Monday, February 20, 2017


By Mary Kennedy                        
A friend and I were chatting over mimosas about a colleague's "embarrassing moment." I told my friend I was relieved that I didn't have any (at least none that came to mind.)
Since my friend has a steel trap mind, she immediately dug up (in excruciating detail) some of the most embarrassing moments in my life.
Here are a couple of her favorites. I'll give you more on next Monday's blog, so stay tuned.
Remember the time you thought your editor was calling you an idiot?
Whoa! Did that really happen? Yes, it did. I was writing my 34th middle grade novel for Scholastic and I received the copy edits by snail mail (yes, this was in the days before digital manuscripts and books). I opened it to see a piece of white paper on top with the words: "How dumb can you get!" scrawled across it. Oh no. I had a wonderful relationship with this editor. What could have gone wrong? I tried calling her, but it was after five pm on a Friday and the office was closed. I stewed about it all week-end, making myself (and everyone around me) miserable.
 At 8:00 am Monday morning, the phone rang. It was my editor! She was calling to make sure I had received the copy-edits. And she sounded positively cheerful.  I managed to say "yes," and then there was a deathly pause. "Well," she said finally, "how do you like the new title?"
New title? I felt like the governor had called with a reprieve. HOW DUMB CAN YOU GET! was the new title of my Scholastic middle grade novel. In my paranoid, panicked moment, I hadn't even thought of that possibility. I was sure she was commenting on my mental abilities!
Remember the time you went to Manhattan and those yuppie guys thought you were panhandling?
Oh, lordy, yes, how could I forget? I drove into the city for the day to meet with my editor down in the Village.  I was wearing a writer's version of "business casual," and was dressed in a sweater, jeans, a faux suede jacket and some tan boots.  As I passed Washington Square, I saw a parking spot. A parking spot in Manhattan? Was it a mirage? I drove like a maniac around the block and zipped into the space, counting my blessings. And then...reality struck. I had credit cards and bills, but no change. Nothing!  How could I feed the parking meter?                                     
And then I was saved--or so I thought. A group of businessmen was emerging from a trendy restaurant, probably after enjoying a three martini lunch. I pulled out a couple of bills from my purse and strode up to them.
"Excuse me, do you have any change?"
Maybe they didn't see the money in my outstretched hand. One of the yuppie guys brushed me aside was a snide, "Get a job!" and they all laughed.
"Get a job?" OMG, did they think I was a panhandler? All I wanted was change for the meter, for heaven's sake.  And even though I was dressed casually, I didn't think I could be mistaken for a bag lady.
At that very moment, a young woman wearing a college T-shirt came up to me. "Here," she said, pushing some quarters into my hand. "I can't believe the way those jerks treated you." I explained what had happened and tried to give her $5.00.
"No, my treat," she said with a sweet smile. "I wouldn't want you to think all New Yorkers are like that. Most of us are pretty nice." With that and a quick wave, she was gone.
I was still seething--and somewhat embarrassed--at being mistaken for a beggar, but it did give me a funny story to tell over lunch.
How about you? Do you have an embarrassing moment you'd like to share?
Mary Kennedy

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