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11 Most Common Embarrassing Moments (and How to Avoid Them)
written by Sam Greenspan

Last week, a British gambling company published the results of a survey they commissioned on embarrassing moments. And even though it's British, it feels applicable to other countries too -- there aren't any embarrassing moments like "Accidentally spoiling EastEnders in the lift" or "Wearing white after St. Swithin's Day."

The survey found the average person has four major or minor embarrassments daily. I pulled out the top 11 most common embarrassments from the survey for this list and also wrote up a little advice on how to avoid them.

  1. Helpful sign.
    Getting lost. Which is only slightly more embarrassing than getting INTO Lost at this point even though you've been warned eight billion times you're going to be grotesquely disappointed.

    How to avoid embarrassment: There's really no reason to get lost anymore with the GPS in our phones. Unless you have a BlackBerry. Then your cornucopia of personal embarrassments has bigger fish to fry.

  2. Burping accidentally. The British are very proper and dignified people. They would be aghast at doing something as crude as burping while they skinny dip in Vegas or run around with turkeys stuck on their heads.

    How to avoid embarrassment: Say you burped because you're having digestive issues -- and you think you might be gluten intolerant. No one understands the whole gluten-free thing, where it came from, or why it didn't exist five years ago, so they won't question you any further.

  3. Forgetting where you parked. It is pretty embarrassing to walk around a parking lot frantically, constantly hitting the unlock button on your keychain (or, if you don't have automatic locks, trying to figure out which one is YOUR 2003 Honda Civics in the sea of 2003 Honda Civics.)

    How to avoid embarrassment: Sometimes if I'm in a large parking lot I'll enter my parking space as a note in my phone. (But only AFTER I write, "Remember: We're in the Itchy lot." and then I laugh and laugh to myself.)

  4. Being late. I *wish* people were actually embarrassed about being late (and weren't just claiming it causes embarrassment). Then maybe they'd stop being late.

    How to avoid embarrassment: Develop a sense of decency and realize your time is not more valuable than other people's unless you're the President, a super smart and super ripped scientist, or Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried.

  5. Thinking someone's waving at you when they aren't. It's fairly mortifying to wave back at someone who was actually waving at a person behind you. Then again, THEY should be mortified for waving at someone other than you. You're wonderful.

    How to avoid embarrassment: Pretend you were waving at someone else too. Walk right past the person you thought was waving at you, approach the person right behind them, and give them a nice big hug and explain what happened. If they're anything close to a decent human being they'll quickly understand and reciprocate the hug.

  6. It's especially embarrassing to have food stuck in your teeth AND a mysterious hand caressing your shoulder.
    Food stuck in your teeth. We, as a society, are oddly shy about pointing out things in other people's teeth. I know this because every time I've ever seen someone figure out they had food in their teeth, their first and only reaction is, "Why didn't you tell me?" And my internal response is always, "I never tell anyone."

    How to avoid embarrassment: Other than intensely sucking and licking your teeth after meals? Avoid ordering broccoli and poppyseed bagels at business lunches or on dates. Never smile wide until you've had a chance to go to the bathroom. Or, of course, you could just ask, "Do I have something in my teeth" -- although that almost feels like cheating.

  7. Waving at someone who doesn't see you. The British voted two waving-related entries into the top seven. That's like a Bachelor contestant putting *two* minorities through to week two.

    How to avoid embarrassment: Pretend you were waving your hands in the air as if you have a significant lack of cares. Or yell out the person's name. Either way.

  8. Getting food stains/splashes on your shirt. Doesn't bother me because, much like Ashlee Simpson, having stains on my shirt makes me into the biggest flirt. And I do not see that changing eventually.

    How to avoid embarrassment: Don't eat chili, pasta, soup or Gushers when you're wearing a light-colored shirt. Or maybe carry an Emergency Brooch. That should be a thing.

  9. Getting someone's name wrong. This is the first of two name-related picks that landed in the top three. The world would just be so much easier if we all wore nametags. Or everyone did even a modicum of only-slightly-creepy Facebook stalking of friends of friends before they left the house.

    How to avoid embarrassment: Easy. When you get someone's name wrong and they correct you, tell them, "Oh, I'm sorry, Jenny. Of course! Jenny. I was just thinking of how much you remind me of my friend Lauren which is why I said Lauren. Although, actually, you're much thinner than her."

  10. Gangnam Style.
    Tripping in public. This happens to me a decent amount. My feet are disproportionately large for my relatively short stature and I don't have the greatest control over them. Yet whenever I trip, I immediately look down angrily at the sidewalk, because it's obviously the sidewalk's fault.

    How to avoid embarrassment: Turn it into a Gangnam Style dance move. That will still be relevant for anywhere from two more months to an Electric Slide-esque three decades.

  11. Forgetting someone's name when you introduce them. I completely agree with this at number one. It's horribly embarrassing and we all do it.

    How to avoid embarrassment: Since you can't really go back in time and remember all the people you probably should, just keep on doing the transparent fake-out. Let the person introduce himself or herself to your friend... then as SOON as they say "Hi, I'm Kevin," jump right in with, "This is Kevin." Totally believable.

This post was originally published on Friday, September 14, 2012 at 11:00:00 AM under the category Personal.

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