Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Embarrassing Moments Contest

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At long last I have updated my website!

(Translation: my daughter is home from college and did it for me.) My friend, Sarah Goodman (super photographer) took the new picture for me. Everyone hated the last picture. Seriously. Everyone. They said it wasn’t a real smile. I pointed out that usually when I smile it looks like a squadron of wrinkles are attacking my eyes. (And yes, wrinkles really do come in squadrons, like lions come in prides and fish come in schools.) Sarah is such a good photographer that she even makes wrinkles look good.

My latest book out is Revenge of the Cheerleaders. And it is a great book. You should buy it because not only is it brilliant and funny, but it will make you instantly skinny and rich. (The FDA has not substantiated these claims.)


For awhile I’ve thought about what sort of contest I should run in conjunction with its release, but really, I just couldn’t see myself asking for revenge stories. If my readers are out there exacting revenge on people in creative and memorable ways—I just don’t want to know about it. I’d rather believe my readers are all kind, intelligent, forgiving people. (These claims have also not been substantiated by the FDA.)

Since Revenge of the Cheerleaders is also about living through embarrassing moments (really, which of my books isn’t?) I decided to run an embarrassing moments contest. So send me a few paragraphs describing your most embarrassing moment. And hey, who knows, maybe the situation that caused you such mortification and shame will show up in one of my books. Because although I do draw on my own life for my novels, even I will eventually run out of humiliating experiences. (The FDA seriously doubts that this is true.)

I’ll let the contest run for a month or two (translation: until my daughter is around and can update my website again). Then the winner will get a signed copy of Revenge of the Cheerleaders.

In this spirit, I will share a deep, dark (or at least embarrassing) story from my past.

When I was a junior in high school, I took honors algebra. I did this not because I had any interest or talent when it came to algebra, but because I had a scheduling problem (probably trying to fit in my drama class). The counselor looked at my schedule and told me that although a teacher had to recommend an especially talented student to get them into honors algebra, since I was a straight A student, and already in honors English, he thought I would do fine in the class.

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Janette as a junior in high school. You can see she is clearly a math whiz.

And thus I was in honors algebra. I was with the smart math kids. And I could handle this class just like I could handle everything else because I was smart. I sat down on the first day and it was like the teacher was speaking a completely different language. I tried to understand the gibberish that came out of his mouth but it didn’t work. I asked questions. The teacher answered my questions but since he was still speaking gibberish, all that became clear was that I was in serious trouble.

I probably should have gone in for some tutoring, but my afterschool hours were jam packed with drama rehearsal, tennis, Junior Miss, dating—you know, all of the really important things. So basically I sat in the back of the class with a deer in the headlights look on my face, wondering why I didn’t get what the rest of the students seemed to know intuitively. (I think they wondered about this too.)

I limped along with Bs and an occasional wandering A on my homework and tests. For a straight A student, it stung. (Oh stop rolling your eyes, it was a very academically competitive school.)

Okay, fast forward to those standardized test they give to the whole state every year. We took them, and afterwards the teacher decided to go over problem spots. There was this one question involving a circle and angles and very imposing intersecting lines.

The teacher told the class—using that amazed sort of voice that teachers sometimes use—that everyone in the class had got the problem wrong except for one student. And we were all going to be surprised at who that one student was.

Well absolutely no one was more surprised than me when the teacher called my name and told me to come to the board and explain how to do the problem for the rest of the class.

I couldn’t believe it. I, I had got the question right while the rest of my brainiac classmates, who effortlessly understood math gibberish, had got the question wrong!

It was validation of my intelligence. I could hold my own with the math whizzes!

I walked to the board and did the problem.

Unfortunately I did the problem all wrong.

I ended by adding two numbers together (at this point I’ve forgotten why). “So you have 8 and 5,” I told the class, “and when you add them together you get 12.”

Which, by the way, was the right answer to the problem. Unfortunately 8+5 does not equal 12. It equals 13, which was not the right answer. I had gotten the problem right because I had added wrong.

And more embarrassingly, I’d done it twice, and in front of the whole class.

There is really no way to live that down in a class full of math whizzes. I’m sure when they get together every year at their brainiac math conferences they still laugh about it.

19 comments:

Marcia Mickelson said...

I really like your new picture. You look great.

Annette Lyon said...

Beautiful story! And even beautifuler (hey, I think it's a word) photo. It's so much more YOU.

Julie Wright said...

Okay I totally love your new picture. It is so perfectly beautifully you! It captures the Janette I know and love and the story . . . does the exact same thing! Be glad you didn't get a tutor, they don't do anything for people like us. Mine walked out on me after ten minutes of arguing with me with the declaration that no one deserved to spend ten minutes with me. I don't think he meant it in any kindly way. I love that you got it right because you got it wrong. You are so my hero!!!!

Tristi Pinkston said...

This is a lovely picture!

Anne Bradshaw said...

I'm laughing my socks off over here. That is so exactly my sort of story when it comes to anything remotely mathematical! I'd have turned deep scarlet, and stammered my way out the door.

By the way, that green striped dress is a delight. Wish such a dress were in the stores these days.

Nerd Goddess said...

Great story, and lovely pic!

Unfortunately, I cannot enter your contest, because unfortunately, it seems my mind puts a nice, soft, black blanket over embarrassing moments that keeps my from remembering that.

Either that, or I'm being embarrassed all the time, and it all just seems normal. Either way, I guess. :)

Lillian Syville said...

i can think of a bunch o flittle moments butnot one SUPer moments.
they're all bad, but still

Great Pic

Asenath said...

I had a potentially embarrassing moment yesterday, but thankfully I don't let little things like dignity bother me.

In my cultural awareness class the instructor was explaining a game that we were going to play. We were given cards with animals on them and were supposed to trade them with our peers by making the sound of the animal on the card. He had me and another girl stand up to demonstrate. He told her to ask me for an animal--any animal. She mooed.
"Ok," he said, "but if I wanted to ask for a dog..." he motioned to me.
"Oink oink." I said.
There was a pause in the room as I registered the fact that he had asked me to trade for a specific animal, not just the first one that popped into my head, and while the rest of the room registered that I must have a very skewed vision of what a dog really was.

After the little mix up was fixed, I remember thinking that some people might have been truly embarrassed by such an event. But I just saw it as another story to tell.

Janette Rallison said...

Some of us just have trouble in front of classes. (Could it be inherited?)

tenacious d said...

I love that picture! Your posture and expression in your old picture said, "I have written all these books, and boy am I tired!"

Janette Rallison said...

Which is probably true . . .

Enna Isilee said...

For a second I thought I had accidentally gone to your homepage! Whoops.

I really like the new picture. And I'll have to think of an embarrassing moment... the only ones that come to mind are falling over during school.

Tamra Norton said...

LOVE the new picture!

As for most embarrassing moment stories, I don't think mine qualifies since it involves a mad dash through the airport, a puddle of water, flip-flops, khaki pants, oh...and YOU!

Thank goodness your plane came in late that rainy day and khakis dry fast!!!

Michelle said...

I love your new picture.

Do we post them here? Or on your web page?

Maybe I am tired, and it just isnt making sense to me.

Michelle

Janette Rallison said...

Oh, it would have been helpful if I gave you somewhere to send them, huh. (Where can I apply for a new brain?)

You can send them to jrallisonfans at yahoo.com (But without the space and with the symbol for at)

Lillian Syville said...

Your brain is fine

Shellie said...

Nice pic and GREAT story.

Tamer said...

Hi, my name is Tamer, I'm 15 years old... 5 months ago I faced a very embarrassing moment... I was back at home with my friend and other boy we met in the club (we are all 15 years old)... My father and my sister isn't at home and my mom was showering and she don't know that I'm back, she take her shower and stand (back to us) fully naked fixing somethings (I don't know that was happening), that means that anyone pass can watch clearly her whole naked back and butt.
I told my friend to take the other (strange) boy into my room while I went to bring some drinks, I spend about 5 minutes (or more) making the juice then I went back and I saw my friend and the other boy standing as 2 dummies and staring at something, I look there and I saw my mom's back fully naked... I shout, my mom heard me and she tern around and saw us... She also shout, she don't know what to do and me also, she used to do some unsuccessful attempts to cover her privates and said: sorry boys, then she came over to greet my friend and the other strange boy and ask him about his name and school and talk to them for a few minutes...
I was feeling bad, my mom standing completely naked talking to my friend and other strange boy and putting her hands on her waist while the boys looking to her uncovered privates (also it was my first time for me)... They saw (and learned) every inch of my mom's body, top and bottom, front and back... Then she went to her bedroom and we all entered my room... They said only: We are so sorry, the position was disturbing, we don't know what to do and your mother's body is so hot... I was feeling shame from their erections that they were striving to hide it... They drank the juice and say: goodbye... 4 months I met my friend 100 times (we cut the relation with the other boy)... About month ago I was with my friend watching some porn, he said spontaneity: that girl's butt is so hot like your mom's butt, I looked strangely to him and he said: Sorry Tamer... That means that he still remembers the scene of my mom's naked body... I told him: "please don't talk about that shameful day again!", he said: "sorry", but few days ago he started to talk again about it and how my mom's butt is very wonderful, fine and sexy and he will never ever forgot her naked body especially her butt, I let him talk for a long time about that to know what's going on inside his brain then he said: sorry Tamer forgive me the position was exciting.
I wrote that story in some sites in the internet and all the answers was like:
1- Man get over it and be proud that guys think your mom is hot. Life is way to short to worry over the small stuff.
2- it is her house, why should she be embarrassed about being naked, especially if she looks good.
3- The situation was embarrassing but you overreact it. Many families go to nude beaches with many kids, and all generations see each other naked. In the normal life we do not show our naked body for guest boys voluntarily, but this situation happens regularly by chance. We all have naked body under our clothes, everybody knows it, so that is not a drama if you or your friends see a naked mother by chance. In your story everybody behaved naturally except you The boys watched for few moments, that was normal, your mother did not make a drama of it but greeted them, all of them said sorry, only you shouted and feel bad about it till now. Yes, your mother was hot for you 15 yo boys, she knew that, that was an involuntary enlightening 5 minutes. Like a surprize gift. That's all. (You may be proud of that your mother is hot, there is no reason to feel ashamed)

Stephan White said...

Great story, and lovely pic! Thanks for sharing.
Glyn Willmoth