So I recently launched the guest series #OopsFiles where bloggers share their embarrassing stories.
Several people have asked me if I’d share my own Oops moment. Crap! Only one? How I laughed. A single oops file? I mean, have they met me? So I got to thinking maybe I should do ten of the worst epic fails in my life. Then I realised some are so bad, I’d best not. So here are just four (which are bad enough!).
1) THE INDIAN GIRL, THE FRENCH GUY AND THE LANGUAGE BARRIER.
I spent my third year of unIversity in a small town in the French Alps. My grant took ages to arrive so I survived the first couple of months mainly on bread, cheap chocolate paste and milk powder. One day, I was salivating over the fruit and veg stall on a cobbled street when I spotted kiwi fruit. I hadn’t eaten one in years. A guy saw me staring at the high price tag and asked me if I liked kiwis; at this point in my life, my experience was limited to the fruit and didn’t include the people (I’m here all week folks). I said yes and he then kindly – oh Prabs, bless, it wasn’t kindness – told me that he had kiwi fruit in his apartment and asked if I’d like to come up and eat it. Stop it. I can HEAR what you’re thinking.
I happily said yes. And off I went. You know, with a total stranger. What a lovely generous guy; those nasty things everyone says about the French just aren’t true... I thought. It beggars belief really. For someone who grew up watching a lot of crime dramas, I sure hadn’t learned much. But then it wasn’t yet the era of Criminal Minds with its ‘young girls going missing’ (more Murder She Wrote with someone having their library card stolen era). Imagine my surprise when we got to his place and he didn’t whip out his fruits for me immediately, no pun intended (well just a little bit). Imagine his surprise when he realised I really did want kiwi fruit.
I’m actually cringing and praying my mum’s computer freezes if she tries to read this post. Heaven help me, if one of my daughters did this…I can’t even finish the sentence but the words cupboard and key spring to mind. In my defence, the academic French I’d learned for years was nothing like the real living language I was now immersed in. Yep, basically, I’m blaming my going off with a stranger to eat his ball-shaped fruits (told you I knew what you were thinking earlier) on a linguistic misunderstanding. By the way, to this day, I don’t buy them. I know they’re super healthy and all but..can’t…even.
P.S. The kiwis were delicious. Best I’ve ever had. (And I ran like hell after I’d had them.)
2) THAT’S MY NAME. DON’T WEAR IT OUT. (JUST SPELL IT RIGHT)
My parents gave me a traditional Indian name just like parents of their generation did. I guess Pam just wasn’t an option. (Anyway, the jury’s out on how short a name needs to be for people to pronounce it correctly: my kids all have four letter names…apparently they’re the wrong four letters.) Some of the variations on mine have included Project, Budgie, Fashgit, Trabjit, Crapshit and Pramkit. Spectacularly, our best (worst?) man even got it wrong on our wedding table plan. But the humdinger of them all (although what can be worse than that?) has to be…wait for it…Patrick. Now I know I used to be hairy when I was younger (as you’re about to find out) but come on, PATRICK? Are you kidding me?!
So I’ve spent my life spelling my name. Which brings me onto what happened when I was applying for university. It was the good old pre-Internet days so I was requesting brochures by phone. I was giving my name to yet another receptionist and was met with the usual “Oh dear, how do you write that?”. So I started spelling my name for the umpteenth time that day:
“Yes, P like Poland, R like Russia, A like Africa…” (I’m hopeless with the Alpha Bravo Charlie thing)”.
She couldn’t get her head round it. I tried another way:
“P like Pam, R like Robert, A like Andrew…” Still no joy. She was either having genuine difficulty or was hoping it would miraculously change to Pam if she held out long enough. By now, I was frustrated and finally resorted to basic vocabulary:
“Okay, P for pop, R for rip, A for act…”
A week later an envelope came through the letter box. As it dropped onto the door mat, I stared in disbelief. Yep…
It was addressed to Miss Pop.
3) THE TIME I TRIED TO MAKE
OUT FRIENDS WITH THE COLLEGE JOCK.
During my university years I was usually expected to go home on the weekends. One rare weekend, I stayed but typically all my good friends went home so I was at a loose end. So, I took a deep breath (like I am typing this) and plucked up the ‘now or never’ courage to go over to the room of the guy I really liked, (intimidating sporty type whom I’ll call Hot Guy) to see what he and his mates were up to (translation: see what Hot Guy was up to). Except when I got there, I was met with a What the hell is she doing here? death stare from his mate, who wouldn’t leave the room and appointed himself as spokesman whose main job was to get rid of me. He wasn’t the only one wondering what I was doing there; the second he spoke, even I thought What on earth am I doing?!
And what did Hot Guy do? Oh he just looked down the whole time and fumbled with his trainers, or whatever they were, in a desperate attempt to look like he wasn’t there (and probably imagine I wasn’t there either) hence the need for a spokesman. Not so hot. He would not look up and I was just frozen on the spot, barely able to think. I literally shuffled out of there, my tail between my legs. It was a long walk back to my room, my cheeks hot with humiliation, my pride dented and my already meagre self confidence in absolute tatters. I took years to get over the embarrassment; it is a genuine wonder I ever spoke to another man. No hilarious punchline here by the way. I guess the only punch is the one I wanted to give myself (and Hot Guy in hindsight) in the face. Ugh.
Last but mortifyingly not least:
4) THAT TIME A GIRL SHAMED ME (aka That’s NOT Where You Use a Razor!)
I’m sat at my school desk trying to concentrate on the fascinating explanation of the life cycle of an amoeba [sarcasm] when my friend starts throwing me sideways glances. For several minutes. I try to avoid making eye contact as I just know trouble is in store if I do.
“You haven’t have you?” she says.
“Haven’t what?” I reply.
“You did, didn’t you?”
Oh God, here we go…
“Oh no you idiot, man” (We might go to school in Harrow but we’re Wembley girls…everything ends in ‘man’ or ‘wicked’. Because. Classy.)
“Ha haaaaa! Oh my God you DID!”
Busted…don’t know how but I’m busted…it’s okay…keep calm…DENY EVERYTHING.
I’m wriggling uncomfortably with rising panic. I don’t actually know what’s coming but I know it’ll be bad because this damned girl just won’t let up with her knowing grin.
“You shaved it didn’t you?”
“Shaved what?!” I ask with a thin high-pitched voice as my eyes dart nervously.
“Your tash! YOU SHAVED IT!!”
Whole effing class turns round. What is WRONG with these girls? Can’t they just focus on the riveting amoeba explanation? I sheepishly admit that I indeed tried ‘handling’ the facial hair thing (thank you gods of puberty) with none other than a razor. Turns out, I’m the only female alive who has never heard of Jolen. Three students almost have to be carried out on stretchers, they’re catatonic with laughter.
As if my unintentionally entertaining the masses hasn’t been enough, the teacher asks the inevitable “Is there anything you’d like to share with the rest of the class, Prabs?”
“Sure, I was just saying how being 15, and Indian, are the gifts that keep on giving”
…was not the answer I gave.
WHAT ARE YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING OOPS MOMENTS?!
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