Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Trick or Treat I Smelled My Feet

Quote of the blog:

Ty overheard this exchange between a young boy and his dad as they biked through the park.

Boy: It smells bad here!

Dad: What does it smell like?

Boy: Smells like a lot of feet!


My embarrassing interactions with men know no international boundaries.

I spent the month of July working on a summer program for 13-16 year-olds in Oxford. One student, Nima from CA, came a day before the program started. He had purchased a UK phone and called my mobile so I’d have his number. After hanging out in the office for a while he went to his room. That evening all the staff was hanging out together in the office when a dean came in and said that he’d knocked on Nima’s door and he didn’t answer. I said we might have to commence “Operation Finding Nima!

I hadn’t saved his number but simply scrolled down to the last unknown number in my phone and dialed. The conversation went like this:

Me: “Hi, is this Nima?”

Through some background noise I heard: “Yes.”

Me: Ok, great, this is Brook. I just wanted to let you know that we’re in the office and we’re going to play some games tonight if you wanna come by. Oh, we also get a hot breakfast in the morning at 8:30am if you want to join us.

Nima, enthusiastically: That sound great! Can you text me the address?

Me, confused since he was at the address: Sorry, did you ask if I can text you the address?

Nima: Yes, can you text me the address.

Me, slightly panicked realization: I’m sorry, I think I have the wrong number?

And hung up. Everyone started laughing and wanted to know whom I had called. Me, “I don’t know! I thought I called Nima!”

At this moment my phone rang. It was “Nima” calling back. I answered:

Me: Hello?

Nima (who I realized definitely sounded my age and, well, British): Hi, you just called me and invited me to games and breakfast. I didn’t get the address.

Me: Um, is this NIMA?

Nima: What? No, this is Terry!

Me: Terry, I’m so sorry, I called the wrong number.

Terry (sounding quite disappointed): Oh. Oh, I see.

I hung up again and everyone laughed. Understandably! I was blushing with embarrassment. I scrolled through my phone and there was, indeed, another missed call from earlier in the day when Nima had phoned me - who, it turned out, was a heavy sleeper and had slept through the dean's door-knocking.

When I woke up the next morning I already had a text: “Morning Brook! Are we still on for breakfast? Xxx Terry.” It was from one of the Program Assistants that hadn’t even been there the night before!

Luckily no unexpected guests showed up at breakfast. Although Jeremy, a dean, told me had he thought of it before eating he would have found someone on the street and paid him £5 to come into the dining hall, sit across from me and introduce himself as Terry.

If that had been the only embarrassing man-moment this summer it wouldn’t have been so bad. But, there was one other quite memorable mortifying moment.

My office in Oxford is also my bedroom. It’s a large long room with windows at either end. The back window is barred and opens up into the small car park for Jesus and Corpus Christi Colleges. The front window opens onto the main quad at Corpus Christi. Often, when my front window was open, people wouldn’t even come into the office we’d just chat through the window. Since it's ground level and people can see in, the bottom panes of the window were frosted although some previous occupant had scraped the bottom two inches or so of film off. So, if someone were to peer into those two inches they could see into my room – which people sometimes did: to see if I was as they knocked on the window so I would come open it or open the door to the staircase where my office is.

One of our admin team this summer was named Dave. Students had quite a few nicknames for him but for this story I’ll stick with Handsome Dave. The students would talk about how tall and handsome he is, how he plays ice hockey and is funny and is on the Oxford Exploration Society and has golden eyes and on and on and on. Admittedly, he is handsome but some of these girls would actually swoon and giggle when he walked by. Hilarious. One student even asked Rodina, a Program Assistant, “How do you get any work done with him in the office? He’s sooooooooo hot.” Rodina threw her hands up and answered, “He’s just a man!”

One Sunday I had just gotten back from church and was still in my dress. For religious reasons I don’t work Sundays; which means on these days I usually don’t hang out in the office or with the staff/admin because I end up working and this Sunday was no exception. I had about twenty minutes before Wendy Dailey from iSanctuary was scheduled to speak on Human Trafficking and I really wanted to attend (it was phenomenal!). I decided to read until I needed to leave. I sat at the back window - there aren’t many things better than a good window seat. I stretched my legs out on the seat, put a pillow behind my back and started reading.

Now, I don't know if you ever have these moments, but I was reading when I got a whiff of something. I stopped and gave a little sniff sniff and thought, "Do I smell something?" Maybe? I wasn’t sure. And then it went away. So I kept reading. Then I got another whiff. Sniff sniff. I looked around and outside. What is that smell? And then I looked at my feet and thought, slightly alarmed, “Do my feet stink??” I grabbed one of my feet and pulled it to my nose and gave it a big sniff. At that exact moment I heard “tap tap tap” and, foot-to-nose, I zoomed a (panicked) look across the room to see a surprised looking Handsome Dave staring through the scraped off two-inch space at the bottom of my window.

WHAT. Let’s think about this for two seconds.

1. Q. When was the last time I smelled my feet (let alone in a dress!).
A. DON”T REMEMBER, that’s how long it’s been!

2. Q. How long does it take to smell your foot? A. THREE SECONDS. That's it.

In the three seconds of me smelling my foot Handsome Dave looked through and tapped on my office window. I found myself mortified and immensely irritated at the laugh the universe was having. I think I even said out loud, “Are you kidding me right now?” Oh the timing. I would have jumped out the back window for embarrassment if it wasn't for the stupid bars. I walked across the room and opened the door for Handsome D. who looked so awkward and apologized for interrupting me and “I’m, uh, so, um, uhhh. I wanted to, uhhh, ask if I could, Um.” He just kept glancing at me every so often but was mostly looking to the side. He was quite nonplussed. And me? I was irritated at the uncanny timing of the situation but also genuinely embarrassed. Finally he asked his question, we had some awkward chitchat and then he left. My, oh my.

I was embarrassed enough that I didn’t tell anyone for three days! Three days! And that’s saying something. I almost always find embarrassing moments more funny/worth-sharing than embarrassing. I finally told Dean Courtenay who related the tale to a giggling Rodina 20 minutes later and I decided I might as well tell the story to everyone in the office.

I gathered them around and told Handsome Dave that the story involved him. He looked excited and sat down next to me, ironically(?) in the window seat in the program office. I told the tale and Dave had a great laugh. I asked, “Could you tell that’s what I was doing when peered through the window?” I almost added, "creeper" to the end of the sentence but refrained. Dave replied, “I couldn’t tell what you were doing I just knew I was interrupting an awkward position!” Well, I’m glad we got that cleared up! Had I been thinking on my feet (har har) I would have told him it was yoga and I was doing a Foot Salutation.

I would tell you if it was my feet that were smelly but I think I’ve shared enough embarrassing stories for one entry.