The Scientist and the Slippery Rope

— I recently unearthed a birthday card from my mother that embarrassed me at the time. “Count stars, listen to the wind, laugh, play, dream,” is what it said, with a little girl looking at the moon — Geez, Ma. How embarrassing.

Everyone said, “Look at the Emperor’s new clothes. They’re beautiful!” They all tried to conceal their disappointment at not being able to see the clothes, unwilling to admit their own stupidity and incompetence. A child, however, who had no important job, went up to the royal carriage and said, “The Emperor is naked.”

What is embarrassment but a slippery rope between pride and shame? “The most uneasy condition for me is to be suspended on urgent occasions, and to be agitated between hope and fear,” wrote Montaigne, more than five centuries ago. I found out that the science of embarrassment is called emderatology. Upon further inspection, I found no scientists mentioned in this particular field. Hence, I am the first, ready to do some field work.

My dog always did her business in the yard, leaving it where it could be found and properly filed with convenience, thus endearing herself for frequent strolls through town without trepidation, until that one time at the graveyard.

Perhaps not knowing any better, she seemed to exhibit no embarrassment whatsoever as she squatted on the hillside.

With no bag, nor means to scoop, I blushed. But soon I realized, there was no one watching, which led me to the age-old philosophical conundrum, if a dog poops in the cemetery where the undead are absent, does it still stink?

Why the blush? Was returning with a scooper uncomfortable? Was the slaughter of 50-some-odd exotic animals in Ohio an uneasy condition?

Are the barbaric beheadings of brave young journalists in Mexico agitating you? How about the Republican debate in Vegas?

Vote on this Story by clicking on the Icon


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment