Skip to content


January 12, 2009

I was thinking of the root of the word, “Embarrassed,” when I found the plumber I hired on our kitchen floor, squirming his heavy body in a pretzel-like contortion, as he tried to hook up the connection to the instant hot water faucet under the sink. I asked him if he was okay but when I saw his pants so far down that his big ass was sticking up, I realized that the word should have been spelled “Embareassed.”

            I have had my share of embarrassing moments. Coming home from Dallas on a business trip to take my mom to a Sarah Brightman concert, I stood in the security line, hoping to go standby. The Northwest terminal was pretty quiet; the lines were short, as I began to lift up my suitcase and briefcase on the rollers. I took off my watch, emptied change from my pocket, and put my wallet and cell phone in the basket. I took off both my shoes and began to remove my belt. It seemed so still with the few people around me that my mind began to slip into another place. I must have thought I was in the quiet solitude of my bedroom when I removed my belt and started to lower my pants.

            Suddenly, when I realized my pants were coming down, that I was stripping for the airport security cameras and personnel, I jumped back into the real world. I turned fast to see that no one was looking and lifted my pants quickly, buttoning everything back up. I pretended all was fine and moved quickly to my left, then went thru the standing x-ray, hoping no one had seen me. My face must have been burnt orange, the color of em-bare-ass-ment.

            I began to think how many times I’ve been embarrassed, caught like a drowning fish out of water.  I remember paddling with my daughter, Marlee, on a boat in the calm river waters of Stratford, Ontario, I came back to the concrete dock to get off the boat. I pulled up to the side of the dock and the young teenager who was working there gave his arm to pull me out. I lifted my body onto the dock and held onto his arm but either he let go or I did. I fell straight into the water as he looked down with a blank look on his face. I tried again to pull my hands onto the concrete dock and lift myself up but my clothes were soaked and the weight made it tough to pull. The boy looked at me as Judy and Ilana laughed heartily. This was one of those moments that could have won America’s Funniest Videos if we had only brought a camcorder.

            I walked into town, soaking wet, looking for a shoe store, to buy a dry pair of shoes and socks. I had to take off wet Rockports before entering, I soaked the chair I sat on and bought the first shoes and socks I found. The rest of the clothes took hours to get drier, until I finally got to the hotel room, cold and wet but with dry socks and shoes. My daughters and wife still laugh today when they think about me, the balding, overweight middle-aged man falling into the river with all his clothes on. If they had their cell phones, they would have snapped pictures and video and played it on You Tube for the rest of the world to join in laughter. They could have played it over and over in slow motion and backwards for everyone to enjoy my embarrassment.

            We can’t forget the embarrassments of our youth. I remember a good friend who locked himself in the schoolroom closet because his hair had been cut too short and another who had to wear a big dunce cap and a letter D around his neck in the corner of the third grade room. Locked in a corner of my mind is the vision of my second grade Hebrew teacher suddenly sprayed by a water gun and my third grade teacher locked into a closet by a student. I will never forget the embarrassment I felt when I brought my arms down hard and accidentally smacked a fifth grade classmate’s mouth into his desk, shattering his front tooth. And I can’t forget the embarrassment I felt when Judy prodded me to say hello to him in a Chinese restaurant 39 years later. “Remember me,” I said regretfully, “the guy who broke your tooth?” He couldn’t forget but told me that all was forgiven. So after almost 40 years, my embarrassment had finally been relieved.

            Some embarrassments are not self-inflicted. When I walked out of a bathroom in a Subway restaurant, my family was laughing vociferously. When I asked them what’s so funny, they said, that Kyle, only a few years old at the time, had been asked where his dad was and loudly belted out for everyone in line and sitting at the tables to hear, “My dad is making a BM!”

            I sometimes believe that my legacy, in the words of my children, will be “dad’s fart stories,” stories that they just love to tell. Marlee loves to tell the story of the time her friend was over our house watching TV on the couch. I was napping and didn’t know that anyone else was in the house when I let go a seismic gaseous explosion and my daughter’s little Russian friend cried out, “Mr. Goldman!” and my daughter, more embarrassed than me, said, “Dad, Sophia’s here.”

            Today, this story is a source of great delight for her and I just hope she doesn’t tell it too often, although there’s something freeing about putting these embarrassments in print. As they say in politics, it’s better to admit your foibles rather than let others find out first. I don’t know if that would have helped Governor Spitzer of New York but it might have helped Bill Clinton avoid his famous line, “I did not have sex with that woman.”

            I guess I’m still waiting for Barack Obama to admit that besides smoking, he likes to let out a fart once in a while. Then, I can tell my children that even great men need to sometimes relieve a little gas. And then they can turn to me and ask if I’m really comparing myself to the 44th President and fall down, holding their bellies in hilarity.


Read and post comments | Send to a friend

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: