Some embarrassing moments are so traumatizing that they stick with you forever. This particular moment happened when I was eight years old and has somehow remained in my mind for over two decades. I have not told this story to anyone, so you lucky readers are the first to hear it. Ellie hadn’t even heard it until she proofread this post.
The day started out as any normal Sunday morning did, with my mother choosing my clothes. She selected a brand new, bright orange pair of dress pants. Looking back, I still have no idea why she chose those pants, but apparently that was the fashion back in the mid-’90s.
It had just rained the night before, so my mother reminded me not to get my new pants muddy. Today was picture day at Sunday School, and I guess she wanted me to look respectable. I personally was looking forward to showing off my fancy style to my eight-year-old crush, little Ms. Suzie.
It was a beautiful spring day, so our Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Hildebrandt, decided to take pictures outside. There was a hill that went up one side of the church and made a nice background for the photo. She first corralled the boys and took our group photo. As soon as the camera clicked, the boys raced up the hill and started a good game of tag. “Get off the hill so we can take the girls’ picture!” Mrs. Hildebrandt squawked.
As the other boys ran off the hill, I noticed a bush about halfway down and came up with a brilliant idea: I could just hide behind the bush during the picture. This idea was particularly good because it meant that I would have a head start once the game of tag resumed. As the girls lined up for their picture, I jumped behind the bush. The bush was slightly shorter than my waist height, so I decided to kneel down.
As I scrunched down, my right knee squished into the moist dirt and to my horror left a stain on my new bright orange pants. “Mother’s going to be mad,” I thought, “I have to try another position.” So I moved into what would now be described as the downward dog yoga position.
In this position, you keep your legs straight and lean forward so your hands touch the ground. Right as I performed the downward dog behind the bush, I heard the camera snap. “Perfect timing,” I thought. “I got out of the way just in time.”
Now that smartphones have revolutionized the photo industry, many of us can hardly remember the days of camera film. Once you took a picture, you had to haul the film over to the drugstore and have it developed. No instant gratification like we have today. “I will have your pictures hanging in the classroom next Sunday.” Mrs. Hildebrandt reported.
The following Sunday, I was super excited to see little Ms. Suzie and to see our group photographs. I joined my friends and rushed into the Sunday school classroom. We bounded through the door and gasped in horror at the girls’ picture.
It wasn’t that the girls didn’t look nice. They were all dressed in their Sunday best and formed a neat little line at the base of the hill. But about halfway up the hill was a bush, and behind the bush was a bright orange rear end sticking up in the air! “Whose backside is that?” exclaimed little Ms. Suzie.
“I don’t know,” I replied, “It could have been anyone.”
“Well why don’t we check the boys’ picture and see who was wearing bright orange pants?” someone suggested. The whole class rushed over to the boys’ picture, and there I was, proudly showing off my bright orange pants.
For the next week, I hid in my room in embarrassment. I considered changing my name, going into the witness protection program, or running away to join the circus. In the end, I decided to just hope that everybody would forget the picture and move on. Looking back, I guess everybody did but me.