My mother moos. Loudly. And repeatedly. At the state fair. At indie concerts. At museums on rainy school days. If she’s ever in a crowd trying to move from point A to point B, she moos. She has done this for as long as I’ve known her, and I’ve known her all my life.
There a variety of responses a daughter could have to this kind of behavior. She could pointedly pretend not to know to whom this lowing lady belongs. She could roll her eyes and make gestures that indicate she had nothing to do with the mooing, and wishes it would stop soon. I have considered, and rejected, all of these scenarios. Now, when my mother breaks out the moo, I baa.
You see, when your mother moos in public because she’s stuck in one place, not moving, a little bored, and feeling kind of silly, it would be easy to be embarrassed. It would be understandable to go “M-OOO-MMM! There are PEOPLE here! I might KNOW one of them. People are LOOKING! GOSH, why can’t you just act NORMAL?!” There’s nothing wrong with this reaction. But I try not to do that. You see, because of the mooing (and other things), I don’t get embarrassed anymore.
No, I’m serious. I have no sense of embarrassment for myself. None whatsoever. (BTW, I’m not suggesting we test this.) It’s one of those YOLO-no regrets—put your hands in the air like you just don’t care kind of things, without the slogan-y stuff. Because I don’t care, so I will put my hands in the air. And then trip on a flat surface, say something stupid by accident, walk chin-first into a door, and generally be ridiculous, but not on purpose. I don’t fear these things. Sure, I care what other people think, but not so much that I’m going to spend my life stressing about that one time I called the Pope “Dad” to his face. To quote Dr. Seuss, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” It’s much easier to just laugh it off and move on. That way, when people bring up your most embarrassing moments in public, maybe for general humor, or maybe to get a rise out of you, or just see you cringe, you can be all “Yep. Totally happened. And then my skirt blew up just as I was walking past a priest who was also my teacher. Ah, good times. Hey, do you want to go get tacos?” It’ll be surprising. They’ll be caught off guard. And you’ll have more happy memories and reminders that you are totally human.
So I don’t get embarrassed for myself, or my mom, anymore. Mostly, I just get embarrassed when I watch talent shows. It’s why I hate talent shows. If the people are actually interesting and talented, excellent. I’m on board. You go ahead and tap dance. But if they only think they can sing “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” like Sarah Brightman and actually sound like Mickey Mouse, then I will be slouching in my seat, and covering my eyes, and scanning my program silently mouthing “Oh honey no” until the pain is over. It’s one of the reasons I don’t watch “American Idol”. (Well, that and Paula and Simon left.) So, to you, I offer this unsolicited advice: Embarrassment is nothing to be ashamed of, or afraid of. Don’t overreact. Just go with it. Life is supposed to be fun. So go ahead—baa, cluck, moo, roar. Ring a cowbell if the spirit moves you. Just remember to smile.