The Most Embarrassing Moment of My Life

I’m inspired to write today after reading a comment in a Facebook Group. It’s a group for Nebraska moms. Now, I am unfortunately not a mom, but that group is my target demo and I want to know their concerns, questions, and challenges in our community. As a lover of children, they welcomed me into the group.

So today, one of the moms wrote a post about her son who slipped and fell and was getting shamed by her husband for it.

I told her “Next time your husband slips and falls, ask ‘WHAT THAT MY FAULT TOO?’”. I guess that explains why I am single, eh?

That got me thinking about all the times I fell, slipped, crashed down from a tree, bailed from my bike when the brakes didn’t work, got stuck in the chimney trying to catch Santa, etc. None of the items could remotely be tied to my parents. I was an adventurer from the start.

However, my most embarrassing moment came in one of my favorite places on earth – the shopping mall.

I was probably around 10 years old, and my mom, sister, and I were doing some shopping at a story called Golde’s in the St. Louis area.

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It was as normal of a day as it got for the Hardy ladies, which is to say were all bickering about nothing and my mom was saying everything was too expensive and I was perfecting the “But I really NEEEED this!!” look on my face.

As we hopped onto the escalator everything was still normal. I was, as the youngest child, always behind everyone else, and last in line for all things. I’ve never been a good one to sit still and standing on an escalator to this day bores the crap out of me. I even walk on those flat escalators are the airport just to make better time.

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So, I fidgeted a bit. I remember it with epic clarity. I examined the handrail, evaluated the outfits of the people going down while I was going up, and eventually made a fateful decision.

I nestled my foot into the steps as they went up, putting half my foot facing the “up” portion of the step and the other half flat down. Think about how you do a calf stretch, that’s what I did with my foot on the escalator step, as I had done many times before.

Luckily this time, I had curled my toes.

As we got to the top, I saw my mom and sister walking away, and I couldn’t move. I fell flat on my face. I was so confused about what was happening, I just kept trying to get up. People were walking around me. I screamed “MOM! MOM!” several times.

She looked back at me and said “Jennifer Renee (my ‘in trouble’ name), GET UP!”

“But mom I can’t!”

She huffed the mom huff and walked over and grabbed my hand screaming “Get up, you are embarrassing me.”

It was only then I looked back and saw my tennis shoe, with the extremely thick sole, was stuck. The front end of the shoe was being munched by the grind of the escalator. I could feel my foot being pulled.

Without any care or caution, my mom ripped my foot out of my shoe. She immediately checked my toes to make sure they were still there (they were).

So, there we are, in the middle of Golde’s, and my shoe is emitting a hazardous vapor into the air as the heat from the escalator and friction of the grind made it smell like an electrical fire.

The store manager came running and shouted, “Turn off the escalator!”

I don’t think my mom knows I heard her, but she said over and over again “This is so embarrassing.”

We were a strong Lutheran church-going family, and we always sat in the front pew. So, God himself must have had a sense of humor that day, as a familiar face came walking up the now-stopped escalator.

“Oh great. There’s Pastor.”, my mom said in the most mortified tone I’d ever heard her use.

The pastor stopped and asked what happened. My mom suddenly turned into her church self, talking about how awful it was and that the escalator must have malfunctioned.

“Well, her idiot daughter got her shoe stuck in the escalator and now it’s smoking and burning and the whole store is going to be shut down”, I thought to myself.

I will never forget looking back at my shoe and just seeing it perched upright, like a statue of embarrassment. It was mocking me.

I ran into an aisle and boy, was I crying. I was embarrassed, scared, knew I had made my mom mad, and lost my brand-new shoe.

My sister ranged between laughing and caring for me. I just wanted to disappear into a clothing rack and never be seen again.

After a while, my mom came to get me. She handed me my shoe, now engraved with the markings of escalator teeth right up the laces. She checked my feet again and made sure I was okay. I walked out of the store as proudly as possible, limping from the lack of length on one foot because of those damn large soles.

As we got into the car, my mom replayed the entire thing out loud, like saying it would make her believe that ACTUALLY happened.

She turned around before we pulled out of the parking spot and said “Are you sure you are okay? We can go to Doctor Donahue!”.

I said, “Yes, I’m fine”. She reached back and nestled my face in her hand and said, ”That had to be so scary. They shouldn’t let those escalators do things like that.” (The infamous “They” that all parents blame everything on, amiright?) She told me she loved me.

Me, never being one to miss an opportunity, said through tears, “I love you too. Should we go buy some new shoes for me?”

This article was written in loving memory of my mother, who left us way too soon but will always be alive in my spirit and soul.

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One Comment

  1. Msfab

    OMG! I tried not to laugh, so I chuckled, but this was hilariously well written! You poor thing, I can only imagine the embarrassment. But your come back on asking if you can get new shoes was good though. Seize the moment, that was indeed the best opportunity – right place, right time.
    Wonderful memory of your mom.

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