My most embarrassing moment

When I was in my early teens, I accompanied my father as he ran some errands in town. We stopped at a McDonald’s for lunch, and as we headed back to Dad’s red Toyota pickup truck, I started feeling sick to my stomach. On the way home, I felt worse and worse. About a mile down the road, Dad stopped at a Dairy Dell and said, “Go in and get a Coke. It’ll settle your stomach. And while you’re in there, get me a large cone.” He remained in the truck.

So, I went into the restaurant and stepped to the back of the line. As I inched forward, I continued to feel sicker. Finally, when it was my turn to order, I stepped forward and threw up all over the counter.

A kind woman took me in back and cleaned me up. When I finally returned to the truck, all Dad said was, “Where’s my cone?”

More than 30 years later, that restaurant is still called “The Pukery” in my family, and I trot that story out when the subject of most embarrassing moments comes up. It was funny until I had a child of my own, which shed new light on the parenting I had received. My experience at the Dairy Dell was definitely eye-opening from the perspective of motherhood. If my son was ill, it wouldn’t occur to me to “medicate” him with Coca Cola, send him into a restaurant alone to purchase this “medication,” and ask him to get something for me in the process. But that is how my father parented, and it makes me a little sad for the embarrassed girl standing at the counter of the Dairy Dell.

Sad Embarrassed

Kris Wiltse’s illustrations for the “Sad” and “Embarrassed” cards from the Mixed Emotions card deck.

When the shoe doesn’t fit

My German mother raised us on German fairy tales, so we heard the original Brothers Grimm version of Cinderella while we were growing up. In its gruesomeness, it has become a perfect metaphor for some of my life experiences. You can read the original version of Cinderella yourself, but for me, the pivotal point comes when the prince arrived at Cinderella’s house to see if the golden shoe that his beloved left behind fit any of the young women who lived there.

The older stepsister took the shoe into another room to try it on, but it was too small for her. Her mother handed her a knife and said, “Cut off your toe. When you’re queen you won’t have to go on foot anymore.” So the daughter cut off her toe. The prince rode away with her, but as they passed the grave of Cinderella’s mother,  a couple of pigeons cried:

Rook di goo, rook di goo!
There’s blood in the shoe.
The shoe is too tight,
This bride is not right!

The prince returned to Cinderella’s house and asked the second stepsister to try on the shoe. It didn’t fit her either, so her mother gave her a knife, and said, “Cut a piece off your heel. When you’re queen you won’t have to go on foot anymore.” So her daughter cut off part of her heel. The gullible prince fell for the trick again, and rode off into the sunset with the second stepsister. However, the pigeons on the grave of Cinderella’s mother cried:

Rook di goo, rook di goo!
There’s blood in the shoe.
The shoe is too tight,
This bride is not right!

The prince returned to Cinderella’s house, insisted that she try on the shoe, and you know the rest: The shoe fit, and they lived happily ever after.

Like the stepsisters, I could not fit into the golden shoe of Christianity. And, like them, I was encouraged to cut off parts of myself to make it fit. The fact that I can’t bring myself to do it reduces my mother to tears, because only those who fit into the golden shoe go to heaven and she wants me to be there with her.

Although I refused to cut off parts of myself for Jesus, I have done it for the sake of relationships without even being aware of it. It was only after the relationship ended that I realized how much of myself I had pruned away. How much sense does that make? If your partner doesn’t fit, remove parts of yourself until he or she does? I am embarrassed to say I have done that, but I think we all have.


Kris Wiltse’s illustrations for the “Unfulfilled” card from the Mixed Emotions card deck.

Divorce and guacamole

Not long after my husband and I split up, I stood in front of a cooler at the grocery store. I was completely baffled–was he the one who hated guacamole or was it me? 

I was beginning the process of finding my edges and reclaiming those parts of me that I had compromised for the sake of our relationship. I was disentangling and rediscovering myself.

Eventually, I remembered that it was my ex-husband who hated guacamole. So I bought some.



Image courtesy of the Hass Avocado Board