The Importance of Being Embarrassed

I think people would describe me as unique. At least I hope they would. If I’ve learned anything from my experiences, it’s that very few people actually have the ability to hurt you. I suppose when you reach your breaking point and feel like you don’t have much to lose, it’s relatively easy to see that others don’t have as much control over you as you believe they do. I was once told that when you when you allow someone to embarrass you or make you feel ashamed what you’re really doing is giving them power. In other words, the minute you make a decision based on shame or embarrassment you’ve ultimately let someone else make that decision for you.

I’ve always been on the quirky side. As of late, I’m more than willing to share that side of me with others. As cliché as it sounds, once you’ve lost everything, it really is easy to see what matters. There’s a reason that statement is common. It’s because it is common. Caring what another person thinks of me is low on the priority scale. Don’t let that statement mislead you, I’m not about to claim moral superiority when it comes to my appearance. I like compliments and I’m more than willing to aspire to them. I’m certain that anyone who knows me would say I worry about looks far too much.  It’s just different now somehow. I’m not scared of me anymore. I’m not afraid of my own personality.

Just so you know, I learned all of these lessons in rehab. So I’m likely the worst person you from whom you should take advice (or the best, depending on how you look at it). They teach lots of lessons there. I retained a lot of what I learned. Except for how to stay sober more than six weeks after I left. That one didn’t sink in. Don’t freak out, this was a while ago.

I am on a life lesson pulpit today! I’m going to have to start writing self-help books.

The Importance of Being Embarrassed

The idea for this post came to me while I was cleaning out my jewelry box (aka giant armoire). If I had to say what question I’ve been asked the most in life, my answer would definitely be “Can I see your jewelry?” People ask me this often. From time to time some of the teenage girls in my neighborhood even ask if they can borrow some. Sometimes they ask to borrow my clothes too. A number of my neighbors have informed me that (for reasons unbeknownst to me) they think I’m quite fashionable and they hope they’re as cool as me when they’re, like 35. I really hope it doesn’t mean that I’m one of those women who tries to dress two-decades younger than she is.

So there I was, with my iPod on shuffle, untangling about 1,000 necklaces and thinking about how much I like jewelry and how cool I am for someone who’s, like 35, when an ABBA song came on. I immediately felt a little wave of embarrassment pass through me. Then I thought to myself “Self, you are ridiculous. Who cares what’s on your iPod? It’s not like anyone can hear it. It’s not like anyone cares. And besides, I think there are actually like a billion ABBA fans in the world anyway.” My mind wandered a little more and I started thinking about how I feel embarrassed far more often than is necessary. I decided it would be a fabulous idea to write a piece about all of my shameful little indulgences. A lot of them aren’t necessarily all that shameful, but maybe I like them a bit too much for someone who’s, like 35.

Because there are so very many things about me that are embarrassing, I’m going to have to break it down into categories. Today’s topic will be “Movies and T.V.” Maybe next week the topic will be “Books” or perhaps even “Photos from the 90’s”.

1. “Elf”


This movie isn’t inherently embarrassing but the fact that I watch it at least five times every Christmas season is. What’s not to love? Will Ferrell starring as a giant guy who thinks he’s an elf? If that’s not comedic genius, I don’t know what is.

Come on, he’s a giant guy who thinks he’s an elf! He sings loudly in public! He insults a little person! He accidentally gets drunk in a mailroom! There’s nothing not to like here.


“I just like smiling. Smiling’s my favorite.”

Elf_-_At_the_mailroom-2 copy

“This place reminds me of Santa’s workshop. Except it smells like mushrooms and everyone looks like they want to hurt me.”

2. “Boogie Nights”


Let me first start with a disclaimer: If you’ve got it in your head that you want to watch this film based on my recommendation, you need to run through this checklist before viewing.

-       Can I handle profanity, explicit conversations, and dark content?
-       Am I okay with seeing a lot of drug use and paraphernalia?
-       Am I comfortable watching extremely graphic nudity and what basically amounts to pornography?

If you answered “no” or even “it’s slightly possible” to any of the above questions, DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE. I feel pretty strongly about making my writing accessible to a large audience and being respectful of others, so I am giving you an honest head’s up. That being said, if you can stomach the content, this movie contains some of the best subtle jokes in the history of all things funny. Or maybe I’m just sick. You should probably not watch it. You’ll be disturbed and I’ll feel guilty.

Boogie Nights 2

“Did you ever see that movie ‘Star Wars’?”
“Yeah, I’ve seen it four times.”
“You know, people tell me I kind of look like Han Solo.”

Boogie Nights 1

“That’s not an MP, that’s a YP, your problem.”
“Okay, now you’re talking above my head. I don’t know all of this industry jargon.”

3. “Can’t Buy Me Love”

Can't buy me love 1

I was into Patrick Dempsy before Patrick Dempsy was cool. I’m such a hipster. In my opinion this is the best of all the overly-predictable, attempting-to-teach-a-life-lesson, 80’s teen films out there. Maybe not better than “The Breakfast Club” but I’d call that almost more of a drama.

Here’s the deal. There’s a guy who’s unpopular and he gives a girl money to hang out with her and pretend she likes him. Then he gets popular and then the secret gets out and…wait for it… everyone realizes how shallow they are. It’s like morality all wrapped-up in a little envelope of laughs stuffed inside a VHS tape.

Can't buy me love 2

There is actually a scene in this movie where someone confuses PBS cultural hour with “American Bandstand”. For. Real.

4. “Mama Mia”

Mama Mia

Enough said.

Film Title: Mamma Mia!

P.S. Pierce Brosnan, never sing in public again.

5. “Singles”


This one isn’t bad, it’s actually early Cameron Crowe who is a reasonably skilled director. (See, I’m totally a hipster. I knew Cameron Crowe before “Jerry Maguire”. Wait, I think he was actually pretty well known at that point.) It’s just that this movie is so, so dated. It has 90’s grunge stamped all over it. If you were in high school in the pacific northwest when this came out, it was the coolest thing ever and when you grew up you were going to being defiant of social convention and live in an ironically trendy apartment complex and wear flannel shirts with ripped jean shorts and spend all of your time listening to Paul Westerberg and knowing bands that no one else ever heard of and then not liking them when they got famous because they sold out to the man and they weren’t all about the music anymore. Clearly, that plan worked out really well for me. Now I’m just an emotionally disturbed alcoholic who likes Paul Westerberg and trying to become a writer. I probably would’ve thought that was cool in high school. Wait. Maybe did turn out that way after all.

By the way, I have been informed by the show “Portlandia” that the dream of the 90’s is still alive in Portland. So if you’re still hanging onto the whole grunge thing, you might want to check that out.

Singles 2

“You’re the only guy I know who could mix Elvis Costello with Public Enemy.”

Speaking of high school kids who will eventually have their idealistic dreams shattered… I’m going to go off on a little tangent here and compose a letter based on something I saw.

Dear fifteen-year-old high school kid walking home from the bus stop in a short sleeve shirt,

In case you failed to notice, it is nine degrees outside and very windy. According to Accuweather, when you factor in the wind chill (or windshield as my daughter would say) it feels like two. Nobody looks cool when it’s nine degrees out. Put on a coat. I can clearly see you have one shoved into your backpack. You don’t have to prove anything to me. Seriously, put on your coat. I’m going to tell you a story:

Way back when I was in high school (This was before you were born, we were into the whole grunge scene at the time, you should look that up online. Also, we didn’t have the internet then, we actually had to go to the library and use a card catalog.) there was a group of guys who everyone thought were pretty awesome. Not like football player-jock awesome, more like ironic awesome. In today’s terminology, they would be called “hipsters”. Well, one day it was supposed to be less than twenty degrees outside (which is unusually cold for Portland) and these awesome guys thought it would be hilarious to wear Hawaiian shirts with shorts and Birkenstocks (which were the height of fashion at the time). It was all well and good until the fire alarms went off. I don’t remember exactly why, but there was a significant delay in our being allowed back into the building. The awesome, ironic Hawaiian shirt gang was stuck outside for around a half-hour. It was not cool. So put your coat on. Otherwise you’ll end up an emotionally disturbed alcoholic who likes Paul Westerberg. Don’t be that guy. It’s not as great as it sounds.



P.S. You’re going to make fun of that haircut too. Because… wow.

6. “Good Luck Charlie”

Good luck charlie

I don’t have much to say about this show other than it’s current and that means it’s not even something I like for the sake of nostalgia. I think you’ll like the premise: It’s a family with five kids. The mom (whose name just happens to be Amy) is kind of obnoxious and competitive. The dad is kind of an idiot who does things like buying a new car then discovering that won’t fit in the garage and accidentally driving it through the wall into the kitchen, but having to leave it because the mom goes into labor (instantly, like all women do on television) and has the baby in the back of an ice cream truck.

Hijinks ensue.

I saw an episode yesterday where the dad violated one a preschool regulations by dropping his daughter off in a robe. When he was informed that he was only allowed to drop her off in daywear, he wore a kimono and the next day, a kilt. I’m not going to lie, it was funny. It was a guy wearing what appeared to be a skirt! Get it? It’s a guy wearing what appeared to be a skirt!


Hilarious! Just hilarious!

My sister and recently I had a conversation about how there aren’t many family shows on network television anymore. They seem to have migrated to the Disney channel. Remember “Charles in Charge”, “Small Wonder”, and “Growing Pains”? Those were the days.

While we’re on the subject…

7. “Growing Pains”

growing pains

First off, I know you’re singing the theme song in your head right now. Secondly, I’m seriously considered seeing if I could buy the series on DVD.

I just looked. You can and I might. I mean, you absolutely cannot go wrong when pairing Alan Thicke and Kirk Cameron. A psychiatrist with an in home practice and a neighbor named “Boner”? Madness, I tell you.

I learned a few fun facts while looking for photos:

brad pitt gp

Fact A: Brad Pitt once guest starred. I’m sure I saw this, but I didn’t know who he was at the time.
Fact B: “Growing Pains” made for T.V. movies were being made until 2004.


“Remember the time I died in the den and you put whipped cream on my face?”

Side note: if you’re in need of a laugh, go do a Google image search for “Growing Pains Brad Pitt”. There are some absolutely fantastic pictures to be found.

8. “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”


I have a sudden urge to run out into the street and throw my hat into the air. Except it’s nine degrees outside and I believe we’ve already established that I don’t have anything to prove so I’m not going to.

Mary Tyler Moore + Ed Asner + Gavin McLeod + Betty White = Best show ever.

I won’t come right out and say that I intentionally named my son after Gavin MacLeod, but I certainly wasn’t unhappy about the coincidence. I’m think I’m going to buy this on DVD too. Remember when Nick at Night was good?

I just thought about Mary cracking up in the middle of Chuckles the Clown’s funeral and I literally can’t stop laughing.


You know what? I think not being embarrassed of me is the best gift I’ve ever given myself.

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2 thoughts on “The Importance of Being Embarrassed

  1. I would like you to know that to date one of the funniest lines ever on tv was the Growing Pains “remember the time I died in the den and you put whipped cream on my face”? And who knew Alan Thicke would have a son that would grow up and become a pop singer who wore a Bettlejuice suit and twerked on a music awards show with Miley Cirus?

    Like this

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