This story is about one small, rather isolated embarrassing moment that happened to me when I was a kid which unexpectedly came back recently to haunt me in the present. The funny thing is that there's certainly no reason that I NEED to share this here. I could simply never tell anyone about this event and it would just go to the grave with me, never to be known by another person. But what's the fun in that? For the sake of future history I will now tell you about my formerly private embarrassing moment memory!
That's kind of a big build-up. Now that we're at the point of laying things bare I have to confess that this is indeed a VERY minor moment that probably won't seem very meaningful (or even embarrassing) if you weren't there--and if you weren't a kid at the time. But I WAS there! And I WAS a kid!
When I was in middle school I used to have to walk down our street and then another street that went down a hill to the little convenience store that was at the bottom of the hill to catch the school bus. Thanks to the magic of Google Maps I can show you the exact site of this embarrassing moment--or at least the moment it started anyway. This "moment" actually lasted for an entire school day. Perhaps "moment" isn't really the right term for this experience, but we'll stick with it. And it's also possible that the extreme length of this particular embarrassing "moment" is a big part of the reason it has stuck with me through all these years.
Anyway, as I mentioned, I was in middle school at the time. I don't remember the exact year, but it was probably around 1980 or '81 and I was probably in 5th or 6th grade (give or take a year). Since I had to walk a pretty good distance to get to the bus stop I always seemed to be in a rush to get up, get dressed, eat something for breakfast and get out the door to make it to the bus stop on time. This day most likely wouldn't stand out from all the others and I'm sure I wouldn't even have any recollection of it at all if I hadn't made one minor but embarrassing mistake while rushing to get ready. Unfortunately I didn't notice that mistake until it was too late. I was already at the bus stop and certainly didn't have the time to run back home and fix it. And, here's the spot where I noticed that mistake:
Here's a view of the hill that I'd walk down to get to Charlie's:
To be honest, I don't really recall many specific details from that day, other than sitting at a desk (in math class?) and crossing my ankles hoping to keep my mismatched footwear as unnoticeable as possible. I probably did that in every class. I spent the day petrified that I'd be called out for my ridiculous and unintentional fashion statement. But, in the end I don't think that ANYONE even noticed. Or at least nobody said anything to me. Somehow I survived what I thought was going to be the most embarrassing moment of my life! Needless to say, there were plenty more that followed over the next few decades.
After making it through that long day the memory of the incident stayed with me for a long time. Over the years the sharpness of it dulled and it receded further toward the back of my mind--but it never quite left altogether. Which brings us to the present. The title of this post refers not only to that old embarrassing moment, but also to "reliving" it. I've written quite a few times about "Resurrecting the Past", where I attempted to bring some part of my youth into the present. Sometimes it was a specific object, like an old drive-in speaker or a rotary dial telephone. And other times it was more elaborate, like when I attempted to recreate a specific night from 1983 (Resurrecting the Past: January 21, 1983). That one took two parts to fully tell the story. But why would I want to "resurrect" a memory like this embarrassing moment? Well, I wouldn't! But sometimes life has a way of surprising us.
The old adage says that "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it" (or something to that effect). I think this saying is mostly in reference to major events in history--stuff like World Wars and other conflicts, controversial and dangerous political decisions and stances... As mortifying as my little embarrassing moment felt to me at the time, it certainly didn't rise to the level of being something "historic". And I do believe that I learned from it--at least as much as one can from such an incident. I certainly never completely forgot it. But for whatever reason, the universe decided that it was time for me to repeat my past. And here's how it happened...
We currently live within walking distance to our church. It only takes about ten minutes to walk there from our apartment. The Wife is in the church choir. She will sometimes take the Little Monsters with her for Sunday School while she goes to choir rehearsal at 9:00AM. This gives me an extra 45 minutes or so to relax a bit and get myself to church in plenty of time for the 10:00 service. But some things never change. Just as I did as a kid when getting ready to head out to the bus stop, I always seem to find myself rushing out the door at the last minute to make it on time. One recent Sunday was no exception. I grabbed my jacket, put on my shoes and headed out the door. I was able to get to church just in time to take a seat and settle in a bit before the first hymn started. I stretched out my legs, looked down and...realized that I had managed to put on TWO DIFFERENT SNEAKERS! In this case I was lucky that I don't have a very diverse wardrobe, and both of the pairs of sneakers I picked from looked very similar in color and style. But I knew the same mistake had been made once again, and it felt like everyone else around me would know it as well. What a familiar feeling, dredged up from so long ago.
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