Life

PUBLIC EMBARRASSMENT

My wife, Meegan, will tell you one of my best qualities is my innate ability to make a twat of myself. I don’t consider myself the smartest guy in the room, but I wouldn’t say I’m stupid either; there’s just something built into me that makes my public displays of embarrassment a fairly regular occurrence.

Monochrome Photo of People Sitting Inside Theater

The moment that prompted me to write about this was recently listening to ‘Turn It Off‘ from The Book Of Mormon musical. A few years ago Meegan and I travelled into London to catch the live show and after having the soundtrack on repeat for weeks, I knew every filthy word.

Being sat fairly close to the stage, I was blissfully unaware of the thousand-or-so other patrons in the theatre and set about belting every note as fabulously and loudly as I could.

After nearly three hours of word-for-word nailing every note, we were into the last song, ‘Tomorrow Is A Latter Day’, and I was ready for the glorious finale.

What I didn’t expect was for the live show to differ ever so slightly from the recording I had been rehearsing with. Critically, there’s a second-long pause just before the final note. The cast and audience apparently all knew this, but nobody told me.

Right on cue (or off cue, on this occasion), I triumphantly belted out the final note to a completely silent auditorium. Meegan shrank into her seat. There were gasps. The lead actor looked directly at me and pissed himself laughing.ย 

I’d like to say I won’t make that mistake again but I really can’t promise myself.

Monochrome Photo of Woman Singing

Then there was the time we were on a couples’ holiday in Barcelona with my friends from school and their partners. That trip warrants an entire post by itself.

Like how most good stories start, it was late, and I had been drinking. A dozen of us were sat by the poolside and a few were starting to lose their enthusiasm for alcohol.

A particularly worse-for-wear friend passed me their drink and asked me to pour it into the drain, but in my drunken wisdom I chose instead to belligerently chuck it over my shoulder onto the tiled floor.

white paper cup spilled on road

The rest of the story is not my recollection, but pieced together from everyone else’s account of the evening, which my friends have taken great joy in reciting every time I’ve seen them since.

Ten minutes after throwing the drink, I was returning from the toilet when I spotted the chance to scare one of the hotel staff, who was stood chatting with the group.

I ran at full speed towards her, timed my jump perfectly, slipped in the pool of beer I had created, and blacked out. Much to the amusement of my friends, my blacking out was unusual because I hadn’t hit my head at all, just my leg.

Now I’m forever known as the only person to ever get a concussion of the knee.

Peter Griffin from Family Guy holding his knee and wincing

In typical dramatic fashion I retired to my room that evening and closed the night by solemnly saying to Meegan before I went to sleep, ‘If anything happens to me tonight, I want you to know that I love you’.

As far as I know, no one has ever died of a sore knee, so you could say this was an overreaction.

In December 2016, we were on our honeymoon, a four stop trip around Europe that started in Florence. My love for visiting less-travelled countries then took us on a lengthy train ride and equally long taxi trip to the tiny country entirely surrounded by Italy. No, not The Vatican City, the other one.

san marino castle

San Marino is basically a town on a mountain with a castle on the top, right in the middle of Northern Italy. On the cab ride we had a hard time visualising how high we were because the fog all the way up the mountain was thick and the lighting was poor.

All we knew is we’d been driving up a steep hill for what seemed like forever and the air felt increasingly thinner.

We eventually pulled into the centre of town, right in front of our hotel. The narrow streets, lined with old stone buildings, were empty and the heavy fog limited our view to no more than the length of a Tube carriage.

The dim orange from the streetlamps gave the place a beautiful warm glow. It was like something from a fairytale. 

With a heavy, bulky suitcase grasped firmly in each hand, I opened the door to the hotel, stepping inside to the top of half a dozen beautiful marble steps. The smiling receptionist greeted us from behind her counter and invited us to come and check in. Tired from the journey, I took a relieved breath and obliged.

All relief was quickly extinguished as I slipped straight down the steps onto my arse, hitting each stone tread with greater force than the last. Our suitcases, however, had remained rooted to the top of the staircase. I’d been gripping the handles so tightly I hadn’t had a chance to let go, leaving both arms bent up behind my back, locked in place and leaving me staged like an art installation.ย 

contortionist

I don’t think I’ve ever heard Meegan laugh for as long. She was still fondly recalling the highlight of the honeymoon when we left for Venice two days later. Our Sammarinese receptionist however, was neither amused, nor immediately concerned. My joke that I’d now have to give a bad TripAdvisor review wasn’t met with the laugh or room upgrade I’d aimed for. 

Despite falling harder than that TV reporter squashing grapes, I was okay. Nobody ever died of a concussion of the arse.

Images by Luis Quintero, Marc Kleen, Lorenzo Castagnone,

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