Deborah Disney shares an embarrassing moment from her dating past.
Since writing my first novel, Up and In, which is a humorous take on the serious bewilderment that a lot of women face as they re-enter the school ground merry-go-round – this time around as mothers – I have been so happy with the feedback I have received and with the confirmation that, just as I suspected, this is fairly universal behaviour that I have depicted in my story.
One thing that has fascinated me, though, is different readers’ reactions to the main character’s embarrassing moments. Most people have been delightfully amused by the cringe-factor. A few people – not so much. Okay – I know of one person who is in the ‘not-so-much’ category, but she is a good friend and it really surprised me. I for one am a big fan of embarrassing stories. Possibly the single-most appealing quality for me in a friend is someone who not only likes to have a laugh, but who can see the world for the absurdly humorous place that it is, and at least now and then be prepared to laugh at themselves.
Of course it may be the case that I have been conditioned into being a person who likes embarrassing stories and is able to laugh at their own expense – I just seem to give myself so many opportunities to do it.
My all-time favourite embarrassing story happened about twenty years ago. It was before (though not at all long before) I met my husband. I was a young solicitor at the time, practising in commercial litigation. I had been briefing a barrister on a case but all of our communication had been via phone and fax (yes, back then it was all via facsimile – no solicitors were emailing in the early days of the internet!) Anyway, when the matter was scheduled for trial, I arranged to meet the barrister in the foyer of the court building. Nowhere could I seem to find this old dude I had been dealing with for months. Then an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, dark-suited, mid-thirties Adonis (did I mention I found him attractive?) approached and introduced himself to me. He was my barrister. And if the universe was on my side, he was also my future husband! ((No offence to the divine man who has in fact become my husband.)
You know those stories where people say they fell instantly in love? That day, there in that court foyer, I knew exactly what they meant. In fact, when court was in recess for lunch, I went and met up with my mother who was visiting from my hometown. I informed her with great certainty (read ‘desperate desire’) that I had met her son-in-law. I was sure that this was IT.
Unfortunately the trial was postponed, and I was so disappointed. But then, a few days later, he called me at work. And not about the case. He called to ask me if I would like to meet him after work for a coffee. I don’t even drink coffee, but who the hell cared? I would be guzzling affogatos till the cows came home if I got to spend time with him!
I got off the phone feeling completely giddy and (apologies to my boss from all those years ago) but I am pretty sure I got nothing else done for the rest of the afternoon. I got myself so nervous from excitement that a friend in the office suggested we sneak over to the bar across the road for a quick calming wine before I went to meet up with THE ONE. Sitting there filling my veins with chardonnay (yes, a lot has changed in twenty years – am now strictly ABC – ‘anything but chardonnay’) I noticed my friend looked horrified. My crisp white lawyer shirt with the oversized collar had a great big greasy pasta sauce stain at the elbow. Suddenly I was cursing the divine marinara that up until that point had been the most amazing thing I had ever eaten. Most amazing thing that day, anyway.
There was no time to go and change. No shops were open to buy anything else to wear instead. I was stuck with the stain of my gluttony! I could have cancelled but then I couldn’t cancel. This was IT. They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Too right! I found a safety pin and managed to work it so that the stain got pinned into the inside of a fold I created by pushing my crisp white sleeves up to sit just under my elbow. Sheer brilliance.
Chardonnay in veins and stain safely hidden, I said goodbye to my friend and made my way down to the little coffee shop that I had never been to before but that had suddenly become extremely significant as it would be the site of the magical moments I would be telling our grandchildren about in years to come. The shop was a little bigger than your standard coffee shop size – probably fitting around forty or fifty people at little tables smattered all around.
I walked in the door and laid eyes on my Adonis almost immediately. He waved hello and I waved back, beaming at him. I couldn’t help it. Beaming is de rigueur in such a situation. I made my way over towards him, waving and beaming, beaming and waving all the way. As I got closer, I noticed his face looking confused and his brows crossing and his forehead wrinkling. Even with that look on his face he was still gorgeous, but what was it? Had the pin in my shirt come undone and he had already dismissed me for bad table manners? It wasn’t until I got even closer to him that I understood the reason for the look on his face. I wasn’t walking towards him at all. This coffee shop didn’t seat fifty. I was walking towards his reflection in the mirror! I was walking and waving and beaming into the mirror!! I was walking AWAY from my future husband (quite possibly in more ways than one … )
I seriously do not know how I recovered from that situation and managed to converse with him through whatever the hell it was that I ordered, but I know that even twenty years later, it still makes me laugh.
The post-script to this embarrassing tale is that I did date him for a few weeks, but during those weeks I also met the man who IS now my husband and once he came along, my encounter with my barrister Adonis was relegated to being a different kind of magical story for my grandchildren.
If you have an embarrassing story which you would like to share – feel free to visit my Facebook page (please be sure to give it a like) and tell me all about it. Be warned though, there is every chance that a twisted form of it could end up in a book somewhere, some day!
A wonderfully wry tale about the pressure women put on themselves and one another to fit in, measure up and look glamorous while doing it.
Distinctly middle-class parents, Maria and Joe have committed every bit of available income to giving their daughters Kate and Sarah the best education possible, which to them means attending the most exclusive girls school in the State. But when Kate befriends the spoilt and moody Mirabella, Maria finds herself thrust into a high society of champagne-swilling mother-istas she hasn’t budgeted for. Saturday morning netball is no longer a fun mother-daughter outing, but a minefield of social politics.
While the increasingly neurotic Maria struggles to negotiate the school mum hierarchy, Joe quietly battles a midlife crisis and Kate attempts to grow up as gracefully as possible (without having her life ruined by embarrassing parents). For every woman who has ever felt she may be wearing the wrong shoes, this is a book that will remind you – you’re not alone.
Australian author Deborah Disney grew up in the regional city of Toowoomba and now lives in Brisbane with her husband and two school-aged daughters. Deborah has a BA/LLB from the University of Queensland and practised as a solicitor for a number of years before having children. She chose to specialise in litigation law as that seemed like the best preparation for what is now her looming battle – mothering her daughters through the teenage years. Up and In is her debut novel.