Friday, October 11, 2013

My most embarrassing moment

Being a lifelong klutz, I've had my share of embarrassing moments.  But the worst of all had nothing to do with klutziness, and thankfully did not permanently scar that sensitive little girl.

When I tell people I've been writing stories since I could hold a pencil (or crayon), I'm serious.  In fact, to prove it, here's a copy of my first check and the accompanying letter (although the "junior press card" was lost long ago):
Hmm, think I could cash this check? It's only 49 years old, after all.
This was in first grade.  By the third grade I was so inspired by the U.S. space program I was writing epic science fiction adventures about intelligent ants visiting all the planets in the solar system (illustrated, of course).  My teacher, Mrs. White, was so impressed with one of my stories--all 20 pages--she asked me to read it out loud to the class near the end of the school day.

I whispered to her that I needed to go to the bathroom first.  Since I was shy, Mrs. White thought I was just trying to get out of reading the story and wouldn't let me go.

So I tried to read as fast as I could, but 20 pages is a very long story for an eight-year-old.  I danced from foot to foot, but--you guessed it--I couldn't hold it.  So in front of a whole class of third graders, my white socks turned yellow.  (Those of you who grew up in the sixties will remember how us girls wore dresses to school, and that day I wore white socks with my saddle oxfords.)

I managed to finish the story without bursting into tears (I'm German, after all), and squished all the way back to my desk, where I planted myself until the final bell.  When I didn't get up, Mrs. White came to investigate, and when she realized what had happened was mortified and helped me clean up.

The rest of the year I made sure my stories were not quite so long.  And when I later had opportunity to teach children of all ages, I always, ALWAYS let them go to the bathroom.

P.S. I can also tell you this did nothing to discourage my interest in writing epic stories. ;)