How To Escape Public Humiliation


I was at a business meeting Monday, sitting in a room full of rich executives, fiddling with what the department store clerk called ‘my new power suit,’ casually sipping a glass of ice water while waiting for my turn to speak. I was vaguely nervous. Not because I have a problem speaking in front of large groups of people, mind you, but because I was worried I might forget something important. Much like most things in my life, the presentation I was about to give was half assed. I’m a natural procrastinator who generally doesn’t give a damn about most horse and pony shows. That attitude doesn’t usually translate into a well prepared presentation.

Finally, I was introduced. I took one last quick swig of my water and stood up quickly. As I did, I knocked over my own chair. It fell to the floor with a loud clatter that echoed throughout the room. I turned around to pick it up and managed to knock over what was left of my glass of ice water in the process. Ice cubes went slipping and sliding across the table as people frantically tried to wipe them up before the dreaded water touched an important piece of paperwork. With one hand on my now empty glass and the other hand on my unsteady chair, I surveyed the room. Then I took an abrupt step backwards and crashed into the podium. Papers went flying.

Was I mortified? No. Not one bit.

Instead, I straightened my back and announced into the microphone, “Hello. My name is V and I teach ballet.”

Then, as the room burst into gales of laughter, I curiously inquired, “What? Am I not the very picture of grace and fluidity?”

I stood there, smiling, as everyone had a good chuckle at my expense. Then I continued with my presentation as planned. Furthermore, my opening antics seemed to put everyone in such a good mood that no one noticed my lack of full color graphs.

You see, I learned a long time ago that people can only humiliate you, shame you, or make you feel inferior if you let them. I’m betting I wasn’t the only one in that room who had tripped, knocked something over, and made an obvious klutz of myself in a lifetime, so why should I feel bad about it? Personally, I just don’t take myself that seriously.

I was browsing through a blog a few days ago when an entry caught my eye. The author of the blog is not particularly fond of me (Which is how I found the blog), nor is she fond of Heather Armstrong or some other chick I’ve never heard of. This is fine with me as I can totally understand why my writing might grate on someone else’s nerves. Furthermore, in a seemingly free society, this author has every right to publicly denounce my also public opinions. Potentially hurting my itty bitty feelings is not yet against the law.

Apparently, the other chick, Heather, and/or their legion of fans do not feel the same as I. They have the ‘if it makes us feel icky, let’s legislate it!’ mentality where every possible disagreement counts as ‘hate speech’ and must be immediately silenced ‘for the sake of the children!’ To strike back at this nefarious blog author, they attempted to bully her into silence by, get this, exposing her real identity.

This, of course, made me giggle. After all, people have been trying to do the same thing to me since the inception of this website. The lack of foresight in this endeavor just slays me. One wonders what they plan to do after finding me. Will they get me fired from my nonexistent job? Tattle to all my friends, family, and business associates (AKA currently my most avid readers!) about the existence of my website? Perhaps they’ll want to stop by my house and have a little chat? Big fucking deal. I’d invite them in for coffee. And not the cheap shit, either. The good stuff.

My point is I’m not worried about it. I’ve never been worried about it. When I first started this site, I knew I’d be ‘outed.’ In fact, I counted on it. What better way to prove my point than to let the hysterical masses call me a liar, only for them to dig a little deeper and ultimately find out I’m telling the truth? Besides, if someone crosses the line and invades my personal life in a way in which they’re not welcome, they can rest assured that I won’t cower and beg. I’ll fight back…harder and more zealously than they can possibly imagine.

The bottom line is I’m not ashamed of what I’ve written here. Maybe 10 years from now, I’ll feel differently. But, here’s the rub: I’m not afraid to make mistakes. I’m not afraid to admit to my mistakes. Ten years from now if I personally decide I crossed lines I shouldn’t have, I will do the adult thing by sucking it up, apologizing, and vowing to refrain from such unfortunate mistakes in the future.

Keep in mind I said that if I feel differently. The ‘I’ is important in that sentence because I don’t want to give anyone the slightest impression that they have the ability to make me feel like I’ve made a mistake against my own better judgment. I’ve never been one to let public fucking opinion dictate to me my morals. My spine is made up of much more than jelly, shit, and glitter, goddammit.

I wish I could say the blog author I referenced above felt the same way. Unfortunately, she let skelator and crew bully her out of going to one of those ridiculous blogging conferences with the threat of exposing her (Gasp! Choke) real identity! Oh, the horror!

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t fathom why anyone would want to go to one of those shindigs in the first place. By then again, I feel the same way about female circumcision. That stuff is painful and boring and once you’ve gone there, you’re scarred for life. However, if some blogger wants to show up and poke fun at all the social fucking rejects in attendance, who am I to judge?

If the blogger had gone, I wouldn’t be writing this. But she didn’t go. Instead, she let strangers on the Internet bully her with her identity. Her identity! She allowed them to make her feel apprehensive and ashamed of whom she was and how she felt. I know I’m sounding repetitive here, but I absolutely can’t get over this idea. I find it completely shocking.

The very worst part is if she had been exposed, it wouldn’t have mattered. What would have happened? Probably nothing. At the very worst, Ms. Queen Bee Heather Armstrong herself could have ridden up on her golden chariot and said, “I read what you said about me on the Internet and I didn’t like it!”

I live for confrontations like this, so If it had been me, I would have looked her dead in the eye and said, “Go to Hell, you blood sucking praying mantis. It’s not my fault your child looks partially retarded.”

Then I would have walked away feeling good about myself because I complimented Leta Armstrong when I said the word ‘partially.’ Truth is, she looks like a full on window licker to me.

[Quick word about Leta: I don’t feel guilty for making fun of Leta because I strongly suspect she is retarded. As we all know, retards are the one group of people on this planet that don’t mind being called retarded. We don’t call them ‘God’s Clowns’ for nothing, people. Again, I say if it turns out Leta is not mentally challenged, I’ll remove my writings and send the poor unfortunate dear a letter of apology. Then I’ll ask her to review her Mother’s blog where her trademark glassy eyed stare is promoted in nearly every picture while she is constantly portrayed as a barely functioning nematode. Hopefully, she’ll understand how one could draw such bold conclusions.]

I forgot where I was going with this. Oh, wait. Now I remember…

Don’t give others the power to humiliate, shame, or bully you. It’s never worth it.

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