Front Line of Embarrassment | Teen Ink

Front Line of Embarrassment MAG

December 1, 2008
By Ariel Dempsey BRONZE, Jenison, Michigan
Ariel Dempsey BRONZE, Jenison, Michigan
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Humiliated to the point of tears, I stepped out of line. My kindergarten peers giggled and whispered. More than anything, I wanted to disappear, melt into the ground. I stared at the floor, desperately searching for an escape. As the seconds passed, my stomach twisted into knots. The large and frightening second graders walked past. Their laughs bounced around the walls of the hallway and pierced me. I was blushing apple red and my face felt so hot that maybe, hopefully, there was a chance I’d melt away. To say that I was embarrassed would be an understatement.

Even now as I’m remembering that moment, I feel uneasy and self-conscious. Ten years have passed yet I still struggle reliving the event. I’m horrified even at the thought of another person reading this.

Though part of me wishes to forget that day, it is stuck like unwanted gum in the corner of my mind. I can still remember my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Baine, ringing the bell to end recess. As she vigorously waved the bell in the air, her entire body shook. I abandoned my hole in the sandbox and sprinted toward the door. As I dashed past my classmates their images blurred and my eyes locked on my destination.

I had a theory. For the last few days, I had noticed that there was a connection between winning the foot race to the door and being chosen as Leader for the Day. And my theory was proven right. As I stood ­victoriously at the front of the line, Mrs. Baine held up a yellow popsicle stick with my name etched into the wood in large, shaky writing. She declared that I had been chosen.

I was overwhelmed with pride. The position was highly respected by all kindergarteners. The Leader for the Day had extra cookie rights and spinning-chair privileges. This honored person was entrusted to call everyone’s name for attendance. But best of all, Leader for the Day led the line all the way down the hallway.

I was determined to have a great day. My first few hours were wonderful. I was giddy and excited. These feelings climaxed when Mrs. Baine lined us up for gym class. I proudly assumed my position at the front of the line. Spinning hundreds of circles in the comfy chair and gorging on extra cookies was great, but ­neither of these could compare to leading the class through the hallways.

Looking back, I don’t understand what was so ­magical about being in the front of the line for this two-minute walk. True, the first person had a more scenic view, but judging by the way we fought over it, there must have been more. A sense of excitement filled me whenever I was in front. I guess every other kid felt that way too. We invented ways to trick others into letting us cut in front of them. “What do scissors do?” was one such trap. The jealous person second in line often jeered, “First is the worst, second is the best!” Feeling left out, the third person might shout, “Third is the one with the treasure chest.” Despite everything, the Leader for the Day was guaranteed a position in front. Everyone knew and revered that fact, even if they were jealous.

Smiling and waving to friends behind me, I stepped through the star-covered doorway. Smugly, I marched forward. Nothing but open hallway was in front of me. Then my teacher stopped and I obediently did too. Mrs. Baine had a disgusted look on her face. Something wasn’t right. Suddenly, I felt vulnerable and defenseless with so much open hallway around me. She appeared shocked as she pointed toward the ground with a plump finger. Then she loudly asked, “Whose underwear is that?!”

I cringed, recognizing it instantly. I closed my eyes, hoping that when I opened them my underwear would be gone.

It was still there. On the floor. In front of everyone.

I stared in horror, and the Winnie the Pooh printed on it returned my gaze. I was ashamed. In my mind, Winnie the Pooh was babyish. Why, of all underwear, did it have to be that pair? Why did my aunt put it in my locker? I told her not to! I tried to hide, but there was no one to hide behind – I was the lucky person in front.

Around me, kids giggled and whispered. Mrs. Baine’s voice crescendoed. “Whose underwear is this? We’re not leaving until someone picks it up.” Her unease increased with the amusement of the class. I dreaded what was about to happen. I bit my lip, held back tears, took a deep breath and stepped out of line. As quickly as possible, I snatched it up.

My class howled in laughter. The second graders walked by and pointed, laughing. I quickly shoved my underwear into my locker. With what little dignity I had left, I slunk back to the front of the line and proceeded to lead my class to gym. My cheeks burned. Humiliated to the point of tears, I longed to disappear, shrink, hide, and sulk. The embarrassment I felt was so enormous, it hurt.

With ten years to heal from the trauma of this event, I now feel in a position to ask What is embarrassment anyway? As I think about it, the part of me that isn’t horrified by my kindergarten misery is laughing. Whoever is reading this thinks no less of me after hearing this story. What power does embarrassment have? It is just one moment of thousands in a person’s lifetime, happening to one out of billions of people, living on one planet out of many in the universe.

I am not the first person in history to suffer the distress of underwear displayed publicly. This has happened to someone else before – yet no one remembers it. The history books surely won’t record that in 1996, Ariel’s underwear was lying in the middle of the hallway. In fact, I bet not one other person can recall the humiliated kindergarten girl. So why do I cling to that shameful memory? Why do I still blush when thinking about it?

Maybe it’s because I remember that feeling. No words can do it justice. It was discomfort, distress, and disaster. It was crushing, self-conscious confusion. It was frustration, shame, and unease. It was embarrassment. Or maybe I still blush because part of me remains that vulnerable kindergarten girl, proudly leading the line down the hallway.

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This article has 122 comments.

ps101 said...
on Feb. 11 2010 at 11:06 am
OMG! that must have been so embarassing

ps101 said...
on Feb. 11 2010 at 11:05 am
i can so relate

on Feb. 11 2010 at 10:36 am
loveandmusic SILVER, South Plainfield, New Jersey
9 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If everyone demanded peace instead of a new television set, then there'd be peace." - John Lennon

this is really well written and so great!!! its so easy to relate to because im like the queen of embarrassing moments, and i hate them more than anything. every time i think of something embarrassing that's happened to me, even if it's been five years, ten years, whatever, i get this knot in my stomach and i'm humiliated all over again. you did a great job putting that indescribable horrible feeling into words, and i really liked this article (:

on Jan. 20 2010 at 9:29 pm
forget_me_not SILVER, Chesapeake, Virginia
8 articles 0 photos 30 comments
In kindergarden I had a mishap. I was on the monkey bars/jungle gym swinging from pole to pole my feet dangling high above the ground and then from out of nowhere a little boy (who happened to have a crush on me at the time) grabbed on to my legs and swung. As he fell my shirt remained in his hands until he hit the ground. Luckily my underwear had stayed in place. I lost my grip and fell. I grabbed my skirt from him, slipped it on and ran away crying.

on Jan. 20 2010 at 2:54 pm
emilysbreakfast GOLD, Alto, Michigan
10 articles 0 photos 48 comments
what a great story. i peed my pants in kindergarten and it was the most embarrassing thing that happened to me. Everything after that was just water under the bridge.

on Jan. 20 2010 at 2:05 pm
signed44 SILVER, Waxhaw, North Carolina
7 articles 16 photos 12 comments
Good job capturing the emotions.

on Jan. 20 2010 at 12:52 pm
StormyxD SILVER, Winter Park, Florida
5 articles 0 photos 44 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Late at night my mind would come alive with voices and stories and friends as dear to me as any in the real world. I gave myself up to it, longing for transformation." - Jo March, Little Women

Dude, I feel your embarressment. My skirt fell down in front of my entire first grade class. I was literally standing in the front of all the desks so not one person missed my 102 dalmation undies. Maybe there's a trend, stand in the front and your humiliating underwear is revealed to all. (: such is life.

on Dec. 29 2009 at 10:33 pm
Adrenalinejunkie52 SILVER, Sweet Home, Oregon
5 articles 0 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
geez louise!
Hot Dang!!
Wasshupp?!!? (wuh-shup)
Hey You!

Wow! Embaressement is the worst feeling ever. Ur a good writer!

on Dec. 29 2009 at 9:42 pm
sydneeharris16 DIAMOND, Auburn, Maine
76 articles 4 photos 32 comments

Favorite Quote:
we the willing, lead by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. we have done so much for so long with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.

embarrasment, as simply as i can put it, is the shear fact that everyone is staring at your thinking the same thing; or when you look someone in the eye and tell them the naked truth as bad as it hurts. embarrasment, simply, is pain rushed into laughing at you, not with you.

on Dec. 29 2009 at 8:36 pm
TheUnknownGuest GOLD, Woodbridge, Virginia
14 articles 4 photos 110 comments

Favorite Quote:
I can't remember it clearly, but it went something like this:

"The past is the past, the future is the furture. But now, now is like a gift, which is why it is called present."

When I was in kindercare before school, I remember the other kids and I would show each others underwear, as if bragging about what characters our parents bought for us...... funny and weird times.. :)

on Dec. 7 2009 at 5:23 pm
Emily555 BRONZE, Virginia, Minnesota
1 article 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
Winners practice until they get it right. Champions practice until they can't get it wrong.

This is great! So many people can relate to this. Thinking back, there is a lot of things that I find myself blushing and cringing at. I liked the way you described everything. It made it seem so realistic.

on Dec. 7 2009 at 9:48 am
SickImage SILVER, Klamath Falls, Oregon
9 articles 1 photo 74 comments

Favorite Quote:
The room was very quiet. I walked over to the TV set and turned it onto a dead channel-white noise at maximum decibels, a fine sound for sleeping, a powerful continuous hiss to drown out everything strange."

In first grade i peed my pants in the classroom....I was wearing a dress.

My mom had to come and bring me new clothes.

I remember i wanted to go home so bad but she would't let me.

I still blush when i think about it too.


evie428 BRONZE said...
on Dec. 7 2009 at 9:18 am
evie428 BRONZE, Ontario, Other
4 articles 1 photo 88 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writing a novel is not merely going on a shopping expedition across the border to an unreal land: it is hours and years spent in the factories, the streets, the cathedrals of the imagination."

Wow . . . really well written!

on Nov. 15 2009 at 9:52 pm
Writedancelove&live GOLD, Redding, California
12 articles 2 photos 66 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."
"Karen: If you're from Africa why are you white? Gretchen: Omg Karen, you can't just ask people why they're white."

Wow this was really captivating. I felt like I was righ there, leading that line. Nice job! : ) If you could, please check out some of my work.

on Nov. 15 2009 at 6:04 pm
this was very well written and I enjoyed reading it. I liked the way the memory to a piece of gum stuck in your memory. well done

guitar4life said...
on Nov. 15 2009 at 8:50 am
guitar4life, Greer, South Carolina
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I really like it :)

Binte SILVER said...
on Nov. 15 2009 at 2:24 am
Binte SILVER, -, Other
5 articles 0 photos 33 comments
wow.i really like it.So well written :)

Bex24 BRONZE said...
on Oct. 24 2009 at 6:48 pm
Bex24 BRONZE, Toronto, Other
3 articles 21 photos 79 comments
Wow, lovely! I love your style. You captured such a fragile moment so gracefully. Excellent job!

on Oct. 24 2009 at 6:29 pm
spitfire213 SILVER, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
8 articles 0 photos 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
In the devil's den i may be, so stab my heart and set me free.

hehe, wen i was in fifth grade and had no chest i had one of those training bras, and i dont know how but it ended up in my locker and it fell out when i was cleaning. the kid next to me didnt even know wut it was. looking back i think its hilarious.

on Oct. 24 2009 at 10:36 am
day-dreamer BRONZE, Roby, Texas
2 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
The quality, not the longevity of someones life is what is important the most.
`Martin Luther King

Everyone can relate to the humiliation that you experienced either it's because of who you are what you've done.. anything.. everybody can relate.. this story was very well written.. good job!