Kayla: My first high school boyfriend and I were at homecoming together, and I wanted to “dirty dance” (grind, ugh) with him during my favorite song, Nelly’s “Hot In Herre.” It turns out that we were grinding right next to one of the chaperones… his mother. That’s when I learned you must always check your surroundings before getting down ‘n’ dirty.
Annie: I was on vacation with my family, and in Mexico during the summer, there’s a lot of freak rainstorms that last for literally 30 minutes. There was a huge puddle after one of these storms, and I completely ate it — feet flying out from under me, cartoon-style. I was so embarrassed, popped back up, and walked away as seriously as I could, before anyone could ask me if I was okay. That’s why my family laughed at me — I couldn’t admit that that just happened, and they gave me a lot of grief for it. The thing is, it doesn’t matter if someone saw you be a klutz. Everyone’s a little klutzy sometimes. Nobody cares, so it’s best to just own up to your quirks.
Michael: I used to hide a stash of Playboys between the mattress and the box spring through of my middle/high school careers, assuming that it was totally protected and no one would ever look there. Until my GRANDMOTHER came to stay with us, and while making my bed in the extra tight, extra fancy way she does, decided to flip my mattress over so I could have the better side. Needless to say I was in for a long scolding that night about the importance of ‘respecting women’ and ‘respecting myself.’ Lesson: hide your goodies.
Rachel: I was once dating this guy who was honestly the love of my life, and the best guy you could ever dream of. But I would get really caught up in work and push him away without thinking about it, I would brush him off and not listen to him and take out my anger at the end of the day on him. And one day he got really upset with me and said, “You know? I’ve had a ring for months now, and I haven’t given it to you, even though I love you so much, because you are just so mean to me. You can be so selfish. Grow up.” I worked for the next year of my life proving that I was worthy of that ring, and living off the embarrassment of that exchange. But I needed to hear it. You can’t take the people you love for granted.
Molly: I was coming home from my first date, and we were doing that really awkward ‘I don’t know if I should hug or kiss you’ dance outside my door when just as he was leaning in and I thought it was going to happen my sister flung the door open (she was 6 at the time) and my mom came running up asking how it went. Don’t save the kiss for your parents’ house.
Alex: When I was in the 10th grade we had pajama day at school. I had a huge crush on my teacher and had to go ask her a question while she was sitting in the bleachers in the gym. After 45 seconds of talking she stopped me and said “I’m sorry. Your pajama pants are open in the front and I can see everything.” I wasn’t wearing underwear and had been standing in front of her the whole time. Always check and double-check your pants after leaving the bathroom.
Madeline: When I was 12 I was sitting in church with my parents on these old, wooden pews. It was a very small church so you could hear every sound. Out of nowhere my stomach started churning and I loudly passed gas. Instead of just accepting it and quietly accepting my fate, I yelled “IT WAS THE CHAIR! I SWEAR!” Then I ran out of the room. Sometimes the best thing you can say is nothing at all.
John: I was totally in love with this girl named Desari when I was in the 7th grade. This was back before texting or email, so if you wanted to ask a girl out, you had to call her or ask her in person. Rough, I know. I finally worked up the confidence to call her and after a few minutes I muttered out, “WILL YOU BE MY GIRLFRIEND?” Then immediately hung up on her. Why would anyone do that? I learned that,in order for something to work, you have to commit to it all the way or you may look like an insane person.
Yonna: When I was in middle school, we had this ‘sports night’ kind of event where the school was divided into two teams and we competed against each other and what not. It was all fun and games until I saw my dad gesturing from the bleachers about the crush he accidentally found out I had. He was saying “Where’s Matt?” “Where’s Matt?” I was so humiliated, when he came over to pick me up for the night, I shouted “I hate you” and ran away and caused this whole big humiliating scene in front of everyone. The two lessons here are don’t let your dad find out about your middle school crush, and don’t make bad things worse in public.
Matt: One time I was trying to text my friend Sarah to complain about the behavior of our mutual friend Kyle. I typed this big, long message about how Kyle was so annoying and had been getting on everyone’s nerves, then pressed send. I didn’t send it to Sarah. I sent it to Kyle. I definitely learned if you have a problem with someone, go straight to them, because that is not the way you want to start a conversation.
Monique: I had a huge, huge, HUGE crush on this guy in high school. I thought he was out of my league. Couldn’t talk to him, couldn’t look at him; everyone knew it, but I refused to admit that I was head-over-heels for this guy. We were in all the same classes, but I never said a word. A few years go by, and then suddenly after college, I have a Facebook friend request and message from him. Turns out he always thought I was funny, but didn’t understand why I never spoke to him. I basically blocked myself from ever having a chance. Don’t ever talk yourself out of going after something because you think you’re not worthy. Sometimes you’re the worst judge of that out of anyone.
Rachel: I used to love strawberry milks in elementary school (the ones you would get in the cafeteria). So one day all of my friends decided that they would give me all of their strawberry milks, and for every one I drank, they would give me a dollar. (This was a lot of money at the time.) By the end of the exercise, I had drank 12 strawberry milk cartons, earned myself 12 dollars, and vomited up Pepto Bismol pink puke all over the table and chairs as my friends ran and screamed in horror, labeling me as a pink-spraying leper for the rest of the year. Now, just the smell of strawberry milk makes me ill. Lesson there is never eat too much of what you love, you will ruin it for yourself. (Also no amount of money is worth your dignity.)
Michael: I was going to a football game with a few work friends that got free tickets and decided since I wasn’t driving I would do some serious pre-gaming before we left. I drank A LOT while I was waiting on them to come pick me up. When they got there I played it cool and hid the fact that I was completely wasted, but I knew it wouldn’t last long. That’s what some people do at sporting events, right? What I didn’t know is that it was a business event and we were meeting potential clients who would be sharing the box with us. I was miserable the whole time because I was desperately trying to not show that I was plastered. Always read your emails. I can’t stress that enough. Also, don’t drink like a pirate, maybe?
Liz: When I was in high school, I would lie about random things. Really dumb things. Like, where I was this past weekend or what kind of cool new thing my parents were getting me. The point was really nothing other than to elicit a reaction from people, make them ooh and aah for a cheap thrill. Long story short, I was caught red handed one day in the worst way possible, surrounded by friends who I had told different stories to (about something dumb, like what my dad did for a living) and I was put on the spot to try to explain it all away. Lesson: honesty. Always.
Kyle: I was at a party with some friends and started talking to this guy. We were having a pleasant conversation and I asked him what he did for a living. He told me he was in The Postal Service. I said, “Oh so you’re like a mailman?” It was Ben Gibbard, the lead singer of the band The Postal Service. I felt like a complete idiot as he had to explain it to me, especially since I love several of their songs. The lesson: always have a good wingman or wingwoman with you that can keep you from totally humiliating yourself.
Rob: Christmas when I was maybe 7 years old, I had opened a bunch of presents, and said something to the effect of “Is that all?” A spoiled, bratty-kid thing to say and my mom jumped right on it, told me how lucky I was and how so many children in the world get absolutely nothing. And then she gave me another present. I was mortified and ashamed and remember it starkly to this day.
Kelly: I was at a party once and someone accidentally spilled beer all over me. My clothes were absolutely soaked all the way through, so I had to try to dry off under the hand dryer in the bathroom, but I shoved my underwear in my bag because I didn’t want to stand there with either beer-soaked underwear or drying my underwear in a public restroom. I spent the rest of the night walking around extra careful so that nobody could see up my dress. (Moral is: always bring an extra pair, just in case. That’s not just your mom being mom-ish.)