Posted by: Trisha Leigh | September 22, 2010

My Past is a Scary Place

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to think, act, eat, talk, and walk like a teenager lately. I’m revising my MS, and though Althea’s not a normal teenager by any means, I still want teens to recognize her as a member of their species. You know, so they won’t eat her.

Wait, maybe that’s packs of wild dogs. Either way. It’s sort of the same thing.

When I think back on my own teenage years, the proclivity to be embarrassed about every little thing stands out. I was a Drama. Queen. I’m 99% certain my parents locked themselves in their room and howled with laughter over my ridiculous meltdowns – usually over nothing.

For fun, I thought I’d share my most embarrassing teenage moment with you.

I have plenty to choose from, given my family’s generous genetic dose of clumsiness. I could tell you about the time I ran into the outfield fence going after a softball during warm-ups. Or the time my parent’s insisted on driving me to my first real group date because I wasn’t allowed in the car with teenage drivers. Oh, or when my father proclaimed the only way I was going to the haunted houses with that same group of girls/boys was if he drove us in his mini-van. Then there’s the time my grandfather went up to the boy I had a crush on, put him in a headlock, and dragged him over to talk to me. There’s the usual not getting asked to a dance, tripping over nothing, wrecking your car seven times, and getting so inebriated you spend an evening pitching pretzels sticks off a roof at your ex’s new squeeze.

What? Not everyone has a story like that? Oh, well, forget I said anything.

The one I picked instead is this: I’m twelve and going through confirmation at church. As part of our class, we’re required to participate in a worship service; the class ran everything except the sermon in order to learn about the different roles church members play. I get stuck with the announcements, probably because I’m a good reader and big words don’t intimidate me.

Speaking into a microphone in front of the whole congregation, however, set my knees shaking and my stomach twisting into knots.

I’ve always been a bit shy speaking in front of groups. I know, who would believe it?

I begin to read my part, and get to an announcement regarding the meeting time of a group of folks known as the Stephen (Ste-ven) Ministers. I pronounced it Ste-fan Ministers and the congregation chuckled. I had no idea what my mistake was until afterward, when my parents told me why people laughed at me. I went out to the car and hid, and my fellow confirmands teased me for weeks (I know, how Christian of them!). I’ve never forgotten how stupid I felt that day.

I think the reason that one sticks out more than most is because, in my mind, it made people question my intelligence. I was never the prettiest girl, the best dancer, the most popular, the best at sports – but I knew I was smart. It’s where my confidence, my self-worth stemmed from in those years when it’s sometimes hard to find. Putting myself back in those horrifying moments has connected me with Althea, helped her find her self-worth inside a world that seems to be against her.

In her case, it might actually be true.

I’m dying to hear some of your embarrassing teenage stories in the comments. Please share!



  1. I can’t tell you how many highly intelligent people I know who mispronounce words. I suspect it’s because they’re huge readers, and their vocabularies include a lot of words they may not have actually heard. One of my embarrassing moments as a child was when, after reading a book about a Labrador retriever, I told my parents I wanted a pet La-BRA-dor. They didn’t know what in the heck I was talking about. (Never got one, in any case.)

    • Aw, poor Linda. 🙂 That’s a good point about reading – my vocabulary benefited from all those Nancy Drew novels, I’m sure.

  2. Trisha… my heart aches! I wish young girls could stop hoping to be the “prettiest” and know they’re nevertheless pretty, or the “best dancer” and be happy they can dance… Ah, lessons learned.

    I had the very same sort of thing happen to me when I was a teen. I prided myself on being smart. I went to a Catholic high school that accepted only the best and brightest and I reveled in that (even though it didn’t make any difference in how my life turned out). I wasn’t a blue-eyed, blonde. I was a brown-eyed brunette that most guys didn’t notice… until they needed help with their homework.

    Freshman year… I was 13 and found myself the center of an impromptu group in the library researching some history lesson. I’d started explaining the topic, had four guys hanging on my every word (!) and used the term “annals of history”.

    Except I pronounced it “anal”.

    For the first time in my life, I was thrilled I wasn’t a blue-eyed blonde because my dark looks were much more effective at hiding the blush triggered when all these guys howled with laughter, nearly getting us kicked out of the library.

    But, luckily, I AM smart so I immediately gave them a cheeky grin and acted as if I INTENTIONALLY mispronounced the word as a joke.

    Not sure if any of them bought it.

    • Patty, that is hilarious. I hope looking back you can laugh at it too – and you recovered nicely, lol. I hear you on teenagers and their skewed self-image. I guess that’s how it is – luckily most of us learn those lessons in time.

  3. I think my life was filled with embarrassing moments from the age of 5 to oh………now. I have always been awkward, silly, and never really fit into my own skin. I think one memory that really sticks out though was when I attended Raytown highschool. I always wanted to fit in with the popular kids. Looking back I know it was a compete waste of time. One day I was walking from class to class and my shoe lace must have gotten caught underneath my shoe. I could feel it happening, but I couldn’t stop it. I fell on my face and slid half way down the hall. The two people who saw me do it, were of course, two very “popular” kids. They just turned around and looked at me. They didn’t ask if I was ok, just looked at me like they couldn’t believe I had the nerve to trip and fall. I lost all faith in people that day, and to this day, if I see anyone fall no matter who it is, no matter what I’m doing, I stop and make sure they are ok 🙂

    • That is so sad but with a good ending. High school is so weird. So many of the people who “had it all” then sure don’t have much to brag about now. Karma, anyone? 😉

  4. I’m not easily embarrassed by things that usually embarrass people. It’s the little things that terrify me, but those make lousy stories. I’m pretty sure I’ve blocked most things that actually embarrassed me out of my memory, anyway.

    But teenage church stories reminded me of the only time in my life I got in a true actual fist fight… on the “March for Jesus.”

    I probably should have spent a little more time marching.

    • Why is it so much teenage cruelty takes place at church? Hmmm….

  5. You are so cute.

  6. When I went on my first date with Linda, who happened to be the Preble County Pork Queen (yes, that was a real, non-intentionally-ironic title), my grandmother said to me, “Just because she likes to be porked doesn’t mean you get to throw her down on the ground and jump on top of her first date. Girls don’t like that.” She said this in front of Linda.

    Yes, I was embarrassed. But I was even more embarrassed when I later learned Linda was not happen I did not throw her on the ground and jump on top of her on the first date. I was “boring.”

    • 1. I cannot wait to be a grandparent so I can say/do whatever I want and mercilessly embarrass my grandchild. This would, I assume, require me to first become a parent.

      2. Are you SURE it wasn’t Linda G? Because it totally sounds like her…

      3. It is now my goal in life to one day win a title that includes the word “pork”.

      • I’m pretty sure it WAS Linda G., the more I think about it.

        • Yes, I’m afraid you might be right. Forgive me for not remembering–it was a fuzzy period of my life, what with the alcohol, drugs, and being abducted by aliens. Still, once I saw the part about Linda being ticked you didn’t throw her on the ground and jump on her, I said to myself, “Hey, they could be me!”

          So, tell me, did we have any fun at all? Or was I “boring” too?

        • Er, I meant “that” could be me. Of course. Not “they.” That would be silly.

          And wasn’t I nice to make a typo like that, just so you’d feel better about your “happen”? That’s just the kind of typo-ist I am. 😉

  7. “…was no happy”, not “…was not happen.” Was not happen?

  8. I am drunk with typos.

    • Sheesh. You think YOU’RE drunk? I can’t even remember that date. 😉 OR being Pork Queen.

      Oh, wait…you’re talking about a different Linda, aren’t you?

      • Maybe… Clearly it’s an open question. 😉

  9. I have a good “pretzels at ex” story, or something of the sort. It was a 4th of July party, and there was alcohol. When I drink, a lot of my shy barriers are torn down. I was incredibly courteous and simultaneously flirtatious, memorizing the name of every girl at the party (there were 32) and if they came with a bf, I memorized his name as well, no matter how intoxicated I became.
    There were two girls there in the traditional hot-girl with homely-girl duo. My friend, the host, went for hot girl, and I went for homely girl. This was mildly successful, since we ended up watching the fireworks in each other’s arms.
    Later that night, however, she started ignoring me, and ran away with a previous fling. I found myself drunk, and shooting bottle rockets off my friend’s porch at the vehicle in which they were making out.
    OK, not exactly the same, but that was the first thing I thought of. And now everybody knows.

    • That is a pretty amazing (in an embarrassing way) story. I’m happy to have someone rival my pretzel story. One of my friends who was there on the fateful pretzel night read my blog and called me out. She said, “Trisha, the pretzel thing HAS to be your most embarrassing moments because just being your friend that night is one of MY most embarrassing moments.”

      Yeah. It was that bad. I can’t believe that guy chose another girl over me 😉

      • I figured that mispronouncing the word Stephen isn’t the most embarrassing moment of your life, just the most embarrassing moment you’re willing to share with the world.

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