Last week I wrote about a psychologist who recommended deliberately putting oneself into embarrassing situations to help overcome one’s fear of humiliation.
While I found her theory interesting, I confessed I wasn’t the sort of person who needed to seek out embarrassing situations.
They find me just fine on their own.
Here’s just one example. After writing last week’s column I took the dog for a walk. It was a sunny day with a brisk chill, so I donned a toque and gloves and off we went.
I don’t recall ever having such a cloudy winter, so the sunshine pouring down lifted my spirits to no end.
The countryside might still be buried under snow, but swelling pussy willows whispered spring and for the first time in weeks I believed them.
We had gone about half a mile when my love fest with the sun hit a hurdle. As we walked away from a cover of trees the light blasted me in the eyes. When I looked down to avoid the glare the rays ricocheted off the snow and ice on the road and knocked me right in the retinas.
The backs of my eyeballs hummed.
I fished into my pocket for my sunglasses and came up empty.
The sensible thing would have been to go back to the house and get a hat or my sunglasses. If only I were a sensible thing.
Instead I stumbled forward with squinting, watering eyes like I had just emerged from months in a cave.
The only thing that provided any relief was to hold my hand above my eyes in a permanent salute.
I carried on like that for a while, switching hands when my arm got tired.
For the first time in six months I found myself wishing for a cloud.
I had half a mile to go to get to the mailbox before I could turn around and have the sun at my back. That doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re being blinded every step of the way it feels like a marathon. And then I was struck by a brilliant idea.
I looked at my gloved hand glued to my forehead and thought, why couldn’t I use the glove like a hat? So I carefully set it on top of my head in such a way that the fingers spread out over my forehead like a brim. It worked! My squinting, watering eyes were given instant relief and I was able to drop my arm to my side.
Puffed up with pride like I had just won a survivor challenge, I marched along with my glove on top of my head feeling incredibly clever while looking … well, incredibly stupid I suppose.
But so what? On our sleepy country road there was no one to see me except a slow circling raven and Cosmo the dog. Neither seemed very interested. Life was good.
It didn’t last.
As surprised as I was at how the icy roads reflected the sun, I was even more surprised at how they muffled the sound of approaching tires.
The truck was at my elbow before I even noticed it. I was so startled to see the vehicle that I forgot all about my glove hat until after the truck had gone by. At first I credited the concerned expression on the driver’s face to how he had obviously startled me. It wasn’t until the glove slid off my head and landed at my feet that the truth hit home.
Oh to be a fly on the wall at his house that night!
“Stay away from the road the McKinnons live on. She’s crazy.”
“Now, now, dear. I admit she can be a bit odd, but I don’t think she’s actually crazy.”
“Oh yeah? I came across her today walking her dog with a ski glove balanced on her head.”
“Kids! Did you hear what your father said? Stay away from the road with crazy Mrs. McKinnon on it!”
Good grief. And that’s just one example of the kind of embarrassing situations I attract all the time. If nothing else, it certainly keeps me humble. And it teaches me not to be so quick to judge others.
I know only too well that behind every tongue-wagging situation lurks another half of the story that you know nothing about.
Does this mean I won’t be packing sunglasses or a hat in the future? No it does not.
Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from northern BC. You can catch up on past columns by dropping www.shannonmckinnon.com.