.

  94. Dermot C
    Posted May 7, 2015 at 2:39 am | Permalink

    1978. My mother’s funeral.

    The driver of the hearse opened the door for my aunt.

    “Were you the deceased’s sister, Madame?”

    “Aye, how did you know?”

    “I embalmed the body, Madame.”

    That was good to know. x

  95. Posted May 8, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    A few years ago, after we’d just moved into our new house in Wichita Falls, Texas, we decided to invite my wife’s family over for Memorial Day weekend. They all live down in the DFW area, so it’s about a 2 hour drive. She has a rather large immediate family, so we were already expecting a pretty full house. Well, some time Saturday afternoon, my wife was out front sweeping the driveway when a car drove by really slowly, then turned around at the street past our house and came back.

    “Irma, is that you?”

    My wife responded a little hesitantly that yes, it was her.

    “You may not remember me, but I’m your cousin, Missy. Your brother Ralph said you were having a party and it’d be okay if we came. We brought a tent we can set up in the backyard.”

    Well, what can you do when people have driven over two hours to get to your house? So, we told her to come on in, along with the carload of people that came with her, and all their camping and fishing gear (there’s a pond in our back yard). Then another car showed up. And another. All her long lost cousins just kept coming.

    But we were all having a good time, sitting in the backyard drinking beer and margaritas. Then my brother in law got a call. It was their Tio Gabby. “Ralph – we’re almost there. We just crossed the state line.”

    “State line? What state line? If you’re in Oklahoma you went too far.”

    “No, the Kansas state line. We’ve only got a little bit to go to get to Wichita.”

    “Wichita? They live in Wichita Falls.”

    “Wichita Falls? We passed that a few hours ago.”

    So they turned around and made their way back to our place some time after midnight, but we were all still up, anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal.

    Then it started to rain. Hard. Remember all those people that brought tents? Yeah – that didn’t work out. We had a few inflatable mattresses that we set up. Everyone else just had blankets and sleeping bags. There were over 40 people. Every horizontal surface in the house had somebody sleeping on it, even the landing at the top of the stairs.

    The next day in the pool, well after the storm had passed, you just saw heads bobbing up and down everywhere. You could barely see the water. When everyone got out, I think the water went down about half a foot.

    Oh well, it was a fun weekend, and we managed to make room for everybody. But that was the last time when the extended family was invited – it was just too much. We’ve had the family back just about every Memorial Day since then, but now it’s limited to immediate family, only.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 9, 2015 at 5:06 am | Permalink

      But what a great story! And memory. 🙂

  96. Richard Rasp
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    It was a warm California spring day in 1956, the last day of my 8th grade science class before summer vacation. Several weeks earlier I brought my pet gopher snake to share with my classmates. It was time to remove it from my teacher’s cage and take it home. Alas, I forgot to bring a cloth bag to contain the 3-footer. Then I had a bright idea to just put it inside my shirt, where it would take a nap, all tucked in. I wore my knitted sweater over it to conceal any suspicious bulges. I only had one more 45-minute homeroom class left before the school buses arrived and I’d be going home.

    I sat in the front row, next to the alluring Kathleen. Distracted by conflicting demands for my attention, I became oblivious to my stealthy stowaway’s wanderings. The escape artist crawled out my t-shirt sleeve and burrowed through the back of my coarse-weaved sweater to dangle and sway in front of my classmates. Suddenly, screams of SNAKE! catapulted me out of my complacency.

    I reached around my back and pulled the snake out of the sweater. When I had it firmly in my grasp, I made a feeble attempt at reassuring the screamers and my teacher that they were in no danger. Failing to have compassion and a sense of situational humor, Mrs. Garlinghouse immediately sent me to the principal’s office. It happened to be empty, just like my chances with Kathleen.

    • bluemaas
      Posted May 9, 2015 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      Yours is just a darling saga, Mr Rasp.

      I beg to differ, however, as re the brains of Ms Garlinghouse and Ms Kathleen! I wish I had been either — then (in 1956, I would have been 8 years old with very many chances in rural Iowa at snake – petting!) and soooo would have used this Outed Slither Moment as a teaching one OR as my immediately fortuitous opportunity with which to walk home with YOU!

      So far, I have been happily successful with my two quite young granddaughters after instilling during their weest childhoods in each of their papas a precious love of All Things Herpetology (including for years and years Regina, Jacob Thomas’ loveliest Eastern Florida Kingsnake pet which, at his age nine, he just ‘knew’ was a she – snake so ‘king’ Latinized became for him her name) — here these days Ms Iris Genevieve and her Alluring Friend: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/506655026806174715.

      Blue

      • Richard Rasp
        Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        Thank you, Blue. That’s a nice photo of Ms. Iris holding a snake. I developed several snake demonstrations for park visitors during my career as a national park ranger/naturalist in Arkansas, Florida, and California. My collecting passion as a boy turned into catch, photograph, and release as I matured.

      • Diane G.
        Posted May 9, 2015 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

        Looks like a most intelligent and confident granddaughter, Blue–congrats!

  97. Posted May 9, 2015 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    My wife says this is both my funniest and most embarrassing story. I have a number to choose from, so I’ll trust her on this.

    We were on a road trip through the south of Australia, driving the Great Ocean Road. We had started out in Adelaide and picked up a number of fun snacks from the Chinatown there (we always love buying things we which don’t exactly know what they are and experimenting). There was some kind of strange tofu curd stuff which I liked but she did not. At some point along the drive my wife begins to complain about the smell in the car, saying that the Asian foodstuffs we bought smelled like (is minor swearing allowed?) $hit. I hushedly assured her that it was not the food and to just ignore it. She continued pressing the matter and I continued to become more uncomfortable and brusque. She was confused and I just begged her to drop the subject and move on. Once we got to our stop for the night, I got out of the car and confessed that I had “sharted” myself… rather badly and that this was the smell she had been complaining about but that since I had no option to stop and clean up (we were in a fairly remote stretch), I was too embarrassed to let her know. She immediately started laughing so hard tears came out of her eyes and then apologized to me. After cleaning up in the motel room, we went to go get some stuff out of the car. Turns out that smell actually WAS the Asian food we had gotten!

  98. Ben
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    OK, here’s the most embarrassing thing that has happened to me since I graduated from high school. The closed vault of my high school years shall not be re-opened. :->

    I was at the dentist getting a routine cleaning. I had a bit of gum irritation in one spot. I wanted to ask the hygienist who was cleaning my teeth – a very attractive woman, as it happens – whether I needed to be careful not to use the same bit of dental floss between the irritated area and other parts of my mouth – whether there was some risk of transfer of infectious bacteria from spot to spot or something, which might cause the irritation to spread. (An idiotic question in and of itself, in hindsight, but I was feeling rather flustered by how attractive she was, and I was trying to think of things to say that sounded intelligent – a good way to end up saying things that sound very unintelligent!) In any case, what I actually asked her, in my nervousness, was “Is it OK to reuse a piece of dental floss?” She was unable to conceal her horror and disgust, and after a moment I realized that she thought I was asking whether it would be OK to clean off a piece of dental floss, perhaps hang it up to dry, and then use it again the next day! There was no recovering from it; I tried haltingly to explain myself, but she clearly thought I was simply revolting (not to mention staggeringly miserly), and she had no interest in my excuses. I blushed continuously through the rest of the visit, swimming in endless excruciating embarrassment, and I changed dentists as soon as I had escaped. I feel sure that she stills tells people her story of the most disgusting client she has ever had, and they shake their heads in wonder at the guy who wanted to reuse his dental floss.

    • rickflick
      Posted May 9, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Hmmm…now you got me thinkin’. How about using the dish washer? It would be just short of an autoclave, wouldn’t it?

  99. Wayne Tyson
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Okay, okay!

    Our cat, Gordo (short for Gordo Alcazar Tizon y Olinghouse–which spells gato) was having trouble breathing one night close to midnight.

    The vet kindly offered to meet us at the “hospital,” and we rushed him the several miles to get there. Shortly before we arrived, Gordo stopped breathing. The vet, a beautiful young woman, immediately started artificial respiration. After a few puffs, the vet said, “Here, you take over while I get the oxygen.” I put my mouth over his mouth and nose and gave a puff; the next thing I knew I had a big, 19-pound, long-haired tuxedo hanging from my nose, clamped on tight. I yanked the ungrateful bastard (we found him in a garbage can in the Alcazar Garden in Balboa Park, San Diego, where we both worked) from my nose, whereupon he bit me through my right thumb.

    “You were doing WHAT to your cat?” exclaimed the ER staff, laughing uncontrollably in in chorus.

    The next day we were visiting a dear friend, and the conversation drifted to the cause of the large nose bandage, making me look like a white-nosed W. C. Fields that matched the great hitch-hiker’s thumb I was sporting. The story was dutifully related to the group, which included another dear friend, a diminutive lass, who, shall we say, was pleasingly fey.

    In a few days, the version of the story that the dear fey one was circulating amongst our large community of friends:

    Wayne’s cat bit him through the nose while he was giving it artificial insemination! The fey one’s mind was fixated on sex.

  100. Angela
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Ever since I saw pictures from my high school science teacher’s Alaskan cruise, I decided I would visit Alaska one day. My chance came about a dozen years later when I discovered a co-worker who also wanted to visit Alaska. She was already a world traveler, whereas I had never been anywhere, so this trip included many “firsts” for me: flying in an airplane, seeing an ocean, among many others. The excursions we planned were also all-new to me. While the helicopter ride onto a glacier was the most exhilarating, the snorkeling adventure was, by far, the most memorable.

    The snorkeling brochure stated to bring either a bathing suit or a t-shirt and shorts to wear under the wetsuit. I chose to take a t-shirt and shorts, which turned out to be a big mistake. The tour operator informed us on the bus trip to the snorkeling spot that, if we didn’t have a bathing suit, then we would have to wear our birthday suit under the wetsuit. She explained a t-shirt and shorts would cause extreme chafing. I was terrified of the thought of getting naked in front of a bunch of strangers but I was determined to be adventurous on this trip and so decided to go for it.

    When we reached the beach, the first hurdle was getting our wetsuits. The tour operators kept pushing me to the back of the line. I knew they were worried they wouldn’t have a suit that would fit me for I am very short and very fat. Finally, they found me a suit and I entered the women’s tent. I went to a corner and quickly undressed. Then I tried, with all my might to pull on the wetsuit, but could not get it up past my calves.

    I was about to give up when four women came over to help me. They moved me and my nakedness out to the center of the tent, had me stand with my feet apart and proceeded to tug on my suit. Two women were bent down behind me with their heads level with my buttocks and two women were bent in front of me with their heads level with, well, you can guess. While they worked, I stared straight ahead and tried to go to my “happy-place.” My co-worker said later, though, that my face and neck were so red she thought I was going to stroke out.

    Finally, those four very kind ladies got me into my suit and I went snorkeling. I stayed in the water the entire 45 minutes and saw sea stars, a sea cucumber and a pod of dolphins cavorting in the distance. It was wonderful and well worth the mortifying moments beforehand. I never got their names, as I was too embarrassed, but I am forever grateful to those ladies who helped me experience something amazing.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      Good for you, Angela! I hope that doesn’t sound patronizing because I really mean it! Not sure I would have gotten over myself to go on the way you did.

  101. largeswope
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    I am a Teacher Librarian at a Middle School. Like most school librarians, I do not allow food in the library. A sixth grade class came in finishing off there packages of snacks. After class had started I could tell some students had not finished their snacks or thrown them away so I said to them “I smell someone’s nuts.” For a stunned second we all stared at each other then burst out laughing. Later that day the Assistant Principal asked me why we were all cracking up in the library. Fortunately she thought it was funny too.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      LOL!

  102. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I do have a second entry. I do not consider this to be terribly embarrassing, but it is rather funny.
    When I was in the 3rd grade I had by then earned the reputation as being a complete nut for invertebrates. Insects and spiders were my main obsession, but all invertebrates had my attention. This was a fact that was well known to my teachers and to other teachers who needed help capturing a bee or wasp that was in any class room.
    One day I was walking to school in the rain. The sidewalk had large numbers of night crawlers, so naturally I stopped to pick up a very large number of them – probably a couple dozen – and placed them in my coat pockets.
    At our school we would always hang our coats in the hallway. School began, and we set ourselves to learning whatever. After a few hours another teacher poked her head into our classroom and got our teachers’ attention. We could hear that she was inquiring about a large number of worms that were crawling along the entire hallway, but that it was pretty clear they were most concentrated outside of our class room.
    My teacher immediately whipped her head around, and said very sternly, “MARK??” There was of course no doubt about the most likely suspect.
    I was sent into the hallway with a cup to collect the worms and to set them lose outside. No one was angry, actually and in fact I recall that everyone was very amused. And my teacher had another story to tell my parents at the next parent-teacher conference.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted May 9, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      I belatedly see above that we get 1 story / person. So I withdraw this one. Sorry.

    • winewithcats
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      This reminds me of the first time I tried to make a worm bin for composting. There’s a right way to do it, of course; like any other creature, red wigglers prefer their ecosystem to be just so. Unfortunately I had neither done my research thoroughly nor managed to exercise common sense, and thus ended up with a tub of densely packed wood chips, dry hay scraps, and desiccant pumice dust (I kept a chinchilla at the time). So I dumped a big handful of worms onto the pile, set the cover loosely on top, and then went to sleep. Since it was very small room, I didn’t have a bed, instead preferring a foam mat on the floor, which could be rolled up as needed to clear space. I awoke to a desperate mass exodus of worms oozing out of the tub and spreading all over the floor and underneath the bedroll.

      • Diane G.
        Posted May 11, 2015 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        I venture that’s a unique experience. 🙂

  103. Posted May 9, 2015 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if this is all that funny, but it was terribly embarrassing at the time, and I still cringe when I think about it.

    In the Summer of 1974, when I was sixteen years old, a friend took me to see Van Cliburn and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto at the outdoor Ravinia Festival. My friend’s father was a big mucky muck financier who was instrumental in raising the funds to build Ravinia’s pavilion, so not only did we have choice seats, but we had backstage access to an after-party where we could meet Van Cliburn.

    Now, I was a fairly uncultured adolescent middle class kid and certainly wasn’t used to hobnobbing with society people and patrons of the arts, but I had heard of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and knew that it was a Big Deal™.

    What I didn’t know was that that was a point in Cliburn’s career where the critics were saying, “Yeah, we know he can play Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, but what else can he do?”, so he was under some pressure to expand his repertoire, and the 2nd piano–his signature piece–was considered a popular, but safe choice.

    Well, a few bars into the second movement of that popular, but safe choice he screwed up; he hit some sour notes and then, without seeming to signal the conductor, he started the passage over. James Levine and the CSO were quick on their feet and kept up with him and even though he messed up the same passage on the second go-round, things went smoothly until shortly before the end when–PLOINK!!%!#!!–another bad note! These weren’t subtle mistakes either; even a musical illiterate–which is pretty much what I was at the time–could tell something was wrong.

    The mood in the reception line to meet Mr. Cliburn was polite but strained. Nobody, but NOBODY, said a word about the night’s performance; instead, they all offered flattering generalities, such as, “I’m sooooo pleased to meet you; you’ve always been one of my favorites!”, or “I’ve always admired your work sooooo much!”. I was as awed by the opulence of everyone in the room as I was by meeting a Famous Person™ (even though he had never been famous to me ‘till that night) and I must have looked pretty slack-jawed because my friend kept elbowing me and quietly admonishing me not to say a word about the night’s performance and how bad it was. The more he “reminded” me, the more nervous I got, so as my turn to meet Van The Man approached I kept telling myself, “don’t say it was bad, don’t say it was bad, don’t say it was bad…”. When my moment finally came I clasped Van Cliburn’s hand, looked into his already uncomfortable eyes, and after a moment’s nervous hesitation my brain went blank and my mouth blurted out, “You were perfect!”. He flashed the angriest look I’ve ever seen directed my way and threw my hand from his with such force that, had it not been attached to my wrist, it would have sailed across the room and left a good sized hole in the wall! Instantly, he spun on his heels and headed straight for the Green Room, not to emerge for the rest of the evening. You could’a heard a pin drop, and every head in the room swiveled first to the spot where Clyburn had just been standing, and then to me. There was a moment of excruciating silence, and then the room filled with a low murmur consisting of phrases like, “What did he say?”, “What just happened?”, and, “Who let him in here?” My friend squeezed my elbow and hissed, “Come on, Liza Doolittle, you’re getting out of here”! As he hustled me off as quickly as he could it seemed like the room grew quiet again and I made my exit thru a gauntlet of piercing, angry and accusing eyes, each one focusing all the ill-will in the world directly at me. I had the uncomfortable and contradictory feeling of being both a half inch tall nobody and an oversized oaf who couldn’t move without breaking something nice. I felt like a BAD DOG!!!

    I read the review in the next day’s paper half expecting to learn that Cliburn had blown his brains out after the show, but it just mentioned that his performance was less than perfect and that he’d had a cold, or jet lag, or something. I’d note, however, that that performance was his twelfth appearance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in fourteen years, but that it would be thirty one more years before he would return!

    The poor guy must have felt like crap having to stand in a reception line after a performance like that, and then to be completely insulted by some dumb kid…..it still makes me blush.

    Anyway, that’s my moment of embarrassment for you. I haven’t read the rest of the postings before submitting this one, so I apologize in advance if this tale has already been told. (<—That there’s a joke; the story is real!)

    • rickflick
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      A perfect story. 😎

    • Posted May 10, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      Oh, poor Van – and you! I probably heard him play 5 or 6 times back in the day, and he never screwed up. He did some magnificent Chopin polonaises, among other things. I seem to remember that the poor guy had a nervous breakdown ( not because of you!) but continued to do great things for young musicians, including The Van Cliburn Piano Competitio.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 11, 2015 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Wow, that takes some skill in the how-to-embarrass-oneself-most-obviously department! Congrats!

  104. vothemort
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    It was the beginning my last year of undergrad and it was time to start my thesis project in microbiology. I was very excited. My first actual research lab experience with my own project. Stained lab bench, the smell of media , Bunsen burners and all.

    Another student and I came in one early morning before lectures and had a meet and greet with the lab’s graduate students (As they do all the actual lab work). Seeming very casual, we stood around exchanging formalities. I placed my book bag down and leaned against the bench.

    Down to business, the MSc student asked if were both familiar with general lab safety.

    ‘Oh yes’ I said, in my most confident and authoritative voice. We had just completed our 45 min department training session.

    Before the MSc student could continue with his spiel, my fellow undergrad yelled ‘Dylan, You’re on fire!’.

    After a brief scuffle, the pilot light from a Bunsen burner had created a baseball sized hole in my sweater. And in my ego.

    Needless to say, every weekly lab meeting that year ended with a variation on ‘please don’t set your self on fire’.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

      I feel much better, now. I once rested an elbow on a lab bench where acetone had been spilled and melted the sleeve off my acetate blouse…

      • Posted May 10, 2015 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        I somehow had a quarter-sized hole “burn” through my lab coat and my very short mini-dress farther up my thigh than was decent. Whatever it was – some kind of acid, I presume- didn’t actually burn my skin, but I had to walk a fair distance to my car with this very obvious hole in my dress. But it was the 70s, so anything went:-)

        • rickflick
          Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

          With enough exposure it might have become a thing.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 11, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, surprised you didn’t start a fad…

  105. Vakond
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    While working at a large organisation in England I went to a meeting, together with some colleagues, to plan something I have now completely forgotten about. Also invited was a young woman from another department who was known to us all, some better than others.

    While we waited for the chairman to arrive we were chatting about someone who had converted in order to marry a Jewish woman. The general view among the women was that sacrifices must be made but the men were not so keen on some of the minor details. Well one minor detail actually.

    I carelessly said it didn’t seem that big a deal to me if you were not religious anyway. At this our visitor, who was Jewish herself, suddenly piped up “you’re only saying that because you wouldn’t need the snip”. There was a short, but significant silence as everyone suddenly found the agenda unexpectedly interesting.

    On the way back to the office our manager remarked that for once he had learned something interesting at a meeting and now understood what inter-departmental liaison really meant.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 2:23 am | Permalink

      Oh, classic! 🙂

  106. August Berkshire
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    About eight years ago I was attending an Atheist Alliance International conference at which Richard Dawkins was speaking. Before leaving home I grabbed about six of his books off my shelf and packed them in my suitcase. After he spoke at the conference, Richard Dawkins signed autographs. My turn came and I sheepishly plopped my pile of books in front of him (none of which was his latest book that he had spoken about). But the real embarrassment came when, about halfway through the stack, he opened a book cover and saw, to my chagrin, that he had already signed it on a previous occasion. I must have looked like an autograph hound who never actually read his books. (But I do!)

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 9, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha! I could see that happening to me because I often forget things like that.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted May 9, 2015 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      That is pretty cool. I have several signed books, but I do not have a ‘Dawkins’.

    • Posted May 10, 2015 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Now that *IS* embarrassing! Really, how could you?

    • rickflick
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      I bet you money he was happy to see you double dipping. He knows how strongly you feel about his books.

  107. Debbie
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    When my son was 2 or 3 years old he used to address himself as “you”. Some examples of his speech included, “pick you up!”, or “you want macaroni and cheese”.
    I figured this misunderstanding of the subject of a sentence would get corrected as he got older and so I decided not to correct him by informing him that he actually was an “I” or a “me” and not a “you”.
    So one day we were at a small bagel shop filled with lots of customers. He yelled out
    “mommy, you had gas!” He meant himself. I was totally embarrassed and at that point told him he was either “me or I”, but not “you.”

  108. Knud
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    This is the story of how I became the official bigot of my company.
    An Indian friend and colleague of mine introduced me to a new Chinese colleague who I already knew, but my Indian friend was not aware of this.
    So for a laugh I said something like “Oh, I don’t real care for Asian people”, and then after just a little pause (and the timing was perfect) continued: “And I don’t care for Latin Americans or Africans, or North Americans, or Southern Europeans people either – Actually I don’t care for people at all”
    I wouldn’t have dared this with people I didn’t know, but it was priceless to watch their faces, as they realized I was joking, but not sure if the other had go it too.
    So fare so good, but the embarrassing part was that for a long time after they would both introduce me to others with the words “Meet Knud, he hates Asians”, but leave out the rest. And of cause people didn’t find that funny at all.
    But I learned nothing from that. I’m still very non-PC.

  109. Posted May 9, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    It was a typical Saturday night in Madison, Wisconsin. Throngs of students were out boozing and causing commotion. My friend and I were lowly freshmen, underage and distressingly still sober at this late hour. We were pacing Mifflin street in search of a house party we could drop in on. Having circumnavigated the street several times with no success we were nearly resigned to returning to the dorms when we spotted a tipsy upperclassman emerge from the front door of a nearby house. The raucous party sounds of bad pop music and laughter emanated from the low-lit room behind him.

    My friend and I looked at each other, this was it. This was our last chance to score some beer for the weekend. But to simply walk up the steps and enter through the front door? This was a daunting task as were more accustomed to filing into larger parties anonymously amongst crowds of other freshmen. After a long hesitation I nervously made my way up the steps and pulled the door open.

    The music seemed to stop and the several dozen people in the room all turned their heads to the freshman frozen with fright standing stupidly in the doorway. An attractive brunette, presumably the hostess, blurted out, “umm, do I know you?”

    I stood there mouth agape searching for something to say when a hearty slurred bellow came from the back corner, “I can vouch for this guyyy! Unicycle man!” It was an overweight sweaty reveler standing next to the keg whom I had never seen before in my life. As soon as his enthusiastic roar had broken the silence everyone turned away from me, including the hostess, and resumed to their socializing.

    I called my buddy up from the walkway outside and we commenced consumption of cheap frothy beer with my new friend who had saved the night. I guess it paid off being the only dude in the city that both rides to class on a unicycle and has dreadlocks.

  110. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    It was the early 2000s and there was an exhibit of Chinese dinosaurs on at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto. My parents and a family friend decided to go on a train and subway trip with me in the evening so that we would only have to pay for the exhibit and not entry into the museum (which we didn’t want to see that evening) plus the exhibit (the ROM, at that time had free Fridays or some such deal).

    My parents and our friend were at this time only in their early 60s so not in the throes of age-related dementia, however there were two incidents in which this may have seemed the case.

    The first was when we reached Union Station in Toronto and had to get on the subway. I knew the way but the family friend wandered off in the opposite direction, which meant we had to run after him and get him pointed in the right direction to catch the subway. This was only mildly amusing to the person manning the gate.

    The next occurred after we attended the event (in which I bought a book named Trilobite! purely for the exclamation point in the title) and managed to get back to Union Station via the subway and on to our train home without incident.

    There are strips above the windows on the train that when pressed alert security that there is a problem. For some reason, our family friend, who had wandered off in the wrong direction in the subway, was absent mindedly touching those strips. I actually didn’t think they were that sensitive and figured you’d have to press them hard to activate them.

    In no time, a guard entered our car and asked if everyone was okay. Immediately, we all put together that the strips above the window had triggered the alert. I remember wanting to slink down in the seat in shame and because I was sitting in seats across from all of them, I could easily pretend not to know them, which I sort of did. Those guards have powers of arrest so I was impressed that when asked if he pushed the emergency strip, our family friend just innocently and meekly replied, “no”. I suspect the wiley guard somehow knew it had been him.

    There was also a group of teenagers in the same car and the security guard asked them the same question but he was a bit gruffer in his tone. I think he decided to blame the emergency strip pressing incident on them because even though his instinct told him it was the guy in the back of the car, the man’s innocent expression and meek response had persuaded him to think otherwise (these aren’t the droids you’re looking for).

    Not a completely amusing or embarrassing story but at least a somewhat entertaining one. With all the construction at Union Station lately, I now find myself as lost as our family friend that day and I’m constantly asking strangers if I’m going the right way or where I can find “such and such” a place. They’ve all been very nice to me.

    • Posted May 9, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      We take the train into Toronto every couple of weeks and every time Union Station looks completely different, though, unfortunately not better – especially the train – subway interface. Not sure how they’ll be ready for the Pan Am Games in July.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 1:05 am | Permalink

      “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 10, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        I’m the anti Blanche Dubois. I assume all strangers are hostile and I’m always pleasantly surprised when they aren’t. 😀

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 11, 2015 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

          LOL, me too!

          • merilee
            Posted May 11, 2015 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

            And I tend to trust most strangers, though don’t count on relying on them…

            • Diane G.
              Posted May 12, 2015 at 2:57 am | Permalink

              Just as I’d have expected, Mer. 🙂

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 12, 2015 at 7:40 am | Permalink

                Me too! 😍

  111. Stephen Barnard
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I went to a Halloween party in Picabo dressed as Jesse from Breaking Bad — scruffy stubble beard, black watch cap, dirty sweatshirt with cutoff sleeves, motorcycle boots, inappropriate sunglasses — the whole enchilada. I bought a miniature Blue Ice vodka and cut the blue plastic bottle into pieces, put them in a baggie, to ask people, “Yo, bitch, wanna score some blue ice?” with a leering grin. To my embarrassment, no one else was in costume. Not only that, no one had seen Breaking Bad. But the most embarrassing thing was that no one realized I was in costume.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 9, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      Hahaha! You will appreciate how I want this cup.

    • Posted May 9, 2015 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      That WOULD be embarrassing – LOL. Did you say Have an A-1 day??

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted May 9, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        We had a difference of opinion so there was a change of management. — Todd

        • Posted May 9, 2015 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

          Todd??

          • Stephen Barnard
            Posted May 9, 2015 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

            Todd was a character in the last season. He was an amiable, ambitious, remorseless killer who spoke in euthemistic Bizspeak. Jesse killed him.

            http://breakingbad.wikia.com/wiki/Todd_Alquist

            • Posted May 9, 2015 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

              Oh, man, how could I have forgotten TOdd? Love The name Vamanos Pest:-)

              • Stephen Barnard
                Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

                Walter & Co had a brilliant idea to cook meth in vacant Albuqueque houses that were tented for termite control. (They had to wear hazmat suits anyway.) That’s how Todd of Vamonos Pest got involved in the plot. He was IMHO the most disturbing character of the show, at least of the last season.

                I can’t wait for the next season of Better Call Saul.

              • merilee
                Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

                I want to buy the whole set of BB and watch it all the way through again. My only minor quibble with the show is that I didn’t find the characters of Skyler and Marie terribly well-developed compared to the men.

                Yes, Better Call Saul is brilliant, and so glad they brought Mike along for the ride!

              • merilee
                Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

                Wasn’t Todd also involved earlier on when they were stealing chemicals out of the tank car on the train?

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 10, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

                Yes, it’s where we realize that Todd is a dangerous sociopath. He shoots the kid on the bike who discovers what they are up to – it really freaks out Jesse & Jesse hates Todd forever after that.

              • Posted May 10, 2015 at 10:43 am | Permalink

                And Jesse rides flat flat flat on top of the train as it goes through the tunnel, iirc.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:36 am | Permalink

      That is really funny! 😀

  112. Adrian Johnson
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    23rd April, 1980, an amazing day: not only my birthday, but also in the evening I was playing Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto with my school orchestra at the Town Hall. It was a triumph, the future was mine. If only the day had ended there.
    The novelty of being able to drink in pubs legally went to my head- as did a pint of lager and eleven runs and blackcurrant ( I know, but I was young and someone told me it was a good drink). By the time I realised I was seriously drunk (after a couple of hours of smug celebratory obnoxiousness) it was too late. Someone was found to drive me home, and while he and his friend were chatting in the front of the car on the way back, I threw up very silently onto the floor in the back. I said nothing, and was dropped off, managed to crawl through the back door and spent the night throwing up purple vomit into the toilet, which, along with the rest of the room wouldn’t keep still, making aiming very difficult.
    I never saw my chauffeur after that night, but gather my little present wasn’t discovered until the next day and made the car stink for weeks. thirty-five years later, I still can’t abide the sight of black currant juice.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

      I had the same experience on gin and Stones Original Green Ginger Wine(!). Spent two hours lying on my hosts’ garden path with my head in the garden, then crawled back onto the balcony and spent the rest of the night on hands and knees with my head in a passionfruit vine (by then I was harmless since there was nothing left inside) while the party went on around me. I think it was quite a good party (from a normal person’s point of view).

      But you know you’re really drunk when you have to hang on to the floor…

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:57 am | Permalink

      Aargh, my roommate did something similar in our dorm room after a night of imbibing sloe gin.

  113. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    A few years ago, at a ballet fundraising event, I won the right to appear on stage with the company as guest Grandfather in the Nutcracker party scene. I don’t dance, and my last acting gig was in high school (circa 1970), so I was a bit apprehensive. But it’s not a demanding part, and the stage would be full of friends to talk me through it. The day of the show, I reported to the theater an hour and a half early for makeup, and came out looking like this.

    My biggest challenge would come near the end of the scene, in the so-called Grandfather Dance, in which all the party guests participate. Dr. Stahlbaum moved to center stage and clapped his hands, and immediately, despite several rehearsals, the steps went right out of my head. My five-year-old partner, the littlest girl in the entire show, knew the dance much better than I did, but was too polite to correct my errors. So we fumbled our way through it, and I told myself that a certain amount of grandfatherly ineptitude was not out of character.

    After the dance, my remaining duties were to deliver my tiny partner back to her nurse on the other side of the stage and then to bid goodbye to our hosts before exiting. Unfortunately I got lost in the commotion and took longer to find the nurse than I should have; during the goodbyes, Frau Stahlbaum hissed at me, “You need to get off stage right now because Drosselmeier is about to make his exit.” So I hurried off, and sure enough, just about got run down by Drosselmeier in the wings.

    That was the end of my short career as a ballet extra. But a couple of months later, Tom Skerritt performed with the company as the title character in Don Quixote, and as a side-effect lowered my Bacon number to 4.

  114. bluemaas
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    This is a lovely thing you did.

    AND you in character, too, Mr Kusnick, as Billy C ‘d exclaim, “wook mahvewous, Dawhlingk” — actually !

    To heck with the Frau’s opinion. You participated; and even Mr Bacon would concur, .that. matters, … … especially to the wee ones in the troup.

    And as to your tiny partner? She may also have been thinking thusly http://www.pinterest.com/pin/506655026805230964 anyhow ! This pix, every time, always just cracks me up! — cuz it reminds me of .me. during just about any [even rehearsed and although I love it … …] dance number!

    Blue

  115. Pali
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    A few years ago, while working at a neighborhood market, a foreign man came in and asked if we have oranges. I answered in the affirmative and pointed him to our produce section, which had a basket of oranges on clear display. The man looked at them, paused a moment, turned back to me and asked “which one is the orange?”. This flabbergasted me to the point that the only response I could think of was to say “the orange one.”

    I’ve gotten a lot of dumb and ignorant questions over my years in the service industry, but that one still takes the cake.

  116. Michael
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    I had a really hard time choosing only one story, but this was a recent one that is relevant. Enjoy!

    I come from a very christian family with an inept grasp on evolution. Last spring in Ohio, I somehow managed to convince the parents to come along to meet Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss for a date on their “Unbelievers” tour. It was a magnificent time! They screened the film, did a Q&A, and a book signing. Surprisingly, I think my parents actually enjoyed themselves.

    We stood in line for the book signing, when my father came up with a brilliant, complete refutation of the entire theory of evolution. “How can something go from nonlife, to a life that is equipped for reproduction, food intake and an ability to deposit waste after gaining nutrients i.e. a digestive system”. On the surface, it seems way too complex of machinery for a primitive microbe. Those are a lot of seemingly necessary functions. He was, of course, talking about abiogenesis.

    I was now in the awkward position of wanting to be close enough to hear this dialogue but far enough away so as to not look as though I was with them.

    The big moment finally came, and I remembered my father is not the best speaker under pressure. I don’t know if he was intimidated, but he babbled on incoherently for about a minute or two as Dawkins was signing an overwhelming amount of books. My father didn’t word it in a proper way at all and said something like “How can something go from nothing to being able to eat, poop, have sex….” I’ll never forget Dawkins’ face, sitting there at his table, only half listening to what anyone was saying to him (it turned into a later night than expected) and then all of a sudden stopping everything and looking up at him with a surprised and shocked look on his face and repeated in the brilliant English accent, “Does it pewp?!”.

    My father tried to reword his thought but Dawkins stopped him saying something like “I’m sorry sir, but there is just not enough time for me to explain it thoroughly in a way you would understand”.

    At one point, Krauss briefly interrupted with a joke (presumably about radiometric dating?) saying in a sardonic way, “Maybe it doesn’t go from non-life to life, maybe there is a half-life in there”.

    It was a brief moment to inquire one of the leading spokesman on evolution a question, and in this rare chance, my father asked him how we’ve come to poop.

    Since then, I’ve convinced my mother of the truth of evolution. But my father is still stubbornly waiting for an answer about abiogenesis that he is able to digest.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      I love the part about how you wanted to be close enough to hear the conversation but far enough away that people wouldn’t think you were with him.

      • Diane G.
        Posted May 11, 2015 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        Ha, ha, yes, that rings so true! 🙂

  117. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    OK here goes.

    When I was 5 I lived (with family) in Perth, West Australia. I was an extremly shy kid (for example I would never let anyone, under any circumstaces, see my willie). Also I hated injections.

    One day I was playing in the yard and stood on a small plank, and when I lifted my foot the plank came with it. Horror! I clumped off to Mum in tears and my father pulled the plank (and nail) off my foot. When I’d subsided a bit, I thought I was due lots of ice cream and sympathy. Instead, my father took me off to the doctor, which sounded frightening. I assured him I felt fine now, I wasn’t sick, I didn’t need the doctor but he took me anyway, for a tetanus ‘shot’ (I did say I hated injections, didn’t I?)

    Well, in the waiting room I started acting up like the 5-year-old I was, I didn’t need an injection, I didn’t want an injection, and I wasn’t going to have an injection so there. I was expecting the usual jab in the arm, so my performance stabilised at the usual tantrum level.

    We got into the doctor’s surgery and the first thing he did was pull my pants down. My screams of fear and rage added a layer of embarrassment and outrage. He then produced a needle suitable for giving enemas to horses and injected 500cc’s of concentrated sulphuric acid right into my quivering butt. I’d never had an intramuscular injection before. As anyone knows who’s had one, they really do hurt. Add ‘agony’ to the list and by now I was making a noise calculated to cause permament hearing damage.

    After an inordinate amount of time fracking** my rump muscles, the quack went to pull the syringe out and – the needle stuck. My muscles were clenched so tight it was anchored as if in concrete. So he unscrewed the syringe and left me, bent double, pants down, being observed through the open door by 5000 curious strangers, with a needle sticking out of my butt, while he went in search of a bloody great pair of pliers.

    And that is why for years I had a phobia about sharp pointy objects. It wasn’t Freudian since I knew damn well where it came from, it was Pavlovian (or maybe Skinnerian?).

    It’s just occurred to me the only thing that would improve that story would be if I wet myself. Possibly fortunately for all concerned, it didn’t occur to me at the time.

    **Gravelinspector can tell you what that means.

  118. Robert Seidel
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    All right, the most embarrassing, and also one of the most funny things in my life. That has to be when I confessed love to the wrong girl.

    I was 17, and the three of us were in driving school together. I had for weeks struggled to get the spine to ask the girl I was after for a date. Now, one evening, I was waiting outside before the lecture started, and was determined, determined I say. Was I a man, or a mouse? Well, determined too much, for she didn’t came that evening, but that other girl came, who looked a bit like her … it got to be her! … go for it, you coward! … it was quite dark, too.

    To make it short, I was through with my line “I’m in love with you” before I noticed. I laughed, very hard. Then explained to her. She probably took me for a complete freak. I can’t say if she told her, but when I finally asked the right girl out, anyhow, the reaction was unfavourable.

    And thus is how I proved love is truly blind.

  119. Posted May 10, 2015 at 4:57 am | Permalink

    In the summer of 1990 I made my first trip to the US together with a friend: one week New York, two days Chicago and a final week in Florida.
    One hot day in the streets of New York I purchased a can of “***** sparkling grape” (no advertising, here) and I loved it.
    In florida’s Disney World I had an urge to taste that nectar of the god’s once more and wanted to order it at a stall. With my poor English all I remembered was “sparkling”, so I asked the vender for “Sparkling”.
    To my amazement he seemed not to know the drink.
    … After some back and forth with questions and my (poor attempts) of explaining the guy said “Sparkling is … the bubbles”.

    I had just learned a new adjective, stayed thirsty and … embarrassed.

  120. Posted May 10, 2015 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    Waiting for a taxi at a cab depot one night I let my mind wander and after this spot of reverie, which may or may not have lasted at least five minutes, a slightly annoyed voice called out to me that my taxi was waiting outside. I got up, thanked the dispatcher, went outside … to the wrong car. I tried opening this poor woman’s passenger side door and the shock I felt when she banged on the window to let me know she wasn’t my taxi is something I haven’t forgotten. I could see other people saw what had happened with their smiles and wry grins followed me as I got into the taxi. The driver told me this has happened a few times and not to think too much on what just happened.

  121. Posted May 10, 2015 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    Waiting for a taxi at a cab depot one night I let my mind wander and after this spot of reverie, which may or may not have lasted at least five minutes, a slightly annoyed voice called out to me that my taxi was waiting outside. I got up, thanked the dispatcher, went outside … to the wrong car. I tried opening this poor woman’s passenger side door and the shock I felt when she banged on the window to let me know she wasn’t my taxi is something I haven’t forgotten. I could see other people saw what had happened with their smiles and wry grins followed me as I got into the taxi. The driver told me this has happened a few times and not to think too much on what just happened.

  122. wetherjeff
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    I know this tale sounds unbelievable but this did actually occur as described. To this day it is by far the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me, but it’s a great story to tell at parties!
    About 10 years ago my wife to be was pregnant with my first daughter and for my last holiday free of parental responsibilities I went to Italy with two friends on a skiing trip. One evening about half-way through the week we had a little too much to drink, resulting in me showing up at breakfast the next morning feeling less than perky. Wanting to get rid of my hangover before we hit the slopes I decided to wash away the fogginess by drinking lots of strong Italian coffee.
    This actually seems to work and by the time we got our skis on I feel fine. It’s a cold morning, around -15 degrees C and by the end of our first run it is snowing quite heavily. At the bottom of the run I get onto a three person chairlift with my friend Barry to my left and a quiet German woman to the right. All is going well until half way up mountain, with us dangling about 40 feet above the ground, the lift grinds to a halt. It is obvious that the lift had broken down but this didn’t concern us as it isn’t uncommon for a lift to stop for 5 minutes. Fast forward 20 minutes and it’s still not moving, the snow is still falling and exposed to the wind we are getting seriously cold, but worst of all that coffee has gone right through me and I need to pee. At first it’s not too bad but 20 minutes turns into 40 and I start to worry. We are visited by ski patrol on snowmobiles who shout something unintelligible in Italian – we guess they are telling us we’re going to be stuck for a while. What the hell am I going to do? After an hour and now in serious pain my worry has been elevated to dread mixed with pure animal panic. I now realise that I am going to have to deal with this; there is no way it can wait any longer and for all I know we could be here another 3 hours.
    Barry has known all along that I need to pee but now I tell him it can’t wait any more. Giggles ensue but after he has calmed down we get to business. Luckily Barry is an ex-soldier and just the right person to have in a crisis. We run through the various options. Do it where I am in my ski pants? No way, it would freeze within minutes and I would end up with frostbite or hypothermia. Lower myself to the slope below? Way too dangerous – I could easily end up with broken legs or worse. We realise that the only way to do this is if I pull my pants down and hover far enough over the edge of the seat that the pee doesn’t flow back onto the seat. Please God! This can’t be happening!!!
    There’s no way I can do this next to the nice German lady so I start by clambering over Barry ski by ski. Once I’m on the far left Barry does his best to shield the lady on the right and I pull my ski pants and undies down to just above my knees. Barry grabs me so I don’t fall and I start to slide down in my seat enough to take a pee. Unfortunately we have been out in the cold for so long that there is literally nothing for me to take a pee with – it’s too shrivelled to point anywhere. By this point the people in the chairlift in front are all turning round and looking at me and I dread to think what the people behind can see. However I have no option but to continue. The only way I can think of doing this without getting my clothes wet is to tuck everything down between my legs and clamp my legs together. So with me dangling off the edge of the chairlift this is what I do. My embarrassment is so overwhelming by this point that I don’t even notice who is watching any more. With great relief I manage to finish my pee without getting wet. I pull my pants up and Barry helps me back into the seat.
    We remain stuck on the mountain for another 2 hours in freezing, uncomfortable silence. When we finally get moving again all I want to do is disappear. We get to the top and without looking up from the floor I ski away as fast as I can.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 11, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      O.M.G.

      I am amazed at your dexterity in ski clothes, boots, skis, and dangling in mid-air; and we should all have a Barry, 24/7.

      Perhaps you’re not the only one who’s been telling this story for 10 years. 😉

      (And a part of me wonders if your pregnant wife enjoyed a bit of schadenfreude, if she heard the story.)

  123. Bruce T.
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    In 1970, I was drafted into the US army and sent to Viet Nam. About 200 of us—all military police–were sent to Cam Rahn Bay. With a surplus of MP’s we were assigned to any unit that needed any type of replacement. Luckily I was able to talk my way into the local payroll office, since I had a degree in banking and finance. Part of our duties included pulling guard duty once a month. One night I was assigned to walk around the general’s house until dawn—a house that looked like it was lifted from the California suburbs and placed in sand hills by the bay. I was left alone, given strict orders not to go close to the house or bother anyone inside. I started my route, gun at my shoulder thinking of ways to mentally pass time through the night. After several hours and many trips around the house in the dark I must have either varied my route or the strain of the parade of marching feet finally caused the sand to give way, and I fell through the rusted top of the generals septic tank. I didn’t go all the way in—just up to my crotch since my gun held forward in both hands stopped my descent. It was about 2 AM and I pulled myself out covered with stinky crud. The generals sewage was ripe with the tropical heat. Totally humiliated, I could not leave my post or call for relief, so I just had to tough up and bear it. I did go up to the house to find a garden hose and hosed my pants off as best I could. Fortunately no one was either home or awakened by the running water, so I finished my shift reeking of the general’s shite. Humiliating as it was, I am thankful that turned out to be my worst wartime experience.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 11, 2015 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      What’re the odds?!

      Amen to your last sentence.

  124. Posted May 10, 2015 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    what the heck, I’ll contribute one:

    We used to hang out with a bunch of people, usually playing D&D. One of the guys, Al, would always go to our fish tank and insist that he would eat a goldfish. This went on for months.

    After running across some very realistic rubber goldfish, my husband decided to call our friend on his boast. After the requisite “Hey, let’s eat a live goldfish!”, my husband palmed a fake fish, shoved his hand into the tank, and tossed a fish and a handful of water at Al.

    He screamed, scrabbled for the fish and then ran for the tank “We can still save it!” He threw the fish in and watched it sink to the bottom, mouth agape.

    A better reaction we could not have wished for. I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard.

  125. Posted May 10, 2015 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Halloween night during my senior year of college, I started drinking early. It was a small town so my roommate and I spent the night hopping from bar to house to apartment. It was around 9 pm when we ended up at a friend’s house for party shenanigans . At this point in the story, I had not been pacing my drinks well so the remainder of this story is pieced together from phone calls, texts, conversations, and physical evidence.
    I wasn’t feeling well so I told my best friend I was stepping outside for some air. When I didn’t return in 10 minutes he got concerned and went looking for me. I was no where to be found. He and another friend started frantically calling me. After several calls I finally answered and without giving them a chance to talk said “II just threw up and pooped in someone’s yard,” and I hung up. I remember stumbling past our campus library and then into my apartment. At some point, I stripped completely naked and climbed onto my top bunk. I have a vivid memory of throwing up off the side of my bed and being too exhausted to clean it up. I texted my roommate and told him not to come home because of the vomit I didn’t feel like cleaning up and passed out.
    I woke up the next morning feeling great! As a plus, there was also no vomut on the floor. I had imagined it. I was a little confused about why I was naked though. I got dressed and went to lunch, only to be greeted by laughter. I spent the rest of the morning trying to piece together what had happened to me. I maintained that I never actually defeated in someone’s yard until I went home and found evidence of it in my laundry hamper.
    To this day, my friends still preface embarassing stories with “at least I didn’t poop in someone’s yard.”

  126. Posted May 10, 2015 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I’ve had my fair share of embarrassments. Farting at the wrong moment, ED at the wrong moment, soiling my pants, etc.
    But this one will stay with me forever and ever.
    There was this attractive Phillipina geologist doing a post grad. We got along pretty well in the foreign students association at the university of Brussels. She was very sociable too (with hindsight that should have been a red flag).
    So on my 25th birthday we went out for a drink, and smooched a little.
    She invited me to her home. Arrived there she said, ‘just give me half a minute’.
    In eager anticipation I undressed, and when she called me in: “Surprise!” lights on, She had invited about all the foreign students from the campus, and there I stood, naked and in full erection… I was frozen. Well after half a minute, that appeared hours, they laughed. So I laughed with them.
    Maybe not funny, but truly embarrassing.

    (Note, later we married, and although she routinely teased me with the incident, it had really nothing to do with our later divorce)

  127. Jim Ritchey
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Having just arrived home from a week long trip, my wife and four year old daughter were sitting on our bed as I changed for a shower. I could see that my daughter, with her beautiful round smiling face and perfect posture was proudly displaying her new clothes that her mother had bought whilst I was away.”I sure like your new outfit Camille”, I said as I had undressed and was coming out of the walk in closet. Always polite and socially adept Camille felt this should be met with a compliment likewise. “Well I sure like your penis”.Thank you I said. Your welcome she replied. My wife and I laughed about it later. She had nothing to work with(no clothes) and my penis would have been the most conspicuous thing and at eye level as I went by.

    As bad luck would have it we found ourselves in similar circumstances 11 years later. She was hurriedly getting ready for school and rushed into our bedroom to take some of my wife’s makeup while I having just showered was on my way to the walk in closet to put on some clothes. So there I was, standing in the exact spot where I had hitherto received the great compliment. I quickly reached down to cover but too late, the reaction elicited in the 15 year old being less than favourable. First the facial contortion (this all took place in nanoseconds) that would be recognizable in every culture on our planet as utter disgust. A face you would expect to see if someone had seen teaming maggots. Included seamlessly with this was a single gag. Concurrently, in a wondrous feat of human physiology was a colour change to rival chameleon and cuddlefish. The beautiful rosy cheeks turned grey (remember in nanoseconds). Cadaver grey. She turned on her heel and was gone.
    To this day, not a word has been spoken of this, as trauma of this nature must be buried forever. Though it must be hidden somewhere in her subconscious because she always knocks.

  128. arizonajones
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Years ago, when I was a UPS driver, I was delivering to a house, knocking on the door when I suddenly hear the sound of little porcelain feet. The front door slowly and
    laboriously opens, and there, at my feet was a little pink smurf, 4 year old Melissa.

    Bent over, hands on my knees, slowly and with great emphasis I said; “Now darling, I want you to go find your mommy and tell her that the ..EWE..PEA..ESS.. man is here!”. Melissa gave me a big toothless grin, scampered down the hall and disappeared into
    the kitchen. Suddenly,”Melissa, who’s that at
    the door?”. Melissa, with her feet apart, fists on her hips, in her most serious face, looked up; “Mom!” she replied, “It’s the PUS man!”.

    Great. Here I am this big burly truck driver, and this little sugar cube has re-branded me “The Pus Man”.

    Back at our office was a middle aged clerk, who had worked for UPS for many years, of fine character and great demeanor, named Rose. When I came back to the office, I told Rose how this little Munchkin had demoted me to “The Pus Man” and we both had a good laugh over it.

    Two months later Rose retired from UPS. Being
    someone whom I was going to miss greatly, I got what thought to be a fairly restrained farewell card: “Yadi yadi yada; Live long and
    prosper”, signed – “Randy, The Pus Man”.

    I handed her the card, she read it, and suddenly hit the floor in a state of hysterics, and I had no idea why because, quite frankly, the card wasn’t that funny.

    It turned out, it was my fault. You see, I had no idea that the word “pus” was spelled with only one “S”. Yes, it’s true; I gave a married woman, I only knew through work, a farewell card signed – “Randy, the puss man”.

    I offered to fix it for her, but she said no, it was “a keeper” and that she was going to take it home and show it to her husband.

  129. Doug Hawes
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    It was 1979. I was in my final year of a now extinct photographic technology program at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. There were only six of us in the class and we had the luxury of our own lab, replete with darkroom, studio and all the equipment we needed to complete our work, including a large bar fridge. This particular fridge was fashioned with a padlock whose combination was known only to program professors and the six of us students. In this fridge we kept essential and valuable materials: film, paper, chemicals and, of course, beer.
    Now, this was not just any ordinary beer. This was beer in Ontario in 1979 in bottles known as stubbies, short squat containers that made more efficient use of materials than the bottles we use today. Unless you had imported beer this was the bottle from which you drank. Aside from hockey, sadly, this was our only symbol of Canadian identity.
    At this point I am compelled to reveal my only talent. I have the ability, as far back as I can recall, to clearly imagine objects in detail and fit them into containers of appropriate size. It occasionally comes in handy when assessing the size of a parking spot or when deciding which size container I need for the leftover rice.
    And so, I applied this talent by chance while working in our lab. I had opened the fridge and, noticing the case of beer, immediately had the perverted notion that it would fit into the bottom plastic crisper drawer. I drew open the drawer and dropped in the entire case, all twenty-four bottles. It fit perfectly. I was very pleased with myself. I thought that it would be deceptive enough to provide a few minutes of confusion when we all met there later that day, and we’d all have laugh. If things were only so simple.
    At our little gathering, as I had so cleverly anticipated, one of my fellows went to the fridge, unlocked it then opened it, stood aghast for a moment, then announced the disappearance of the beer. All was silent then we all rushed to the fridge to verify that indeed, the small space before us was devoid of beer.
    Then pandemonium. Who has keys to the lab? Who knows the combination to the fridge? Who else has access to the lab? Custodial staff? Nefarious invaders from other departments? Beer bandits? Call security? (NO NO, don’t call security. Open the bloody crisper drawer! At least try to search for the beer.) Maybe we should call the police?
    This was all going very wrong. By this point I was too embarrassed to confess. I was sweating. I didn’t know what to do. So I did the only thing I could think of and pretended to find the beer. I figured that I could at least avert an investigation, at worst just get the lock replaced.
    I went to the fridge and opened the crisper drawer. Then sighs of relief and laughter, a weight lifted, disaster averted. The first finger pointed to me, but I just said, I don’t even drink beer. Surprisingly, that seemed to satisfy them. I know, that’s irrelevant to the question. But then, this is a group that couldn’t find a case of beer in a bar fridge.

  130. Posted May 10, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Many years ago, when I was a young college student, I returned to my parent’s home one summer break. On a lazy Sunday, I borrowed the family station wagon (do station wagons even exist anymore?) to run errands around our small southern California town. It was a warm day. I drove with the car windows down and the radio on. I was young and life was good.

    I made several stops with the car for an hour or so as I performed my errands. After I completed my last one, I started to head home.
    As I approached a four-way intersection, a light summer rain began to fall so I rolled my car windows up and came to a stop at the intersection.

    I needed to make a right turn, so I turned to my left to check for oncoming traffic: all clear. Then I turned to my right.

    But I couldn’t move. My body was paralyzed.

    Puzzlement began, followed by the hint of panic. All I could think to do was re-perform the last act my body could do. So I turned to my left: the muscles in the left side of my body responded. Then I tried turning to my right: once again, I couldn’t move.

    A full panic began descending. In an instant, I began wondering what kind of paralysis could have affected only half my body. Clearly, something was occurring in only the left hemisphere of my brain, meaning the right side of my body was affected. But aside from that, how would I get home? How would I get help? I imagined flagging a stranger down and asking for help getting to a hospital. But strangers were notorious for not getting involved in such things. Would I even be capable of turning off my car? Where were the emergency lights? I’d have to leave it parked at the intersection.

    My mind awhirl with all these questions, I tried again to turn to my left. That’s when I spotted it: my hair was caught at the top of the car window. I had rolled it up with the window when the rain started! It was long enough then that such things could happen.

    Imagine my relief and embarrassment—but mostly relief—when I lowered the window and freed my hair, instantly curing my paralysis. I didn’t tell the story to anyone for many years, I guess because it showed me to be more gullible—and more easily spooked—than I liked. Today, I think of it as an illustration of how easily people can be mistaken about what they experience.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 11, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      That’s funny! And I can identify, having always had long hair…

  131. Charles Jones
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    This story falls under the category of “Embarrassing”

    In the summer of 1986 I was a tall, skinny, self-conscious dork doing his undergraduate honors thesis research outside the small town of Casma, Peru. When I travel, I prefer to blend in, but not only was I much taller and whiter than the native population, each day I walked through town wearing my field hat, backpack, and comically large hiking boots. And so along my daily commute I could hear all too frequently the word ‘gringo’ punctuating whatever conversations people were having. I felt like a sore thumb.

    One day a van full of archeologists from my home university unexpectedly showed up. They had been doing archeology in the high Andes, but they place they were staying had been overrun the night before by Sendero Luminoso terrorists carrying automatic weapons. The archeologists were pretty shaken up by the experience, so they came to quiet little Casma to lie low for awhile before returning to the U.S.

    One of the charming things about Casma is that they have a number of local festivals that feature a brass band parading about town early in the morning and again in the evening. The biggest festival was Peru’s independence day, in which thousands of people flood the central market to see various types of fireworks and to listen to the marching band play their jaunty tunes. I was there with one of the archeologists, a pretty woman with long blonde hair, when suddenly the band struck up the Beer Barrel Polk. Being from Wisconsin, I immediately grabbed my friend’s hands and started dancing. My dancing style is most akin to a muppet on a pogo stick, and suddenly I noticed that the crowd had formed a circle around us and that hundreds or seemingly thousands of amused faces were all turned our way to see the tall bouncing doofus. Remember: I am quite tall, and could see over everyones’ heads! I could not see any part of the crowd looking away from us. It was excruciating for me, but the crowd would not let us stop dancing. It was perhaps the longest 3.5 minutes of my life.

    The crowd wanted another dance, but we were fortunately ‘rescued’ by a guy running through the crowd while wearing a bamboo bull on his back. The bull had two large, lit rockets shooting flames and sparks out the back, and these turned out to be very effective at scattering the crowd.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 11, 2015 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      That’s a great story! 🙂

      Who can resist a polka?

  132. Markie Massey
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    It’s not very often that my delicate female nature is rattled. I’m not often compared to a soft spoken lady, because I’m usually the one being “one of the guys”. Dates were not something I did often, and I usually decided pretty quickly into the event that I’d much rather be doing a thousand other things.
    This date was differnt. This particular person was fantatic, funny and cute, easy to talk to, all the normal swoony things. For once I remembered to order something not messy, not a burger or ribs to which to embarrass myself, and I was on a roll with conversations and jokes. I was doing just fine.
    Until my stomach betrayed me. I’ll never forget it. It was like something out of a nightmare. Sitting side by side in a car, in the small lull between conversation, a very small “poot” sounded from under me.
    Ice water trickled down my spine. Was that me? No. No…of course not!
    “…did you just fart?” He asked, eyebrows raised.
    I wanted to calm open the moving car door and leave. Just quietly climb out to my death. My cheeks were on fire, my eyes wide and horrified. “Uuuuh….”
    Great response. I’m the best at being a sultry dame.
    Luckily for me, the silence was shattered by his laughter. This knight swept to my rescue by telling me how amused he was by the horror on my face, which gave me permission to laugh. The night actually was a grand success after that, though I still get nauseated from recounting it.
    That knight is married to me now. He swears it’s going to be the story we tell our kids.
    I disagree

  133. Posted May 10, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    My big embarrassment occurred while I was a student teacher in 1979, but the seed of my self-destruction was planted in my college freshman biology course in academic year 1975-76.

    I attended the University at Buffalo in the hope of earning a degree in pharmacy, but my career goal changed while taking general biology from Dr. Charles Smith. I was so inspired by my brilliant professor’s lectures (to a class of about 600 students) that I decided I would rather become a biology teacher than a pharmacist.

    It didn’t seem possible to me at the time that I could ever be sufficiently scholarly or persistent to complete a doctoral program and qualify to teach biology at the university level. So I set my sights on getting a bachelor’s in biology and becoming a secondary school science teacher.

    I made good academic progress and I qualified to receive a student teaching assignment. It turned out to be teaching seventh grade physical science and tenth grade biology at a school where science was a low priority for students: the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts.

    Teaching physical science turned out to be rewarding since the curriculum called for students to work in small groups on tasks with various pieces of apparatus in order to learn physics concepts by discovery with the instructor as facilitator and guide. Students were very engaged and the reward system I created so that students would earn points for achieving each learning objective kept each group motivated.

    In contrast, my biology teaching was a bust. The curriculum wasn’t set up for me to facilitate small group instructional activities so while teaching to the entire class I sometimes found myself at age 22 taking the role of sage on the stage.

    I was no Dr. Smith, but I decided to include in my lesson plan on chromosomes my explanation of a tidbit of [debatable] wisdom I picked up from one of Dr. Smith’s lectures in which he discussed a point Ashley Montagu made in his book THE NATURAL SUPERIORITY OF WOMEN. I imagine that some of my students still remember how I embarrassed myself explaining the supposed significance of X and Y chromosomes:

    “Here’s why women are superior to men. The sex chromosomes are X and Y. The Y chromosome is scrawny and has far fewer genes compared to the X. In all their cells, men have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome. But women have two big X chromosomes!”

    I was trying to be an animated, expressive speaker for my performing arts students, but I didn’t realize that as I uttered that last sentence I was gesturing with both my hands out in front of my chest as if to signify large breasts. The students laughed out loud. The classroom teacher who supervised my student teaching laughed out loud. My face turned bright red.

    I managed to survive the rest of my student teaching and graduate. But, at the time, there were few secondary school teaching jobs available, even in science, so I never became a secondary school teacher. I didn’t know what to do so I entered graduate school, but not in a biology program. To my surprise, I even wound up earning a doctorate and becoming a professor.

    I occasionally embarrass myself while teaching undergraduate courses in public health, but never as much as when I was a student teacher.

  134. Jen
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jerry,
    I constantly embarrass myself, so it was really hard to choose.

    It was my 28th birthday, and also the day of my great grandmother’s funeral. I already had to go through the embarrassment of my mother forcing everyone in my family to sing happy birthday to me as we were all dressed in black. It was the weakest, saddest rendition of the birthday song I had ever heard—understandably. Prior to this, I had tried to avoid a family prayer circle (there are a couple of Methodist ministers in my family) by sneaking off to the bathroom for a few minutes—but they all waited for me to return! I knew it was my aunt’s doing—and I was forced to say “pass” in front of everyone when it was my turn to “pray” out loud. What a disappointment this must have been for them.

    Ok, here is the embarrassing part:
    At the funeral, my aunt—who apparently formerly had a beautiful voice, but that ship had since sailed, decided to sing at least four solos at the funeral—as well as a duet with another family member who actually does have a good voice. With each note, I felt the solemnity of the occasion diminish. I found myself holding in laughter—genuine laughter. I could not believe that anyone could focus on being sad because her voice was so awful. I held the laughter in though, and as I read through the program I could see that I made it through her last song. All that was left was The Lord’s Prayer. Phew.

    Then she sang it.

    She sang the Lord’s Prayer.

    She sang the words “hallowed be thy…naaaaammmmme” like some sort of solemn dirge. I had no idea her range went from soprano to bass. She sounded like an old pipe organ where someone pressed all of the low keys at once. I couldn’t hold it in. It was an unexpected challenge to my resolve, and I laughed out loud—at my great grandmother’s funeral! A woman I loved and admired and sincerely miss to this day. Almost everyone heard it, and I was humiliated. I tried to play it off like I was crying—but I was shaking the entire pew, and I couldn’t stop. People were turning around, my aunt saw it from the font of the church (granted the church was small, but still). My aunt and I don’t really talk anymore—but that is OK, because I am no longer expected to “join hands in prayer” at family events. And luckily, people in my family live into their 100s, so, I haven’t had to attend another funeral since.

    • Bruce T.
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Good One – we’ve all skirted that fine line between laughter and tears.

      • Diane G.
        Posted May 11, 2015 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        + 1

        🙂

  135. Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Not an entry, but this really happened to me…
    I was diagonally crossing a large exhibit hall at the Tate Museum in London. There was seemingly a ‘step’ under my foot which I sprightly took in stride. Halfway across, I noticed everyone staring at me in shock, disbelief, and disgust. I looked down and realised I was striding across some kind of low-lying, hard, smooth, modern sculpture.

    The only way I could not die from embarrassment was to pretend that my carelessness was a protest against modern art (which in general I don’t like much). So I lifted up my head proudly, walked slowly and deliberately, and set my jaw in detaste until I was off the exhibit and out of that museum. I never returned. 🙂

    (I did notice that while I was doing my ‘protest’ one guy’s look of revulsion turned to one of admiration. He probably disliked much of modern art also.)

    • Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      “…set my jaw in detaste…”
      should be distaste of course. 🙂

  136. winewithcats
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    As readers of WEIT are no doubt aware, much of what we suppose to perceive about the world is actually a simplified model invented entirely within our brains. This is a wondrous adaptation, one which allows us to navigate a world full of incomplete information, while simultaneously ignoring swaths of mundane and mostly irrelevant details. But because we do all this automatically, without recourse to conscious thought, we are also prone to any manner of illusions and reactions that are all but immune to intentional override.

    Consider the everyday task of locomotion. There are many ways to do it, and whichever we choose, there is a sometimes steep learning curve, but eventually it becomes so ingrained that we never think about it again. Once learned, we can steer a bicycle without even touching the handlebars, glide backwards on skates in graceful loops, or pause in mid-step to synchronize with an escalator. Yet sometimes, circumstances intervene that demand immediate attention: the chain jumps its sprocket, we run over a pebble, or the escalator is out of service.

    It was this last situation that I encountered one day at a shopping mall, and suddenly I found myself giving conscious thought to alternate ways of ascending escalators. It’s hardly a complicated problem, but whereas the majority of an escalator just consists of normal stair steps, the bottom forms an oddly uneven slope; it resembles more a curved ramp than stairs, but with cusps that will grab the toe of the inattentive. With this observation lodged firmly at the forefront of my conscious thoughts, I strode confidently onto the escalator—

    —and promptly toppled over, turning my ankle and scraping my knee and shins on the toothy edges of the next few steps. Because for some mysterious reason, the escalator had failed to rise up and meet my foot in the standard trajectory that my subconscious had precomputed for me. Although I did my best to adopt a cat-like nonchalance as I hobbled up the steps, not even cats are able to fully salvage their dignity after momentarily forgetting how to walk. Fortunately, nobody on the next floor up could have known the reason I was limping that day.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 11, 2015 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      Not only funny, but neurologically intriguing as well!

  137. Posted May 10, 2015 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I was teaching evolution with my grade 10 students. I asked a student how old the earth was before realizing I was asking someone of whom I knew his parents were Christians. There was no way I could turn this around and his answer was 6 000 year old. I tried not to laugh, managed to keep a straight face and found a way out of it without making a big fuss of his answer. A week later we had the parents conference where I had a meeting with the student’s dad who happens to be a scientist. Towards the end of our meeting he told me that he was actually considering taking his three children out of school since my lesson on evolution. I looked at his wife and once again I managed to play it down. Before shaking his hand he offered me to come to my classroom to teach his intelligent design point of view to my students which I refused.
    While showing them out he said with a spark in his eyes that he wished that I could see the world as he sees it now, and that his revelation that he ought to convert to Christianity had come to him went he had gone to church.
    I simply replied that when I went to church I had the same revelation as him and that’s when I became an atheist instead!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Ugh a scientist who believes the earth is 6000 years old! I don’t know how you were able I stand that entire interaction

  138. Posted May 10, 2015 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, everyone, for your stories. There are some doozies here. Sadly, with comments now approaching 400, and the time being up, I declare the contest CLOSED.

    A winner will be named by Friday.

    –Management

  139. Posted May 11, 2015 at 3:21 am | Permalink

    I started to write my story, went back to work & forgot! Never mind…


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