Terminal Embarrassment

I once ended up with my slip on the floor in front of 5 guys–not on purpose. Yeah. It was awesome. I was 19 at the time, and in college. It was raining. And I wore incredibly chic boots that I had nipped from my mom's closet before heading off to campus for the day. I felt mightily vogue.

I was in a mini-production of "A Christmas Carol," and I had a rehearsal for my main scene as Belle in Christmas Past that afternoon. I remember dashing through the freezing rain and the last of the falling leaves, dripping my way into a classroom located just off one of the main stages in the Fine Arts building. This is significant because this room had a door that led into a back hall and a door that led into the lobby of the theater. Count them: two exits. It will matter in a moment.

So I went to my little practice and rehearsed a scene where I was sitting at the feet of my father, and Scrooge was looking on. There was my father (male), Scrooge (male) The Ghost of Christmas Past (male), the director (male), and the assistant director (male). And me (not male). And we did this little scene over and over again. Which meant I was standing up, sitting down, standing up, sitting down, like a little real life version of the movie "Groundhog Day."

Finally we decided to hit the scene one last time. I was tired so it took a second to unfold myself from the floor. And as I did so, the heel of my boot caught in the lace of my slip. My favorite slip. A little number that had a full circle of fabric and a cleverly adjustable waist which I enjoyed wearing down on my hips for comfort.

I felt my heel catch and then everything went into this weird slow-motion time warp where I realized I was yanking my slip down off my hips as I lowered my foot, but I couldn't do anything to stop myself. I just stood there and said "OHHHHHHHHH NNNNNNNOOOOOO!" in my head.

Next thing I knew the slip was at my ankles. And there I was. Slip puddled around my feet in front of 5 guys. NONE OF WHOM LAUGHED! 

Now, you might think this was gentlemanly, but I assure you, it was not. Had they laughed or said something ridiculous, I could have recovered my wits, stepped out of the slip, said something goofy back, and just stuck the thing into my backpack. But they all stared in horror at the unmentionable at my feet. So I went into mortification-induced shock.

I stared back, then looked desperately for a door. There was one behind the guys. No way, Joserita. Then I remembered the one behind my back. Deliverance! (Not the movie.)  I turned, and in a total humiliation-stupor, shuffled the twenty miles to the door WITH the slip AT my ankels. Visualize this: My feet – shuffleshuffleshuffle. My slip – swishswishswish. My brain  – Beeeeeeep!

When I finally arrived at the door, it was locked. Yep. Tried the handle. No go.

I turned in desperation back to the guys–who by this time must have died a few deaths watching me and not knowing whether to laugh or run out of the room–and they all turned and faced the back wall. Simultaneously. Like there was some sort of unspoken signal. PROBABLY THE IDIOCY HORMONES THAT WERE OOZING FROM MY BODY.

I breathed. Then I shimmied my slip back into place. The boys turned back around, we finished the scene, and no one ever mentioned that moment again. Ever. I mean, ever.

Except me. Here. On this blog.  

Because I have to tell you, that while the Slip-On-The-Floor-Fiasco was a singularly horrifying moment, I believe it was also liberating. Eventually. Okay, like 25 years later. Because I can now look back on the experience–and the ridiculous number of similar moments I've had where I've fallen down steps in front of a crowd, had the wind blow my skirt over my head in front of the people I was about to train, slipped so spectacularly in a hotel lobby that I remember my feet silhouetted against the lights–and realize that I did not die. Not only did I not die, but no one else did either. And in each case, while there were the occasional boors who got a great laugh at my expense, there were also plenty of others who either reached out to help me, or at the very least, suffered along with me in empathetic silence. 

Those experiences were a great equalizer. They taught me that everyone is human, and people are basically nice. Most of them. So, I pretty much feel like I'm doing my part for world peace and the brother and sisterhood of man by humiliating myself on a regular basis. In fact I think I'm going to start selling T-shirts:

Janiel Miller: Falling on My Face For YOU!

You're welcome.

About Janiel 432 Articles
I have managed to keep the same husband for nearly three decades, and the same four children for almost that long - although one or two of them say it has been much longer. I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil, and trying to make people laugh even longer. I hope to do some good in the world before I go the way of it. And if not, I'd better at least get to visit Ireland.


  1. Janiel – I know JUST what you’ve been through. My first major wipeout was when I was 17 – missed an entire flight of stairs in front of a huge crowd of people, ripped the knees out of my (brand new, bright purple) tights, took the skin off of both knees which were highly visible in my (pre-mormon) VERY short skirt. What could I do? I picked myself up and laughed along with the crowd. Still have no idea HOW I managed it but it was not the only time it has happened so clearly I have a design flaw. I never realized I was providing a service! Thanks for the laugh!

  2. Jennycherie, honey, wow. That was a great moment you had there. The knee-thing made me cringe. But now we are kindred spirits and T-shirt franchisers. Cool!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Lisa – I do still wear slips. Because I once saw a picture of myself without one: twig-like legs in bold silhouette–all the way up to my waist–with the sun filtering through my skirt from behind. Yeah. I wear slips. They're worth the risk to my psyche. I just make sure they fit properly now. 🙂

      But I do commiserate with your half-slip slippage, and hope no such thing ever happens to you again! And now we are sisters in suffering. 🙂

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