New Memoir Tuesday! This week’s prompt from the every exciting folks at The Red Dress Club: We just spent some time thinking about how to write funny. Know what’s NOT funny? People laughing at you. Take us back to an embarrassing moment in your life. Did someone embarrass you, your parents perhaps? Or did you bring it upon yourself? Are you still embarrassed or can you laugh at it now? Let’s keep these to 600 words.
Some people put on the infamous freshman 15. I managed to put on a college 50, slowly and steadily. I didn’t notice as it was happening. Then I graduated and found myself without access a gym. Never having been overweight I wasn’t sure exactly what to do. Sure, somewhere in the back of my mind was the eat less, exercise more mantra, but I needed a kickstart.
I was working for the Seattle Repertory Theatre Company as a teaching artist, in my case as a playwright, teaching High School students how to put their words and experiences on the stage. My teaching partner, Diane, who taught acting, had lost a great deal of weight with the aid of a little pill affectionately referred to as, Phen-Phen. After listening to her sing not only praises of effectiveness but ease,
“I didn’t even have to change my exercise routine,”
I went to my doctor who wrote me a prescription without even asking why. What she did say was, “If you drink coffee in the morning, skip it while you are taking these.” Advice I waved off. I was a hardcore Quad Americano swilling Seattleite. I put the orange vial on my nightstand as a reminder to take my first pill in the morning before my first 8:30am class of the semester.
I popped the pill, hurried to my Subaru Justy, drove myself to my favorite coffee shop, where heeding the advice of my doctor, I bought a small regular coffee. Got back in the car, drove across town to the High School, raced to say hello to our host teacher, grabbed her keys and ran, dodging students for the copy machine. Standing at the copier, watching the syllabus fly by into neat stapled packets it hits me like a truck. My heart starts to pound and I feel like I’m going to pop out of my skin, literally. I grab the edge of the copier steadying myself, reach for my water bottle, and take slow sips trying to calm my racing system. Fuck, I really don’t have time for this, I think grabbing the packets and race back to the auditorium.
Diane takes one look at me, “Are you ok?”
“Phen-Phen,” I gasp.
Her eyes widen, “You took your first one today?”
As she’s giving her intro, I sit taking deep breaths trying to calm down enough to focus. When it’s my turn I face the students, open my mouth and am off like a shot. I can’t hear what I am saying, the blood is too loud in my ears, but I’ve given this intro before and rely on auto-pilot.
I cross the half way point and begin to feel like I’m going to survive this terrifyingly bizarre moment when I’m hit with a lightening bolt. I’m going to throw up. Now. I spin around searching for something, someplace, anything and behind a stage curtain is a wastebasket. I rush over and vomit the contents of my stomach in one powerful motion.
Not knowing what else to do, I turn back around and finish my presentation. There is no laughter, not one giggle, in fact, there is a total vacuum of sound. When the bell rings the silent students file out and Diane explains to the host teacher that I’m not drunk, just having a bad reaction to medication.
When I get to my apartment, I march over to my nightstand, and hurl the orange vial of pills into the trashcan. Annoyed and embarrassed that I hoisted myself on my own petard of vanity.