We all have memories we cringe at. To be human is to be in a constant state of confusion and embarrassment, and often it takes the distance of 20/20 hindsight to extend humor and grace to yourself.
While they may feel life-ending in the moment, most cringe memories are harmless and ultimately relatable. Most people have word vomited at an inopportune time, majorly messed up a date, or had an embarrassing interaction with a stranger. Reading the humiliation of others can give us comfort that we are not in fact the lone bumbling flesh-sack messing up all the time.
In a popular Reddit thread, people shared the thing they said or did that still makes them cringe to this day.
1. From RockRock-:
My first big meeting at my job with all the head honchos...and I had to leave to go to a doctor's appointment. I was so nervous about walking out of the meeting, I actually said to my boss's boss "good night, I'll miss you!" My boss found it hysterical and told me I turned bright red as I shuffled out the door.
2. From BillShakesrear:
In middle school I attempted to seriously convince a crush that I was a vampire. We briefly reconnected earlier this year.
She remembers. I "don't."
3. From RadioactiveSlothMan:
I was working backstage in a production of The Addams Family (the play.)
I asked the girl playing the old lady if the effects makeup they used to make her teeth look all old and gross had a funny taste.
They hadn't put any makeup on her teeth.
4. From mces97:
We had a fundraiser in elementary school for the Easter Seals and the top people got Knicks tickets and got to meet a knick for a day. Gerald Wilkins called me over in front of 100s of people that afternoon and I asked him into a microphone why all basketball players were Black. Everyone laughed, including him, but I still can't believe I asked that.
5. From anghus:
When I was in 6th grade I used to call a girl every night after dinner for like a year. I thought we were best friends. One day at lunch I asked her if I could have some of her M&Ms and she said 'Yes, if you stop calling me.'
6. From thedonhudson01:
When I was a young kid, my family was sitting around talking about a relative and how humorous she was. They always kept saying how she was always "Goofing off". I suddenly got the bright idea to contribute.
So I entered the conversation by saying: "Or jerking off!" I somehow got the notion that jerking off meant being a jerk -- I had no idea what it really meant and I had probably never heard the phrase before. So when my family looked at me with the biggest eyes I had ever seen, I tried to back it up by saying, "You know? Being a jerk?"
Eventually, my aunt realized that I didn't know what it really meant and said, "Uh, yeah." Then the silence arrived.
I still cringe to this day.
7. From Immoral_Death:
In 10th grade, a very attractive and nice girl in my French class who I had gotten to know over that year asked me if would I like to leave class early with her and hang out. I don't know what I thought I was going to do if she didn't ask me, but in the moment I simply replied, "Why would I want to do that?" I remember she looked crushed as she walked away and the guy who was sitting in front of me turned to look at me and shook his head in disappointment. She and I never really got along the same way after that. I'd love to go back and just say yes or to still be in touch with her today.
Edit: Enough people said to go find her and talk to her. I found her Facebook and messaged her. She filed a restraining order. Not really but I'll message her and update people what happens next.
Update: Nothing happened.
8. From silvermyth:
We used to have weekly 20 minute "silent reading" sessions during my freshman year of high school, where we brought in a book of our choice. One time, after the 20 mins were up, my teacher had us go up to the whiteboard in turns and write down one word we came across in our reading that we were not familiar with.
I wrote "dominatrix".
Edit: To this day I seriously can't remember what book I was reading. Definitely wasn't anything pornographic.
My teacher did answer! After doing a double take and pausing for like twenty seconds to collect his words lol. He told me it was a "very dominating woman" and left it at that.
Looking back at it, I feel bad for the position I inadvertently put him in. Generally not something any male teacher wants to explain to a 14 year old girl.
9. From MzElenaLinda:
Big fan of a certain DJ on a station I listened to via the internet. Got to writing regular emails that he would read on-air. I was witty! I was funny!
Happened to plan a vacation that involved being in same city as DJ He told me I should stop by the station and meet him.
I did. I never, ever, ever thought it a billion years he would put me ON AIR. And he did. And he asked me to read a promo for another DJ who has a difficult name. And I could not pronounce it. And I was desperately UNFUNNY in the banter he tried to engage me in.
My embarrassment went SO deep that I felt I was almost having an out of body experience "This is not happening. It simply cannot be real life."
I turned maroon, I soaked my clothes in sweat. I was shaking when I stood up to leave.
But I survived.
And oh, I was 40-something when this happened. And yes, he was in his 40s and knew my age.
And bless him...he mentioned me in a nice way in the book he later wrote about his years as a DJ.
10. From deviantsage:
I grew up in a very white, very rural town. When I was in school, people from our town (because of the town name) were frequently referred to as "Beaners". I had ZERO CLUE this was a racial slur, and assumed it was along the lines of being called a "Yankee" as a northerner; not friendly, but not profane.
ANYWAY, a beloved (and coincidentally Latino) faculty member passed away pretty unexpectedly, and I wrote a tribute to his life, which was read at his funeral and published in various places that included the phrase, "For the man who made "Beaner" a compliment".
I meant it in the way that his excellence gave value to our town, with zero irony, and was well into college before I realized my mistake.
And no, nobody corrected me.
11. From SevenTom:
Back when I was 15, I was leaving Ireland to move to the UK, and I admitted to my friend that I'd been in love (I was not f*cking in love at all, but I thought I was) with this girl in our class. She was all I ever thought about. As I was moving, I knew I would never see her again but for some reason I wanted her to know how I felt, but I couldn't tell her myself. So I wrote a cringy note and left it in her bag one day, then a few days afterwards, I texted my friend, telling him to tell this girl that I love her and will miss her very much.
He texted back, saying he showed the text to her. Her reaction was apparently not good at all. I felt like complete sh*t but then, whatever, I was moving away.
One year later we f*cking moved back. I was back in the school, back in her classes. Yeah I kinda never said a word to her for the next 3 years. I still hate my 15-year-old self.
12. From roobopp:
I stole a handshake from a guy walking right behind me. Not a wave, not a high five, a f*cking handshake. I just grabbed his hand and looked at him, then he looked past me. I turned around and there was another guy just standing there perplexed with his hand out. The only thing I could do was walk away without saying a word.
13. From burkie94:
Went over to my crushes house to study. After studying for a bit I put on a hockey game and ordered us a pizza. After we ate and studied some more she invited me upstairs to go to bed. I said no I'll just stay down here and watch the rest of the game. Realized about a week later I was invited to my crushes bed but turned it down for hockey. Yes, I am Canadian.
14. From sh*tspanner:
I said "I love you" whilst naked in bed with a girl I'd had a handful dates with. As the words were coming out of my mouth I was praying for a stroke.
I started that day a virgin. I ended that day a virgin.
I was 22.
15. From Mahr-Vehl:
In sixth grade I had a crush on this girl and so I followed her around on my bike at the homecoming pep rally, at our town square. I was absolutely conspicuous, and she and her friends even ran away one time when they noticed me once. Then when I was riding around looking for her I was stopped by a guy and his friends from a different middle school, he asked if I was following his girlfriend around.
I said no, but he knew I had, and said to stop cause I was creeping her out. He ended up being friends with some friends of mine and told them about it. I didn't live that down for a long time, and it makes me cringe every time I think about how lame I was.
I have a whole list of awfully embarrassing middle school stories.
16. From cheeks-a-million:
One of my best friends had a radio show on our university's station. I liked a guy in one of our classes and my friend and I thought it would be clever for him to interview me (off air) about my interest in that guy. We put the interview on a disc and gave it to him.
The feeling was not mutual. I graduated five years ago and I'm married now but this still makes me cringe so hard.
17. From Special_McSpecialton:
Career day in second grade. A cosmetologist was speaking to the class and asked if we knew anyone in the field. My aunt was one, so I raised my hand excitedly. She asks me if I want to follow in my aunt's footsteps and become a cosmetologist as well. My response? "I think it would be neat but my mom says I'm too smart for that."
It's been a very long time, but I still felt like the biggest a*shole ever. If I could, I'd go back and slap the taste out of my own mouth.
EDIT: I was owned by my smartphone. It doesn't agree that I am too smart, so it made me to smart.
18. From AmnesiA_sc:
I didn't hit puberty until about 16. Needless to say, I was a bit behind in how to deal with the ladies...so I got an internet girlfriend. Got my family to drive 900 miles to visit her for 2 days. A 48-hour cringe is what that trip was. It was so bad that when I was in the military I could get out of trouble with my drill sergeants by telling tales of my awful dating experience.
Take, for starters, the fact that both of our families were meeting at a pizza place. I walked in, saw her, and ran back out of the restaurant and pretended like I didn't see her, I was so scared. Came back in, sat next to her, and was too afraid to make eye contact the entire time. My head was on a 90-degree swivel between my mom straight across from me and the soda machine to the left of me.
You can imagine how the rest of this night went if I spent my first hour trying to work up the courage to look in her general direction. Now, this girl, let's call her Schmessa, worked at an ice cream place. Her broworker had been teasing her that I was only traveling all this way to "get some." So we go to her workplace and first we see a guy that I've talked to before who's pretty cool. He says, "Alright nice to meet you" and tries to do a super cool bro handshake. I try to keep up but I fuck it up about 4 times before he says "Nevermind, nice to meet you" and goes back to work. You can't imagine how embarrassed and scared I was from that alone.
We go into the ice cream place, she orders (because I have to try a malt - turns out it's basically a milkshake idk) and then this guy behind the counter comes over to us and asks me "So did you get some yet?" "Huh?" "Did you get some yet?" "Oh uh no we're good, she just ordered." F*cking idiot. He was asking if I "got some" and here I am thinking he didn't just see us order. He laughs and walks away while she loses what dwindling respect remained for me.
WELL, super. The agenda from here is to go to her house so our families can pow-wow, then we have to check into our hotel room, then Schmessa and I will be going to see a move - any movie. The family stuff is awkward but I get through it without any major incidents that make me feel like my face is melting off. We go to the hotel room to check in and my mom (probably knowing what an abysmal dork I am) has okay'd me to get my own room (score! If I wasn't me, that is). My step dad was unaware and he was hesitant to let me do that, but reluctantly agreed. As luck would have it, my room is on the other side of the hotel from my parents, THE SKY IS THE LIMIT!
So it's time to unpack our stuff, Schmessa comes with me to my room, and just like any horny teenager I... panic and start trying to come up with anything to do. Be funny, be aloof, be random, do something quirky. I'm a mess, I hate to even admit this. All I can come up with is to get really excited about the hair dryer. Jesus f*cking christ, it's been almost 10 years and I still cringe about this. I yell out to her about how great the hair dryer is, she should come look I'm dumping water on the counter and this amazing stupid f*cking hairdryer is drying it up SO fast. I can't possibly relate to you how bad I hate myself for this.
Mission success, I've wasted enough time that it's time for us to leave for the movie. Being the inner-neckbeard I am, I brought a sweatshirt along; not because I need it but because if she happens to get cold what a suave hero I'll be when I say "Here take mine." We get to the movies and as if on cue she says "Hmm, I'm kind of chilly." Well it's about this time I notice that I have forgotten the sweatshirt in my parent's car. I could have pulled her close to keep her warm or even "Not really, maybe you're just a pussy," would've gone over better than "Fuck, I brought a sweatshirt exactly for this occasion!" "It's fine!" "No, god how dumb I don't even need the sweatshirt I was going to bring it for you but I left it in my mom's car!"
The fact that I wasn't struck dead by lightning that moment is proof that God is not merciful. As we're nearing the ticket counter I realize that I have no idea how to buy a movie ticket. I've done it before but I never thought about it and now that I'm thinking about it, I have no idea what I normally do. "Two for Ocean's [Number], please" sounds right but is it too cliche? Do people actually say that or is that just on Happy Days? What else would you say? Time's up, we're there, I have to use the only phrase I can think of. It actually goes really well, my message gets across and the guy gives us our tickets without any weird looks. Thank God she didn't want snacks, that would've been impossible to get through.
I don't think I have enough space to get into what disgusting mess happened inside the theater right now, or the awkward body pretzel I invented to avoid kissing her the next day at the zoo, but trust me that it doesn't get much better from here. The fact that I remember this so vividly after 10 years is testament to just how catastrophic this trip was.
Okay, so, we make it past the ticket counter, she says she doesn't want snacks and inside I'm falling to my knees in thanks. We get into the theater and sit down next to each other near the back (I chose the back because some part of me still had faith in myself). I've been in a lot of stressful situations in my life, situations in the military that are manufactured to be stressful situations. None compares to the feeling of sitting next to Schmessa and experiencing the inner monologue vs my catatonic body.
We're there at the previews, my mind is racing so every second feels like a minute but damned if I can answer even the simplest trivia question that pops up there. God bless her, she still believes in me. She says, "Oh! I almost forgot to give you this!" She had made me a bracelet, so she takes my hand and puts it on her leg under the pretense of tying this bracelet on. Things are finally starting to look up! Not even past the previews and I've already got my hand on her leg. Well, friends, that is where my hand stayed for the duration of this two hour long movie. It's a surreal experience, because I didn't move much. She puts her hand on my leg, so I adjust my hand on her leg. She rests her head on my shoulder so I rest my head on her head.
That's the extent of the moving, but inside my head it's something like this for the duration of the movie (Warning, explicit language): "Okay you f*cking idiot, she gave you a freebie. Your hands already on her leg, that's a good start. You just have to kiss her. Okay, her head is on your shoulder, just look over at her, I'm pretty sure that's all it's going to take. F*ckface, this is the love of your life, you have until the end of this movie to kiss her or she'll never speak to you again! Kiss her or your life is over! Do it! Oh my god you f*cking idiot, how are you letting this happen. You will remember this moment for the rest of your life!" I'm sure this kind of self-coaching wasn't helping alleviate the pressure much.
So the movie ends and I'm feeling emotionally drained from all of the self-loathing I've just been through. It's a weird feeling to be filled with so much hate at yourself and excitement at cuddling with a girl you're in love with at the same time. Bizarre. Time for the drive back to my hotel. Her dad's already been calling asking her where she is so that at least gives me an out for not inviting her into my room. I don't even bother to feign disappointment. Instead, the whole drive home I'm in my head telling myself, "Okay, you bombed, but it can all be salvaged. Kiss her when she stops the car."
I prep myself for the moment the whole way there. Of course, I don't do it. I walk past my family's room and I can hear that they're up but I don't even bother to say hi, I'm too ashamed. At breakfast, I can't even look my parents in the eye. I imagine what they imagine what could've happened and I'm humiliated. I should be a man now, but holy fuck I'm just a wreck. Not that my mom would want me to get laid, but she probably thinks I just had a whole crazy awesome life experience...how would she feel if she drove 900 miles for this to happen?
Well, we all go to the zoo: my family and Schmessa. My mom, the vigilant wingman, makes my little brother and sisters go with them in the opposite direction of us. All through this trip she's throwing the classic signals out. Granted, she was a little shy too, I think. She was one of those people that I guess was kind of dorky and overlooked in high school and then right after high school got hot so she wasn't much more experienced at the time than I was. She just handled it better.
She'd do things like grab my hand and run through the jungle exhibit and then stop abruptly ("Oh look at the monkeys!") so we end up with our bodies pressed against each other. The eternal sir I am would apologize and take a step back and admire the monkeys with her. It's hot out so eventually we go into this bug room where the walls are covered with ant-farm style bug exhibits because it's air-conditioned. We sit down on these hay-bail seats in there.
This part was probably the cringiest to witness but I'm not sure I can do it justice in words. Picture the following scene: We sit down next to each other and I summon every bit of testosterone in me to put my arm around her as soon as we sit down. Good start! You may remember at the start of the story, I wouldn't look in her direction. I can now look in her direction but at her face is still a strained exercise for me so instead I look at centipedes and some weird beetle thing. This is extremely interesting to me apparently. She puts a hand on my leg.
It's in this moment that I determine my destiny and who I am as a man: I will not be upping the ante at all this game, I will simply call. She puts her hand on my leg, I put my hand on her leg. This means that now my outside arm is reaching across both of our bodies to put my hand on her leg. She puts her other hand on my leg so that she's leaning into me. F*ck, I'm all out of hands. I put my...leg...on her leg. That's right. One arm around her, other arm reaching across to her leg, both of her hands on my leg and my leg over her leg. She rests her head on my shoulder and I rest my face on her forehead. If I couldn't kiss her before I certainly don't have the wizardry at my disposal to figure out how to kiss her from this contorted mess. The worst part is that we are sitting in the center of one of the few air-conditioned areas of this zoo, so plenty of people saw this and no one stopped it or even asked if I needed help.
Eventually, we gave up on this notion and just went around seeing a few more animals before it was time for my family to take us out to dinner. I get to order first. Because of this experience I refuse to order first in a group anywhere else. I get the steak dinner, it sounds great. Everyone else at the table gets a sandwich or salad. That's not f*cking dinner, assholes. So now I look like a jacka*s sitting there with my king's portion of food while everyone else nibbles on animal food. But, iacta alea est as they say so I must eat it and eat it all. I have 3 times the amount of food to eat in the same timeframe. My mouth stays stuffed, apparently my brain removed the "table manners" section of memory to make room for "how to make a human pretzel at the zoo." The whole time she's completely overcome any anxiety she had, she's carrying on a conversation with my family and fitting in better than I did.
Luckily, we're at the end of the last day and the awkward stuff is about done. You've sat through enough of this, you deserve the semi-happy ending. We drive around for a short while and then go back to my hotel room. By this point I'm bored with the dryer so I turn on the TV. A little Family Guy and Futurama to set the mood. We're actually laying in the bed together though and we do this awkward scoot down the bed as we try to snuggle in closer together. Finally, I say f*ck it, we're in the final hours of this trip and I lunge at her to kiss her...and miss. I kiss her right between her eyes. I couldn't believe it, it was just like an episode of the Wonder Years that I thought would never happen in real life. But if it can happen, it happens to me. She's understanding though and kisses me back and we start the most intense makeout session of my life. It wasn't pretty, we're both total noobs going at it like we're starving, but it was pretty awesome to me.
A little background: She had told me before I visited her that she was religious and she was not into the idea of sex before marriage. I was disappointed but I was "in love" so that was fine with me. Disney did most of my coaching for relationships with girls so I was all about "she's worth the wait." So we're making out like crazy and I get bold and start sliding a hand under her shirt. She says "getting kinda personal there, aren't you?" So I immediately withdrew my hand and became resolute that I would never try anything like that ever again with her. My hand automatically navigates itself to her chest at one point and she says "I like where your hand is" and when I realize where it is I panic and move it way as fast as possible. Because that's probably what she meant when she said she liked it.
Eventually, she starts grinding against my leg. Then she's rubbing against my knee harder and harder and really getting into it. She's moaning and scratching my back and we're both still completely clothed. My mind is blown, I have no idea what's going on but I like what I'm seeing so I push my knee into her harder and she loves it. At one point her dad calls and tells her she's late and she says "I'm in traffic, construction is terrible" and I feel like a badass. Then she gets back to full-on f*cking my leg. At one point we end up sideways using the wall as leverage suspended over the gap between the wall and the bed. It's madness. She finishes, we kiss goodbye, and she leaves. I go to the vending machine and get a coke and make it back in time for the second airing of Family Guy. My knee got all the action but I felt like I just had sex. I was so content with myself.
Well the rest of the trip wasn't so great, we talked on the phone a lot, she goes out on a "not-date" with this guy that's been stalking her for a while now and obviously I'm not excited about that. She tells me she's addicted to making out and she wishes we would've just had sex. She cheats on me then dumps me then kinda just keeps me around as an emotional punching bag for a while, leading me on, telling me we should get back together and then telling me she never meant to lead me on. Eventually, she gives a guy at my school nudes to hack my MySpace and get it deleted. I never even got nudes :( At least I knee-f*cked her, I bet no one else can say that.
19. From NasakoManThrowaway:
I was 6 or 7 and at that age most people are pretty flexible. Well, I learned that I could put my foot behind my head and I thought that that made me cool. Well fast forward a couple of weeks and my parents are picking me up from a friend's house and they start chatting with my friend's parents. I decided "Oh, I should show them my cool trick,(putting my foot behind my head). So I get off of the couch and put my foot behind my head and right as I do that, I let rip a massive fart. I mean it was a good 7 to 10-second fart. Everyone was looking at me and I am CONSTANTLY reminded of it. Never gonna live it down.
20. From DoobaDoobaDooba:
I went to a really swanky Mardi Gras event in Louisiana as a guest and didn't know that the buckets of drinks were ordered per table because people were up and dancing. So I grabbed a drink from a table and was sitting nearby and my wife nudges me and says, "that dude at the drink table is seriously pissed looking at you." I just froze up for some reason, like do I face him or just awkwardly stare in every direction but his the rest of the night. I chose the latter. I felt bad and just left the drink where I sat, unopened after like 30 min. If I had just gotten up, apologized and given it back explaining the mistake it would have been no big deal, but as each minute passed it just got worse and worse. I still think about it while I try to go to sleep sometimes and the cringe keeps me awake...