Next week, people across the country will be struggling through airports, boarding crowded airplanes, and traveling to see their families and in-laws to celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, of course, is a beautiful holiday that honors sharing, caring, taking things that don’t belong to you, and having your mom passive-aggressively bring up your flaws over a beautiful turkey dinner. In that spirit, this week’s Pissing Contest is devoted to the meanest thing a family member has ever said about your looks. FUN, RIGHT?!

But first, the winners of last week’s Pissing Contest, The Most Embarrassing Time You Burst Into Tears.

Poor Schweddy:

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During a JOB INTERVIEW.

Yep.

I was desperate for a job, ANY job, after grad school in the depths of the recession. Then-husband was one of those “bootstrap” types, where everything in life had basically fallen into his lap, so he was incredibly unsupportive of my unemployment, and basically all but accused me of laziness and etc. constantly.

I was desperate.

I applied for a part-time teaching-ish gig at a little wildlife center, that specialized in showing rehabilitated wildlife (turtles, etc.) to schoolkids. I had the perfect experience - a wildlife degree, experience teaching and running a camp recreation program, loved kids, etc. This job was the end of my rope - barely above minimum wage, with an hour commute each way, 30 hours a week. I was desperate.

And it turned out, the lady who interviewed me was a BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTCH. She knew she had me (and everyone else desperate for this job) at a disadvantage. Kept pushing my buttons and straight-upyelling at me when I didn’t answer her questions the way she wanted me to. I have never, before or since, encountered such a smug, evil shit of a person in my life.

After about an hour of abuse, the months of desperation and stress and shame bubbled to the surface, and right out of my eyes.

I powered through. Tears were streaming down my face and I insisted I was fine, every once in a while I’d sob, my nose would drip, and I kept talking. She never even offered me a tissue. She never suggested we stop. She kept asking questions and smirking as I cried my way through them, for another 45 minutes. I finally had a full-on panic attack when I got back to my car.

I didn’t get the job. She called me and reveled in telling me that I “couldn’t handle the stress of such a job” (...showing turtles to kids...).

I got a much better job about a month later, and divorced shortly thereafter. And thank god I didn’t end up forced to work for her.

Miss Moxie brought pictures:

Most embarrassing time I burst into tears: that one time I had a breakdown at the top of the leaning tower of Pisa, and instead of being helpful my family decided to laugh take pictures of me with the highly uncomfortable tour guide.

*pictures provided: my little brother laughing hysterically at me + also a few random strangers. Jokes on him, that t-shirt and haircut are about 40 years out of date. They have been levelled and do not depict how leany everything actually is*

Explanation: Now, I’m not normally one to cry in public, or in front of people ever - I would literally rather die - but sometimes your normally-silent panic attacks decide to surprise you in fun ways. On vacation with my parents and my brother in Italy, we decided to check out this famous landmark, the leaning tower of Pisa. Now, I don’t know if you guys know this, but that WHOLE BUILDING IS CROOKED. Seriously, someone fucked up on that one.

Anyways, we got our tickets to go inside, and first you walk up this big spiral staircase. Only problem is that it’s made of marble, and has had millions of people march up and down it for hundreds of years so that the “steps” are so worn in they’re not so much steps as slippery marble bowls on their sides and angled down because *remember* the building is crooked. They want you to fall. And they’re wet and slippery from condensation.

So we finally made it to the top of the spiral-slide-of-death and WOW what a view. Very high up, Italian countryside, pretty pretty blah blah blah. But what they DON’T tell you (and maybe they were just doing restoration construction when I went or something) is that there is no actual railing to keep you from falling off. Nope. They had those police fences they use at marathons and parades zip-tied together around the edge of the SLIPPERY MARBLE LEANING deathtrap. NOPE.

THEN there’s a SECOND smaller metal spiral staircase in the OPEN AIR outside the marble, that gets you to the second and top outside tier of the leaning tower. Aaaaaand you guessed it, more slippery marble and nothing separating you and the sky except zip ties and your own bodily-coordination (of which I have none). (okay, so half of this level seemed to have a sort-of-not-sketch metal rail, but the rest was taken off for construction)

Well I made it to the top, but by that point my brain was DONE. I’ve never been afraid of heights, but that day I discovered that I DO apparently have a crippling fear of falling. I was doing the newborn-giraffe walk, attempting to find the safest place to keep from sliding off, and my brother decided to jokingly grab my shoulders.

Nope. NopeNopeNope. Not gonna let anyone accidentally push ME off a historical landmark, or plummet to my death from my own lack of coordination. I’m smarter than that. So I spent the rest of the tour clinging to the floor sobbing hysterically. My family thought it was hilarious and decided to just continue to do the tourist thing and take pics and ask the tour guide about how many crying adults she’s had on her tours. They managed to lift me off the ground for like one picture.

Finally they said we could go down, and I butt-scooted the entire way like a toddler who’s learning how not to fall down the stairs (much to the impatience of the moustached Austrian man behind me). But I survived.

I regret nothing.

And finally, randilynbeginagain, the sobbing heap:

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I’ve never been much of a crier (I’m not counting book or movie crying). When my father died, I found that I had shut down and was actually unable to cry at all. He was the only one who drove me to tears. (Mom and I fought, but she was a Sarah Bernhardt drama queen weeper.) In the face of that surfeit of emotion, my response was to clamp it down. So instead I started to listen to one of his favorite songs, Leon Russell’s “Your Song,” which reliably, consistently and constantly got me bawling. But it was fairly safe in the real world—hardly top 40, not alt, maybe adult classics, but still I never heard it when I was out and about. Then I stumble onto the Christina Aguilera song “Hurt.” Well, that one RUINED me. I listened to it constantly, always ugly crying. At one point, dandilyn had to hide the iPod because I wasn’t leaving the house without it

Flash forward 5 years. a friend drags me and my sister to her cardio funk class. I struggle though the whole thing—new gals, some teens, new motions. Get through all the way to the cool down. Next thing I know I hear the opening strains. My eyes are filling, but no biggie. It’s a new class, kind of intensive and I figure I could nonchalantly get out there. But no. The instructor is demanding to know why I’m leaving. The floodgates open wide and torrents of tears threaten to drown her. So now everyone stops. And forms comfort circle. I’m supposed to happy face and join in, but nope. I proceeded to collapse into a puddle and weep as if the hounds of hell were breathing down my neck.

Then Xtina gets to this part:

“I would hold you in my arms

I would take the pain away

Thank you for all you’ve done

Forgive all your mistakes.

There’s nothing I wouldn’t do

To hear your voice again.

Sometimes I wanna call you but I know you won’t be there.”

And I am GONE, sobbing hysterically, even tearing at my clothing. I barely make it through this:

“Some days I feel broke inside but I won’t admit

Sometimes I just wanna hide ‘cause it’s you I miss

And it’s so hard to say goodbye when it comes to this, ooh, whoa”

Before I fall apart completely, I apologized to the horrified, shell-shocked, poor women who just wanted to challenge their bodies, relax and grab some smoothies. I planned to slink out while they continued, But their ever so fine composure breaks as well. So we queue up the song, they pick up on the tragic emotion and then performed the rest of the cool down like we were honoring my dad. And after all crying subsided, my sis and I looked at each other and winked. We knew his ego would be stoked . A group of very attractive women totally distraught over him. In the end we all laughed and they invited us back, but frankly I was hoping that they wouldn’t recognize me in the future.

Such beautiful stories of our stupid weepy eyes.

Now, let’s dig deep and talk about how horrible our families can be. HAPPY THANKSGIVING, ONE AND ALL!


Contact the author at madeleine@jezebel.com.

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Images via Mommie Dearest/Paramount and Miss Moxie.