Monday, January 14, 2013

Embarassing moments keep readers engaged


How many of you have had embarassing moments? I've had my share and more.

In my estimation, they fall into a couple of categories:

Verbal gaffes - for example, calling someone the wrong name, letting a secret slip to the wrong person, or saying something uncomplimentary about someone who overhears the remark.

Ditzy mistakes - putting the cereal box in the refrigerator, forgetting to seal the envelopes of your bills, dialing the wrong phone number twice in a row, tucking your skirt in your underpants in a public place after using the restroom, gapping button or zipper, or searching for an item that's in plain sight on your body.

Messes involving body fluids or body noises - getting dog pooh on the shoe and tracking it all over someone's house/rug/floor, not making it to the bathroom on time for an urgent matter, or talking fast and spit flying out of your mouth onto someone else.

Everyone has a reaction to embarassing moments. The culprit is embarassed, naturally, but onlookers might be horrified, amused, sympathetic, annoyed, or somewhere in between.

Characters that display oddities are memorable and add zest. In my Cleopatra Jones series, Mama is known for her culinary disasters, such as spicklefish lasagne (lasagne made with spinach, pickles and sardines). Mama's a secondary character in that series, but don't tell her.

In Death, Island Style, my main character has several crafting disasters. MaryBeth's craft class turns into a free-for-all and she ends up with glue globs in her hair. Later, she collects seashells that have hermit crabs in them and thinks, because of the bad odor, that there's a body in her shop.

In Murder in the Buff, ultra-conservative reporter Molly must go to a nudist colony to pick something up for her boss. She darn near has heart palpitations, giving readers chuckles about her dilemma and mortification.

Want to share your embarassing moment? I'd love to hear from you!

Maggie Toussaint
Coming this year: Hot Water and Dime If I Know
www.maggietoussaint.com

31 comments:

  1. Great topic! Love those pics. I have lots of embarrassing moments, but don't have time to share them all! I do remember once going to work with two different pairs of shoes. I noticed it while I was on the train, but funny thing is, I don't think anyone else noticed the whole day!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com

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    1. I'm surprised I haven't done that, because I often find a pair of black shoes I like, and then also buy them in brown.

      I have messed up on sock colors though. My work associates weren't as forgiving about that as yours appeared to be!

      Thanks for the visit.

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    2. I had lunch with a colleague a few years ago who pointed out that he was wearing different shoes. He said he had to walk fast all day so nobody could focus on his feet.

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  2. Cute Post Maggie. Yes, I mine life too. I'm a natural redhead so every emotion blazes across my skin. I write a lot of redheads. I'll also push the glasses I'm not wearing up on my nose, and more often than not, I'll walk into the next room and for the life of I don't know why. My books are full of my gaffs and goofy bits, but I don't just use mine. My friends joke about me "taking notes" when we get together. lol Maybe I do. ;)

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    1. Like walking into a room...I forgot this: The most embarrassing real-life moment I've yet to write into fiction was the day I was giving a presentation and felt this blob slide down my leg. I grabbed the pants warm from the dryer that morning and rushed out the door. The blob was a pair of bright purple, static-charged, panties. Fortunately I was able to finish in time. :)

      Rose

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    2. I love your embarassing moment, Rose. That's precious. I've had dryer sheets fall out of my pants before but that's it for me.

      I used to be a redhead. Now I'm more reddish brown by the bottle, if you know what I mean. But my face is an open book too. I made myself write about a woman with pink hair in my work in progress so that I wouldn't write about another redhead. For the life of me I can't write about blondes.

      Thanks for the visit!

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  3. Hi, Maggie,

    Last embarrassing thing was having a copy editor point out to me that I used different names for a character in several places in a novel. I thought I'd picked up the changes myself but obviously not all of them. As a former English teacher, I hate making errors in my manuscripts.

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    1. Hi Jacquie! (Your post came through twice and I deleted the second time, in case anyone's wondering about the deleted comment.)

      Yikes on the copy editor finding the name goof. But it can happen so easily. I just changed a characters name from Jack to Drake because I already had a "J" name character. Anyway, find/replace left me with words like Drakeet
      (jacket minus the jack and adding the drake - argh). Hopefully, I'll be the only one to see those mistakes.

      I feel your pain!

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    2. Ah, you didn't use the "find whole words only" and "match case" options...that'll get you every time. I changed a character from James to Frank, and even though I did it 'right' I'd forgotten that the heroine was watching a James Bond movie ... Yep ... Frank Bond. Luckily I caught it before publications. Still have to check everything. Twice.

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    3. omigoodness, Terry. I bet when you read that you had a serious heart attack. I remember looking at Drakeet and wondering if I'd lost my mind.

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  5. Too many to count, and most when I was a teenagers. One night, deep in the night, fire sirens woke up the town. Thw two-story Junior High was blazing, and many citizens raced over there to watch. I wanted to go so badly, and Mother did, too, so she said, just throw a shirt over your pajamas. You'll be fine. But I forgot that I had polka-dot globs of Noxema on places on my face, and my hair was rolled up in pin-curls covered with an Aunt Jemima bandanna. I looked horrid, and of course, ran into some boys from my class. Very, very, very embarrassing. I hope they don't remember that.But I assure you they remembered the next day at school--the high school.

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    1. That's priceless, Celia. I'm sure no one remembers, now, though I know that must have been tough for you at the time. Everyone else probably was having a major wardrobe malfunction in order to get to the fire, so I'm sure you were in good company.

      Thanks for the visit and comment!

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  6. Too many to count. The one that sticks out in my mind is when I was conducting a sales meeting (I was electrical distributor buyer selling light bulbs). The attendees were all men. I told them I was concerned about sales because they were too erotic (I don't know what possessed me not to say eratic).

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    1. I'm grinning because that's just the kind of goof I could have made, Paula. As soon as I think "don't say this" I can't think of anything else but that.

      But I bet the men were pleased as punch. They probably hadn't ever been called erotic.

      Thanks so much for visiting me here at Mudpies. Hope you'll stop in again. The door's always open!

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    1. Too funny, Mary.

      Although I thought these things might happen less as I became more mature. But it seems like I'm still speaking out of turn and not watching where my hands and feet are going. Luckily now I can blame "maturity" LOL.

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  8. My most embarrassing moment. I was assisting an oral surgeon with a dental implant. At a certain point in the procedure, I left the room to develop an x-ray. I was looking at the film when I walked back into the room and hit my head (hard) on a large piece of equipment. The patient was a doctor who jumped out of the chair and proceeded to examine me in the middle of his procedure. He was very nice about it, but I was embarrassed and the surgeon was not amused.

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    1. That's a great story, Sandra. I can just see a kindly gentleman doctor wanting to help you. Probably the worst part was the stunned, knock your breath out intitial moment. Glad you recovered!

      Thanks for visiting Mudpies!

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  9. My embarrassing moments? Oh, I think it would be rude of me to fill your entire blog.

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    1. You made me smile, LD. Funny how certain of us seem to have quite a collection of, er, stories. I have mostly learned to stop shooting my mouth off outside of home - it always ends poorly in public, especially in a small town.

      Thanks for stopping in. Come again!

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  10. Too many to list. And some of them cannot be repeated in mixed company!

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    1. Gosh, now you've got my curiosity up. What could Jenny have done? I'm envisioning lingerie mishaps or lacy fans. Don't know why my mind went right to that.

      Thanks for swinging by. Always nice to see familiar faces!

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  11. Maggie, loved the post! As a klutz, I've had my share of stupid moments. Like the time I was at the Thomas Jefferson home and tripped on the door sill and went spralling into the hall. The sound echoed through the building.

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    1. Ilona, We must be twins separated at birth. I developed a name for that kind of mishap - it's a splat. And the rule of thumb for splats is they almost never happen in private - always when you're out and about. And there's usually at least one kind of embarassing sound as a result...

      Good to "see" you!

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  12. During a job interview once, I took a drink of water, then coughed, spraying water all over the table. The interview committee gaped at me. I stared at the interview committee, then said, "well, that's mortifying." We all laughed and went on. I didn't get the job, btw.

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    1. Seriously laughing out loud, here. What a great recovery, Keena. I would have succumbed to brain freeze.

      My first day on my first job out of college, a whole group of coworkers invited me to eat with them in the onsite cafeteria. Fried chicken was on the menu. I was starved. Got to my seat and dug into my meal. After a bit, I looked around. I was the only person who had picked up their chicken to eat it. Every one else was using knives and forks.

      Always something...

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  13. Glad I'm not the only one who does dumb stuff. I blame my editor for not catching the fact that I had 3 characters named Hank in one of my books (since revised and republished with fixes). I think I tend to block most of my embarrassing moments -- but I do trip and fall, often over nothing, which isn't particularly 'couth.' My dad used to say I tripped over the white lines painted in the street.
    Terry
    Terry's Place

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    1. Your dad has quite a sense of humor. I have some gait issues as well. Everything will be fine, and then I'll be sprawled on the ground. I don't know if I step wrong or don't pick up my foot all the way or if something gives out. Mostly it seems to be a short circuit.

      Perhaps we are all one fall away from a major short circuit!

      Thanks for stopping in!

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  14. Maggie, I had my share of embarrassing moments. Last month, I went to church in the morning. A woman sitting in the pew behind me tapped on my shoulder and pointed to me. I didn't understand. She whispered: "Your skirt." Yes, it was stuck in my underwear. To think I took the elevator in my building, crossed the garage, drove to church, crossed the parking lot, and entered the church without even noticing!! I was about to die.

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    1. Oh, Mona. I know your face must have flamed so red it hurt. I've done this before and it is so embarassing.

      I've also done a dorky version of this. For some reason I now get annoyed putting on socks. Especially any that come up taller than crew socks. I tend to get them mostly up my leg, then move on to getting shoes on and getting going. Consequently, I'm often running around with one pants leg tucked oddly into a sock.

      Good thing there's no fashion police around here!

      Thanks for coming by and staying for a visit!

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