How do you dodge an embarrassing story?
“Have you ever broken a bone?”
That question makes me anxious. Every time it comes up, I stare hard at the ground hoping that no one can sense the utter embarrassment and humiliation I feel.
Because naturally when someone really does not want to answer a question like that, everyone knows there’s a good story behind it.
But that’s the thing. It’s not a good story.
I could easily lie and say I’ve only broken one bone: my arm when I was four but I don’t actually remember it.
Or, it’d be simple enough to say, I broke my arm when I was four, and when I was in sixth grade, I broke both of my arms.
But then they ask the other dreaded question: “Both? At the same time?!”
Then my face turns red, and I know I’ve been made.
I either suck it up and answer the question (truthfully because I know my face will betray me if I don’t), or throw some glitter (to distract them) and run away.
Unfortunately the latter hasn’t proved successful yet. The glitter ends up in my eyes, and it’s hard to run with glitter in your eyes.
It’s also hard to run backwards.
And that’s when I decide that saving myself from embarrassment isn’t worth all of this.
I admit that, yes, in fact I broke both of my arms at the same time. And then I stress that I was in sixth grade.
I stop talking and hope that no one expects to hear specifics, but if I’ve learned anything by this point, it’s that people love embarrassing stories. Especially stories as “funny” as someone breaking both arms at the same time. (It’s really not funny by the way.)
I get pressured into revealing how the two casts came to be.
But I try to change the subject before that and remind the group that my brother pushed me off a coffee table at the age of four to result in the first broken arm.
Comment ignored; they want to know how I managed to break both of my arms.
I remember a crucial detail: I simply fractured both of my wrists.
They point out that a fracture and a break are essentially the same thing.
I can tell that it isn’t going to go away, but once one person knows the truth, I know I’ll never hear the end of it.
I try one last time to divert their attention; I talk about how cool waterproof casts are.
They’re not amused and just want to know the story.
I know they’re about to give up, but giving up means that they’re annoyed, and they’ll never listen to my long-winded stories ever again.
So I give in.
And I tell them: When I was in sixth grade, I was backpedaling for a drill in basketball practice. I tripped over my own two feet, and stuck my arms out to catch myself.
When coaches tell you not to catch yourself and just fall on your butt, listen to them. They know what they’re talking about.
I sat on the sideline for the rest of practice, rotating the bag of ice to attend to both wrists.
I would like to note that the entire rest of practice was at least an hour, and I did not cry at all. (Not that crying is a bad thing; but being able to say that made me feel a little better about my situation.) Of course when my mom got there, I bawled.
On the drive to the ER, my mom promised me a Frosty if both of my wrists were broken.
I’ve never struggled so much to eat a Frosty.
I finish my story and look up at the grins and the smirks. At least they’re trying to be kind. But once I smile, it seems to grant them the permission to lose all semblance of containing the laughs.
And that’s how you avoid telling an embarrassing story.