Tag Archives: Embarassing

A Sixth-Grader’s Nightmare: Christmas Edition

6 Dec

709fd2be62450971e334b29ee4c7f54aMortified. Horrified. Petrified.

I used to flip through teen magazines to the back section, a place where girls would write in to share their most distressing personal tales of embarrassing mishaps. “It was mortifying!!!” said every girl ever.

How awful! That would never happen to me, I thought. And as I chuckled over their misfortunes, in the back of my mind, I prayed that similar events would never happen to me.


It was my sixth-grade year. Instead of a traditional Christmas chorus concert, the entire grade put on the play The Runaway Snowman. Four kids would lead the production while the rest of the grade chimed in as the choir. I was one of those lucky few selected to fill one of the acting/singing parts.

This is it, I thought. People will recognize me, my talent, what I can bring to the table. As a sixth grader, I was consumed with the ideas of popularity, fitting in and standing out (go figure). And without athletic talent, this was an arena that I could perhaps shine in somehow.

So after many practices, our class was ready to present the show to our parents. It was a Friday afternoon and I spent the entire school day beaming. I was a star, I was brimming with absolute joy and excitement. My fellow cast mates and I were let out of class early to prepare for the production. A band director’s office was our costume slash prop room, and we had carefully laid out our clothes and makeup ahead of time.

After the lead character, the snowman, had put on his ensemble and headed out the door, I prepared to put on a dark blue jumper dress and a pair of my mother’s high heels. Not only was I playing the part of an adult woman, I would look the part. Absolutely stunning. There was a boy in the choir that I had been crushing on hard core. I kept thinking with the blush, lipstick and outfit (forget the thick glasses, buck teeth and braces), it would be hard to not take notice of me on stage.

And standing with just my Pocahontas underwear on (I was changing from my sports bra to a training bra), it happened. The door opened. And not one, or two, but four of my fellow male classmates happened to be standing right there. Wide mouthed.

I didn’t know what to do. How did they get in? Why were they here? What did they see?

I started to scream, “Get out! Get out!” I suddenly crossed my arms against my bare chest, realizing what they had just seen.

And the guys started screaming and running from the door, almost as horrified as I was.

I leaped under the teacher’s desk, crouched, breathing heavily. Was this a dream? It had to be. No way would something this horrible happen – it was too humiliating.

The frightened boys had come into the classroom to get the props for the stage, and I had forgotten to lock the door for privacy.

Something that people have nightmares about just happened to me. A 12-year-old girl just gave some of the cutest boys in school quite a show.

I couldn’t go back out there, even with just 15 minutes until the production would start. It took quite a bit of coaxing from the director to get me to show my face, and the confidence I had displayed earlier (after displaying my assets) was completely out the window.

For months, I couldn’t live it down with students teasing me about the incident. The boys were also unable to make eye contact with me or utter more than two words at a time in my presence.

Honestly, I hadn’t remembered the incident until a few days ago. Repression has most likely hidden many of my middle school slip-ups – especially terrible ones like this one.

After the event, it was difficult to visit that embarrassing moments page in the magazines. Part of the fun was knowing those events couldn’t happen to you. But I now knew for a fact that they could.

And although it was the worst thing that had happened to me at that time of my life, a few years later, I would understand that I could fill a couple pages with horrible moments similar to this one.


Mascot Memoirs

14 Jun
Thank God my mascot days are over.

Thank God my mascot days are over.

I stood at the pitching mound for what seemed like days.

In my mascot costume, as the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon, I had trudged down the field – feeling like everyone was laughing at my back, which they were (I was wobbling to and fro, as it was a heavy uniform.)

And there I was.

As an intern at the fair, I knew that this was one of my tasks, to throw out the opening pitch at an Iowa Cubs game. Here’s the problem: I can’t throw. Whatsoever. Oh, every once and awhile, I lobbed a giant softball at my dad – rainbow style – to the glee of my brother and sister. (It rarely touched his glove.) Instead, it would plop sadly somewhere in the middle of our throwing space. An athletic daughter in me he did not have.

I spent a great deal of time imagining this day. The crowd. The heat. The nerves. How would I succeed in throwing this small baseball with my cartoonish red foam hands, when I couldn’t coordinate a throw as a normal person?

Taking a deep breath, I slowly began to windmill my arm backward, pretending that I was going to throw. I stopped and moved forward a few feet. I repeated this step, like a clown, until I was able to place the ball in the bewildered catcher’s hand.

Some people, maybe a couple (okay my parents), clapped. I raised my hands in victory.

After shooting the wrapped hot dogs and T-shirts from the guns on the Cubs golf cart, I thought my mascot days were over, and I would look back fondly at such an event. I was wrong.

A couple years later, I found myself living in Des Moines again, at a different job. The Iowa State Fair needed me back in the mascot costume. The Des Moines Buccaneers were holding a mascot broomball game during its halftime entertainment. Carrie stepped back into her blue ribbon for one last time. All the Iowa greats were there – ISU’s Cy, the Hostess Twinkie and Herky the Hawk. I remembered my lack of coordination at the Cubs game but blew off my anxiety. This was a new day, a new game. Other mascots would be out there on the field, er, ice.

After donning my mask, giant feet and wobbly blue ribbon bans, I stepped out into the rink. I was ready.

At a slow pace, we stumbled out the door, like toddlers learning how to walk. We held our brooms and got into position. For some reason, I stepped out to head my team of foam-covered friends. Against Cy. I had been exercising lately and felt that I may have an advantage. A skinny little guy was underneath the other costume. It was not to be. He was a lot stronger and faster than I had thought. We took control of the hockey puck, pushing it between the two of us, maneuvering it back and forth.

After awhile, my bulky costume was full of sweat as it beaded down my back. I could feel the velcro connecting the rosette headpiece of the uniform disconnecting from the rest of the ribbon. And then it happened. Cy pushed me down. Yes, Cy did that, the jerk.

As I plummeted to the ice below, I heard the rip of velcro. The headpiece flew across the slick surface as I fell hard against the ground with a resounding thud.

It took me a second to realize that my face was unmasked. That is when I heard the gasps. The gasps of little children who had gathered in the front row of the arena to get a glimpse at some of the characters they knew. It was as if they found out that Santa was not real. I, or the ribbon, was not real.

Luckily, teammate Red Cross Bear came over with my headpiece and gently placed it back over my face (how ironic.)

A few minutes later, the siren sounded the end of the game (my team lost.) All the other mascots wondered if I was hurt.

I was. My ego was sorely bruised and children were scarred (sort of.) Although I can look back and laugh, I can almost promise that my mascot days are over. And whenever I pass a person with that foam costume on, I quietly pity them – not missing the exaggerated hand motions that they were making or the buckets of sweat lost in that thing. But that is what comes with the job of being a mascot.

My day as “Mud Girl”

7 Jan


While I usually have a lot to say on the joys of childhood, I don’t have much to add to the topic of the joys of middle school. For there wasn’t any. At all.



I don’t have a lot of luck venturing out in the winter weather. Either I have to spend eight hours of my day in soggy shoes and socks or I have to look at the tatters of my once new-looking tights – a victim of falling on the slick sidewalks. I’ve had many bruises, scabs, and even a stitched-up chin from the icy ground. Yet with all my sob stories on the subject, none come close to the sordid tale that my 13-year-old self had to endure.

It was seventh grade. And while I wasn’t unpopular, I also wasn’t a standout. And in my ability to become invisible, I had found one outlet that I excelled at. Maybe being first-chair clarinet in band isn’t the most coveted of positions, but for me, it was. I could play scales like it was my business and was lucky enough to be chosen for quite a few honor bands during that time period. Something I incessantly bragged about to my other classmates who could care less.

On a slushy winter day, my friend Katie and I headed to Simpson College for one of those events. I had prepared night and day for this competition. And after nerve-wracking tryouts for chair competition, I was able to secure the top spot of all clarinet sections.

Wasn’t this a highlight. Waltzing into the college cafeteria, I felt pretty important among my counterparts. For there was third-chair girl in the second section, and lookie-here its fourth chair in third-section boy – how disappointing for them.

As depressing as it might sound, it was my time to shine – for about an hour and a half. Katie and I both sat at the “popular” table that day, as we both had made good impressions with our fellow band nerds.

It was after lunch that things suddenly soured. There was a large hill outside of the building, covered in snow. Some of the boys in their dress clothes dared others to slide down the hill. At that moment, I was not lacking in confidence and wanted to savor my cool factor for as long as I could. I boldly declared that, I, Carrie Olson, would roll down the hill. And I did. Into a gigantic mud pile at the bottom.

My hair was coated in mud, as was the rest of my body. In seconds, I had become a mud monster clawing up the hill to get back to my comrades. But they had all scattered, back to the rehearsal hall for practice. Into a bathroom I went, were paper towels sopping in water and soap could not wipe the humiliation or compacted dirt away.

So I went wandering around the deserted campus. After failing to find my band director, “mud girl” desperately ran to the car we had traveled to Des Moines in. A pair of extra clothes was sitting in a bag behind the locked windows. For a moment, I pondered the implications of slamming a rock through the window – but quickly found my bearings.

After defeat, I wandered back into the music building’s public bathroom, locking myself in a handicapped stall with my soapy paper towels. It had been a good 45 minutes, as hot tears flowed and my embarrassment got the best of me. I wouldn’t be remembered by my musicianship but my mud.

A couple college-aged girls entered the room and while fixing their make-up, talked of how campus police were searching for a middle school student lost at the college. In my foolishness, I hadn’t realized that not showing up for practice would worry the adults at the event. Bursting out of the stall, I yelled, “It’s me!”

Surprised, the girls ushered me, all blurry-eyed, to an instructor who had been in charge of finding me. It was then that I was able to get a hot shower and borrow some sweats before my parents finally arrived with new dress clothes for me to wear for the concert.

After a pep talk by my mom and dad, I went out and performed decently. I tried to get the trauma out of my mind. It was quickly relived as a boy came up to me after the competition in line at a local Wendy’s, saying to me, “You’re the girl who sat in the mud …” “Shh,” an adult woman said to him quietly. “She’s probably embarrassed enough.”

Reality set in. I would be ‘mud girl ‘to these people. Not ‘good at the clarinet’ girl. Popularity over. Sigh.

Most people will look at this moment with a smile and talk about how hilarious it now seems. And it is, to some extent. But what I most remember about that moment was the complete humiliation that I had to endure. This wasn’t the first (and definitely not the last) time that my self confidence had soared, only for me to get knocked down peg or two soon after.

Did I get any insight from this situation? Did I learn anything? Not really, just don’t be an idiot. Be a bit smarter. And damn you, snow.

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