A few years ago on a ferry trip on a summer’s day (back in the days when a body could still afford a ferry trip without destroying any hopes for a comfortable retirement) I was seated on an outside deck across from a middle-aged woman.
I looked at her, as one does with fellow passengers, just to observe the scene. She was wearing jeans and what became highly obvious was that she had, rather voluminously, wet her pants. A misfortune that could happen to anyone considering the duration of some ferry waits. But what struck me was that she seemed to be quite comfortable in public with her very stained denim and was making no attempt to hide her misfortune. I kind of admired it since I know if it had been me I would have sequestered myself on the car-deck.
That’s probably because I have a fairly acute sense of embarrassment. This good lady obviously didn’t. She was like: “So, I peed my pants. Hasn’t anybody here ever done that? If you’ve got a problem with it, it’s your problem.”
Embarrassment is an acute sense of discomfiture that arises when something happens that is a bit on the mortifying side, rendering the individual vulnerable.
The inspiration for the topic stems from a thing I saw on YouTube in which a young lady recounted her most embarrassing moment. In her case it had to do with flatulence at an entirely unwanted time on a first date with a chap she was hoping to impress. Few are the people who can brazenly pass such an incident off with the equanimity in which seemingly can pass gas in public.
This set me to thinking about how we generally have public and also very private personae. When we are out in the public we are generally mighty fastidious about our behaviors and yes, our politeness. But in private well, we are in a different realm. It’s just us and us alone and I challenge anyone to deny that they don’t break wind with impunity if nobody else is around. Although, Wendy assures me that women ‘never’ fart. She lies. Likewise, rare is the person who hasn’t experienced the odd incident of ‘latchkey urgency’. You know, when you are frantically trying to get the key in the lock and doing the pee-pee dance at the same time in a moment that takes you back to the days when you were first out of diapers. But you don’t generally broadcast the fact and merely hope you get to the loo in time.
And then there are those, often women, who will disguise their natural functioning as when they go to a bathroom and will then run the faucet so that nobody can discern that they are peeing or, God-forbid, doing something more serious. In fact, such people even try to disguise their intentions by saying the are going to “wash up”, or “powder my nose”. In fact, politeness decrees we don’t even call the can what it is in polite discourse and hence it becomes the lavatory, the restroom, the washroom or (most preciously) the little boys/girls room.
So that said, and for the lady on the ferry who experienced what for most would be like a worst nightmare realized and to be able to seemingly pass it off as an “oh well” moment, I have to profess I cannot help but be impressed by her ability to rise about an unfortunate occasion.