“Do you feel uncomfortable when you see someone else being embarrassed? What’s most likely to make you squirm?”
Oh Lord, are you kidding me?
If anything I actually feel more uncomfortable than the person making a tit of themselves.
Not only that but my eyes water, which is a dead giveaway to anyone who knows me well, that someone should just sit down and shut the hell up.
I’ve suffered from this affliction for as long as I can remember, at least since very early childhood.
If my drunken Dad got up to sing at Butlins dubiously named ‘Talent Night’ to sing (especially if he did Al Jolson’s ‘Mammy’. Oh God, just thinking about it make my arse clench), or my Mum sang along to a chart song (with all the wrong words, natch) dancing around the kitchen, I’d practically shove my head up my own sphincter in a vain attempt to escape the abject humiliation.
I used to die inside when the theme tune for ‘The Generation Game’ used to strike up on a Saturday night, as I knew that from the first cringetastic Brucey pose (“Alright m’loves?”) right through to the end credits, my eyes would stream as couple after couple would be made to perform all kinds of humiliating stunts and tasks, such as dancing with a samba troupe, making some strange, messy European delicacy or acting in some God awful play whilst Bruce eye rolled, goaded and jeered, for the delectation of the viewing public.
I think my sister has an over sensitive cringe gene too, as she would actually disappear into the pantry and put a tea towel on her head, such was her distress at British Light Entertainment in the 70’s, and this became the alarm cry for approaching mortifying moments in our house.
So whenever someone cried out ‘To the pantry!’ we would all scatter and do what we could to avoid the eye watering event whenever possible.
Nor did this affection abate as I got older. I could not, would not, watch ‘Stars In Their Eyes’. I tell a lie I watched about ten minutes of one episode and when the contestant announced “Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be Richard Marx”, I just knew that the hellishness was just moments away. And sure enough when some bloke emerged from the dry ice with a mullet wig and a dopey grin to the soppy strains of ‘Right Here Waiting for You’, I seriously, honestly wanted to fucking kill myself.
I can’t bear it when people are being duped and refuse to see it (ref Paul McCartney/Heather Mills).
I die inside if someone is trying to be funny but isn’t. Especially if they don’t even know it. Yes I’m talking about you, ‘Newzoids’ (impersonators are some of the worst offenders)
And of course I can’t stand karaoke. When I was working in the corporate world, I used to get dragged to these fun filled ‘team building’ nights that would end in some manky hole of a club in the West End, where we would be forced into a grubby room with sticky carpet and fag burns in the leatherette sofa, and forced to warble into the mike (“No no Sista, you have to do at least one!”) alongside some twat you despised, which would then be uploaded onto Facebook or You Tube for added humiliation.
For that alone, I should have walked out a long time before I actually did.
Again, I tell a lie. I’ve done it once or twice. But ONLY with people I like, who made no effort whatsoever to make it sound nice. We just bawled ‘Living on a Prayer’ like a pack of howling wolves, and that was alright. We knew we sounded shite. We took the piss out of ourselves, played mock air guitar and shook our heads Wayne’s World stylee and that was, if not enjoyable, then tolerable.
It’s when people try and think that they’re actually good at it that opens my tear ducts, especially when they’re really earnest about it and then feign modesty when everyone tells them how good they were (with fingers firmly crossed behind their back) when they are just GRIM. That is absolutely torturous to me, and I don’t know whether I feel sorry for them or wish them to spontaneously combust.
Oh, how could I forget?
For the life of me, I have yet to be able to sit through all 4 minutes of this, especially the last minute:
I have no idea why I take on other people’s humiliation so eagerly. I mean it’s not like they benefit or appreciate it. In fact they probably just gaze at me, puzzled, wondering why I’m crying and/or looking so pained.
I am HSP and empathic though which may account for some of it. Quite why I syphon off people’s humiliation instead of their confidence, triumphs or good luck is a mystery, but I’m putting down to my BPD and probably a whole slew of shitbag karma.
Here’s hoping this life is my last shift.