April 27, 2018

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?

Debra Tomaselli“Grandma, tell us a story!” My granddaughters bounced onto the sofa, eyes sparkling with delight.

“I can’t think of any,” I said. “I’ve told you all my stories.”

Ave, twisting her long, blond pigtails, spoke. “What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?”

Hands down, I had a story.

“Well, when I was in middle school, I went to the store with my friend, Madelyn,” I said.

It was a small five-and-dime. We were browsing the toiletries aisle, where Madelyn was studying curlers and hair spray. As we discussed the products, I found myself squaring my shoulders. We were growing up, weren’t we?

A few feet away, some sweet-smelling deodorant demanded attention. I didn’t really wear deodorant yet, but some of my friends did. Maybe I should purchase some. Surely, it was the prestigious thing to do. It would elevate me in the sight of my peers, right?

I took another sniff, replaced the lid, and decided I had to have it. I fingered the cash in my pocket … my own money that I’d earned while baby-sitting. Wouldn’t it be great to use my own money to buy something so grown-up? The idea made me stand a little taller.

But I hesitated. I’d never bought deodorant before. I’d used my baby‑sitting money to purchase music, candy, jump ropes and hula hoops, but never deodorant. The thought of buying something so personal made me nervous.

Then, I had an idea. “Madelyn,” I said. She was, after all, my best friend.

Her long brown hair bounced on her shoulders as she turned my way. “Yes?” she said.

“I want this deodorant, but I’m too embarrassed to buy it. Will you?”

Her eyes widened as she covered her mouth in a mock gasp.

“What?” she said. “Why? Just buy it! What’s to be embarrassed about?”

“No, yeah, I can’t,” I said. “I don’t know. I can’t do it. I’ll give you the money. Will you just buy it for me?”

“Come on,” she said. “Buy it yourself!”

But I insisted.

“I really can’t. I don’t know why, but it’s embarrassing.” I glanced around the little, quiet store with only a handful of customers. “What if someone sees me,” I said. “Pleeeease.”

“OK,” she said, grabbing the deodorant and the money.

I sighed with relief and followed her to the cashier.

Moments later, Madelyn paid for the deodorant. I watched the cashier bag the purchase and hand it to Madelyn, along with the change. With that, Madelyn turned to me, held the bag out, and, in a loud voice, announced, “Here’s your deodorant, Debbie.”

I nearly melted into the floor. My face reddened. I scurried to the exit, grumbling to Madelyn the whole way. (Yes, we remained friends.)

My granddaughters rolled in laughter. Me, too.

“I learned from that,” I said. “I learned to have courage to do something I know I need to do. I learned to laugh at myself. I learned that truth will always be told, even if we try to hide it.”

Life lessons for all of us.

(Debra Tomaselli writes from Altamonte Springs, Florida. She can be reached at dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com.)

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