When I answered our rotary phone, the voice on the other end of the line was unfamiliar. I didn’t want to tell him I was alone in the house.
But this guy was persistent. He peppered me with questions about my parents’ whereabouts, when I expected them back.
“Wait, who are you again?”
“I’m your cousin Joe.”
Yeah right, buddy.
My Mom was an only child. My Dad’s brother never married. I don’t have any cousins.
But Mom did. I quickly checked my mental list of Gram’s siblings and their children. And came up empty. Nope, no idea who this guy on the phone was. All I knew is he was creeping me out.
I can’t remember if I bothered to apologize first or if I just hung up. But I definitely hung up on “cousin” Joe. Then I checked the locks on all the doors and huddled up in a corner of the couch looking around in paranoia waiting for my parents to get home. At which time I told them the story about how a strange guy claiming to be cousin Joe called.
My Mom didn’t miss a beat, “Yeah, Joe…did he say why he was calling?”
My grandfather died before I was born. I wasn’t very familiar with that side of Mom’s family. But there was most certainly a cousin Joe.
So Mom had to call her cousin Joe to explain that her daughter was a moron. She made me get on the phone to apologize. I muttered an apology, but Joe took care of most of the talking. He looked forward to meeting me…at his father’s funeral.
Shit, shit, shit.
He mentioned a spanking might be in order for hanging up on him. I would find out soon enough he was only kidding, but not knowing Joe at all (obviously), I worried about the possibility anyway. At best, I knew I would be teased mercilessly. I would be introduced to each and every long-lost family member as the girl who hung up on Joe. As I wrote in my diary, “UGH!!!!!!!!!!”
As if this funeral would not be special enough, my Dad was nowhere to be found that morning. As much as we wished he had just skipped town, we all knew that wasn’t likely. We sat on the couch all dressed up and ready to go and worried he would make us late. Until he finally used his one phone call to let us know he was indisposed. “Say hi to Mom, from JAIL.”
We went to the funeral without Dad. Cousin Joe did not spank me. He did tell the story of my hanging up on him to anyone who would listen. I did shrink in horror, which of course triggered the obligatory game of “let’s tease the shy preteen girl for being shy” that well-meaning but overbearing family members inexplicably like to play.
But the day wasn’t about me and soon the teasing was over. Now I mostly remember this day as a glorious break from Dad. “Minus one,” Mom, my brother, and I felt a little lighter. We might have looked just a bit too happy to be at a funeral.
This post is in response to this week’s memoir prompt at the Red Dress Club.
Take us back to an embarrassing moment in your life.
Did someone embarrass you, your parents perhaps? Or did you bring it upon yourself?
Are you still embarrassed or can you laugh at it now?