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Contest Winners #209
Describe an embarrassing moment
Writing Contest Winners

1st Prize
The Hardest Words

JunYing Lin (Ellen)
Flushing International HS

I grew up never saying “I love you” to my parents; I just kept my love deep in my heart. If I loved a person, I’d show it by treating her nice and helping her.

Once I won an essay contest. I had to write about how I felt about my mother and what I’d want to say to her. I did not know I had won the contest until they sent mail to my house. I didn’t realize that my essay would be enclosed with the award, so I just gave the envelope to my mom. She opened it and got ready to read it aloud. At that moment I realized she was about to read my essay, and I couldn’t let her know what it said because those were the words I’d never told her.

I wanted to hide the essay where nobody could see it. I chased after my mom, who ran upstairs and into the bathroom, and locked the door so I could not go in. Then she read the essay in the loudest voice in this world.

In the essay I wrote, “Dear Mom, I have to say thanks to God because he gave me the most wonderful mom in this world. You are brave, and when I’m in need you are always the first one to try to help me. You are always the first one to solve my problems, and you are so knowledgeable. I think there is nothing you can’t do. I feel so lucky and happy, because you are always the first one to protect me. Mom, I do not know how to express my love. All I can say is, I love you.”

When she opened the door and looked at me, I grabbed the essay from her hands and tore it into as many pieces as I could. My face became hot and I could feel the blood move faster and faster in my body. Multiple feelings came from my heart, so complicated. I felt like all of my secrets had been stolen by my mother. Finally, I raised up my head to try to see her face.

At the moment we made eye contact, my tears fell uncontrollably, because I saw tears on her face. She never knew I loved her so much. I’d never told her, even on her birthday. She cried because she knew now. She was so happy that she could not control her tears. I always thought that to show your love for somebody, it is better to do something for her than say something to her. This helped me to know my mother more and it also let my mother know more about me.


2nd Prize
Birth in the Bathroom

Anonymous
West Side HS

Finding out I was pregnant was a curve ball in my life, and having scoliosis made my pregnancy especially complicated. It hurt to the point that I was put on bed rest at five months. Despite this, I kept going to school because I didn’t want to miss a lot of days.

One day I was sitting in math class along with my best friend. I felt a sharp pain. By the time I got to the hallway, my water had broken. I reached the bathroom and fell to the floor. When my friend realized I was gone the whole period, she rushed to the bathroom looking for me and I heard her calling, “Are you in here?”

She knew something was wrong when she saw water leading to the stall door. She started to cry and called all of our friends to come to the bathroom. While she helped bring my daughter out, all my friends were looking down at me giving birth. I was so embarrassed. I heard their words echoing through the bathroom: “Oh my God!” and, “I see the head coming!”

Someone had obviously called 9-1-1, because firefighters came barreling through the doors, pushing aside my fellow students. But my best friend had already delivered a perfect birth. She was the godmother of my daughter and a guardian angel over me that day.


3rd Prize
Loose Leaf? Loose Leaf!

Chen He
Flushing International HS

I came to the U.S from China two years ago. At first, I made a lot of mistakes. I didn’t know the rules, the way we were supposed to be, so I had a hard time blending in. One day, our science teacher had finished his lessons and began to give us homework. “So your homework is to finish the page I just gave you and make sure to bring some loose leaves tomorrow.” He said this with a loud, clear voice. I nodded enthusiastically.

I started to plan when the best time to pick the loose leaves would be. It was fall, so I didn’t question why we had been told to pick leaves, even though at that time we were learning about animals. I went in the afternoon. There were plenty of yellow leaves lying on the ground. I picked one without a tear—a big, clean, complete leaf. Then I realized that our science teacher hadn’t told us how many leaves we should have. So I stooped to get several more. I used a napkin to clean them and put them carefully in my binder.

The next day, the teacher started to check the homework. I wondered in confusion why the other students hadn’t brought any leaves at all. “They must have forgotten,” I told myself. When the teacher came to our table and asked me, “Where is your homework, Chen?” I proudly took the leaves out of my binder. “Here,” I answered. “But that’s not what I am asking for...” he responded. Everyone turned their heads and looked at me. The teacher picked up a paper with holes in it and showed it to me. “That’s called loose leaf.”

Everyone started laughing. I really wanted to find a hole in the ground so I could hide. When I told my mom, she was laughing so loudly. But it didn’t bother me anymore. I had learned things from this mistake: always make sure to think things through before doing something.


Stand Up, but Watch Your Step

Gisselle Paredes
West Side HS

One day I was walking to the bus stop and I passed a group of five guys, all thugged out, trying to get my number. I didn’t pay any mind. I kept on walking; I was in a hurry anyway.

When they saw that I didn’t pay mind, they started calling me ugly because I wouldn’t stop to talk to them.

“If I’m so ugly, why you want my number?” I asked.

They responded, “You not even that serious.”

I let them know they were all ugly and were only mad at the fact that I didn’t give them the time of day. I could tell I was getting to them. I was feeling good about myself because I was letting them know they weren’t worth my time. One girl had embarrassed five guys!

Then I turned to walk again, and I stepped straight onto a pile of dog poop. I was wearing flats and I could feel it soaking through the sole of my shoes. I almost fell in it, that’s how slippery it was.

That really broke the guys up. They were all laughing at me. It was so embarrassing. My face turned so red! I was always told that stepping in poop means I’m going to get money, but I didn’t feel lucky that day.

Thank God I haven’t seen those guys since. They got the last laugh, but life isn’t always fair. The moral of the story? Give it back as good as you get, but watch your step.


In the Wrong Shoes

Seul Lee
Flushing International HS

When I was 15 I was interested in makeup, high-heeled shoes, and adult clothes because I wanted to look like an adult. Whenever my mom put on makeup, I watched to see how she did it.

image by Freddy Bruce

Once, when my mom left home, I secretly used her lipstick, mascara, and powder. I was sort of scared that if she knew I’d touched her stuff, she might get mad and yell. But I didn’t stop there: I put on my sister’s grown-up clothes, and my mom’s high heels and her bag. I looked in the mirror and thought I looked perfectly like an adult. The shoes were too big for me, but I didn’t care about that because it all looked so pretty and nice.

When I got on the bus, people were looking at me with a smile. I thought that was because people thought that I looked so pretty and I was walking like a model.

However, as I got off the bus, I suddenly fell down because of the shoes. My legs twisted and I lost my balance. Everybody was looking at me with a big laugh. I pretended that I was not embarrassed at all. Then I stood up and started to run as fast as I could.

When I got back home, I stood in front of the mirror again, and this time I did not feel pretty. I felt regretful. Even now, I’m embarrassed at this memory, but I try to see it as a fun moment in my life. The experience taught me that people should dress their age and should not try to wear adult stuff until they are old enough for it.


Eat Dirt!

Juana Campos
Flushing International HS

In my country, the Dominican Republic, kids play in the hot dirt in their backyards beneath the shade of guava and mango trees. Generally Dominican children play with animals and love to eat candy, but not me—I liked to eat dirt.

At 7, my parents would punish me for it, but I couldn’t stop my habit. Eating dirt was my deepest and darkest secret. Even my best friend Elvira didn’t know. I knew she was going to laugh if I told her my secret about feasting on the ground.

When I was 10, I still ate dirt. Elvira had a birthday party in her backyard with a piñata. All the neighborhood children cheered for her as she approached the piñata in her birthday dress. BAM! The candies rained down. But as I knelt to the ground to get the candy, I felt more excited about eating gritty dirt than sugary sweets. I could not resist. That nasty, forbidden substance reached my mouth before I could think.

When I stood up from picking up the candies, my hands, mouth and cheeks were all covered in black dirt. I was surrounded by all my friends pointing and laughing at me. “Que grosero!” (how gross). I felt so embarrassed that I ran home from the party.

I did not leave the house for 10 days. My parents punished me. We were all embarrassed. I later told Elvira that I was sorry for ruining her party, and she forgave me. Since then I’ve been dirt-free. Although I still cringe when I remember this, today I can begin to laugh at myself. If I hadn’t embarrassed myself, maybe I’d still be sneaking dirt in secret.

Editor’s note: A craving for dirt can signal a potentially dangerous medical problem called pica. If you experience this craving, don’t be embarrassed—talk to a doctor or school nurse. For information, visit www.nih.gov, then search for “pica.”


Speaking Up

Meijun Cai
Flushing International HS

I was selected to take a class at the Museum of Modern Art. I felt so lucky that they’d selected me. When I arrived, there were only four students and two teachers in the classroom, including me. I was the only one who was an immigrant and spoke Chinese. Everyone was given a small notebook. The teachers gave each student a word on a card. I got the word “pattern.” The teacher said, “You have to find a picture that represents the word that you have.”

How scared was I? I didn’t know what a “pattern” was. Did I ask the teacher? No, because the teacher might think I was a stupid person. Did I take out my dictionary? No, other people might laugh at me. What was I supposed to do? Oh my God! I was going to go crazy. I just hoped that God would hear the voice in my heart asking for help.

After three other participants’ explanations, it was my turn. The teacher said to me: “Meijun, which picture did you choose?” I felt very worried. What reason would I provide? How would I start? The teacher asked, “Why did you choose this picture?”

“Because, because......” I answered. “Because of what?” the teacher asked. Everyone was looking at me, waiting for my answer. The time seemed so endless. I put my head down and it felt almost disconnected from my neck. Finally, I got confidence to say, “I don’t understand the word.” The teacher then helped me explain the picture. You know what I thought then? God heard the voice in my heart. I thanked God and the teacher who saved me. I was so happy when the embarrassing scene ended.

This experience taught me that the most important thing is to try. Even if it’s not a perfect answer, just do your best. If you try, you can learn and improve. It also taught me that not everyone knows everything. Are you going to be prepared for every new situation? No, you cannot be. But you have to find a solution for yourself.


I Made an Impression

Yara Casanova
West Side HS

In 8th grade, I was play-fighting with my friend who was a boy. The teacher wasn’t there and I started chasing him around the classroom. There were a bunch of desks in the way, so he started jumping across them to get away from me. I tried to do the same thing, but I fell down and basically ate the floor.

While I was on the floor everyone started laughing. I got up, laughing too, and then tried to jump the desk again. The same thing happened and I ended up eating the floor again. The worst part about it was that my crush was there. I was so embarrassed—especially when I realized that people weren’t laughing because I fell down, but because I had a skirt on and my panties were exposed to the whole class.

I sat down as quickly as possible, but people were still laughing. I was saved by the bell ringing. Everybody ran out of the room, but my crush stayed. I didn’t know why, but then he said, “This has to be the funniest thing I ever experienced. I should start hanging out with you more, because you will make me laugh a lot.”

My cheeks got red immediately; I couldn’t believe he’d just said that. Even though this was my most embarrassing day ever, it was also the best day ever because it made him my boyfriend. We stayed together for three years. Even though we don’t go out anymore, I still say “Hi” to him when I see him. We shared a lot of good memories, but this was without doubt the most embarrassing one.


Caught Kissing

Valentina Bedoya
Flushing International HS

I was born in Colombia in South America, and moved to the United States when I was 12. I’m the only child and my dad’s little girl.

My new school was big and they put me in a class for foreign students. I made a group of friends and all of them were Spanish-speaking, which made me feel comfortable. After a month, I started to get close with one of the kids from my class who was helpful to me. He was always trying to make me laugh and feel good in that new environment.

Some days passed and he asked me out. I’d never had a boyfriend, but I said yes to him. I knew my dad was too strict to let me have a boyfriend at that age, so I just hid it from him.

One day as we were leaving the school, my boyfriend kissed me on the mouth. It was the first time I’d been kissed, and I got really nervous and immediately turned to keep walking. To my surprise my dad was right there waiting for me with my mom, aunt, and cousin. My dad was so mad and I was completely embarrassed. I turned all red and I couldn’t look at anyone.

I didn’t say a word for the entire day. I just wanted the world to open up and swallow me; I felt so bad that I didn’t even want to eat. My dad wouldn’t talk to me for three days. When he finally did talk to me, he scolded me and told me that I was too little to have a boyfriend and that I shouldn’t be doing things without his permission.

I felt horrible and embarrassed. I apologized to my parents and my dad accepted my apology, but things weren’t the same between us again.

This taught me that I should never lie to my parents because one way or another they’ll find out the truth, and the consequences may be bad. In this case, my dad didn’t trust me anymore and I couldn’t even go out with my friends for a long time. I follow my parents’ orders now, because I know that everything they tell me to do is for my own benefit.

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(NYC-2011-11-22)

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