"Even as the humiliating event is unfolding, I am delighting in the thought of the imminent retelling" … Chrissie Swan.
Yesterday I laughed so hard I sprayed coffee out of my nose. In truth, this sort of thing happens to me often because I rate having a guffaw very highly on my daily to-do list – along with breathing, nuzzling my sons in that area between their shoulder and neck and singing Adele songs loudly. All good things.
I also really love it when something embarrassing happens to me. It gives me a thrill. Even as the humiliating event is unfolding, with me at the centre of it, I am at the very same time delighting in the thought of the imminent retelling of the excruciating details of the story to an appreciative audience of friends/sisters/colleagues. When you have a group of like-minded people to enjoy your mortification, everything is funny.
I really love it when something embarrassing happens to me. It gives me a thrill
Last week I stopped by a cut-price department store to pick up some baby onesies and some undies. I was mooching around with my three-year-old in the trolley when a tiny woman approached me in the baby department and breathed a whispery warning in my ear. "You have a hole in your pantssss," she said. Then immediately she vanished. Not unlike Snape from Harry Potter. Or Slugworth, the creepy guy who approaches each golden ticket winner in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
I immediately reached my hand around to feel for the hole and all I felt was bottom. A hole indeed. I tried to pull down my jumper to cover my exposed rump. When that failed I thought, "Imagine you don't know your bum is hanging out and finish your shopping with a cheeky nonchalance."
And so I did. Albeit with apologetic eyes to anyone who had the misfortune of waiting behind me at the cash registers.
When I told my friend this story, she screamed and threw herself back in her chair. We laughed breathlessly for 10 minutes straight. Delightful.
And it seems I'm not alone in my compulsion to share embarrassing stories. The next day on my radio show, we opened the phone lines on mortifying moments and Kay called in with a cracker that left us speechless.
She had been to the dentist and had a tooth removed. One of the back ones, the ones that leave you open to the glamorous affliction called "dry socket". Hot.
Anyway, Kay had the procedure and was feeling pretty fine, actually. Not one to waste a day off from work, she decided on a spot of retail therapy at her local shopping centre. You know, sashay through some shops, grab a muffin ... ordinary stuff made exhilarating by getting to do it during work hours on an unexpected day off. It's heaven, actually.
So Kay parked her car and checked her appearance: looking good, given something the size of a stock cube had been extracted from the bones of her face just an hour earlier. Feeling brave, she removed the wad of gauze, locked the car and off she went.
About an hour later, and after browsing several thousand racks of discounted pastel jeans, she blew her nose and saw a spot of blood on the tissue. Problem.
She made her way to the conveniences and within seconds realised something had gone seriously wrong with the whole stock-cube extraction situation. The lower part of her face was covered in blood. She'd been walking the shopping centre aisles, asking "Do you have this in a size 12?" and "What's the muffin of the day?" with a face that resembled something from a documentary about lions, impalas and feeding frenzies.
When she told us this story she could barely get it out. And my on-air partner Jane and I had moments of not even being able to hear what she was saying because we were howling like malamutes.
Some people call this "oversharing" but to me, there's no such thing. If Kay and I are telling stories that make some people put up the palms and squeal "Too much information!" then so be it. Even Rodney, who followed Kay on air, was not guilty of oversharing by my standards ... even though his embarrassing moment involved the car park at a place called Tropical Fruit World, a funny tummy and mincing back to the car with his wife yelling after him, "Rodney! I can see something! What have you DONE?"
And in the interests of those who are vehemently anti-overshare, I'll leave it there.
Enjoy your coffee.
This article first appeared in Sunday Life.