The Collegian
Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Kristy is embarrassed for you.

An unspoken and unavoidable condition plagues the American public. Regrettably, the Richmond campus is no exception. Each day, millions are subjected to its excruciating and uncomfortable side effects. None are immune to this silent epidemic.

That's right, you guessed it ... SHE, or, also known as: secondhand embarrassment.

Even if you haven't heard of it before, I have no doubt that you've been subjected to it. SHE is the inexplicable shame and horror you feel when witnessing embarrassment at someone else's expense.

It is known to breed while soberly observing fraternity lodges (or any situation, for that matter, where Natty Light is disproportionately consumed) or while watching "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" (HOW? How did you not know you were pregnant?). But, it also lurks where you least suspect it. Walking to class, sitting in Gottwald. It is omnipresent.

I feel as though it is my responsibility to the Richmond student body and American people at large to use my journalistic prowess to bring light to those dirty little incidents that make us all cringe and giggle at the same time. A little group therapy, if you will.

Some of the following accounts of SHE are a direct consequence of my own embarrassing behavior, but most of them are from friends whose identity I will withhold (Hannah Benabdallah). But, since I would hate to subject my readers to SHE on my own account (or Hannah's), I'll continue to refer to these instances in the second degree:

Can you swipe me in? -- It's 12:30 p.m. at D-Hall, you're next to hand Ethel your card, and the line is stalled and protruding into E.T.C. because the person in front of you has used all their mealswipes. Yes, she has consumed 19 buffet-style meals at the Dining Hall. And, it's Thursday. (Ok -- that was me -- Yes, Natasha, perhaps I did have an encounter with the Freshman 15 [see Response to: "Freshman Dos and Don'ts," pg. 15].)

Wardrobe malfunctions - Even though my face may be all sorts of contorted as I refrain from splitting into tides of laughter, I've finally learned how to minimize embarrassment by notifying someone in a mature and subtle manner about his or her nip slip, killer crack or fallen fly ("YOUR BARN DOOR IS OPEN! BAHAHAHAHHAHA!!!")

The standard trips, slips and stumbles -- I pretended to look the other way when you fell up the steps in the Pier and your curly fries went sprawling across the floor. I stifled my laughter out of respect for your skinned knee, bruised ego and spilled lunch. But I saw. Then I proceeded to class and forgot about it.

Twenty minutes later, the joke turned on me when I could not contain a fit of chuckling (at your expense) during a grave lecture about the genocide in Rwanda. My professor has now recommended that I seek professional help at CAPS.

Sorority intramurals -- Watching a group of girls, whose only sport played during the past four years is beer pong, trying to play flag football is like watching a group of sorority girls participate in a step dancing competition. (Oh, wait a sec.)

Gym farts -- This one can get a little dangerous when you begin suffocating on your Stairmaster as you are trying not to inhale while simultaneously choking back laughter. Luckily us girls don't have to worry about this kind of embarrassment in the first degree since we don't poof (unless you're Liz Monahan).

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The unintentional sexual reference -- In a classroom full of immature college students with raging hormones, an unknowing professor instructs the class: "Split into threesomes. Remember, I want you all to really ride one another. Stay on top of this until the concept fully penetrates."

Or we could just talk about your classmate, Karen, who confuses Ann Frank with Lisa Frank (common mistake, right?) when your history professor asks if anyone can tell the class Frank's contributions to society.

Karen's arm shoots up and she proudly proclaims that Frank revitalized stationary and stickers alike by incorporating glitter, puppies and the color magenta (which is sooo underrated) into your common, everyday writing supplies. Silence ensues.

Green bike gone bad -- You haven't ridden a bike since you ran away to your cousin's because Mom made you turn off Dragon Ball Z. But, you decide to pop a wheely in front of Moore Hall to impress that cutie you've been eyeing. If it makes you feel any better, the scene that followed hurt me as much to watch as your broken elbow and 16 stitches.

And this, I suspect, is the silver lining that lends comfort to our most embarrassing moments. No one suffers alone. Which is fortunate for me, considering I continue to embarrass myself in print to Collegian readers week after week.

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