Accidental Public Nudity.
And other cringe-worthy events.
Have you ever had a bad dream where you are naked in public? I have not: my bad nightmares usually include being lost inside a building that somehow has turned into a labyrinth. And yet, accidental public nudity is a nightmare that has found me in real life over and over again. Overall, the cringe-worthy moments of my life could be divided into two camps: strange encounters with horny animals and accidental nudity. I'll tell you now of the top three events on each one of those categories.
Part 1: My wild side
On reflection, it seems like I'm some twisted Dr. Doolittle or more like a veterinary Dr. Ruth. I'm not necessarily the person to whom all animals converge; my own pets have not been that clingy. But if there is an animal in heat in the vicinity, the creature will find me. I swear, had I lived in ancient Greece, there would be some fantastic tale starring me as the victim of one of the old gods that seduced women in animal forms. Here's the count down of the top three:
The Horny Argentinian Dog
When I was a graduate student, I had the opportunity to travel to Argentina for a seminar. I spent two weeks hanging out and learning with students from all over the Americas; it was a blast. To celebrate its end, one of the local participants invited all of us to her house for a party. She dutifully locked up her dog in a back patio so the big animal wouldn't knock over everything. But as soon as we arrived at her house, the dog went nuts, howling, crying, and scratching desperately on the door. It was as if he was in pain and would not calm down. After the poor animal cried pitifully for a good half hour, the host decided to try and calm him down. She meant to open the door a slit to sneak into the patio, but the beast knocked her down and burst into the living area. It seemed to happen in slow motion. This colossal dog jumped over seats and tables, and in two seconds, had me pinned on the couch where I was sitting, humping like his life depended on it. My classmates were cracking up, so loud no one came to my rescue until the embarrassed host asked for help. It took three people to get the big oaf off me. For the rest of the party, I had to endure the jokes about a dog sending postcards and asking when I would come back.
The Gangsta Pelican.
This one may be less a story of animal attraction and more a tale of disdain. I was on vacation in the Caribbean, and the place had it all: beautiful beaches, endless sun, and unlimited drinks. I was in great shape and pranced around in my bikini, feeling like I owned the place. There was an open hammock between two palm trees, and I strutted there, Pina Colada in my hand. Lying on it, I may have even tried one of those ridiculous poses people use for their Instagram pictures, trying to look still hot while balancing on a hanging fabric. I looked up. The sky was a perfect blue, and birds flew in circles, making the scene even more idyllic. Then I saw it: a Pelican. It was zooming around with its comrades, but it started to fly lower, making smaller and smaller circles. It made me nervous when it was floating too low; then it happened: this fucking giant bird released itself on me. I'm talking a big, hot liquid turd. I yelled like a hyena, scrambling clumsily off the hammock to run into the ocean. I have no idea what a pelican's internal temperature is, but that turd was a million degrees. I plunged into the water, washed as good as I could, then made the walk of shame back to my hotel room, hair tangled, makeup running off my face, belly red with the most unusual burn a human can endure, my brand new bikini ruined by pelican shit stains.
The King and I.
That one happened when I was sixteen, the age when public humiliations feel unsurmountable. I was on vacation with my parents, and we headed to a local zoo. They were famous for the big cats: lions, tigers, and a breed of Ligers, a mix between lion and tiger that doesn't happen in nature because they live on different continents. There it was: the biggest wild cat I ever saw. It was the size of a big tiger, with beautiful gold striped fur and a short mane that looked as if he groomed it. The liger was on the other side of a deep safety ditch, and there were bars on the public's side of the enclosement. Nothing can happen there. Right? Standing in a small crowd, I admired the beast for a while as he paced back and forth, first in great strolls all around the enclosement, then in smaller paths, until he tapped around in front of the tourists, looking unease. That's when it happened. This giant wild cat looked me in the eye, turned around, lifted its tail, and hosed me down. I remember screeching my head off, then standing there, soaked in liger pee. The crowd gasped in horror, then an older man laughed and said:
"Well, I guess you are his girlfriend now, darling."
Part 2: Mortifying tales of unintended public nudity
The Failed Breakdance Move.
It was 1986, and breakdancing was all the rage. Everybody was doing it, or at least trying. It was the sixth grade, and everything seemed possible. I had already been a Boy Band Dance Competition winner, so I thought I could dance. How different could it be, right? Well, quite different, indeed. First of all, just because I felt in my mind that I was breakdancing, it didn't mean I could. At eleven years old, I still had that childish self-perception that makes you feel like you are rocking it when you look like you are having a seizure. And second, the Boy Band Dance contest had been among my cousins and judged by our moms, so not precisely hardcore competition. But I had all the confidence that my participation trophies could give and spent hours in front of the tv, watching and rewatching the movie Breakin'; in my mind, I was doing everything the guys in the movie did. So one day, during a break, I saw a group of boys from my class trying some moves. I confidently walked into the group and asked for my turn to show my stuff. When I finished my routine, the boys were all looking stunned. I, of course, assumed I had been fabulous. That was until one of them said:
"Uhm, you know you are not wearing shorts under your school uniform skirt, right?"
The sound of laughter behind me as I run to hide in the girl's room still haunts me.
The buzzing was loud, and it was all around. Literal buzzing: a giant, noisy insect was flying circles around me one morning as I walked into the building where I worked. With disgust, I noted it was an enormous flying cockroach. It was bouncing between the glass on the building and the sidewalk, back and forth at a manic pace. I tried to run into the building, but then it happened: the monster bounced on the glass once more, and then it dove, right inside my cleavage. I screamed, my hands moving on their own to get rid of the horrible feeling of the roach crawling on my skin. When it finally stopped, I felt better, but then realized what I had done: I was standing on the street in my bra. You're welcome, ogling security guard.
The Grand Finale
And now, are you ready to cringe? It was midway to grad school, and trials by fire were a common rite of passage. One was, of course, serving as a teaching assistant. The assignment was a pharmacology course. The first day I felt insecure, so I tried my best to look like a real professor. I found a pencil skirt in a discount shop and pair it with a nice blouse and block heels. The skirt turned out to be some sort of elastic synthetic fabric that outlined the undergarments clearly. To fix that, I wore a g-string that left nothing to the imagination, thinking it was a brilliant solution: no tell-tale lines, only a smooth, elegant skirt.
I tottered into the classroom, the skirt feeling too tight and the shoes pinching my feet. But I looked the part, so I used my most severe voice and started the lecture. Halfway in, I relaxed into it, and that was when disaster stroke. Back then, I had the bad habit of sitting on tables, so while explaining something, eyes on the blackboard with my back to the class, I leaned on the desk, half hopping on it out of habit. The elastic fabric of my skirt snapped, and the whole thing rolled up to my waist. For a long second, I stood, frozen, my ass on full display to an entire class of pre-med students. The collective gasp sounded like the gates of hell swinging open. To this day, I praise the survival instinct that allowed me to roll the skirt down, clear my throat and pretend that it never happened. I wonder how many times the witnesses have told the story.
And there you have it, folks, my most cringeworthy moments, exposed. I hope my miseries made you smile, just a bit.