It was toward the end of my summer associateship at a big law firm in Palo Alto when I was invited by a litigation partner for whom I had done quite a bit of work to attend a large arbitration in San Francisco where there were something like 8 or 10 or so law firms representing various parties all with varying degrees of interest in the complex legal matter that was being handled. Mine was a primarily observatory role with note-taking support for two partners from my firm and during the day the sets of legal counsel for the interested parties were shuffled between large and small conference rooms, first meeting in large groups and then 2 or 3 going off to discuss side matters. I was honestly a little starstruck at the whole process and the views from the ump-teenth floor of one of the skyscrapers downtown where we were arbitrating and I had very little to do of substance besides just follow along and try to absorb as much as I could and keep up. It felt sort of like a little gift to be invited along since I knew these partners didn't need me at all - like "take your daughter to work day", except, you know, I wasn't their daughter and I was getting paid.
So sometime after lunch I ended up in a small room with an older, kind of gruff partner from one of our main competing firms and his summer associate, and the partner from my firm. We (okay, they) were discussing the merits of various arguments and points were being made by each side and (and this is where time slows down and a high pitched warning buzz fills my head) the senior partner from the competing firms makes a point while opening his palms at about waist level in a semi-"am-I-right-or-am-I-right?" kind of shrug which I (incorrectly) interpreted as an invitation for a low-five for no rational reason whatsoever. Which I promptly accepted with an enthusiastic slap on his upturned palm (the instinct to connect the low-five before the hand was pulled away with a taunting "too slow!" apparently kicked in), thereby completing the low-five exchange and proving my social (and professional) ineptitude.
The best part is that the poor old fellow didn't see it coming AT ALL and didn't seem to know what had just happened (neither did I). I even had a time-slows-down-as-I-see-what-is-about-to-happen-and-can't-stop-it moment of alarm just before the slap. The partner I worked for had missed the exchange while shuffling through some papers in a folder. Or at least that is what I told myself afterwards, even though he kept giving me strange sideways glances for the rest of that breakout session. The other summer associate looked scandalized (appropriately so). But he also looked a little worried, like maybe it was normal for summer associates to act that way and why hadn't he been low-fiving partners all summer long?!! I can't possibly be the only summer associate ever who overanalyzed these kinds of social exchanges this way. So we all moved on like nothing had happened, while I sat there wishing I could shrink away to nothing.
Even now I cringe just reliving that in order to type it up. A week later I got an offer to come work full-time for the firm after graduation, so... all's well that ends well.
Most embarrassing moment Number 2 involves a boy and a crush and years of joking about it with my best friend who also had a crush on the same boy, until suddenly some guys who knew the object of our shared (and only partially joking) obsession who I did not know but who knew my roommate at the time were invited into my room and saw the boy's high school senior picture (which had been color-scanned out of the yearbook, enlarged and framed by the friend with the mutual crush on him as a gag 16th birthday present for me) sitting on my desk (as a joke! A JOKE!). And they were like, um, why do you have a picture of Greg* on your desk?! Isn't he dating so-and-so...? And I basically mumbled something about "oh, it's just a joke" and then ran out of the apartment in horror praying that it wouldn't get back to Greg (who never even knew I existed) and promising myself to get rid of the picture after the guys left.
So there you have it. My two most embarrassing moments. Now it's your turn to share.
* Name has been changed because of the internets and me not wanting there to be a chance that somebody would do a google search that would lead back to this blog post. Because that would lead to an unfortunate embarrassing moment of its own.