Thursday, May 26, 2011

like sands through the hourglass

I live in fear of playing one of those get-to-know-you games and having to answer the question "What's one of your most embarrassing moments?" When in the rational comfort of my own home, I realize this fear is largely unfounded. Most people creating those ice-breaker exercises have enough foresight to know this is a truly awful question for creating an atmosphere of comfort and safety.

Still, during times of low mental activity - on bus rides, in the shower - my thoughts will place me in this unlikely social situation and suddenly my heart is racing as I relive my truly most embarrassing experiences, trying to think of one that is embarrassing in theory but that I don't mind sharing with others (essentially, one that isn't really embarrassing at all). I feel a compulsion to lock on to some story, so I may have it at the ready. No hesitation. No doubt. I could whip out an embarrassing anecdote that leaves me endeared to others, perhaps even more respected.

Luckily, this week I had a wonderfully embarrassing experience that I've now emotionally distanced myself from. Perhaps it can be my go-to story and I can finally set my mind at ease.

I was in Houston yesterday giving a presentation at a conference. I was on a panel, and one of the panel discussants was the past Poet Laureate for a southern state. Through his presentation, I couldn't help noticing his subtle southern accent. It was beautiful to listen to - I pretty much didn't hear a word he said although I listened to every word he said.

After the presentation we were doing the compulsory shaking hands, congratulations, job well done. Before I could stop myself, I was blabbering on and on to this Poet Laureate about how much I enjoyed listening to his accent. Really, who goes on and on about that on a first meeting? The more I talked, the more desperate the situation became. Grasping for a way out, I heard myself saying, "No, really, listening to your southern accent was like riding on the waves of the ocean."

Where did that come from? Did I really just invoke a metaphor on a poet? And one that involved the waves of the ocean?

He gracefully took his exit by saying "Okay" with distracted finality and turning away.

I swam through seas of tears and ended up at a seafood restaurant to drown my sorrows in a salmon pasta dish. I felt better afterward.


Megan said...

Very funny. At least you now have a go-to story.

Elizabeth Downie said...

hahahahahahaha!! I love it! Oh man, I have had many moments like this. Sometimes I just can't stop words from leaving my mouth. It's the source of many embarrassing moments for me.

Jen said...

Erin, that's hilarious! I have said the most lame things in front of people and often fixate on it for days afterward. At least this happened after the panel discussion. How did the conference go (other than your encounter with the south)?

AdamAndMelaine said...

Oh, Erin. That is a funny story. Made me laugh right out load. I love it.

AdamAndMelaine said...

And of course, by right out load, I meant right out LOUD. :)

Chelsea said...

This is why I don't talk much :)

Dawn said...

Your story and Chelsea's comment made me giggle.

Sarah said...

In my experience, poet laureates are so pretentious.

Also, Ben was in Houston at the same time. I'm surprised you didn't run into each other.