The first time I ate dinner at my then-boyfriend’s parents’ house in 2004, and he neglected to warn me his family said grace before meals. When his mother began her “Our Father” recitation, I looked up from slicing my asparagus to see him chuckling at my mistaken start. “I knew that would happen,” he later cackled.
When 8th grade boyfriend Dominick loudly asked me — in front of all his tough skater friends during art class — “How come your eyes are so big?” Two weeks later, he dumped me anyway, for the girl who was banned from middle school graduation for dying her hair fuchsia.
When my 2nd grade teacher returned after art class, and I realized — once the whole class held up their Thanksgiving Mayflower drawings for her to see — that I was the only one who misunderstood the assignment and drew pilgrims holding big, bright May flowers instead of riding on the Mayflower ship.
While shopping for dinner in the grocery store’s produce aisle, when my freshman-year-of-college boyfriend relayed advice he’d solicited from his entire collection of roommates/friends on how to get me to be on top more often. “Certainly not by announcing it to everyone,” I said, so embarrassed, and temporarily left him for the frozen food section.
At an elementary school lunch table, when asked if I thought Jonathan Brandis was cute in “Ladybugs” — but I had never heard of him, nor the movie. “He’s okay,” I mumbled in feigned recognition, only to be caught lying by a mean, popular girl when a follow-up question exposed me.
At a summer barbeque at my then-boyfriend’s apartment a few years back, when his friends from work kept asking me how I knew him — not because it sucked he hadn’t mentioned me to coworkers, but because afterwards my roommate insisted on reminding me again & again how secretive he was about dating me, as evidence of why he did not respect me at all.
At the surprise birthday party for that same boyfriend — several months later, after we’d broken up and gotten back together — when a whole different group of friends had no idea who I was or why I’d gone through the trouble of planning him a surprise party.
At the start of a junior high spelling bee (which I begged the nominating teacher not to include me in), when I walked face-first into the microphone while introducing myself. I promptly spotted my father in the audience, laughing hysterically at the resulting screech.
When Dad escorted me to all our nearby neighbors’ houses to solicit charity read-a-thon pledges, and the family next door laughed at me for choosing 50 cents over 1 dollar per book (because at 6 years old, I mistakenly assumed 50 was more than 1, no matter what).
On the Atlantic City boardwalk at age 24, when I blanked on what to shout to my boyfriend to get his attention in front of his friends. During our 1.5 years as a couple, I’d never once called him by his first name (Brian), mainly because his friends consistently addressed him by his last name instead, causing me to grace him with the secret nickname “Brain.”
When Mom reprimanded my angsty teenaged behavior by saying, “Maybe that’s why [my crush] from school doesn’t like you back!” I immediately vowed never to divulge another crush to her, ever, and stomped up to my room to blast Foo Fighters “X-Static” (a favorite tantrum soundtrack).
When my 3rd grade crush mocked me for digging New Kids on the Block, and I said, “But I like them for their music, not just ’cause they’re cute” (too desperately, while blushing). He said “Yeah, right” and walked away, leaving me standing in the dusty schoolyard, alone, knowing I’d blown any chance of him ever liking me.