I’ve traveled through a lifetime discovering moments that were challenging, or to put it in simpler terms, I discovered those awkward, embarrassing moments when time seemed to stand still with the spotlight focused on me. I didn’t mind attention occasionally but how could I divert it when I preferred privacy?
What did I learn from the embarrassment and awkward moments? I learned that life goes on, day after day, and those moments are remembered more kindly after time has smoothed the harshness and gave me a chance to look at them objectively.
I did not have awkward moments of Biblical proportions like those of Jacob. Jacob had moments that were extremely awkward. First, he stole the birthright and blessing that rightfully belonged to his twin, Esau. Jacob fled to save his life. Esau wanted to kill him. His troubles were not over. He met Rachael and worked seven years to win Rachael’s hand, but after the wedding feast and a night of revelry Jacob woke up beside a new wife. He had been tricked! Instead of Rachael, he was married to her sister, Leah. Jacob’s problems were much worse than mine.
The following four scenarios display moments when I was uncomfortable. There are countless others that disturb my dreams and make me avoid people until sufficient time has passed.
Consider the job interview when my prospective boss and his wife were driving me around, showing me off, discovering my likes and dislikes, my strengths and weaknesses. It was a time when I should have been listening or politely answering questions. Instead, I did the unthinkable and inexcusable. I assumed his wife was pregnant and asked when she was due. The interior of the car became icy cold and all conversation stopped. She was not pregnant, just fluffy.
Perhaps as father of the bride I should have taken special pains with my appearance. After all, i did escort the bride up to the altar in view of the guests. I was in the reception line when the bride asked, “How long has your fly been open?” It was too late to worry about being awkward. My only choice was to greet each guest warmly and thank them for coming, after of course, discreetly zipping up my pants.
My six year old son and I were in a supermarket buying supplies for dinner. The store was crowded but that was of little concern. I only had one child with me. What could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately, in the aisle we were in a large well fed man in coveralls was filling his cart. My son looked him over and shouted, “Hey, hey, hey! It’s Fat Albert!” There was no place to hide. No place to run. We deserted our shopping cart and just left quietly.
In Spanish classes I scraped by, never becoming fluent. I could read and write in Spanish but because of a minor tongue tie conversational Spanish was not my forte. In the language section of the college library were tapes to review. I went in thinking I could brush up my conversational skills. While reviewing, I heard my professor saying, “Be careful to pronounce your words. Listen to this gentleman. It’s the worst case I’ve ever heard.” I listened closely as my own voice stumbled through the language. There was nothing I could do. It was true. My pronunciation was terrible.