Your basket (0 items) | view basket
Spare me the Blushes26 July 2010 Zie Nederlandse versie
by Arnold Jansen op de Haar
One day on your way to work you think: well, why not, I will call my boss dad (or mum when the boss is a woman). It is hard to take such an idea seriously. Yet calling your boss mum or dad is the biggest slip-up you can make in the workplace, according to British research which contacted 3000 employees. So it does seem to happen.
Why, for heaven’s sake, would you call your boss dad? Actually, it helps if you are a member of the mafia and your boss resembles Marlon Brando in The Godfather. Which job would invite a man to call his boss mum? The only person in this position is really the Prince of Wales and even in his case it wasn’t until his fiftieth birthday that he dared to address his mother in public as ‘Mummy’.
According to the same research women are most embarrassed when, after a visit to the ladies, their skirt gets caught in their underpants. Throwing up in front of your boss, as well as sending a personal email to the wrong person, also score highly on the list of blunders. Luckily I have never experienced this sort of thing; sending a Valentine card to the wrong address is my worst disaster. On the other hand, I had written my full name on it!
Slip-ups are defined by what other people think of you. They’re about embarrassment. I remember a quite formal discussion when I was eighteen. During it my finger got stuck in the teacup’s ear. Nowadays I would simply state: ‘My finger seems to be stuck,’ but back then I pretended nothing had happened and sweating profusely proceeded to free my finger. They were the longest minutes of my youth.
This reminds me of an anecdote involving Cardinal Basil Hume (1923-1999). He once asked someone to try on his Cardinal’s ring and once on, it promptly didn’t want to come off.
The great thing about growing older is that you suffer less from embarrassment, although this feeling never disappears completely. Imagine you walk down the street and in front of you strolls a beautiful woman. She is wearing a short top so that you can freely admire her back. My experience is that precisely at that moment she pulls the top down as though she has eyes on the back of her head. I immediately decide to concentrate in future solely on lampposts, electricity boxes and pavement tiles.
Because I work from home, I often use the lifts in my flat. Sometimes I don’t feel like making small talk. Standing behind my door I make sure that not a sound is to be heard from the gallery before venturing outside. Or I see someone entering the building through the front door, in which case I make an extra detour to avoid a conversation in the lift. It makes me feel self-conscious.
There is also shame on behalf of others. Someone else does something stupid and you die from embarrassment. In The Netherlands there are currently serious talks with Geert Wilders about forming a government, so I sit in front of the television feeling ashamed. I have the same feeling when watching the Dutch entry in the Eurovision Song Contest and, in general, when seeing leggings. Finally you spot a lovely summer dress walking down the street only for leggings to show up under it. Sometimes even with a laced hem. It just reminds me of long underpants.
I used to have this dream in which I walked outside without any trousers. This seems to be quite a popular dream. Dream interpreters say this is related to the fact that you do not dare to show your true feelings. This has never happened again since I started writing. I can highly recommend it: if you dream a lot about walking down the street without any trousers become a writer.
© Arnold Jansen op de Haar
© Translation Holland Park Press
You can leave your comment on our forum.
Cycling for Europe
The Poet and the Perpetrator
Geert Wilders - The Movie
Don't do it Amy
Breakfast with Kate
Tell a friend
Back to magazine
Magazine archiveMay 2013
NewsJustice for Srebrenica
11 July 2010
Remembering the fall of the Bosnian enclave
Find out more
Frederik van Eeden Poetry Competition
23 July 2010
Find out more
King of Tuzla
02 July 2010
Find out more
01 July 2010
Frederik van Eeden Poetry Competition Roundup
Find out more