Merriam-Webster defines Embarrassment as a feeling of self-consciousness, shame, or awkwardness. There is also a little-known medical definition; difficulty in functioning as a result of disease <cardiac embarrassment> <respiratory embarrassment>.
I think that medical definition is lacking. Awkward embarrassment produces a severe physical reaction in me that requires immediate attention. The onset is slow but builds into a spectacular craptastic failure of bodily functions including, but not limited to, cardiac, respiratory and lower GI tract puckering.
The first twinge of trouble is a tightening in my forehead that squeezes any remaining respect from my face. This sensation seeps into my frontal lobe generating sharp lightening-like jolts that render all cognitive functions useless. It radiates to my extremities zapping major organs on the way down as I contort like Elaine dancing at a company party. Sadly Elaine’s moves have nothing on my macarena. I catch my last breath before a second and more severe round of physical hijacking takes over.
After coping with heart palpitations, sweaty folds and an intense burning sensation in my face, neck, and upper arms, a series of muscle contractions push all remaining air from my lungs. Sounds slow to a dull drawl. A black cloud seeps into my line of sight from all corners of my periphery, and one of two things happen; the cloud renders me blind and I pass out reaching for a paper bag, or the cloud gradually releases back out to reveal the world as it is, horrifying. If conscious, I’m left with a partially electrocuted brain and a nervous laugh.
The true horror of embarrassment reveals itself off and on over the next few decades when a thought or nuance triggers the memory and an ordinary day turns into a mental Groundhog Day. The embarrassment plays over and over like a broken Sonny and Cher record. This is the evil curtain call of embarrassment and why, I believe, Merriam-Webster’s medical definition should be revised.