As outstanding as some of my memories are, none are as memorable as the embarrassing situations I got myself into while earning a high school diploma.
My first embarrassment came while I was playing middle linebacker on the football team against our school rivals - the Red Terrors. We were ahead by three points, and they had the ball on the 50-yard line. The quarterback took the snap, dropped back to pass, and let the ball fly. I intercepted on the 40-yard line and took off running. I took a hit and was spun around, but kept running. As I crossed the goal line and held the ball in the air to my cheering fans, I was gang-tackled by the opposition. I had just scored a two-point safety for them.
Even though we won the game by one point, the coach went nuts in the locker room. Then and there, he took to calling me Wrong-Way Bratt, a name that stuck until well into the following school year.
Being teased by my teammates was bad enough, but having a lead part in a play presented by the varsity club my sophomore year was even worse. All of the acting roles were played by varsity team players. Unfortunately for me, the teacher who was in charge of selecting and directing the play was the coach.
The play he selected was ''The Princess and the Pea,'' and I was the princess. On opening night, I was forced to wear a dress and heavy theatrical makeup: ruby-red lipstick, rouge, and turquoise mascara, accentuated by a pair of white satin heels, which I swear were at least eight inches tall. I was greeted with catcalls, whistles, and jeers from the audience. I was mortified, and then I spotted my parents and sister in the front row, hysterical with laughter.
Afterwards, I was no longer called Wrong-Way. For the rest of the year, I was affectionately known by the new moniker - Princess.
In my junior year, I attended the annual Sadie Hawkins Dance, where the girls would ask the boys to dance. I was sitting along Selection Wall talking with some football players, balancing on my legs a stack of records that the coach had given me to hold. (The records were to be raffle prizes.)
Twenty minutes later, Kathleen, the cutest musician in the school band, asked me to dance. My dream had come true; for the past two years, I had secretly harbored a crush on this sweetie. I broke into a wide toothy grin, my eyes sparkled, and my knees trembled. Coolly I said, ''Sure, why not!''
I gave the records to the fellow beside me, jumped up, grabbed Kathleen's soft, scented hand, took a step, and - bam! - fell flat on my backside. The records had put my feet to sleep. Did my dream girl help me up? No! - Like everyone else, she was in hysterics. Later, I got my dance with her, and everyone had a good laugh - at my expense.
Today, as I think back on all of those times, I inconspicuously stomp my feet, patiently awaiting whatever future howlers lie in store.