Tag Archives: #SoWrong

Jerry Springer and Other Omens : #SoWrong Moment by Amber West

So thrilled to have Amber West here today. Amber is not only one of my favorite blogger friends, but she is also the author of The Ruth Valley Missing, which is a real thriller! Today, Amber shares a less heinously embarrassing moment than, perhaps, some of the other bloggers in this series, but hers is a poignant story just the same. If you don’t know Amber — omigosh — why not? Super-talented, super kind, super sensible and just… super, check out her blog and follow her on Twitter @amberwest.

SoWrong

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Jerry Springer & Other Omens by Amber West

My tale of first love starts shortly after high school.

What can I say? I was a late bloomer.

Not to say that I didn’t have crushes in school. There was the crazy smart, somewhat eccentric guy from the crew team with steely blue eyes who looked like a young Mel Gibson. (You know, the pre-crazy days.) And the guy I knew since I was 12, who grew into a charming, adorable flirt, who looked like a young Tom Cruise. (Also, pre-crazy.)

Maybe my affinity for boys who resembled nutso celebrities should have been a clue as to how first love would go for me.

Apparently, I was not good at reading signs in my teen years.

Joe* was five years older than I was. We met through mutual friends and got along great. Funny and very sweet, he was the type of guy who opened doors for you, who asked you how you were and paid attention to the answer. He looked like a young Matthew Broderick. (You know, pre-cheating).

He moved to Florida from Maine, giving him a cute Northern boy accent, and a way about him that reminded me of home. Being around him was fun and cozy.

And he paid attention to me.

Being a middle-child with poor self-esteem and pretty naïve in the boy department, I thought we were just friends.

One day, he showed up at my office with roses. Not the roadside bouquet wrapped in cheap plastic and a paper towel. A dozen, long-stemmed, perfectly deep red roses, wrapped in fancy paper and cellophane.

The reason?

“You said once no one’s ever bought you flowers. And that’s just wrong.”

I may have swooned a tiny bit in that Florida office park. And then he added, “I haven’t bought flowers for anyone in X years, Y months, and Z days.”

From previous conversations, I knew what this meant.

He hadn’t bought flowers for anyone since the last time he had his heartbroken by his last girlfriend.

Girlfriend.

Is that what he thought of me?

I mean, guy friends bring you flowers, right? And they give you extra long hugs and tell you you’re pretty and keep a photo of you in their apartment…

Girlfriend?

No. Couldn’t possibly.

But, well, just maybe…

Our “friendship” had the added pressure of disapproving parents (mine, not his), so we never said we were dating. We spent time together with mutual friends, stealing moments here and there for deep conversation, smiles across the room, and lingering hugs goodbye.

One day, he came by my office to take me to lunch.

Sitting in a TGIFridays, waiting to order, he nodded his head to indicate there was something behind me.

“Look over there. Jerry Springer just sat down.”

I rolled my eyes and looked back down at my menu, deciding between something fried with something fried on the side, or something fried on a bed of greens.

“Seriously, look.”

“Do you really think I’m that gullible?” I smiled.

Not smiling back, he replied, “Why would I lie?”

Giving in, I turned my head to see that Jerry Springer was indeed perusing the menu a few tables away from me. I laughed and turned back to Joe. “Oops.”

“I don’t understand why you wouldn’t look,” he said.

I quietly sipped my drink, unsure of what to say. What did I do? I thought we were joking around, but apparently, I’d committed some major sin.

It took a bit before moods lightened again, but I spent the rest of lunch picking at my salad, not sure what had happened.

As time passed, we had more of these moments.

Moments where he questioned our “friendship”.

And finally, there was the phone call.

Apparently, someone told him I’d been spreading rumors about him.

About him and a girl.

At first, I was apologetic. I didn’t know why anyone would say that, given the fact that I would never utter a bad word about him, but I was horrified that someone made him feel that I did.

He pressed. “Why would someone tell me that if you weren’t saying anything?”

And I snapped.

Well, for me it was snapping. It should be noted that I was never much of a snapper.

“I don’t know, Joe. All I know is that I’ve heard the rumors and the only thing I might have said is that you wouldn’t be stupid enough to be involved with her.”

We didn’t talk after that.

Some months later, I got the news.

He’d run off** and married the girl from the rumors.

I’m not the type to embarrass easily, or at least my brain does an excellent job of blocking out those moments.

But that moment? I felt that flush of humiliation.

This guy who once made me feel important and pretty and wanted managed to make me feel like nothing.

I’d been silly enough to fall for him. It was all my fault.

Or at least that’s what I told myself.

Older and wiser, I don’t kick myself for falling in love anymore.

But if any of you know if Adam Arkin has done anything crazy, let me know.

The hubs, looking Arkin-y.

The hubs, looking Arkin-y.

*name changed to protect the not so innocent

**when I say “run off”, I mean it – she was young enough that they needed to head to a different state to get married.

• • •

tweet us @amberwest & @rasjacobson

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The Devil Made Me Do It: A #SoWrong Moment by Jess Witkins

Jess Witkins is a fantastic blogging-buddy. Funny and friendly, she is honest and tells it straight. Jess is an adventurer who will do anything for a good story, as you will see today.  A glutton for all things pop culture, Jess is on a quest to listen better, learn better, write better, love better, and sleep better. Check her out at The Happiness Project. Follow her on Twitter at @JessWitkins.  Thank you for being here today, Jess. xo

SoWrong

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The Devil Made Me Do It by Jess Witkins

What you need to know is that I came crashing into the party on a Friday night fish fry just before my parents’ 40th birthdays.

They already had a family.

They weren’t planning on doing the diaper thing again.

Because I grew up surrounded by people much older than me, I’m mature for my age. I got A’s in school, graduated college, found a well-paying job, and I pay my own bills!

I am a picture-perfect citizen.

One would assume I have control over my bowels.

Let me explain. My boyfriend and I take a vacation together each summer. We’ve traveled to Portland, Oregon and eaten Voodoo Donuts; we’ve visited Toronto, Ontario and viewed the skyline from the CN Tower. Last summer, we decided to take a road trip out west. Starting in the Badlands, we made our way to Yellowstone National Park. It was a fabulous trip.

Except for the day we toured Devil’s Tower.

That August day, the temperatures climbed into the 90’s. Being a mature adult, I was prepared! I packed and wore sunscreen. I drank water all morning. I used the bathroom before we left.

It didn’t matter.

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This is Devil’s Tower.

We started our hike around the base of the tower. We weren’t too far in when I felt something rumbling in my gut. We sat on a bench for a minute, enjoying the view.  I considered telling my boyfriend to go on ahead so I could quick run back to the bathroom.

That’s what I should’ve done.

But nah, the pain went away, and I figured I could hold it.

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Jess wearing sunscreen & sporting water like a responsible adult.

It became crystal clear, halfway around the tower, that my mind and body were not at peace. In fact, they were in deep negotiation. And things were getting heated.

When the cramping got so bad that I had to sit down again, I started weighing my options.

You see, I couldn’t skulk off somewhere: there were other hikers. One poor unsuspecting family was giving their children piggy back rides nearby. I couldn’t take a crap behind a tree, they’d see me! It was either stay on the bench and breathe or walk right over the cliff behind us.

I wish I’d chosen the cliff.

Because that’s when I pooped my pants.

The worst part was telling my boyfriend what had happened. How would he ever look at me with any sense of romance or mystery again? I consider myself a dignified person. But I’d just crapped my pants. In public. And we still needed to hike halfway around Devil’s Tower.

Nothing will ever compare to the cold, wet, mall-walker sprint that I made during my descent from Devil’s Tower. And my boyfriend, wonderful man that he is, tried to cheer me up on our journey.

“You’re almost there! You’re doing good! On the bright side, I don’t smell anything!” he shouted.

Making my way to the crowded public bathroom, I took note of the collateral damage. Well, the underwear was a goner. It didn’t stand a chance, really. I was just lucky I wore full coverage cotton panties that day and not a thong.

I shimmied out of my undies, wrapped my soiled mess in TP, and dumped everything in the plastic bin where women leave their unmentionables. Then I said a little prayer for the park custodian, cleaned myself up, and walked back to the car.

So the moral of the story, kids, is sometimes even the best of adults crap their pants. Oh, and always bring an extra pair of clean underwear when traveling.

Or, you know, a diaper.

Has this ever happened to you? Of course I don’t mean YOU, but someone you know right? Besides me and Al Roker? Huh?

 tweet us @rasjacobson & @jesswitkins

NOTE: The winner of the GoGoSqueeZ giveaway is Brown Road Chronicles! Congratulations Steve! Send me your mailing address within the next 48 hours!

Je Ne Comprends Pas: A #SoWrong Moment by Margaret Lawrenson

SoWrong

Click on the eyeball to be directed to other writers who are participating in this series in 2013.

About 9 years ago, Margaret Lawrenson and her husband, Malcolm, bought a house in Laroque d’Olmes, France, a faded town whose glory days are long over. About 5 years ago, the British couple started to spend nearly all their time there. Margaret’s blog gives the reader a slice of French life. Her photographs are exquisite and her stories of day-to-day life in a tiny romantic village will make you long to hop across the pond. And yet, there is a longing, too. Despite their largely successful efforts at integration, despite loving much about their life in France, she sometimes misses life in England with friends and family.  Check out Life in Laroque. Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest, too.

• • •

Je Ne Comprends Pas by Margaret Lawrenson

All she wanted to do was to take our order. But we became more and more frustrated, even hysterical, at our inability to explain to the waitress that we’d only given our order (‘café solo e café con leche’ – we could cope with that) about a minute ago to her colleague. Sadly, he wasn’t in view, so we couldn’t point him out. And she couldn’t understand that we were fine thanks, our coffee was on the way, and we didn’t need any more help.

We were in Spain, in Catalonia, visiting our daughter for the weekend, and we couldn’t wait for her to join us in the bar. When she arrived, she smoothly took over, explained the tapas menu to us, and gave our order to el patron. He complimented her on her Spanish, but then spoilt it by wondering if she were Belgian. As if. We’re Anglo-Saxon to the core.

You see? We're fine now. Emily's placed our order and I'm free to take a photo.

You see? We’re fine now. Emily’s placed our order and I’m free to take a photo.

We found it so difficult and frustrating being in Spain with only the most rudimentary language tools. Although all efforts on our part to communicate in Spanish or Catalan were greeted with friendliness and enthusiasm by the locals it was all uphill. We battled to be understood, they battled to understand, but laughter broke down lots of barriers.

That was about 6 months ago. I resolved there and then that I Must Try Harder. I’d learn Spanish; maybe do a course in-line. After all, daughter Emily’s in Spain for the long haul.

Really, I should know myself better. I don’t do learning all on my own. Give me a set of muscle-toning exercises to do in my own time, and I’ll maybe do them once, grudgingly, clock-watching the while. But tell me about a good keep-fit class and I’ll be there every time, one of the group, putting my all into every movement.

And so it was with Spanish. I fiddled about looking for a suitable course on line, found one, and that was as far as I got. I hadn’t been able to find a class to go to locally, though I really looked. Result? I’ve learnt no Spanish. And now I’m paying the price.

Last week, The Orange Man was in town, the place where we live in southern France. Occasionally, he drives up to our patch of France from his patch of Spain with a whole container-load of oranges. His boxes of fruit are so sweet, so juicy, that once he’s set up his stall in the forecourt of a disused petrol station, he sells the lot within a couple of days . Just one snag. He only speaks Spanish.

So I turned up, having painstakingly worked out my order.

“Hola,” I flashed a confident smile. “Una caja de naranjas por favour.”

Big mistake. Despite my accent, he assumed I was fluent. Delighted at last to have the chance of a chat after sessions of mime and sign language, he opened his mouth. Several days’ worth of pent-up chat flowed forth and he didn’t even notice my baffled silence. Beaming, he helped me to the car with my case of fruit. He all but dispensed with the small formality of being paid. And I felt small, and mean. He’d stood there for two long days with nothing to do but wait for customers, and I couldn’t even help him while away five minutes of his time.

There we are:  A container load of oranges.  All I have to do is ask for a box....

There we are: A container load of oranges. All I have to do is ask for a box….

This time, I got away with it, but I’ve got a long way to go before I no longer have to wag my finger at myself – ‘Must Try Harder’

How do people who come to live abroad cope if they don’t try to master the language? We know of English people who’ve been here in France ten years or more and can still barely communicate. If we found it embarrassing telling the waitress we didn’t need her just then or speaking to a vendor of oranges, how much worse would it have been if we’d been trying to contact a plumber, say, or the local town council?

Most of our best times in France are spent sharing experiences – whether it’s a walk in the mountains, an hour at the gym, or simply having a drink together – with our local friends and neighbours. We worked really hard before we came to France to get the basics together, and even harder once we got here. Our efforts were appreciated. It meant we could use local shops instead of making an impersonal trip to the supermarket. So we met people. Locals tell us about the things that are going on, recommend an electrician, invite us to a party, or to go on a walk. We turn up to things so often we’ve become part of the furniture. We’re no longer ‘that English couple’, but simply ordinary active members of our community. It’s been hard work. And we still make embarrassing mistakes, as when we translated the word for organ (as in the splendid instrument you may hear in church) using a word that’s more often used for – um – sexual organs.

Embarrassment is good. It spurs us on. Must Try Harder so that, little by little, we need to Try Far Less Hard, and our Little Learning becomes A Lot.

Ever experience any embarrassing moments while traveling abroad where language let you down?

tweet me @rasjacobson • Margaret ne tweet pas

{NOTE: I want Susie Lindau to know my thoughts are with her today as she bravely faces her double mastectomy. I know she’d want me to say it straight, just like that, because that’s what’s happening. If you know Susie or you know someone who’s battled breast cancer, leave Susie a comment for her HERE. She’s a fighter, that one! #SusieStrong}

To Bra or Not to Bra: A #SoWrong Moment by Misty

SoWrong

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You guys, Misty is sharing her humiliating moment today, and it’s a doozie. For those of you unfamiliar with her, Misty is Mister-ious. {Did you see what I did there?} Like sometimes I wonder if her name is really Misty. You see, I’ve never seen Misty. I’ve only seen her sandals, the avatar she uses in association with her comments. Readers of her blog know Misty has kids and one helluva husband. She claims to be a lawyer. But there are no pictures of her. None. After reading this piece, I feel able to say with some degree of certainty that Misty has boobs. Follow my girl at Misty’s Laws. You can also follow her on Facebook.
• • •
To Bra or Not To Bra

I’ve never been very fashionable.  This statement was never more apt than during my teenaged years.

Back in the early nineties, there was a trend in fashion of girls wearing these leotard like shirts that had snaps at the crotch, like a baby’s onesie.  I have no idea why these things were popular for grown people, but I owned a couple of them.  Some of them actually looked like shirts, until you got to those hanging flaps with the snaps at the bottom, but if you were wearing one with pants, sometimes it wasn’t obvious that it wasn’t a regular shirt.  I had one or two of those kind.  However, I also had a few of the other type . . . the stretchy ones that looked like a leotard.  And when you pulled those little flaps down to snap them below, it became even more . . . taut.

One night, when I was about 17, I was getting dressed to go out with a friend to a high school wrestling match, where I would also be hanging out with a guy I was “dating.”  (Those quotation marks are an entirely separate embarrassing story, thanks).  I had just bought one of those stretchy leotard type shirts, but had yet to wear it.  I figured this would be a good time to break it in.  It was a long sleeve, deep forest green shirt, made of a pretty thin material.  However, when I tried it on, I realized that it just didn’t really look right.  In an attempt to get a second opinion, I called upon my mom for her advice . . .

Me:  “Does this shirt look weird?  I mean, you can totally see the outline of my bra and the straps right through it.”

Mom:  “Yeah, it does look a bit odd.  What if you just don’t wear a bra?”

Me:  “Really?”

So, I took off the bra and we both viewed what it looked like without it.  Please note, that at the time I had 17-year-old boobs.  They pretty much stayed right where they were supposed to, as this was years prior to me birthing two wee tots  that would proceed to use them as their own personal udders.  They were perky at that point, is what I’m saying.

Mom:  “I think that looks better.  This way you can’t see the straps!”

Me:  “Ok, if you say so . . .”

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It was pretty much EXACTLY like this, but with less penis (and more boobs).

And yes, I actually left the house, with my mom’s blessing, nay at her beseeching, in a thin (practically sheer) top, sans protective boob covering.

Did I mention it was winter? So, it was cold outside. Not in my bedroom as I was getting dressed, but definitely outside. Pretty sure you can figure out what that means.

When I picked up my friend and “boyfriend,” I was wearing a coat, but when we arrived at the gym, I removed the coat. Did I mention it was chilly in the gym as well? Yeah. So that was when the problem became evident. Well, to everyone but me, I suppose.

Instead of realizing the wrongness of the situation, I instead just went about my business, all oblivious-like. You see, I was a teenaged girl.  And I was sitting on bleachers, watching a boring sporting event with another teenaged girl.  So, to pass the time, we engaged in a favorite activity of all teenaged girls everywhere over the history of all teenagedom . . . cattiness.

That’s right, we sat there being snarky about what the other people in the gym were wearing, and basically made fun of things that we thought weren’t “cool.”

After listening to us engage in this activity for a while, my “boyfriend” looked over at me and said this:

“How can you make fun of how other people look, when you are sitting there with your boobs hanging out for the world to see?”

Wait . . . what?

Well then. Wasn’t that just a punch in the gut. Really, it was like a smack upside my foolish head. So, instead of crawling under the bleachers to hide, I just went ahead and put my coat back on, and wore it for the remainder of the wrestling match.  Talk about a reality check.

After the match, I went to drop off my friend at her boyfriend’s house nearby.  He lived with a few other guys, and we all went inside to say hello and socialize for a bit.  However, I didn’t take off my coat. When one of the guys asked why I was sitting there all bundled up in my coat, my friend oh so helpfully told them why.  To which, their incredibly understanding and empathetic response was:

“Show us your tits, Misty!!”

I chose to decline their kind entreaty, and instead I slunk out of there, completely and utterly mortified.  And I have never not worn a bra out of the house again.  Some lessons I guess you have to learn through experience.

Thanks a lot, mom.

 tweet me @rasjacobson

My Lilly Pulitzer handbag giveaway ends today at noon, Eastern!
Click HERE for details! It’s not too late. Unless it is.

Dear Diary, I Hate You: A #SoWrong Moment by She’s a Maineiac

SoWrong

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• • •

In seventh grade, Darla wore her heart on her sleeve.

In seventh grade, I wore my heart on my sleeve, also my boob.

Also on her boob.

Once deemed by a reader as a “humor-infused mommy blog that doesn’t suck”, She’s a Maineiac, is also low-calorie, lactose-tolerant and good for the ozone layer.

Don’t try to find Darla on Twitter. She doesn’t hang there. Darlakins resides in Maine with her kiddies and her husband. And the real fun happens on her blog. Visit her there and she might buy you a coffee. Or you could buy her a drink. She needs one. Right now.

• • •

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Dear Diary, I Hate You

I knew the moment our sixth grade science teacher made us lab partners, John was The One for me. It was the way he smirked and shrugged. The way his dark Rick Springfield hair spilled into his eyes. The way he wore his faded jean jacket with the collar flipped up and his scuffed white high-top Reeboks oh-so-recklessly untied.

Oh, yes, he would be my boyfriend. I couldn’t wait to rush home and kiss my Ricky Schroder poster farewell.

John kicked the empty chair next to me to the side and plunked himself down on top of the lab table. “Hey,” he smirked and shrugged at me. Immediately, he began gnawing on his pencil and glancing over at the girl he was rumored to admire, Gina.

Gina. Pfft. Gina who had perfect hair and perfect nails and a perfectly stupid hot pink comb jutting out her back pocket with the bold (and vastly overstated) claim: HOT STUFF!

I looked back over at John, the object of my affection, who was now grinning maniacally as he stabbed the sharp end of his pencil into the earthworm splayed open on the dissecting tray in front of him.

No matter. I still loved him. And one day he would be mine because I had other, more sinister plans: to write John ♥ Darla with sparkly rainbow-colored markers all over the cover of my Social Studies book. Destiny written in purple and surrounded by Garfield stickers. But first I had to tell my diary about this momentous occasion in my riveting 12 year old life.

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My crush continued. John and Gina became a couple. Still, I knew our life together would begin sometime during the upcoming Spring Dance when he would finally confess his undying love for me; probably after we grooved to “The Safety Dance” but definitely before the slow, let’s-get-all-sweaty-and-awkwardly-slump-over-each-other song “Open Arms”.

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But along with Tracy, a year later and John was acting weird. He was avoiding me at the lockers. He wasn’t looking me in the eye as he stabbed at yet another defenseless earthworm. No longer was he tipping my chair back, or shooting rubber bands at me, or pretending to not really like me. Our spark was gone.

And I was truly puzzled.

Maybe Gina had forever sunk her perfectly manicured hooks into him after all? It was probably that damned hot pink comb that did him in. All my comb said was, “SUPER!” I knew I should have bought the other one at K-Mart! My life was over. My diary entries were a flurry of lost hopes and dashed dreams.

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The only thing deep down in my soul I knew to be true? Genesis did suck.

Then came the fateful day when John asked me if I’d like to share a piece of chocolate with him at lunch. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken him up on his offer. Maybe I should have passed on the sloppy joes earlier. Maybe the fact that his best friend Brian was laughing out of the corner of his mouth when he offered it to me should have alarmed me.

But maybe, just maybe…he liked me after all?

“Sure!” I gushed, and popped the bitter square of dark chocolate in my mouth, eagerly gulping it down.

“Ha ha!” John yelled, pointing at me. “You just ate EX-LAX! SHE JUST ATE EX-LAX!” He turned and grinned at his friends. My heart stopped.

It was an honest mistake! I swear I'm not normally so stupid.

It was an honest mistake! I swear I’m not normally so stupid.

Tears spilled down my hot cheeks. Brian and John burst into a howling fit of laughter, almost falling off the cafeteria table. I turned and ran down the hallway, barely reaching the girls’ bathroom. Plunging my head into the sink, I tried to spit out the vile candy, but it was too late. My stomach lurched.

I flew into a stall and prepared for the worst. “Darla? Darla?” my best friend Amy’s voice echoed in the bathroom. “It wasn’t really Ex-Lax! They were joking!” she yelled. “I swear, it wasn’t! We all ate some! It’s not Ex-lax!” It took several more minutes before I was convinced to leave the safety of the stall. I barely got through gym period without crying, certain a poop avalanche was imminent.

After school, I threw myself onto my pink canopy bed to write in my tear-stained diary about how the man I loved had betrayed me.

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But where was it, my cherished diary? The only place I felt safe enough to reveal my ultra juicy secrets? I could have sworn I’d left it on my night stand right next to my Laura Ingalls doll…

I peered over the side of my bed and there it was on the floor. My diary–its tarnished lock open, exposing the pages of my innermost dreams for the entire world to see.

Someone had been reading about the Man of My Dreams all along.

Someone knew how much I pined for John’s Reeboks.

Someone knew all my secrets.

My heart flip-flopped as I realized the ultimate horror–someone had told him I had a crush on him!

My brothers.

They all knew. Specifically, the older one who was only two grades above me and knew exactly what to say to make John steer clear of me for good.

I learned many hard lessons that year:

  • Never fall for a guy who does nothing but smirk and shrug.
  • Never buy the Super! comb over the Hot Stuff! comb.
  • Never eat a piece of candy you didn’t buy yourself.
  • And never, ever put the key to your diary right next to your diary.

Did you keep a diary? Who and what did you write about? Did anyone ever use your diary against you? If you didn’t keep a diary, where did you put all your juicy tidbits?

True Crime: A #SoWrong Story From Pegoleg

SoWrong

Peg Schulte from Pegoleg’s Ramblings is truly one of the most dynomite writers I follow. When I asked her to write about one of her most embarrassing moments, I was thinking “Recommended Humor Blog = Some Pretty Funny Shiz.” But I am pleased as punch that Peg decided to show another side of herself here today: a memoir about a time when she was profoundly ashamed of herself. Because haven’t we all been there? Peggy is not on Twitter, y’all. But she has an enormous following at her blog. And you would be crackerjacks not to take a peek at the magic she has going on over there — after you read this piece.

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I was the smart, fat, teacher’s pet in junior high. I was desperate to be part of the in-crowd. Desperate. I would have traded my soul to the devil to be popular. He never showed up with a contract, however, so I had to make it happen myself. I’m not telling you this to excuse what I did; I just want you to know where I was coming from.

Things started to change when I made the cheer-leading squad in 8th grade. I got to sit at the “cool” girls table in science class, I was invited to “cool” parties, and I tried new, “cool” hobbies. Things like smoking, drinking and shoplifting.

I became a thief to fit in.

My career only lasted for a couple of outings. I wasn’t very good at it. Heart pounding, sick to my stomach, I’m sure my guilt was writ plainly on my face for all to see. You can probably see where all this is heading, although it was a nasty surprise to me. I got caught.

We were at Kresge’s, a store of the variety they used to call a “Five & Dime.” My girlfriend had just stuffed a barrette (retail value 69 cents) into my purse. We were strolling the aisles, trying to look casual, when I felt a hand on my shoulder. The big, burly store manager invited us to “come up to the office.”

He said they had a zero-tolerance policy for shoplifting. They called the police. Two officers came, searched our bags, told us we were under arrest and that someone from the court would be in touch. My friend presented a stoic front throughout the ordeal, but I was a blubbering mess.

They called our parents to come get us, and this is where things went from bad to worse.

My parents were out of town for the weekend. The lady who was babysitting us didn’t drive. My friend’s mom volunteered to take me home, but they wouldn’t release me to her. The police said they would take me.

Let me set the scene for you. This was just before the Dawn of the Age of Malls. Downtowns were still packed with stores and, on any given Saturday morning, that’s where you’d find ¾ of the town’s population; 100% of the teenagers.

They walked me through the crowded store with one policeman in front and the other behind me. Their cruiser was double parked in front of the store, on the busiest corner in town, right at the intersection of Everybody Saw and Everybody Knew. I think one of my brothers or sisters may have even witnessed my Bataan shame march, but I didn’t see them. I looked neither right nor left.

It was bad enough to have a police car drop me off right in front of my house. Did you know that you can’t open the back door of those cars from the inside? I kept trying the handle and babbling that the door didn’t work.

It was bad enough listening to the policeman explain the situation to the nice lady who was watching us for the weekend. Her expression combined shock that I would do such a thing with worry that my parents would blame her.

It was bad enough trying to deflect the probing questions of a “concerned” neighbor when I went to their house to baby-sit that evening. Much as I wanted to cancel, I didn’t think I should compound my sins by leaving them in the lurch on a Saturday night. They said they had seen me coming home in a squad car and “hoped everything was OK”.

All these things were bad enough, but nothing compared to the ordeal of telling my parents when they got home the next day. The look of disappointment in their eyes was the worst punishment of all, and not something I’ll ever forget.

My parents had drilled the difference between right and wrong into us kids our whole lives. Dad was a dentist and both were active in service to our church and the community. They told us that people knew who we were, even if we didn’t know them. Everything we did reflected back on the good name of the family.

They sat me down with the 5 oldest of my siblings and revealed my crime. I guess they figured maybe a little good could come of this if the other kids learned from my mistake. The younger kids looked at me with eyes so wide it was as if I had just taken off a sister Peg mask to reveal I was really Al Capone. That was the cherry on top of my shame sundae.

All that summer, I had to walk down to the courthouse to meet with my parole officer. Yes, I had a parole officer, just like murderers and rapists had.

She seemed like a sweet old lady, until I realized that her probing questions were designed to find out what kind of terrible home-life I must have that I would turn to a life of crime. After one meeting, she insisted on driving me home. I knew she wanted to look around for herself. I squirmed with mortification for my Mom even more than for myself.

I finally had my day in court. It also happened to be my first day of high school.

I missed most of the first day of this new stage of life at a brand, new school because I was down at the courthouse in shackles and an orange jumpsuit.

OK, it wasn’t an orange jumpsuit. I was wearing my new-for-school outfit; itchy, wool tweed pants and a too-tight, wool sweater vest. On top of everything else, the wool made me break out in hives.

The judge gave me a stern lecture and pronounced sentence: one year’s probation with continued visits to the parole officer. If I didn’t get into any more trouble my juvenile record would be erased when I became an adult.

I tried to look blasé, but I couldn’t help it – I cried the whole time. I have always cried easily, but not prettily. My eyes swell up and my whole face becomes a red, blotchy mess that doesn’t fade for hours.

I was a wreck after court and pleaded with my Mom to let me go home, but she was adamant. I had to go to school. I guess she figured the more painful this experience was, the less likely I would be to repeat it. Like most of life’s lessons, this made a lot more sense in hindsight. At the time, it just seemed cruel.

Mom dropped me off at the front door of school just after lunchtime. I’ll never forget walking into the unfamiliar building, not sure what subject I had at that hour, or where the classroom was. I was painfully aware of my swollen eyes and red face, and sure that everyone could see the scarlet “T” for Thief that was emblazoned on the breast of my sweater vest, at least in my mind.

I never stole again. In fact, I became scrupulous about such things. I’m the person who tells the clerk when she hasn’t charged enough. The person who, if I found a bag of unmarked, no-way-to-trace-it cash in a dumpster, would take it to the police.

What did I learn from this experience? I took away two, invaluable lessons.

  1. My honesty and integrity are worth much more than any material goods could ever be.
  2. I should never wear wool next to my skin.

Have you ever stolen something? What did you take? What have you done to fit in with the “cool” kids?

tweet me at @rasjacobson

I Love You, But I’m Not In Love With You: A Guest Post by Julie Davidoski

SoWrong

Click on the eyeball to be directed to other writers who are participating in this series!

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and, no doubt, some of you are feeling bummed out. Like maybe your boyfriend gave you a pencil for Valentine’s day. Yeah, that happened to me once, too. Jules of Go Jules Go is here to offer a little perspective on love, and she explains — without bitterness — how all the loving we do is worth it in the end. If you aren’t already following Jules, you should. A humorist, known for being downright hilarious, Jules shares another side of herself today. Tweet with Jules at @JulieDavidoski.

• • •

• I Love You, But I’m Not In Love With You •

I was 18 years old when my life began.

One summer day, after the Y2K dust settled, an auburn-haired woman walked into the local book store where I worked. Jenn. The new hire. Nearly half a foot shorter than me, her sundress flapped against ivory legs as she took the new hardcovers to the front of the shop.

We were fast friends, chatting in between placing orders and ringing up customers.

“You were maaaade for retail,” she teased, quoting one of our recent patrons.

Jenn. Indeed.

Jenn. Indeed.

I rolled my eyes. I’d taken the full-time job at the book store at 16, the same year I earned my GED. I was taking classes at the local community college, my sights set on screenwriting. Bullied for glasses, braces, a few spare chins and a penchant for white tights, I was eventually home schooled. I sometimes wondered if ‘old soul’ really meant ‘late bloomer.’

Jenn regaled me with sordid tales of her past: Running away from home, men calling in the middle of the night begging for forgiveness, operatic dreams dashed, sex, drugs and rock and roll.

“You need a little fun in your life,” she said one night as we sipped Sangria at a local bar. At 24, she was five years older than me and knew all the places with the most lenient carding policies.

A little fun in my life.

A little fun in my life.

One month before my 19th birthday, Jenn and I took our shoes off in the mud room of her parents’ colonial and walked into the small, outdated kitchen, like we’d done many times before. We were surrounded by blue painted cabinets and faded wallpaper. Despite its age, everything in the house was spotless.

And there he was.

“Nej,” he greeted (“Jen” spelled backwards), his deep voice rumbling with affection.

The figure sitting at the small round table, munching away on carrot and celery sticks, shared Jenn’s fair skin and self-proclaimed ‘large Irish noggin,’ but had much darker brown hair and eyes. Goodbye Justin Timberlake, hello…

“Dan, this is Jules. Jules, Dan.”

Jenn’s twin brother. The apple of her eye. He grinned widely, eyes sparkling.

In addition to sharing physical similarities with his twin, Dan shared Jenn’s intelligence, musical ability and sense of humor. He’d graduated two years earlier with a degree in Psychology, but his true passion was film, giving us plenty in common. He had a serious girlfriend, but she didn’t like his friends, which meant every time I saw him, he was alone.

And suddenly he was everywhere. The next time we met, we talked for over an hour. The third time, he sprung up and gave me a giant bear hug. His solid frame pressed against me, and I lost my breath. I’d never been held like that.

That same night, he stopped me from leaving.

We stood in the laundry room of a friend’s house, chatting for a few minutes about music. When, it was time for me to go, Dan stepped forward to circle my waist with his arms.

“You give good hugs,” I murmured.

He gave a throaty chuckle and squeezed me even more tightly.

Over the following months, the conversations and hugs grew longer. And longer. But he never made a pass, and I was sure I was imagining things.

Finally, I emailed Dan. “I think there’s something between us,” I wrote, heart racing. “You’re completely amazing, and I wish you all the best life has to offer,” I went on. “I’m just afraid -and my ultimate point lies here- that you won’t realize when it’s being offered to you.”

I wrote that on a Thursday.

On Sunday, Dan replied, explaining his lack of response indicated “slight discomfort” because, while he enjoyed my company just as much, it was in “a different way.” He ended by saying he hoped that we could “continue to chill.”

I was devastated. Humiliated. Yet some part of me wasn’t willing to accept his words. I was sure if I waited long enough, and tried hard enough, I’d get the thing I wanted most.

Six months later, standing outside his parents’ house, Dan kissed me.

“I thought it was all in my head,” I breathed.

“It’s not,” he replied, brown eyes blazing. He held me and stared into my eyes, like he always did.

“I tried to figure out if I just wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or funny enough,” I gushed. The words were out before I could censor them, and I didn’t care.

“That’s ridiculous,” he reassured me.

The following year was speckled with more kisses, a couple of midnight confessions, and an endless series of marathon hugs. He loved me, and said I was one of his best friends, but he was never ready to leave his girlfriend and accept all I was willing to give.

Before I knew it, I was 21 and begging Dan not to leave a party.

He did.

And that was the moment.

The moment I decided to let myself fall in love with someone else. Someone I’d known a long time. Someone who, as it turns out, loved me back.

That man is my now husband.

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Jenn once told me, when I finally confessed how I felt about her brother, “Your loving Dan has a purpose, if only to make you see how much you deserve in love.”

And she was right. I never would have known how to appreciate all I have now if it wasn’t for all I didn’t have then. I finally realized love was easy. Simple. Happy.

Any time people talk about their most embarrassing moments, I think of that email I sent to Dan, confessing my feelings. I cringe. I blush. I bury my head in my hands.

But part of me loves that girl who didn’t get the guy. Because at least she tried.

Have you ever waited too long for love?

tweet us @juliedavidoski & @rasjacobson

Fifty Shades of Humiliation Featuring a Guy in a Gray Suit

Recently, I showed you the line-up of amazing bloggers who committed to sharing their most embarrassing moments over the course of the year. If you surf Twitter, you will be able to find the series under the hashtag #SoWrong. And a lot of other crazy shizz, too. Probably. Last week it occurred to me that it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t share one of my own heinous moments. Gulp. Here it is.

SoWrong

Click on the eyeball to see who else is participating in this series!

During high school, I worked at a department store in a local mall. At its peak, the chain had ten locations, and I spent many afternoons, weekends and vacations behind the costume jewelry counter, helping blue-haired ladies decide between faux-pearl earrings and plastic white clip-ons.

When I came home from college in the winter of 1985, I learned I’d be working in fine jewelry where black surveillance cameras hovered over the display cases.

Dude looked a little like this. Seriously. Look at those chompers. And that chin.

Seriously. Look at those chompers. And that chin.

One day, a man in an expensive gray suit leaned against the glass case where the 24k gold was kept and flashed me his whitest smile.

My heart beat loud in my chest. Gray Suit was cute. I wondered if he was single.

“Is there something you’d like to see?” I asked, hoping he would say something like: You. I’m here for you.

“Didn’t Carol tell you?” Gray Suit asked, invoking the name of my supervisor.

When I shook my head, Gray Suit frowned. My teenage heart dropped.

“Let’s start over.” Gray Suit outstretched his hand.

We shook hands the way my father always said was indicative of a person with character: firm and not too quick to release.

His lips moved. “I’m John Stevens, the gold rep. I come to swap out the inventory occasionally.” He set a hard, silver briefcase on the floor, bent over and produced several, rose-colored velvet bags, which he set on the glass countertop, careful not to leave messy fingerprints.

“I need you to get the keys from that drawer over there and put everything inside these bags.”

John flashed his dimples.

Isn’t it so sparkly and pretty?

I bit my thumb. “I think I should probably wait until Carol gets back from lunch…”

John glanced at his watch. “I still have to get to North Syracuse, Camillus and Clay.” I could feel his frustration. “Carol should have told you I was coming.” John shook his head. “I guess I’ll go see Mr. Big Boss…” He leaned over to lift the handle of his briefcase.

And I should have let him go.

Oh, I should have let him go.

But I was 18-years old.

And I didn’t want my supervisor to get in trouble with Mr. Big Boss.

And there was this small stupid part of me that hoped that John Stevens, the hot guy with the great smile, might want my phone number. Or something.

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Image courtesy of Nina Strelov via Fotopedia

So I did as I was told.

I drifted over to the drawer where the key laid waiting inside a small white cup. And somehow I was pushing the tiny tarnished key into the lock. Once the lock was off, I slid open the doors, dropped to my knees, dragging all the gold into one clunky pile.

John handed me a velvet bag, which I filled and set atop the empty display case. He smiled as he flipped open his briefcase and placed the bag inside. He tapped the top of the tall earrings tower with his fingertips.

“I’m going to bring everything out to the van, and then I’ll come back with the new inventory.”

I nodded. Of course he would.

“We don’t like to leave the cases empty for long.” John explained, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. “Every minute the case is empty, we lose potential sales.”

He promised he’d be right back.

When Carol returned from her break, I told her John had been there.

“Who?” she asked absently as she tidied up around the cash register.

“The gold rep” I said. “You just missed him. He took the old gold, but he should be back with the new stuff any minute.”

Carol looked at me with big eyes.

And then I knew.

I was a stupid girl.

My idiocy was confirmed when Carol stood in front of the empty display case and held her hand up to her throat, like something was burning there. “How long has he been gone?”

The words caught in my mouth. “About five minutes.”

Notoriously unflappable, Carol stomped her heel on the floor and swore.

I had done something really bad.

Okay the chair wasn't quite like this, but still.

photo courtesy of jeltovsky at morguefile.com

In Mr. Big Boss’s office, I sat in the naughty chair and wept. As he questioned me, I remembered something. “The cameras! He was standing in front of one of the cameras the whole time!”

I was elated. Thank goodness. We could get the footage and give it to the police. We would be able to catch the bad guy.

Mr. Big Boss rubbed his huge palm over his bald head and looked at me with soft eyes. He could probably tell I was confused. “The cameras aren’t real. They’re there to deter theft, but there’s no film inside. That guy probably knew they were fake. He seemed to know everything else.”

And, I thought, he knew how to work me.

I was sure I was going to be fired.

I braced myself for it.

Instead, Mr. Big Boss called the day “a learning experience.”

It was not the first time nor would it be the last time that a boy would trick me.

But it was a very embarrassing moment: the day I swapped nearly 10K in gold for a phony smile.

The fancy department store where I worked opened its doors in 1896. In 1992, the corporation filed for bankruptcy and four stores closed. Under pressure from creditors, Mr. Big Boss, grandson of the founder, sold the company and its remaining stores in 1994, just two years short of their 100-year anniversary.

I have always felt partially responsible.

Have you ever done something incredibly stupid at work?

tweet me @rasjacobson

Guest Posts for 2013: #SoWrong

SoWrong

In 2013, I asked some of my blogging buddies to share their most embarrassing moments from which they learned…something.

I’m kicking things off on December 20, 2012 by sharing my own tale of horror and humiliation.

I can hear y’all now.

You’re all: Omigosh, she’s probably recycling something.

Like remember the time she didn’t back-up her computer?

Or remember the time she fell down the stairs?

Or remember the time she went dancing alone and got all dizzy?

Or remember the time she got into a confrontation in an elevator?

Or remember the time she wore her son’s pants all day?

Or the time she bought meat off a truck?

Yeah.

But this one is worse.

Here’s the deliciously tasty line-up of awesome-sauciness:

January 7: Renée Schuls-Jacobson •Fifty Shades of Humiliation Featuring a Guy in a Gray Suit” @rasjacobson

Jan 11 – Daniel Friedland • author of Down Aisle Ten @danielfriedland “Lessons From a New York Vagrant”

Feb 8 – Tori Nelson of The Ramblings • @toristoptalking “Romancing the Throne

Feb 15 – Jules of Go Jules Go • @juliedavidoski “I Love You, But I’m Not In Love With You.

March 15 – Peg of Pegoleg •  “True Crime”

April 12 – Darla of She’s a Maineiac  •  “Dear Diary, I Hate You”

May 17 – Misty of Misty’s Laws  • “To Bra or Not To Bra”

May 31  – Margaret Lawrensen of Life in LaRoque “Je Ne Comprends Pas”

June 14 – Susie of Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride • @susielindau

July 19- Blogdramedy • @blogdramedy

August 16 – Jess Witkins of The Happiness Project • @jesswitkins

September 13 – Lisha Fink of The Lucky Mom • @lishafink

October 18– Amber West of A Day Without Sushi • @amberwest

November 15 – Kiran Ferrandino of Masala Chica • @kiranferrandino

December 13 – Mary Nelligan of ateachblemom • @ateachablemom

NOTE: If you would like to share a humiliating moment on your own blog, or if you have already written about one, send the link here! It’s nice to commiserate with others who have survived embarrassment and lived to tell about it.