For some reason I get a kick out of chronicling that which most intelligent people would rather pretend never happened. If there were only a couple of instances, then perhaps it would not be worth mentioning, but unfortunately, embarrassing myself seems to be one of my most natural talents … and there are usually plenty of witnesses. Read on.
My overall high school rep was less than stellar. I just barely made it above the “do not exist” echelon—mostly because I used words like echelon. What can I say? I was my own worst enemy, and my own deterrent to any sort of popularity. I tried too hard to hard to fit in, and I never quite made it. Anyways, it’s always hard to maintain some level of “coolness,” and well, if you don’t have any to start with, you have to just hope that you stay under the radar. I was doing just that, until one day (cue scary organ music).
This was sophomore (junior?) year, my grandparents were taking my twin brother and me camping for the weekend. They were coming to pick us up from school around noon-ish, and we couldn’t wait. Lunchtime rolled around and everybody was hanging out outside, you know, at recess, although you never made the mistake of calling it that. My grandparents pulled up to the front of the school, parking in the circular drive in front of the main building. Now here’s where it turns tragic:
My parents let my grandparents use our ’82 Suburban for the trip; the problem with that is when they parked, my grandfather forgot that the truck needed special handling. Specifically, you had to keep your foot on the brake and kill the engine with the truck still in drive, otherwise, you guessed it: it would backfire. Loudly. (Do you see where I’m going with this?) Did I mention that they were also towing a dull mint green fiberglass boat, one that had not been new for many years, behind it as well? (Complete with assorted fishing gear in it and junk hanging off it, of course.) Ok, so, picture it. You’re hanging out with your friends, and all of a sudden, you hear what sounds like gunshots. Now, I knew it wasn’t gunshots, but something much worse. Immediately, I looked at my brother. His face looked about as sick as I felt; we both wanted to crawl into a hole and die. (One of the few times in our lives we have ever agreed on anything.)
It bears mentioning that the area we congregated in was right behind the main building, so everyone rushed the short distance around to the front to see what was going on. Imagine the laughter, if you will, the snickering, the pointing, the comments. My brother and I heard ourselves paged over the intercom and obediently went upstairs to the office, where my grandfather signed us out. We walked out toward the overloaded truck where my grandmother was waiting, and people were still standing around, trying to figure it out. They obviously saw the connection to my brother and I, since there were a couple of “nice boat” comments directed at us. There were some other derogatory statements made; it felt like I was walking toward my doom. Unless we actually got in the Suburban, no one could say for sure that the flatulent vehicle was ours.
There was no way around it though; the only other option would have been to let them leave without us, and we’d walk a couple miles down the road and let them pick us up. No, there was no salvaging our meager reputations at that point. We got in the truck and left, feeling like the biggest nerds in history. My grandmother was in the front seat wiping her eyes, her shoulders shaking every once in a while, as she tried to stopped the insane laughing fit. (Of course, she could laugh; she’d never see those people again.) The rest of the trip went on without further incident, but unfortunately, for my brother and I, the damage had already been done. Oh, the humiliation!