Not that long ago, I was overdue for a good public humiliation, so I auditioned for a Hollywood quiz show. This is my story. Next time you’re afraid to get onstage and sing karaoke, remember this and find courage.
I got invited to try out because I was good at pub quizzes; I accepted because of my talent for embarrassing myself.
The audition happened late on a Friday afternoon. I took half a day off, hurrying home at lunchtime to shower and make myself presentable as quickly as possible. Then I drove to Hollywood, fearful of being late, because California traffic has always been semi-mystical to me. I ended up being more than an hour early, and my urgency became my undoing.
I was one of five people auditioning that afternoon. We were in the same studio where they filmed Dexter, and to get in we went through a doorway that said “Miami Metro.” We sat on benches in a hallway and were given questionnaires that asked a lot of very personal questions. One was “What is your most embarrassing moment?” I had no idea that my answer to that question was about to change forever.
After I had answered several of the questions, one of the studio employees pointed out a nearby restroom, in case we wanted to eliminate (ha) a possible distraction. I thought that was a fine idea, so away I went.
But wait — I had already written down a lot of personal stuff. I couldn’t leave my papers sitting on a bench in the hallway where the others might glance at them. I had to take them with me, and hold them while relieving myself.
Things got worse. I discovered that in my haste to shower and dress, I had put my boxers on backwards. That meant there was no fly. I don’t want to get into too much detail here, but the result was that I had to do a very awkward operation of hitching down waistbands and zippers, all while holding papers under my arm.
You’ve already seen where this is going. I lost my grip midway through, and the elastic waistband of my shorts did what elastic lives to do, and snapped violently back into position.
And that’s how I peed myself. I ended up with a very large and noticeable streak of urine down my right leg, from mid-thigh to the knee.
There was no way to conceal it. It couldn’t be dried with paper towels. So there was only one other option: I went to the sink and drenched myself in water, pretty much from my shoulders to my knees. At least it would look like an accident at the sink, rather than an accident at the urinal. And I headed in for my audition, with a lot less bounce in my step.
I resolved to give it my best anyway, but I was no longer myself, and I knew it. I was quaking in horror. I had done my best to disguise it, but I could smell it and I was sure everyone else could too.
Back to that questionnaire that asked me about my most embarrassing moment: I had written something about getting stranded on a ski lift. But I should have just told them. Right there, in my audition, on camera. I should have disavowed the questionnaire and confessed that they were filming my most embarrassing moment as it happened. I bet they would have loved it. Instead, I stood there talking too fast and too loud, babbling, which I never do, but that’s the power of urine for you.
One of the staff auditioning us was an incredibly gorgeous blonde, the kind that only exists in Hollywood. Three times before I took my turn on camera, she said things like, “You look nervous, you should try to relax.” That must have been fun for her, making it worse like that.
I made my best effort. To my astonishment, after I finished my audition, I heard the blonde comment to a nearby colleague, “That’s the best one we’ve had today.” But I never got a call back. She must have meant it the way an executive might say: “Dammit, Patricia, we’ve interviewed 30 people today and the only qualified applicant was a convicted embezzler.”
Then I returned home, where I dodged every question about how it went. For several days I couldn’t talk about it. But here’s the moral of the story. Can you guess how I broke out of that funk? I went on the radio and told the whole world. They loved it! It was my second most successful radio appearance ever, surpassed only by the one that almost got us all fired. (That’s for another day.)
I learned a terrible lesson from that: Any time I do anything boneheaded, I can get absolution by exposing it to the world.
So go get yourself a blog. Be unafraid to tell the world how inept and stupid you are. They might just reward you for it!