I have what I believe medical doctors diagnose as an “overactive blush mechanism.”
It’s really unfortunate, because my coping mechanism against embarrassment is to entirely disregard it; in fact, one of the only things that embarrasses me is looking embarrassed. I could fall down a flight of stairs, landing at the feet of the President and losing my toupee in the process, then pop up with the sort of suave carelessness that would indicate that I had actually planned said fall. . .then, 5 minutes later, rush to the restroom in humiliated tears because I blushed at a joke someone made.
Undergrad, who looks about 12, approaches my desk at work: “Can you help me find a book about economics?”
Me: *blushing* “Sure. . .what specifically are you looking for?” Lauren. . .are you blushing? Why are you blushing?
UG: “I dunno. . .I need to do my freshman research paper on economics. So if you could just point me to the section. . .”
Me: *feeling my head start to get heavy, since all the blood in my body has abdicated to my face* “Sure, let me look up the section.” Lauren Julide Wiest, he’s a FRESHMAN! Why are you blushing like this? It’s practically illegal! Stop it!
At this point, the undergraduate is staring at me in part curiosity, part badly disguised horror. He has a right to do so. Here I am blushing like Hestor Prynne, and all he did was ask me about economics. If a cute graduate student ever decides to ask me where to find a book about geography, I may very well go up in flames. (Actually, a certain student of attractive philosophy did ask me at one point if I could help him find “x”. The answer, unfortunately, was that no, I could not. And I served it up on a platter of beet-red face. But I lived to tell the tale, because I’m a survivor like that. Destiny’s Child would be proud).
I’m a big fan of Victorian and Romantic era literature, and the heroines in said literature are always luring in the rich men of their dreams by blushing becomingly. I wish they would give me one or two of their secrets, because I have absolutely no concept of what it might mean to blush becomingly. While conversation and traffic have each been known to become hopelessly side-tracked by the fascinating sight of my complexion changing from the color of waxy death to the color of Superman’s briefs*, I suspect that the spectators are not thinking, “My, how becomingly this charming heroine blushes!” Perhaps they are, and I simply don’t speak the language of well-hidden compliments, but I tend to take their comments, such as, “Holy COW, you’re so red!/I don’t even think I have that much blood in my body!/Dooooood. . . .” at face value.
I just hope others aren’t inferring much about me based on the same criteria.
*Question: do you feel comfortable with the idea that the fate of the free world may be the hands of a man who wears his underwear outside his clothes?