Everyone has an embarrassing story. Some embarrassing stories make you giggle and compel you to then share how something similar happened to you. Some are awkward because you think the person is an idiot and you actually don’t think the story is funny. Some make you uncomfortable.
Mine – mine does all of the above. Except maybe the part where something similar happened to you.
The only thing going for me is mine happened before social media. Waaaayyyy back in 1997. When I was 22 years old. Had this story happened sometime more recently, it would have gone viral. My ass would be all over YouTube.
#ToiletPaperTail would have lit up Twitter as I sauntered down K Street, at lunch time, totally oblivious.
And yet – though I will never forget this story – I realize now that surviving this story prepared me well for parenthood. Because what is parenthood on some days other than hitting rock bottom and realizing that the best way through it is with a laugh and accepting the only place you can go from here – is up?
So what happened?
It was a lovely fall day in 1997. I had my super new job working for a public relations firm at 18th and K Street. I thought I was a BAD ASS. I had my college degree, I had a job in the field I wanted to be in, I was FANCY.
Fabulous and Fancy.
That particular day, the CEO of the entire company worldwide was in our office. So what does a gal do but wear her best suit.
Really, I basically had one suit because I could afford nothing else and my parents bought it for me to interview for jobs. It was a grey wool JCrew skirt suit. I was totally Mary Tyler Moore when I wore it – I was going to make it after all!
Being 22-years-old and the lowest man on the totem pole, I did lots of menial things, like fax stuff (remember that?) and making copies (remember CC Mail?) and answering phones. Recall: I was fancy.
So the CEO of the DC office asked me to deliver something quickly — it was very important — and just had to be dropped off on Connecticut Avenue but it was VERY important.
Oh wow. And important job for the CEO!!! But first, I had to pee. So off I went in my fancy skirt suit to the restrooms to pee really quickly before I hurried this envelope down K Street…at LUNCH TIME….to Connecticut Avenue.
As I rounded the corners from the restroom, the DC office CEO and the global CEO were also standing at the elevator banks. It quickly turned awkward. I wasn’t sure why. They suddenly had shifty eyes and wouldn’t really look at me. An elevator opened and they didn’t get on, so I hurried on because I had this VERY IMPORTANT DELIVERY for both of them. I was going to show them how reliable I was and amazing, of course.
Just before the doors shut, the DC CEO leaned in and awkwardly said “You have toilet paper coming from your skirt.”
Camera cue to me turning BRIGHT RED and the doors coming to a complete shut.
No wonder the other two didn’t get on the elevator with me. You know, the two heads of the COMPANY. No wonder they kept their eyes glued to the floor.
Suddenly I realized, I didn’t just have toilet paper coming from my skirt, I had my entire skirt TUCKED into my tights, then I had toilet paper coming from my ass and down the back of my legs like a tail – so if I were walking towards you, it would look like I had a toilet paper tail hanging between my knees.
A TOILET PAPER TAIL
AN EXPOSED ASS
In front of two CEOs.
Who thought I was just taking a huge poop in the bathroom.
I was 22-years-old.
Was this rock bottom?
And how, exactly, did this happen? I only had to pee. Why was so much toilet paper involved? I still don’t know the answer to that particular question. One of life’s great mysteries, I suppose.
And so, I rearranged myself and untucked my skirt from my tights and removed my new found accessory: the toilet paper tail. And I walked down K Street, during lunch, on a busy October day, so incredibly grateful that I didn’t have a toilet paper tail. And I wondered how could I go on? How could I face the CEO again? How could I face the global CEO? Surely he’d never forget moi.
Which was not exactly the impression I had in mind as I pranced to the elevator doors a few minutes before. Was I actually going to make it, after all?
And what was my next move? We were a very congenial, goofy office. I was a PR maven, right? So did I get in front of the story and tell my co-workers so they wouldn’t hear it from others first and then start gossiping about me? Recall: this went down at the elevator banks – anyone could have been standing there. Odds were the mortified CEOs would never tell anyone else. But do we think they bust out laughing when my elevator door closed?
Looking back now, I am sure they did. Out loud. Uproarious laughter. Wouldn’t you?
Oh I totally would.
But do I get in front of it or do I hope it never gets out, pretend it never happened, oh, and never make eye contact with our CEO ever again?
Do I just never go back?
It was a troublesome walk to make that delivery that day. And it all started out so promising.
So what did I learn from this humbling moment?
To laugh at myself, that nothing ever goes as planned, that youngsters always use too much toilet paper and I need to stop griping at my kids about it and for God’s sake, to check your ass before you leave the bathroom when you are wearing a skirt.
It prepared me well for parenthood. I know that I can come back from rock bottom and public humiliation.
Oh, and I got in front of the story and confessed to my co-workers, so we all could laugh together about it.
And laugh they did.
Got an embarrassing story like mine? Did it prepare you for parenthood? “Like” moi on Facebook and I’ll tell you more hilarious stories.