Cringe

During one of his live shows Russell Brand talks about how sometimes just before he falls asleep his subconscious will throw up an embarrassing memory, which makes him kick off his blankets in response to the intense embarrassment.
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It’s a funny bit that I’m doing no justice to, but trust me, his acting out his subconscious “reminding” him is hilarious.
And like the best comedy it’s because there’s a truth to it.
All of us have embarrassing moments, when we’ve said or done something stupid. And like Brand, my subconscious seems to take masochistic glee in dredging them back up.
There’s one incident which always makes me wince and cringe at the memory of it. At random times it will pop into my head and I cringe so hard I fear I’ll pull something.
With nothing else to write about today I thought I might as well vent it here, maybe airing it will relieve some of the embarrassment for me, though I doubt this as I can feel myself tensing at the mere thought of what happened.
Our story takes place in the ’00s. I am a young man of around 20, and on holiday with my family. Where, I can’t remember.
What I do remember is that we’re in a gift shop, and I’ve seen something silly, weird or cool enough to want to share with my youngest sister, Mim, then in her early-mid teens.
Spotting her on the other side of the shop I walk over and throw my arm around her shoulder in a brotherly hug. I then say something, about showing her something, the exact words forgotten by the blazing intensity of mortification which is about to hit me.
The brown haired head turns around.
It is not my sister.
No, dear reader, it is the face of a startled and unsettled young lady.
People talk about their faces burning with embarrassment, well as I recall, everything burned. In awkwardness, embarrassment and sheer panic.
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I apologised profusely, repeatedly, and stammered that I’d thought she was someone else. I then got the hell out of there as quickly as was possible.
Even typing this out around a decade later leaves me feeling uneasy. The mortification is less intense now, but when it strikes it derails my thoughts, and all I can remember is the feeling of stupidity, discomfort and the look on the poor girl’s face.
I hope she understood my gibbering, awkward apology and wasn’t too shaken up by being hugged by a scruffy, longhaired stranger. Ideally I hope she saw me with my family later and realised that it was a misunderstanding caused by her having similar hair and clothes to my sister.
I think I handled it as well as I could, given my sincere desire for the earth to swallow me up or for an asteroid to squish me right then and there.
Did sharing that make me feel better? Well I did giggle nervously a bit, but on the whole, no, not really. I cringed as I typed this, and it still makes me feel an utter fool to think about it.
It still ranks on my top 3 embarrassing moments, probably jockeying for 2nd place. But of them all it’s the one my subconscious attacks me with the most, I think because aside from my own embarrassment there’s the knowledge I scared, or at the very least discomforted that poor girl.
Any thoughts? Maybe you want to share your own story of embarrassment, well, you know what to do. Until then, BETEO and make sure you’re hugging the right person.

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