My Most Embarrassing Moment and The Lack of Any Nerve

I quit ballet in 4th grade because I peed all over the floor. I tell people that I quit to play softball but it was really because I peed my leotard in the studio. Truth bomb.

It's not that being a Longfellow Honey Bear softball player was terrible. I really enjoyed softball, especially since my dad was such a good dad-coach and would always ensure that I ran first base out. I was pretty fast seeing as though I was tiny but I really really loved ballet. I loved how light I felt flying in the air and how easy it was for me to pick up routines. My first dance recital was amazing, all decked out in a green tutu. We were the "Dancing Emeralds" and I felt like a star. I also got moved up to the older class after my first year. Nailed it.

My first ballet instructor was a mild mannered 30-something named Mary. She talked just like a kindergarten teacher and was extremely relaxed and easy. I don't remember her face, but when I think about my first year of ballet, Miss Mary has a sunshine happy face where her face should be in my memories. When there were new positions to learn, she always paired it with a funny story to remember.
"Now when you're in first position, pretend your feet are holding down a long wriggly fish. Don't let that fish wiggle you out of position!"
And we would giggle and she would giggle and then it was back to business. I loved her like I loved my Sunday school teachers, because like them, she radiated sunshine and candy canes and glitter and she smelled like Hair Insurance, hair stuff my mom used. But as she prepared for some of our transition to her younger sister's class, she warned us.
"Miss Cassandra expects her students to be serious about ballet. She can seem mean but she's really just preparing you to be great. And never ever ask to use the restroom. Go to the bathroom before her classes. She won't let you go." (She didn't add that she resembled that of the Rat King from The Nutcracker.)
I didn't listen. On a Thursday while we were practicing leaps, I had to go, bad. With each leap, it got worse and worse. And finally, on the landing, I peed. All over a corner of the studio floor.

I looked around like a wild junkyard dog, but no one noticed at first.
In a panic, I stood behind my guilty puddle and screamed, "CAN I GO TO THE BATHROOM?"" holding myself like kindergarten potty dancers. Cassandra looked baffled, then narrowed her rat face stare.
She let out a firm "Ok....." as she lowered her gaze and before she could lecture me, I ran as fast as I could to the nearest bathroom.

I closed the door and thought of a plan. I'm sick? I'll go to the office and call my mom? I surveyed my leotard and praised Jesus that the pale pink hid the pee pee stain extremely well. As I opened the bathroom door to peek out, Mary was waiting.

She was genuinely sunshiney-happy to see me.

"Hi Sarah! How's it going in Cassandra's class?"

I turned beet red and stayed silent. I didn't know what to say.

"You better hurry back, You don't want to miss her class!"

Mortified, I walked back to the studio, and there it was: 15 she-devils in slick-backed buns investigating the corner of the studio, pointing their pink-slippered hooves ominously at a puddle. My puddle. They snapped their stiff donut hair to the door and narrow-eyed-stared as I entered the room. Cassandra, her nose getting pointier and black hair getting blacker, stood at their helm.
Cassandra lifted her head gracefully toward me, like a wicked evil swan. If Miss Mary sneezed rainbow and glitter glue, Miss Cassandra coughed up flat bike tires and the avian flu.
"Class......did someone have an accident?"
She stared me down, and the rest of the mean pink tutu eyes never left me.
"Class.....raise your hand, did someone pee on the floor here?"
Still staring.
I started sobbing and raised my elbow, then my forearm and just stared at the floor.
"It's okay," Cassandra said.


I looked up to see Miss Cassandra's arms crossed, and her eyes never broke its squint on me.

"Now go on to the secretary and ask her to clean this up."

Without skipping a beat, she floated towards the record player and steadied the needle.

"Places ladies!!" She clapped twice and the bun heads sprang into a head-bending swirl of pink hues.

I ran out of the room and hid in the foyer which turned out to be the worst hiding place as my mom never got the message to pick me up early. So when Miss Cassandra closed up shop on her Thursday night class, her wild pack of nasties walked by me and stared, some of them offering up evil laughs. I never went back.

I wasn't that afraid of Miss Cassandra, although she was tough, led an entire class to be tough by being mean and didn't offer up the slightest bit of sympathy. It was then I realized how extremely mean your peers can be. Before class, I was yukking it up with at least half the class that I called friends for at least one whole season with Miss Mary. And after peeing on the floor like a badly potty-trained 3 year old, I was lower than dirt. I was that girl: the one that picks out her ear wax and eats it or the weird boy who wears the same shirt and smells like cat spray and barks at you during recess. Being a social outcast for the first time scarred me. So I naturally cut my losses and put my energy into elementary school softball, where my teammates only knew my rocket-like speed and that my mom designed a very popular and lovable Honeybears jersey shirt two seasons in a row. But I always regret not sucking it up and going back. I loved dancing. I still do. And I always wonder what I would've done and how far I could've gotten in ballet.  What was I scared of, going back to Miss Cassandra's studio? I had already done the absolute worst: what else could've possibly happened?

Someone says that failing isn't falling down, it's not getting back up. I failed at ballet, not because I peed on the floor, but because I didn't go back and tell all those terrible little jackwagons to eat my tutu and nail the rest of the leap class. But social situations have never been easy for me. And I guess that's why I leave friendships high and dry that aren't perfect or find it hard to return phone calls, even to my most favorite people in my life, because somewhere in the depths of my memory hallways, it won't matter in the end because they will eventually leave me after I commit social suicide, somehow, someway. I don't know what the 29 year old equivalent of peeing on the floor when you're in elementary school is but I never want to figure it out. (It's probably peeing on the floor.)

If you're me as a tiny green dancing thing, you never ballet dance again until you're in college and get a B- because you can't nail that stupid leap. You're a lot more than 42 pounds lurching in the air and your tutu isn't cute (it's really stupid). If you're me as a 29 year old, half-laughing at my pee story, half-saddened by my stunted Juilliard dream-deferred, you're annoyed that your nerves never used to exist, and even if you have nerves of noodles now, at least they are nerves. At least they exist. And that's better than where you've been.