My Most Embarrassing Moment

My Most Embarrassing Moment

I hate ice breakers. You have to stand in front of the class, or another group of people, and tell everyone your most embarrassing moment. I always hated doing that. Not because I was too shy to share my most embarrassing moment. I hated doing it because I could never think of a good one. I probably said something banal like I tripped in front of the girl I liked. But in actuality, my most embarrassing moment was hidden deeper in my memory, and now that I have fully excavated it, I want to tell everyone (on the internet) about it.

So here it goes: This is a story about cups. And not the kind you drink from.

When I was a boy I loved to play baseball. I basically never stopped playing from the time I was six until high school. Little did I know, however, that the thing I loved most during my childhood would also be the source of my most embarrassing moment.

At some point in my Little League career I had to buy the right gear to play baseball. Though, admittedly, I did play tee-ball in jeans instead of baseball pants. But after that I had to get equipped, which meant buying a bat, cleats, baseball pants, and yes, a cup to protect my junk. Protective cups are good for that. Or so I thought.

A boys protective cup

The problem was: I didn’t get a boys cup. I got what I thought was a boys cup, but was in fact the female equivalent, also called a pelvic protector.

So there I was, cramming my boy junk under this flat layer of plastic designed for girls. What could go wrong, right? Well, believe it or not, I got through a couple seasons of baseball without incident. Though, there was one time when I was playing catch with a friend in the backyard before one of our games.

We were suited up in our uniforms, cups and all. Then he threw me the ball while I wasn’t looking and it nailed me right in the crotch. But good thing I was wearing a cup! Ah, except I wasn’t wearing the right cup. I was wearing a flat piece of plastic that, when hit with a baseball, basically just held my testicles in place while they got blunt force trauma.

I remember being confused as to why getting hit in the crouch while wearing a cup hurt so much. Aren’t these things supposed to make it hurt less? Aren’t they supposed to be a protective barrier? Yeah, maybe if I actually had the right type of cup.

A similar version of the female pelvic protector I wore

So naturally I was perplexed about the whole thing, but my developing brain didn’t give it much thought and I went on with the baseball season, a thin piece of plastic covering my most vulnerable area. But that was just the beginning of my problems.

I not only failed to get the right cup, I also didn’t get a jock strap or sliding shorts to keep the cup I had in place. Somehow this didn’t become an issue until I made the all-star team. Great timing!

I was probably 12. And the way the all-star team worked in my league was: the best players from each regular team were picked to be on the all-star team, which then traveled to nearby cities to play other all-star teams in a tournament.

So I would be playing kids from other cities without a jock strap or the right type of cup. As one might imagine, things didn’t go well. It didn’t take long for me to thoroughly embarrass myself.

During one of the games I went up to bat and hit a double — a screaming line drive into one of the outfield gaps. Normally I wasn’t a fast runner, but let me tell you, I definitely wasn’t a fast runner with a pelvic protector sliding around my pants, unfastened to my groin.

I hustled my prepubescent ass around first base, then something felt wrong. The pelvic protector was heading south. By the time I got to second base it had slid all the way down my thigh and sat just above my knee, visible through my pants.

I was literally standing in the middle of the field with some weird triangular object half way down my leg. I think some part of me was in denial because I didn’t even try to adjust it. I just stood there like nothing was wrong, hoping no one would notice. But EVERYONE noticed. Every player on the field was staring at me, and although I’ve since blocked out their laughter, I’m sure they were laughing. How could you not laugh at something like that?

One person wasn’t laughing though — the coach. He was my savior. He ran out of the dugout and stood in front of me at second base. He told me to take the pelvic protector out of my pants and give it to him. Without hesitation, he grabbed it from me and ran back to the dugout. Then the game went on like nothing embarrassing happened. Well, almost.

It’s important to point out that I still didn’t realize that I was using a female cup. So when I got back to the dugout and some of my teammates were poking it with a stick and laughing, I didn’t understand that it was because they didn’t know what it was — this cup didn’t look like theirs. All the while I was thinking: Haven’t they seen a cup before? But I resigned to pretend it wasn’t mine, even though everyone had seen the coach take it from me. Denial can be a wonderful thing.

It may have been my most embarrassing moment, but the true humiliation of the event didn’t sink in until that cup cracked apart a few years later and I had to buy a new one.

I went to the sporting goods store and stood in front of the cups. But none of them looked like the one I had. So I looked at the next section and there they were, labeled: “female pelvic protectors.” I felt a flood of retroactive embarrassment. For years, a decade really, I had been wearing the wrong type of cup.

A more modern pelvic protector

Looking back, my most embarrassing moment holds much more substance and symbolism then it presents at face value. It happened at a time, almost twenty years ago, when boys, and even society as a whole, were quicker to make fun of anything out of the norm, anything unusual, and definitely anything feminine or “unmanly.” I don’t remember for certain, but I’m sure the other boys called me “gay” or “queer” because I wore a female cup, and I’m sure I was beyond embarrassed; I’m sure I was ashamed and even felt, however naively, that I had diminished my burgeoning masculinity.

Now, living in a time of increased awareness, I realize that from a societal perspective there was nothing wrong with being a boy wearing a cup designed for girls. Though, it definitely would have saved me a lot of physical pain had I worn the right cup. And, at the very least, it would have been nice to have a jock strap, or something, anything, to keep the pelvic protector from sliding down my leg every time I rounded first base. But, hey, just like I learned in baseball: You can’t win ’em all.

BEFORE YOU GO…

1. Thanks for reading!

2. If you would like to donate to support this blog I would be grateful!

3. I am fundraising to pay my medical bills so if you’d like to help out by buying a shirt or hoodie I’d be equally grateful.

The Time I Bought a $2,000 Coffee Mug

The Time I Bought a $2,000 Coffee Mug

After Afflicted came out on Netflix I was really disappointed about how people with chronic illnesses were depicted and treated by the production. The whole experience left me feeling angry at the wasted time and energy I put into the project, but even more, I was angry at the damage the show did to legitimizing MECFS, Lyme disease, and other illnesses. In many ways it felt counterproductive in terms of how the general population sees chronic illnesses. It also left me wanting to undo or somehow overshadow the damage that had been done. So I came up with an idea…

I regularly listen to a popular podcast called Armchair Expert. It’s hosted by Dax Shepard and Monica Padman and features celebrities like Kristen Bell (Dax’s wife), Ashton Kutcher, Ellen DeGeneres, and many more. At some point, as a joke, they started selling these “lefty” mugs on their online store for $2,000. The inflated price was meant to be a joke because left-handed mugs are rare and the ones they were selling were said to have been used by one of the celebrity guests.

So I was listening to the podcast one day and a woman bought one of the $2,000 mugs. Dax and Monica decided to donate the money to a charity of the woman’s choice. They called her up and had a nice chat, and she told them about a homeless shelter that could use the money. All of this was prefaced by Dax saying that maybe he’ll “make a thing” out of it and donate the money to other charities whenever someone buys a mug.

Naturally my mind went into advocacy mode. This could be a great opportunity to raise money and awareness for MECFS. There were two problems though: I didn’t have $2,000 to buy a mug and I couldn’t speak loud enough on the phone to tell Dax about MECFS. But I’m a problem solver so I started asking people to give me $2,000 (What? I didn’t say I was a realistic problem solver). Nobody had that kind of cash lying around, or at least not to buy a coffee mug (understandable … I guess).

So Shannon and I started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the mug. After a couple weeks we had around $600 (Thanks to some generous folks). But that was still $1,400 less than the mug cost. Luckily, I found a private donor, who will remain anonymous, and we ended up with enough money to buy the mug.

So I bought it and a few days later it arrived. I was a little disappointed (but also relieved) that the mug hadn’t been used by any celebrities. I waited for instructions on the next step of the process, but didn’t receive an email about the donation, and there was no note or instructions included with the mug. So I decided to wait and see what happened. I chalked it up to the Armchair Expert team being busier than me, which is generally the case with most people I interact with.

A month later I sent a follow-up email and got a response: Monica would reach out soon. Then a week or so later I got an email from her. She was wonderful. We scheduled a time for the call.

But this was when things got really difficult. Most days I can’t speak at all, and on good days I’m lucky to get a few quiet, mumbled sentences out of my mouth, so I asked a friend to speak for me on the podcast. She agreed and we started outlining our talking points. We also consulted with The Open Medicine Foundation, because that was the charity I wanted the donation to go to. They filled us in on some of their latest news, mainly that all donations before November 27th would be tripled (Hint: There’s still time to donate). As stressful as it was, the timing was perfect — the $2,000 would now become $6,000.

After me and my friend wrote out the talking points, we were all set for the phone call. The plan was for me to talk as much as I could, and then send her a text when I needed to rest and she would take over.

I was told the call would happen between 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM. I assumed the hour-long window was because the podcast team didn’t know when they would finish up with the main guest. So I was fine waiting.

The night before the call I fell asleep at around 11 PM and woke up at 1 AM. But I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I was awake at 8 AM when I got a text saying now the call would happen between 9:30 AM and 11:30 AM. They also said that the call would be recorded for the podcast, which I had assumed, but this meant that I would need to be ready to go with my friend on the other line of a conference call when Dax and Monica called me.

9:30 came around and I called my friend. We planned to stay on the phone together until Dax called. But when he did I couldn’t merge the call with my friend on the other line. I felt terrible that my friend had put in so much work, and stayed on the phone with me for two hours only to have nothing happen. But the fact remained that I was in over my head — I had just said hi to Dax and he was recording the call so I couldn’t stop to figure out the technical difficulties with my friend on the other line. I was all on my own.

How the hell would I say everything I wanted people to know about MECFS, and Lyme disease, and OMF, without talking too much? Well, I’ll let you hear for yourself — you can find the conversation around the 1:55:20 mark of episode 58 of Armchair Expert featuring Sam Harris (you can also download it free on iTunes or any podcast app).

Side note: I know Sam Harris is sort of controversial, but I actually think it’s an interesting coincidence that we were on the same episode because his mom had CFS and was the creator of The Golden Girls, which had that famous episode covering the disease.

Conclusion

I crashed pretty hard after the phone call with Dax. The call happened on a Friday and I spent most of the next week recovering. I knew it was worth it, but as I’ve learned the last several years, even the most worthwhile accomplishment can be tainted by illness. It was a bit demoralizing to inflict such a price on my body for a tiny bit of normalcy — a few minutes of conversation. But there is something truly magical about making a plan, carrying it out, and the outcome proving to be very close to how you envisioned it.

To me, that was worth the physical repercussions. I realize seeing a plan come to fruition seldom happens as expected, but this time it did. And for all the hurdles that were in my way, I’m really proud this plan turned out the way it did — I’m proud of all the people who contributed money to make it happen; I’m proud of my friends for giving me emotional and logistical support, and I’m proud of myself for not being afraid to make a wild idea reality. But most of all, I’m grateful that my body recovered from the physical consequences. It was rough on my body, but when I got the email from OMF saying Armchair Expert donated $2,000, and later when I heard my usually-nonexistent voice on one of my favorite podcasts, there was no question in my mind that it was all worth it.

BEFORE YOU GO…

1. Thank you for reading!

2. If you would like to donate to support this blog I would be equally grateful!

3. I am fundraising to pay my medical bills so if you’d like to help out by buying a shirt or hoodie I would LOVE to see you rocking a Show ME the Money shirts.

Welcome to Facebook! Please Accept Our 137,000 Page Terms of Use Policy

Welcome to Facebook! Please Accept Our 137,000 Page Terms of Use Policy

This is a piece of satire I wrote and submitted to McSweeney’s. The editor rejected it. It didn’t seem like he even read it, but his loss is your gain, or maybe the piece really sucks and isn’t funny at all, in such case I’ll gladly give you a refund. Either way, thanks for reading!

Welcome to Facebook!

Our Terms of Use are for your online safety and protection only. They are definitely not intended to trick you into unknowingly giving us your personal data so we can sell it to a third party who may or may not then sell it to a menacing foreign government currently attempting to destroy our democracy.

Nope, The Terms aim to do none of that. But we do want you to stay connected to everyone. ALL. THE. TIME. Sorry, we didn’t mean to shout, but we can’t emphasize enough how important it is for all of us to Share and Like with each other. It’s how we keep the dopamine hits coming, if you know what we mean. And, if we’re being honest, it’s how we keep the lights on here at our humble 430,000 square-foot headquarters, which just so happens to feature the world’s largest open floor plan — you’re not the only one whose privacy we like to infringe upon. Besides we employees hate privacy, or at least that’s what we’re told to say in the employee handbook.

Lord Zuckerberg has given Facebook as a gift (not GIF, though maybe that too) to the world. Sure, he stole the idea from two ridiculously rich and even more ridiculously good looking twins when he was at Harvard, but The Zuck merely took the idea and made it his own. So what if he is now using Facebook to get all of you more addicted than a chain-smoker in the 60s?This is capitalism, baby!

Now, the point of you agreeing to our Terms of Use is not to trick you, by any means. The 137,000 pages of legalese below is not meant to be convoluted. You could read all 68 million words of The Terms, or have your attorney do it, but don’t waste your time. It’s just a formality, and besides, we update The Terms every three weeks, which coincidentally, happens to be exactly how long it would take you to read them. That means you would have to start over every three weeks, unless you are capable of staring at a screen nonstop for days on end like Lord Zuckerberg. Gosh, he sure is amazing. Such a great guy, isn’t he? He doesn’t tell us to say that. He definitely hasn’t been using his mind control to make us tell EVERYONE how awesome he is since he made himself look so evil in front of Congress. Oops. I meant he looked very genuine and compassionate in front of Congress. He didn’t look evil at all. Not one bit. And those pictures of him sitting on a booster seat? Those were photoshopped.

Ahem! Anyway. Just agree to The Terms, okay? For our sake? Please? We’re not exactly Zuckerberg’s slaves, but our lives are pretty miserable when he is unhappy. If enough users agree to The Terms, maybe Lord Zuckerberg will finally put the doors back on the bathroom stalls and stop broadcasting our personal phone calls over the company PA system. Oh, right, and if you agree to The Terms you can get back to connecting with EVERYONE. You can go back to sliding into the DMs of your crush from work and finally accept the Friend Request from your great-aunt Sally, whom you haven’t talked to in a decade, and honestly don’t want to, except, well, your mom won’t leave you alone about it. So just accept The Terms already. ACCEPT. ACCEPT. ACCEPT!

A few things before you go:

1. Thank you for reading this piece of satire.

2. I am fundraising to pay my medical bills so if you’d like to help out by buying a shirt or hoodie I would be very grateful!

3. If you would like to donate to support this blog I would be equally grateful!