Most of us probably remember the scene in Dirty Dancing, where Frances “Baby” Houseman chastises herself for the now immortal line “I carried a watermelon?” instead of something witty or funny to cool boy Johnny Castle. It probably landed so well because, let’s be honest, we’ve all done it, right?
I’m definitely an over-talker when I’m a bit nervous. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had a tumbleweed moment from saying something utterly ridiculous, or for my other failing, swearing like a fish wife. Inappropriately.
One incident of such nonsense was on our wedding day, when the registrar was doing the legal bit beforehand. “How old are you today Helen?” “32” I replied with conviction. Possibly slightly giddy on prosecco. When she asked me if I’d like to try again, I gave her the same answer. This time, with a slight red triangle in my head that something was amiss. “Helen, I am going to ask you again how old you are today. If you give me the wrong answer, I won’t be able to marry you today. So please, take your time”. Jeez. My head swirled a bit. What had I put on the form? How old was I? In real life? I honestly blanked for a full 2 minutes. Til I suddenly realised that was my sister’s age, I was in fact 35. Phew. Last minute save, there.
When I first graduated, I was at yet another interview, trying to land a proper job. I’d been getting really fed up with the inference that I might up sticks at the drop of a hat to procreate, so on this particular occasion, when the middle aged man started probing my family plans I declared “No, no, I won’t be having babies. I hate children. Actually. No, actually I don’t hate children, I just don’t like them very much…” and so I continued to dig my own hole, sounding more and more like a psychopath with each sentence. My internal voice screaming “shut up! Just shut up!”
A friend and work colleague, let’s call her Emily, has her own brilliant, moment, which still makes me laugh out loud whenever it pops into my head.
When introduced to her ad agency client, a glamorous, French, VIP at a big cosmetics company. “Hello, I’m Caroline” she said, oozing the French “een” of the last syllable. “Oh hi, it’s great to meet you, my name is Emeline” my friend replied. “Oh hang on, no it’s not Emeline. It’s Emily. Yes, I am Emily”. And with the best chutzpa ever, carried on with the meeting like nothing had happened.
A final one for now, the time when my very intelligent sister was waitressing at a posh do, in her youth. When the host asked her to sort out the canapés, Clare had a total brain freeze, and proceeded to yank purposefully at the sides of the marquee, much to the utter bemusement of the watching host. Canapés…..Not canopies.
And so I leave you with this random thought. When life hands you watermelons, style it out. Just like my mate Em. If nothing else, it will give you a bit of a laugh whenever you think of it.