Memoirs of Embarrassment

Much to Your Chagrin: A Memoir of Embarrassment by Suzanne Guillette decides to write a book about other people’s embarrassing stories but ends up discovering she has wealth of her own. I do too.

One time I asked an author to sign a copy of his book that I picked up at a thrift store. When he opened the book he saw that it was already inscribed to Vicky. I tried to play it off that I must have grabbed the wrong copy off the shelf, but it was still embarrassing. That’s a story I can laugh about with my husband.

Then there are other embarrassing stories, like the time I walked through the open door at the subway station to see if I could get away with it, which reflect poor judgment on my part. I blame many of these happenings on youth and indiscretion. Fortunately, the consequences of these foolish and naïve choices were relatively insignificant. In fact, I think the fine for trying to sneak on the subway was the most severe.

College was a breeding ground for testing the waters, and I found just enough balance that made me comfortable. In retrospect, I’m not sure why we stole a street sign with our dorm name one night or why I drove with the pole sticking out from my car’s trunk. But I did. Once I graduated and started my first job, my sister was compelled to warn me that I could not behave the same way in the workplace. “You can’t steal food from the kitchenette,” she said. This is my same sister who visited me on campus and left with crates of prepared salads, cereal and milk.

Triggered by an ad on television, I flashed to a foolish story that occurred my senior year. “Honey, would you like to hear an embarrassing story about my past?” I asked. He said no. And I don’t think it was because he was so engrossed in The Office rerun. My foolish indiscretions would taint his view of me, the mother of his children and would not enhance his respect of me. Yes, it helped me to become who I am and was all part of the maturing process but he does not want to know. I may mention the time of a bathroom slip-up but he has no interest in hearing stories about my walking the line of legality or mingling with another person. So of all of the books I could write, I will not write one of my embarrassment.


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One Response to “Memoirs of Embarrassment”

  1. Suzanne Guillette Says:

    I really appreciate the nature of your reflection. It reminded me of advice a former colleague gave to me, when I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to write the story of what happened while I was collecting embarrassing stories. She told me to write the book I wanted to read. In my mind, I wasn’t writing a story about a string of embarrassing moments; rather, I was writing about a significant change in self-perception and the way in which I began to realize that I am responsible for my own life. It’s an ongoing lesson. Anyway, in terms of your own writing, I’d encourage you to figure out the story you are most compelled to tell. From there, good things will happen. Thanks so much for reading and posting!

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