When I was in high school, I used to get embarrassed quite easily. I am sure it was caused by a lack of self-confidence and being put into the spotlight against my desire.
My natural response to being embarrassed is turning bright red, and I remember this happening in one of my high school classes. A fellow student shouted out “look at lobster man!”. As you might imagine, that just made the situation worse, and I somehow managed to turn an even brighter shade of red. Such nicknames do not fade away easily, and it was a while before I could go a week without being referred to as lobster man.
Fortunately school years do come to an end, followed by the summer recess. By the time I returned for my next year of high school, nobody seemed to remember my crustacean-based nickname (no surprise there, many students simply forgot who I was period).
While the nickname went away, my ability to get embarrassed and turn red did not. In fact, it has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. While it may not happen as frequently as it once did, it can still strike without warning.
Today was a perfect example. I was in the middle of teaching, and all of a sudden something funny happened off to the side. At first I smiled, but then my smile became a laugh. It then escalated to a case of the giggles, and I was no longer able to talk. It’s hard to try and regain your composure in front of 30 students who are staring, and laughing, at you.
I could feel myself turning bright red, and the realization that it was happening just made it worse. When coupled with the fact that my voice occasionally cracks while I am teaching, I am sure the students were thinking that this guy is the most immature 57-year old they’ve ever seen, and they would probably be right.
But after a couple of deep breaths I was able to get myself under control, and after a couple of minutes things were back to normal. Nothing like talking about how to amortize a bond premium using the effective interest method to take the fun out of anything.
But bonds can be fun, as shown by my favorite joke about bonds (OK, my only joke about bonds).
What’s the difference between a bond and a man?
Bonds eventually mature…
Earlier today I did a little bit of reading about the science of turning red when embarrassed. Here are a couple of interesting takeaways:
- We are most likely to be embarrassed when we believe we have not lived up to what society asks of us or when we are on the receiving end of undesired attention (that seems to fit today’s embarrassing moment perfectly).
- Because embarrassment cannot be faked, it signals to our peers our true emotional state. It shows others that we are either ashamed of or feel guilty about our conduct. This emotional response helps indicate that we are trustworthy.
- Feeling embarrassed and blushing is endearing and can even help us avoid confrontation with others.
- Blushing and embarrassment shows you care.
- Everyone gets embarrassed and it’s okay that you do too.
While knowing these facts is somewhat re-assuring, I’m sure it’s not going to stop me from turning red when I get embarrassed.
What would help is if somehow Lobster Man became the next member of The Avengers. I could point to this post and tell everyone I was the original Lobster Man, and I would instantly go from being a fool to being cool (OK, that’s probably stretching it a bit).
I’m not sure what Lobster Man’s superpower would be, but those claws have to be good for something. And if he could be a mild-mannered accounting teacher by day…