“Kelp is Algae!” Peeing Your Pants and the Lasting Power of Embarassment

The first time my mom ever let me answer the phone, I peed in my pants. The moment meant so much to me, and I choked.

Hello? Is it pee you're looking for?

Hello? Is it pee you’re looking for?

This effectively recaps  my life: Curiosity and ambition dismantled by fear. Conspicuous fear that humiliates, expressed by a slowly radiating ripple of urine. Or worse.

I remember this event vividly because it was humiliating. I recall tiny moments of embarrassment more specifically than even extreme pain, sexual satisfaction or Arrested Development dialogue. Embarrassing moments create grey matter globs that activate without warning decades later. They can reduce you to wobbly insecurity jelly even in your most happy, carefree moments.

I know this also because I accidentally called my teacher “mom” in the third grade and it still haunts me.

I shared this on Facebook and my friend Davin recalled that The Simpsons played this joke amusingly with Ralph Wiggum once. The best part is there really was a kid within earshot who immediately called me out with a Nelsonesque “HA-ha, you called Ms. Miller ‘mom’! Ms. Miller is Doug’s mom! HA-ha!”

Now, how do we bring this all back to pants wetting? The second thing Davin shared was this transcendent grade school anecdote:

I got sent home in 3rd grade with a note about how I’d gotten into a “disruptive argument” with a teacher who didn’t think kelp is algae. I was in the right, but, to her credit, I did piss my pants from my outrage during the confrontation.

This story has changed my life in an important way. I am going to adopt this communication technique for tense meetings at my office. As soon as someone challenges my perspective, I will stand up, shout “Kelp is algae!” wet myself and leave the room.

3 thoughts on ““Kelp is Algae!” Peeing Your Pants and the Lasting Power of Embarassment

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