When You Just Want to Disappear

Right now I’m at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Indianapolis. This is one of my favorite events every year because it’s like a huge gathering of my friends. I’m sure there are a lot of writers here who are nervous, and there will be more than a few awkward moments.

So today let’s talk about embarrassing situations. Could be at a writer’s conference, or any other setting. Tell us about a time you were mortified, uncomfortable, or just wanted to disappear into the atmosphere.

Think of it as therapy. And a reminder that it happens to the best of us!

Have a great weekend!

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. SweetSONJA on February 1, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    I received my first mortgage loans when I was 20 and this supported my family very much. But, I need the small business loan as well.

  2. April Erwin on October 20, 2010 at 12:42 AM

    >One week after buying a new (to me) car, I'm driving back to work with my sister and best friend. I'm in the straight lane next to an old man in the turn lane. The old man sat through the entire green turn arrow and never moved. Finally the lights turned green and I just knew that now the old man would turn left in front of oncoming traffic w/out even looking. I said, "Look at that stupid driver!" As I pull forward in my lane going straight, I'm still watching the old man turn in front of on coming cars. He makes it just fine. I, however, didn't notice the slight curve in my lane and slammed into the median just seconds after saying "look at the stupid driver." My front tire caught in the storm drain. My best friend says, you can't stay here, drive over the median. So I do, cuz i'm freaking out and I've never had an accident before. I cross the median, pulling the front tire completely off. I cross the two opposite lanes and into the far turn lane. We stop and get out. The tire is stuck under the back bumper. A policeman happens to be passing about that time and stops to check it out. I'm crying and half hysterical I'm so freaked out and I tell him the whole story, including the stupid driver line. To his credit he managed to keep his laughter in, even though I could see he wanted to roll on the ground. Since no one else was involved, he didn't give me a ticket. TO make it worse, three people I knew stopped at the intersection and yelled across the way, asking if I was okay. Great timing right?

  3. Lucille Zimmerman on October 12, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    >I was on an airplane traveling to Israel with a church group. My adorable, vibrant cousin Marsha joined came along.

    After spilling a gigantic Coke on her lap, she asked if she could borrow the skirt I had packed in my carry on bag. "Sure," I said and passed them to her.

    But then I jumped up, remembering I had rolled an extra pair of undies in the skirt. I ran down the aisle just in time to see a flight attendant holding them in her hands, the door to the bathroom slamming as Marsha yelled, "No those aren't mine," and three men in suits laughing. I'm sure my face was the color of a beet as I snatched them from the flight attendant.

    Later, I was all settled in my seat, eyes closed, headphones on my ears, enjoying my music. I felt a tap on my shoulder and the same flight attendant holding my blue-striped undies in her hands. Again. It seems they fell into the aisle when I pulled out my iPod.

  4. Sharon A. Lavy on September 23, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    >Actually, it's still to new to be funny. And I kinda think Wanda would still like to wring my neck.

    Still licking the wounds of my pride that I would miss an appointment with an editor and get her grace and forgiveness and miss the second time slot. Oh, I was in the right waiting place, just in la-la land and got the time mixed up.

    The good news is the editor is still on speaking terms with me and graciously sent me a message to eat lunch with her.

    An appointment that I did not miss.

  5. Jane Holland on September 22, 2010 at 3:31 AM

    >The nude person answering the door story? This happened to me years ago. I knocked at a friend's house in Harrow rather early one weekend. She had just left the house, as it happened, but her boyfriend, thinking she'd forgotten her keys and come back for them, answered the door completely naked. We stared at each other in a wild surmise, then …

    Fill in the rest yourself.

  6. Jane McBride on September 21, 2010 at 10:28 PM

    >I f I ever get to go to a writer's conference and get humiliated, I'll let you know. This one is just from my every day life. This is an excerpt from my blog,chroniclesofanautsitickid.blogspot.com. The first part was talking about my younger son's apparent verve for showing up naked at any given moment. Then my comments continue on to my older son. "Now, William, on the other hand, doesn't really deliberately go about in the nude. He just gets out of the shower and tends to forget to get dressed. Once he was just stepping out of the bathroom (naked), and at that moment the doorbell rang. I tried my dangedest to get to that door before him, but I didn't make it. He flung the door open and said, "Hi!" in all his six year-old glory. The two Jehovah's Witness ladies on the door step were most admirably unruffled, as is their way, and I told them I couldn't talk to them just then. As this was quite obviously true, they made no protest. And this, people, is the story of my life."

  7. Anonymous on September 20, 2010 at 8:19 AM

    >A month ago I was exactly feeling how you are feeling now, in pain, crying, heart broken, and then I found this site saveabreakup.com and I followed their instructions, I had my girlfriend come back to me in no time so fast !! I was so so happy and I'm still very happy, don't give up! I suggest you view the free videos that tell you what to do on saveabreakup.com

  8. Sybil on September 18, 2010 at 11:05 PM

    >Oh there are soooo many. Too many. One of my recurring ones, however, is that I’ll be speaking to someone who for one reason or another makes me flustered, and I’ll start putting two different words together accidentally. It drives me crazy and I sound like such an idiot.

  9. Jane Holland on September 18, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    >Oh yep, this would have to be the time in biology where I stuck my hand up, actually KNOWING the answer for once, and almost screamed in my excitement: “It’s a living orgasm, sir!”The shame …

  10. Anonymous on September 18, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    >I attended my first writer’s conference last May. Knowing that I was going to be meeting authors, publishers, agents and the like, I studied the list of presenters and hoped I’d remember who’s who once I arrived. I also joined a group of new attendees and read several times about elevator pitches beforehand. Knowing that I had no material to pitch (I am focusing on articles and devotions to get started), I told someone so when I recognized his face from the list of presenters. He and I were the only one in the elevator at the time and I was trying to make small talk. I’m typically shy when alone with a stranger in an elevator.I was embarrassed when said author informed me that he was not a publisher or agent, so I need not worry about my lack of a pitch. (I really should have known who he was. I had studied, you know?)

  11. Danyelle Ferguson on September 18, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    >My most embarrassing moment was a few weeks before my wedding. My fiance and I were attending my college girlfriend’s wedding. While waiting with her family, I needed to use the ladies room. I excused myself, walked across the small room and right into the men’s bathroom. Thankfully no one was in there! I immediately turned around and left, only to find all of my girlfriend’s younger siblings laughing their tushes off – and her parents & my fiance had grins on their faces too. I was so embarrassed!

  12. passinglovenotes on September 18, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    >I have a VERY good one. But it’s too long to put in a blog comment. About a year ago, I made it an official short story, and it ‘s on my site, passinglovenotes.I don’t want to steal readers from Rachelle’s fantastic blog, so finish reading all the good tidbits from her blog before you google passing love notes. It’s in my “books and more” link. You’ll ROFL.

  13. Kathryn Magendie on September 18, 2010 at 7:39 AM

    >*laughing* – I have tears rolling – omg! I feel ever so much better about my thousands of embarrassing moments.Professionally one of the embarrassing things I’ve done is when I worked in an office, and was in an elevator. I was showing my friend how I could do the “Curly” from Three Stooges “wooo wooo wooo wooop wooop” dance where he does that thing with his leg and makes the funny face and yodels the woo woo woop thing…..Right when I did that, the elevator doors opened and there stood my then boss, my boss’s boss, and some big wig muckity muck senator or representative or gov’s office whomever . . .My friend was trying to stop her laughter, and just turned her back, meanwhile, I just straitened my suit and said, “Hello . . .” then stood there mortified during the rest of the elevator ride.lawd.

  14. Rick Barry on September 17, 2010 at 9:31 PM

    >It was June 1992, and I was at Indiana University to cram my 3rd year Russian courses into 8 weeks. After our first group orientation in Eigenmann Hall, I walked out of the meeting room and, seeing the restroom door open, decided that I needed to use the facility. I turned and walked in about seven or eight steps before I suddenly thought, “Wait! Wasn’t the tile in here green and instead of pink earlier?!” Just then a bunch of girls gathered in the doorway behind me burst into laughter as they observed my mistake! I beat a hasty retreat and let them enter instead!

  15. Sue Harrison on September 17, 2010 at 8:40 PM

    >When we were still at the boyfriend/girlfriend stage, my husband-to-be had dropped in to see me at my parent’s house. We were sitting on the couch and I got up to get us something from the kitchen. He grabbed the hem of my skirt and gave it a playful tug. The zipper let go and the skirt fell to the floor. That was a moment when I wished I could drop through the floor!

  16. Karen Barnett on September 17, 2010 at 8:36 PM

    >Ooh — I have a writer’s conference one! At Mt. Hermon, you can send in two submissions to be reviewed by editors, agents or writers. They were ready to pick up after lunch on the second day. I decided to exercise some self-control and avoid the huge crush of people heading down to retrieve them, instead waiting until almost dinnertime. There was no line at all by then, so I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Then I read the note on the front: “Interested — let’s meet at 2 pm.” Looked down at my watch: 5 pm. Oops. Thankfully, she thought it was funny and didn’t hold it against me.

  17. T. Anne on September 17, 2010 at 8:18 PM

    >Back in high school I went shopping for a winter formal gown at the mall with a friend. We had until noon before we had to meet my friend’s mom in the parking lot, and she was going to kill us if we were one minute late. Well wouldn’t you know it? I found the perfect dress right at 12 o’ clock on the button! I tried it on as quick as I could, and hurried to the register and waited laboriously in line while my friend reminded me of how tortuously cruel her mother was going to be now that we were already twenty minutes behind… Finally, I PAID. The cashier began to wrap my dress in plastic, but I snatched it off the counter and told her I’d take it just as it was. My girlfriend and I ran screaming through the mall trying to get to the parking lot at lightening speed with visions of getting our heads lopped off the second we got to the car. It wasn’t until I hit the exit that I felt a hand land securely over my shoulder. It was the cashier from the store, clearly out of breath. Apparently she had forgotten to take the security tag off. As we walked all the way back to the store people were admonishing me, and applauding the cashier for catching “the shoplifter”. I wanted to die.Winter formal was not a blast. The dress had a mind of its own. It was constantly twisting itself around my body—as was my date. Total disaster.

  18. Anonymous on September 17, 2010 at 7:39 PM

    >My mom was a World history teacher and once she had a typo on a major test that read, instead of King Tut, King TIT. I know cuz I caught it, but after it was distributed to all the students! (Hope this isn’t too R-rated?)

  19. Michelle DeRusha on September 17, 2010 at 6:29 PM

    >Oh, and then there was the time I accidently wrote “donations to Open Panty” instead of “Open Pantry” when I was an obit copywriter. That did not go over well with the family…or the funeral home…or my editor.

  20. Michelle DeRusha on September 17, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    >I’m thinking about the time I was at a faith conference in St. Paul. Anne Lamott was the keynote speaker. Afterwards I waited in line with a copy of Traveling Mercies for her to sign, but when I got up to the table, I handed her the wrong book. I gave her the book of the other author who was also reading/speaking at the conference. She opened it to the title page, readied her pen, and then stopped, looked up, and said, “This isn’t my book.” I wanted to crawl under the table. It was my big moment with Anne Lamott, whom I admire so much, and I humiliated myself. She was gracious…but you could tell she was a little irritated, too. If you know Anne Lamott, you can probably guess that my mix-up didn’t go over too well! Maybe I’ll end up a character in one of her books someday!Have fun at the conference…

  21. Tea with Tiffany on September 17, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    >have a blast, Rachelle!

  22. amyg on September 17, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    >not a writer’s conference moment, but i ended up devoting my op-ed column to it:i took my son to get his first hair cut earlier this year at the oldest barber in our town–the same barber who had cut my dad’s hair when he was young. as i squatted to pick up a kleenex box that the barber had dropped between two of his barber chairs, i heard the loudest ripping sound you can imagine. it was my khaki’s splitting from the bottom of the zipper all the way up to the back waistband. can something be “hysterically mortifying”? because that’s how i felt, mortified to the point that all i could do was laugh out loud. i carried my son out of the barbershop filled with 70+ year old men, my bright coral-colored panties free for all of them to see. my son’s hair hasn’t been cut since.

  23. Atthalia on September 17, 2010 at 12:05 PM

    >I love to sing. Growing up we would sing in the car, my mom and I, and my brother would sit in the back and brood. One day (in my puberty years) i was singing loud. My brother got mad and yelled. “You can’t sing, you’re off key, and you’re flat!” I cried, “I am not flat! Have you seen me lately?! I am not flat!” He laughed so hard it took him ten minutes to tell me my singing was flat, not my chest. Welcome to puberty.

  24. Julie on September 17, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    >I had taken my three children to the zoo and we were having a great time playing in the water at the splash pad. After visiting the washroom, we came outside and I fed the kids lunch on the lawn. I had lost a few pounds and was feeling proud of the looks the people around us were giving me. I must look really great!Yeah. No.Two women came up to me and said “You have toilet paper hanging out the back of your jeans.”I turned to look and it was not a mere square of TP but rather a piece about three feet long trailing along behind me.As I removed it and thanked the ladies for letting me know, I noticed the looks I’d been getting were not glances of admiration, they were looks of embarrassment and amusement.Very embarrassing. 🙂

  25. Kersley Fitzgerald on September 17, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    >I have yet to (be able to afford to) go to a real writers’ conference, but I did base one of my comics on an experience a friend had.Find it here:http://thefridaychallenge.blogspot.com/2009/11/fitz-of-distraction_14.html

  26. kangaroobee on September 17, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    >Years ago I was doing this exercise at Tae kwon do where you had to bend over and the instructor was walking behind me…you can guess the rest.

  27. Anonymous on September 17, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    >Hilarious! Now I feel much better about my own embarassing moments–or should I say “bare ass”? LOLYou guys are awfully brave to use your real names–or are they? OK, here’s a different one: In college, we went on a jock raid at the men’s dorms, similar to the old-fashioned panty raid. I was screaming for jock straps with all my dorm friends when a head pops out from an upstairs floor and the ex-pres of our Student Council (I was a rep for 3 years) recongnizes me, then throws down his (tiny) jock strap. Let’s just say it was embarassing every time I ran into him at our high-school reunions…Sign me…Anonymous

  28. Tiana Smith on September 17, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    >My Fiancé (now husband) and I were travelling through Europe, and I was riding the metro for the first time in my life (don’t judge me). It was incredibly crowded, with standing room only. There were about 20 people holding onto each of the center poles.Since I was newly engaged, I was impulsively lovesy and decided to kiss my Fiancé’s hand that was holding onto the pole. Ummm, the only problem was that it wasn’t his hand that I kissed. Instead, I had kissed some old guy’s hand who looked like he was 80. Then the man said to me, “Don’t worry honey, it happens all the time.” (In French, which made it somehow worse.) Yeah, I’m sure that happens all the time.

  29. Lisa on September 17, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    >I worked for a large volunteer organization doing community organizing. One day, after a luncheon meeting, I drove back from Springfield, Illinois to Chicago. My passenger was our head volunteer. In his working life, he’d been the head of the Minnesota Dept. of Aging.I started to feel really woozy as I drove so I decided I’d better pull off. I was going to be sick!I drove as safely and as quickly as I could off the next exit ramp and pulled into a gas station parking lot where I flung open my car door and threw up.”Are you okay?” My passenger asked.I hesitated. “Yes. I’m sorry.” I waited. This was not going to be easy. “Except, it came out both ends at the same time.”First, a look of horror on his face, then he laughed. Thank goodness.Of course I’d chosen to wear khaki pants that day.

  30. Susan Panzica - EternityCafe on September 17, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    >Not that I don’t have plenty of my own, but one of the funniest oh-no moments came years ago when I was on a first date. As we drove out of the parking lot, he turned the wrong way onto a one-way street – right into a police car. I saw the sign, but was too shy to speak up. Of course, I’m sure it would have been better if he heard it from me than from the cop.

  31. Nicola Kim on September 17, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    >I was sitting on the loo but didn’t bother closing the door as no one was at home except my mom. Looked up to see a guy I had a crush on standing there. I got such a fright I jumped up off the loo and into the bath, which had dirty washing in. I want to die just thinking about it all again. The view he must have had of my lily white butt. Poor guy. Then again, poor ME!

  32. Teenage Bride on September 17, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    >Oh dear way to many to think of. Most recently I was speaking to an individual and at the end of our conversation i told him it was nice to meet him….. apparantly we had already met woops. Oh and how about this one, the other day at the grocery store someone told my best friend how well behaved her daughter was…. me. ugh the trials and tribulations and being cute and little lol

  33. BW on September 17, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    >Have you seen the picture of a woman driver driving with the nozzle of the gas pump dragging from her gas tank that is on the other side of her car? That picture could be me.

  34. RBSHoo on September 17, 2010 at 7:56 AM

    >Last day of senior year of high school, June 1991. I’d had a crush on a classmate that never turned into anything. As our last class of the day and year ended, I thought she had left the room after she mentioned something about her then-boyfriend (who did not attend our school). I announced to the class that I thought her boyfriend was one of the biggest idiots I’d ever met. Hey, guess who hadn’t left the room?She absolutely shredded me to pieces in front of the other students. After the demolition was complete, even the teacher turned to me and said, “yeah, you pretty much deserved that.”That’s how high school ended for me.

  35. Steve Finnell on September 17, 2010 at 6:24 AM

    >you are invited to follow my blog

  36. Margot on September 17, 2010 at 6:19 AM

    >Your blog photo, toilet paper stuck to shoes, brings it all flooding back…I’d been to the restroom on the airplane and had walked back to my seat over the wing. As I was about to sit down, I realized that a flight attendant had been chasing me.It’ ain’t toilet paper on the shoe.I’ve been walking down the aisle with a LONG train of toilet paper coming up out of the back of my pants. (like, WEDDING TRAIN long)After the flight attendant is SO KIND to rip it off, we both kind of look at eachother in shock. I ask her, “Is there more?” She says yes.Dropping to my seat, I carefully rip off the exposed TP & try to decide if I dig down to hunt for more. I don’t.But I do spend the rest of the flight replaying the scene in my mind. I feel traumatized, right now, thinking about it.

  37. Catherine West on September 17, 2010 at 5:51 AM

    >Really? I never have those moments. Ahem. Okay so I do. Case in point, just yesterday as a matter of fact; I believe this can be filed under, “You know you’re tired when…” you get off the plane, lug your extremely overweight suitcase off the belt, flounder for a moment searching for a way out of this airport you’ve never seen before, haul the ten ton bag to the nearest escalator, see that I need to go UP and try to get on the DOWN one. And yes, it took a few moments of extreme confusion to figure out why I couldn’t get the darn suitcase onto the first step. Yep. I did that. Aren’t you proud? I won’t take it personally if you ignore me for the next four days. :0)

  38. Katy McKenna on September 17, 2010 at 5:46 AM

    >My embarrassing writers conference moments are too many to count at this point. So I’ll share a moment that happened in my personal life—and I’m talkin’ SO personal, that I had to see these people again the very next morning after my mortification. You should know that no actual adultery resulted from this incident! I wrote about it on my blog here:http://www.fallible.com/index.php/fallible/comments/saturday-night-fever/

  39. Em-Musing on September 17, 2010 at 5:28 AM

    >I don’t know how long I walked around the airport before a man came up and whispered to me that the back of my skirt was caught in my underwear exposing my whole rear. But the most embarrassing part was when I realized there were lots and lots of people who had been grinning at me. I just thought they were being friendly. Guess the grin was on me.

  40. Anna L. Walls on September 17, 2010 at 2:27 AM

    >I thoroughly enjoy your blog. So, I have passed along to you, The One Lovely Blog award. You can check out and pick up the award at: http://AnnaLWalls.blogspot.com