Everybody gets embarrassed. For some it’s very easy. For others, they have no shame, dignity or a very rhino-like hide. In my case, it would depend on the severity of the blunder. And not just how badly I humiliated myself but how often. I do have an adorable klutzy tendency so my moments are rather frequent. Disturbingly so.
I wish I could blame it on alcohol; or disorientation because of medication or gremlins, hell, I’d even go as far as blaming Loki. But that is never the case. My most recent incident was at the Sankara hotel. I had accompanied a friend who was setting up for a band performance there. Now elevators and I have a bit of a history. While going up, I was perfectly ok. Suave, exuding an aura of jaded sophistication and something of a fascination to the other passengers in the lift- I wish.
Now while this is how I perceived myself that day, I guarantee that is not what the other folks thought when we were going down. I was watching the number of floors on the display panel and since I knew we were going to the G Floor, that’s what I was looking for. So when what looked like a G appeared a questionably short time later, I decided to get out with the folks leaving at that floor. But one of the fellows stopped me.
“No, that’s us. Not you.”
I was confused. My friend was no help. He was busy laughing at me. The kindly fellow pointed to a placard on the wall. I was on the 6th Floor.
Another time I was at the Panari hotel. My father had sent me to retrieve a parcel from there. Going up, no problems. Going down on the other hand… I was wearing what I like to call my biker look. My hair made me look like a chubby rock star. Imagine Axl Rose, only fatter, with breasts and chin length black hair. I was radiating cool indifference, even bobbing my head to the tunes playing on my headphones. But when the doors opened to let more passengers in, I got out thinking I had arrived at my destination. I had to dash back in before the doors closed. It was a close call. I was fine. One incident does not a humiliation make. But over the next three floors until the ground, I kept running out thinking I had arrived every time the elevator stopped to let more people in. Two of the passengers were snickering at my confusion. I don’t even think I was having a blonde moment. For those minutes, I honestly believed I had shifted into a gold fish. They have a memory life of about three seconds. That’s the best explanation I can think of.
Now while elevators aren’t the end all and be all of my embarrassment, my sizeable figure has always come into play a few times. The worst one was a few years back. I was strolling from Hurlingham to the Kenyatta hospital stage when a man rudely shoved me away and shouted, “Watu wanono wapishe watu.” And of course being the saintly woman I am, I called him a mildly rude name where he turned and reminded me that he could beat me, run away and I could never catch him. Onlookers decided to laugh. I gave him the one fingered salute, tuned out the cackling passersby and went on with my strolling.
Perhaps one last elevator mishap before I get to the moral of my gaffes. When the Lifestyle was fairly new, my cousin and I decided to go window shop. Primarily because we were broke, mostly because we were idle. So to move from the first floor to the second floor, we decided to try the up-down car. We got in and- um- failed to push the buttons for the floors. I don’t know whether we thought that the elevators are telepathic or somebody upstairs had telekinesis but we just stood there waiting for that whoosh sensation. Eventually, somebody else got in and luckily, we were headed up the same floor. We were along for his ride. He was kind enough not to ask us what we were doing in an unmoving lift. In my defense, I was only 11.
I think these moments exist because of a deficiency of luck. Or maybe it is divine intervention when ego grows dangerously close to megalomania. Embarrassing moments could exist to ensure a balance of pride, a constantly renewing appreciation for dignity or to show us our neighbours’ true colours. Honestly, I’m just trying to make myself feel better. I hate it when I humiliate myself. And I apply my goldfish methodology to deal with that sh-, sorry, crap. How else should I deal with it?