The five most embarrassing moments of my life so far: a memoir

At 28 years old, I’m well aware that this list is far from complete.

I’ve yet to defecate in public, for example, which I predict coinciding happily with my 79th birthday. But in the interests of posterity and public humiliation, both of which are the primary goals of both the millennial, and of the internet, here are the six most embarrassing things to have ever happened to me heretofore.

 When I stole pick ‘n mix sweets, and got caught

The Five Most Embarrassing Moments of My Life: A memoir

The supermarkets of New Zealand are blessed with sections wherein you can find all the variations of candy available in the universe. Most of these varietals cost the same per 100 grams. However, not all candy is created equal, and I was partial to dark chocolate covered strawberries, which cost nearly thrice as much as the other candy. Canny to the last, I filled a bag with cheap sweets, secreting 6 of the strawberries within the mass of colours. Surely, I thought, they won’t notice.

They noticed, and I was escorted back to the bin, where the checkout lady, burning holes in my jumper with her scorn, fished out every last strawberry and put them back in the appropriate bin, before leading me back to the counter and allowing me to leave, watched, and scarred forever.

Oh, and I was 21.

When the lady made me trim my own pubes before she would wax me

The Five Most Embarrassing Moments of My Life: A memoir

IT HAD BEEN A WHILE, OK? But when I lay down on the crackling table, she took one look and reared back, muttering in a thick accent “Wax won’t work”. Yes, really.

And then she handed me a pair of scissors and encouraged me to crouch over a bin, in order to cut away enough of the surplus that she might be able to get on with her job, while soothing whale noises played in the background.

When an 80 year old screamed at me in a Japanese supermarket

The Five Most Embarrassing Moments of My Life: A memoir

I was only 22 years old when I moved to Japan, naïve, nervous as shit and decidedly uno-lingual. My first foray into a Japanese supermarket was daunting, so I did what I believe most people in the same circumstances would do: I only bought what I recognized, which led to me exiting the supermarket with fried chicken, beer and Frosties. Yes, I did put on quite a lot of weight while I lived in Japan, thank you for asking.

I got through the check-out OK (why does everything happen in supermarkets?) but when I tried to exit, a lady the approximate height of my hip blocked my path, talking fast. I shook my head, and said “I don’t understand” in Japanese, but that didn’t deter her. Instead, she thrust her hand in my shopping bag and removed my Frosties, and commenced to yell up into my face, gesticulating wildly at the tiger on the front.

To this day, I have no idea what she was saying. I do know that I tried to run away, and that she chased me, and threw the cereal box at me. I also never bought Frosties again.

When I thought a woman was pregnant and she wasn’t

The Five Most Embarrassing Moments of My Life: A memoir

I was a waitress, and had been informed that of a table of 5 women, all gathered together for high tea, one was pregnant, and wanted to know which of the foods contained egg. I approached the table and, with my normal enthusiasm (shameless tip hunter) addressed one woman whom, without being informed, I’d picked out as the pregnant one.


She was wearing one of those absurd tops that elasticate under the breasts and balloon out and she looked a good five months along. 40 seconds into my spiel, a slender and red-faced blonde interrupted me from the other side of the table, saying that she was 6 weeks pregnant and did I think she could eat cream cheese. I finished my conversation with her, slunk away, convinced someone else to take my table and spent the rest of their time in the restaurant pretending that their table didn’t exist, babies didn’t exist and empire waists didn’t exist.

When I pretended to have met Alice Cooper

The Five Most Embarrassing Moments of My Life: A memoir

Same restaurant. There was a big rock concert on that evening, and given the small size of my town, a number of the performing celebs had been spotted around the area where I worked. In fact, only 30 minutes before my shift started, one Alice Cooper, a headline act, had stopped by for coffee and a croissant. Everyone was very excited and I was gutted at having missed my opportunity to meet a real celebrity. We don’t get many of them in New Zealand, unless you count Dolly the cloned sheep.

Anyway, a couple dressed head to toe in black and silver sat down and I engaged them in chat about the concert, confiding that Alice Cooper had been at their very table only 20 minutes ago. They were very excited, and asked what it had been like.

“She was very nice,” I replied.

This list could have been so much longer than five items, but I will save them for another day, when I am not already cringing myself into non-existence because of the above memories.

But don’t let that stop you from listing your most embarrassing moments below…. *crosses fingers for public nudity*.

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