A week or so ago over at dooce.com, Heather invited commenters to share memories of embarrassing moments. Good times. I made a rather risque contribution over there, but I think I'll dial it back a bit for the ones I post here, since I aim to try to keep this here establishment PG-rated. I mean, I know you bloggers can handle whatever, but everybody from my kid to my pastor knows about this thing now, and I don't want to frighten anyone away. Where to begin... Giving birth is always an excellent step toward amassing an impressive collection of embarrassing moment stories...
First, you have to know how ridiculously cute LG was, as a toddler. She was, from birth, all cheeks and eyelashes (still is, pretty much). Big green eyes, loooooong black lashes. People said she was a "good church baby." And she was. From the very beginning, she sat quietly in the pew with us, never fussed, never had to be taken out. (Don't hate me, we've had other troubles!) She flirted with everyone around us, and they were pretty much smitten with her.
The first embarrassing moment I'm thinking of occurred when LG was just over two years old. She talked very early, was putting sentences together by 14 months. So even though she was introverted, if she wanted to tell you something, you'd be told. At that time, we lived in a tiny, old house, a "bungalow," realtors called it. It was quaint and cozy, and always had something going very, very wrong with it. Plaster walls and ceilings were often the culprits. Cracks galore. One crack in particular, would not leave us alone. It was in the kitchen, which had been added on to the back of the house at some point. Where the roofs of the old and new sections of the house joined, there were frequent leaks, causing water damage to the ceiling, resulting in the crack that would not be defeated.
LG heard about this particular crack every day of her life. "Are we going to fix the crack this weekend...has that crack gotten bigger...damn, the crack's back...I spackled the crack..." You get the picture. One Sunday in church, two-year-old LG was standing on the pew, facing the ladies in the pew behind us. They were, in every sense of the word, "church ladies." They were elderly, prim, nicely dressed, good, God-fearing folk. They were enchanted by the toddling angel who stood there smiling at them, occasionally tilting head down and looking up through the extravagant lashes. World-class flirting. She rarely spoke in such situations, but today, she had something on her mind. And the ladies could tell she was about to proclaim something. They leaned forward as LG held court, and she said to the church ladies, clear as a bell, "I live in a crack house." The church ladies gasped and fell back against their pew, Jif and I cringed and slunk down like guilty teenagers. LG smiled, turned and sat down. Her work was done.
Not long after that, LG performed a similar scene for the same church ladies. This one let me know that the TV was on too much at our house. There was a commercial running all the time here for a law firm that gave the attorneys' names and then said, "If you've got a phone, you've got a lawyer!" LG did the same, flirtatious, I-am-an-angel-forced-to-live-in-a-crack-house routine, then announced to the church ladies, "We've got a lawyer!" Again, gasping, cringing, slinking. I'm sure the ladies weren't surprised, I mean, you'd better have a lawyer, and a damned good one, if you plan on raising your child in a crack house. When I could, I said to her, "Why did you say that? We don't have a lawyer!" "Yes we do. If you've got a phone, you've got a lawyer. And we've got a phone."
Still around age two-and-a-half, LG and I met Jif for lunch at a restaurant near his office. We were seated in the hallway, on a loveseat against the wall, waiting for a table. This particular restaurant appeals to, shall we say, the more mature crowd. Lot of senior discounts being given there. As we sat there waiting, a group of friends, ladies in their 80s, came filing past on their way out. There were about six of them, as I recall. The first two, with canes; the final four, using walkers. As the first one passed right in front of our little reviewing stand, LG said, sweetly, "Now, THERE goes a pretty lady." The lady beamed and smiled. Here came lady number 2. Having been rewarded for her first effort, LG delivered the goods again, "Now, THERE goes a pretty lady." Lady #2 beamed, smiled. And on it went.
The ladies bringing up the rear of the procession heard what was happening, heard the ladies in front oohing and aahing at the beauty, the sweetness, of the complimentary cherub, and they all eagerly paraded in front of the little judge. And I must confess, I was PROUD. I could have cried. Here's what I was thinking: This is wonderful. I am doing such a good job with her. She is not limited by superficial, societal ideals of beauty. She sees beauty in the infirm, in the wrinkled, in the gray, in the imperfect ...(can't you just hear the swell of the orchestra? see the swell of my head?) PROUD, I tell you.
She's finally ready to pronounce the last lady. Last lady is already smiling, knowing what's about to come her way. And LG says, "Now THERE goes a pretty lady. HEY! WHY IS HER BOTTOM SO BIG?" I don't know what that lady did. I froze. I pretended I wasn't there. I went to my happy place inside until all the pretty ladies and their bottoms had gone away, leaving Jif to deal with that rotten kid of his.