Mortified. Horrified. Petrified.
I used to flip through teen magazines to the back section, a place where girls would write in and share the most distressing tales of embarrassing mishaps.
How awful! That would never happen to me, I thought. And as I chuckled through their misfortunes, in the back of my mind, I prayed that those events would never happen to me.
Boy, was I wrong.
It was my sixth grade year. Instead of a traditional Christmas chorus concert, the entire grade would put on a play called "The Runaway Snowman." Four kids would lead the production with the rest of the grade chiming in as the choir. And I was one of those 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, of 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 in the Lincoln Building, our class was ready to present the show to our parents. It was a Friday afternoon and I spent the school day beaming. For I was a star. 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 had headed out the door, I prepared to put on a dark blue jumper dress and my mother's high heels. Not only was I playing the part of an adult woman, I would look the part. Stunning. There was a boy in the choir that I had been crushing on. I kept thinking with the blush, lipstick and outfit, it would be hard not to take notice of me on stage.
And standing their with just my undergarments on, it happened. The door opened. And not one, or two, but four of my fellow male classmates happened to be standing there. Wide mouthed.
I didn't know what to do. How did they get in? Why were they here?
I started to scream, "Get out! Get out!"
And the guys started screaming and running from the door, almost as horrified as I was.
I had leaped under the teacher's desk, crouched and was breathing heavily. Was this a dream? It had to be. No way would something this horrible happen - it was too humiliating. No way.
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 had given 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 had earlier was out the window.
For months, I couldn't live it down, with students teasing about the incident. The boys were unable to look or talk to me for quite awhile.
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.
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, I understood that I could eventually fill a couple pages of those horrible moments in the years to come.
And you know what? I easily could.