How’s this for 50 shades of embarrassment?
Last week I found myself in the classic bad dream scenario of standing in front of a classroom with no clothes on.
Oh, OK. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But the experience was still fantastically nightmarish.
It all happened when I was addressing the grim topic of job prospects with 160 third-year media students at my Sydney university. That’s when I noticed something odd on the ground at my feet. “Jees,” I thought, looking down. “What’s that strange black thing round my ankles?”
And then I realised. It was my skirt. It had fallen off. Utterly and completely off. In one of those old-school lecture theatres whose tiered seating permits everyone a perfect view of the lecturer (and the lecturer’s undergarments if her skirt happens to be embracing radical dysfunctionality at the time).
I stared downwards in silent mortification for what felt like several semesters, but was probably only several seconds. Then I stepped to one side, picked up my skirt, and resumed my speech about dressing appropriately in professional contexts.
(Of course later I pretended my epic zipper fail was a deliberate stunt to illustrate what NOT to do in job type situations, but no-one bought it. Especially when I had to finish that lecture and then another one skirt-less.)
Anyway. When I told my friends about my extraordinary wardrobe malfunction, many offered Janet Jackson-strength stories of their own. One yoga enthusiast remembered the time his manhood flopped out of the waistband of his track suit pants shortly after he’d commenced a head stand.
His yoga teacher – who was moving around the class adjusting other students’ poses at the time – simply tucked it back in for him as she passed.
Another friend – let’s just call her Dr Anne the vet – recalls the night a kelpie was hit by a car in her street while she was in the shower.
“I grabbed a towel and ran out outside where all the cars were backed up like a scene from Independence Day,” she says. “Everyone was screaming and then, when I bent down to check the dog, my towel dropped off completely so I was totally starkers.”
For reasons she is still unable to fathom, Dr Anne (who went on to save the kelpie’s life) found herself addressing the traumatised car driver with an oh-so-Hollywood: “Ma’am, please step out of the vehicle…”
I doubt there’s a moral to this story. All I know is that this week I plan to teach in an industrial-strength, neck-to-knee, lab-tested, perma-suit to avoid yet another chapter of The Lecturer Stripped Bare. Or should that be Fifty Shades of Embarrassment?
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