It’s always fun to talk about embarrassing moments. At the time they occur, one might feel an overwhelming urge to burst into convulsing sobs, but after a few years (or even a few minutes, in some cases) embarrassing moments are a great topic of conversation with friends and co-workers. A few summers ago, I entertained the youth of my church at Girls’ Camp by telling them my most embarrassing moment. Something about “my moment” hit them in such a way that they recruited their friends to gather around me, forcing me to relive it again and again and again… You wanna hear about it? I bet you do….
Allow me first to share two pieces of my background:
#1 When I was in fifth grade, I was put into an experimental classroom setting that combined 4th, 5th, and 6th graders who tested above average. We were isolated from our peers during school hours with the exception of recess, P.E., and music classes. By the time 6th grade rolled around, the program was dissolved, and we were put back into regular classrooms. Because of this isolation from my peers, the following year became crucial to my social redemption.
In summary, age twelve was the worst possible time this could have happened to me.
#2 I grew up in a very small house with one bathroom. Having one bathroom makes it very difficult to shower because there is always someone who needs to pee while you’re in there. Because of such intrusions, I always took special care while undressing. I’d take my bra and underwear and tuck them neatly inside my pants before placing them on the floor. That way, if someone came in to go potty while I showered, they wouldn’t see my unmentionables. After showering, I’d take my pile of clothes back to my room and toss them in the laundry basket.
In summary, my underwear usually went into the washing machine with my pants.
And now, on with the story.
On a spring day in 6th grade, my school had a fire drill. My class was assigned a meeting place at the top of a hill on the playground. I was one of the last to exit the classroom that day, so as I approached the hill, most of my classmates were already there waiting. Since I had lingered behind a bit, I decided to make up time by sprinting up the hill. I was wearing shorts that day, and as I ran toward my school mates, I felt something brush against my leg. Annie, who was beautiful, popular, and stuck on herself in every way, called down the hill to me, “Hey! You dropped something.” I stopped and turned only to recognize – in sheer horror – a pair of my very own underwear lying there in the grass.
Time froze as I contemplated the situation. Had my underwear fallen off somehow? No. Could they possibly be someone else’s? No. Then I realized: they had been laundered inside my pant leg and somehow managed to stay there until that very crucial moment. Without any other option to pull me out of the depths of humiliation, I shrieked, “Ewwww! Those aren’t mine!” and the whole of my classmates suddenly became aware of the freshly fallen undies in the grass. They responded, as any group of thirty twelve-year-olds would, with laughter and accusations. Fortunately, I removed myself from the spotlight, and no one pointed fingers at me, not even Annie, who had seen them fall from my very own shorts. Since I successfully convinced my class mates that the underwear belonged to someone else, I left them there lying in the grass. No one knew they were mine, and no one ever would so long as I didn't attempt to retrieve them.
It wasn’t the first time a pair of underwear had shown up on the playground at school. Several months prior, my friends and I had come across a pair of men’s tightey whiteys near the baseball diamond. If I learned anything from that first episode, it was that underwear stays on the playground until the wind blows it elsewhere. After the fire drill, I spent every day for weeks and weeks knowing that I had to go out on the school playground during recess and face my own panties. They moved a lot; some days they were in the grass, other days they were on the asphalt, but they were always somewhere and remained in the vicinity until the school year ended. Thank heavens I went to Junior High, or I might have had to endure my playground panties into the next school year. For all I know, they might still be there keeping my deepest darkest secret.
But it didn’t end there. Like I said, I went on to Junior High, and I continued my panty-stuffing ways each time I showered. One day while walking to my locker, something felt slightly "off," so I glanced down and noticed a slight bulge in my pant leg. I knew exactly what it was…my underwear… again! But this time I was prepared. I felt the bulge moving slowly down my leg with each step I took. I kept up the pace, knowing that they would soon make their exit into the hallway. If I slowed down or stopped, everyone would see them fall from my pant leg, but if I kept walking quickly, they would become lost and trampled in a sea of teenagers, and by the time someone noticed them, I’d be long gone.
My plan worked. I anonymously lost my panties in the hall of my school and never looked back.
Now that I'm an adult (and have several years to protect me from the experience), I have no shame in confessing...
They were mine! The whole time, they were mine!