It’s been a while since I’ve shared an embarrassing story about myself on here. Ever since I wrote the post on first impressions, I knew I was going to have to tell my tale of a time when I was able to overcome an incredibly poor first impression I made. This one was in grad school, the time that took.

I’m sure no one is surprised to hear that it rains in England. I am the master of the understatement. Well, this story took place on a rainy day towards the beginning of the academic year.

Raining in England

[Thanks to Lauren of for letting me use this wonderfully wet picture.]

I lived about a mile off campus, and the rain was really driving that day, so umbrellas were useless. My mainly water-resistant jacket with a hood was all that stood between me and the elements. When I arrived in the graduate student lounge, the dean of the graduate school was there, basically checking in to see how we were doing in the first weeks of class. As I walked in, he asked, “Tammy, how are you doing?”

I was so flattered that he knew my name, I spoke without thinking: “I’m doing great except my pants are wet.”

As soon as it came out of my mouth, I wanted to die. Pants is one of those words that mean something different there than it does here. In the American vernacular, I just told the head of the business graduate school that my panties were wet! I immediately turned bright red and spit out, “I’m so sorry! I meant that my jeans are wet.” My head bowed in shame.

“No need for embarrassment. I translated in my head. It’s okay.”

Of course the rest of the day, I sat around with those wet jeans as a constant reminder of my mortification. The dean ended up being my thesis adviser, and fortunately this encounter was never brought up again. How kind (and British) of him. But, obviously, the memory has never left me.

When have you embarrassed yourself in front of a person of importance in your life? or What are your favorite expressions that mean something very different in other parts of the world (or country)?

9 thoughts on “Mortified”

  1. Oh wow! I would have died too! Nice that he was gracious about it. Have I ever stuck my proverbial foot in my mouth? So many times it would be hard to name a few. Just the other day, I was taking a reservation for a woman at an RV Park where we’re staying and the guest on the phone said they were Mike and Betty So&So. Okay, I wrote that down, then asked, “And Mike, what is your home address?”

    To which “he” replied, “This is Betty.”



    1. He was incredibly gracious. My guess is some other North Americans had already embarrassed themselves in the same manner before me.

      Your Betty story definitely falls into the mortifying category! And you probably didn’t even have a doubt in your mind that you were speaking to Mike. Those are the worst: When there aren’t signs in advance that you could learn from in the future!


  2. That’s a good story. You should always be able to tell stories like this. Everyone has embarrassing moments, but few people are willing to actually share them. I respect that. I know I’ve embarrassed myself on a number of occasions.

    On a side note, I had no idea that pants meant that in England. Whoa, I’m glad I didn’t say that when I was there. I’m sure I would have got some strange looks.


    1. I’m more than willing to share these types of stories, so I am sure you will have an opportunity to read many more!

      Not only does pants mean underwear, it also is used in the expression, “That’s pants!” which expresses displeasure with a situation. I guess that assumes that the pants in question needed laundering!


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