I used to work for a residential construction company in Miami. I was 17 and worked as a laborer on an all Hispanic crew. None of them spoke English. But I was not worried. I had taken my two years of required Spanish in high school. I had it under control.
Unfortunately, I had also taken 3 years of French and a year of German. So, all the languages were jumbled up in my mind. Plus, I am the type of person that immediately forgets 87% of the curriculum as soon as I passed the class. And even more so the second I received my diploma.
But, it turns out, I picked Spanish up pretty quickly. I was immersed in it every day. And they were all too eager to teach me how to curse anyway. And really, what else do you need?
One day I was carrying a piece of scaffolding. It had been raining heavily. Normal Florida rains are nothing compared to the intense tropical downpours of Miami.
This scaffolding is not light. It ranges between 80-100lbs. So there I was, moving pieces of scaffolding to set up a structure.
And I slipped and fell in the mud. I fell hard.
So hard that the scaffolding flew out of my hands with a force that would have been comical had it not had the potential for so much destruction. Luckily nobody had been standing nearby or they could have been seriously injured. So, the scaffolding went flying and I landed in a very awkward split.
I am not a flexible person. I couldn’t even touch my toes until I began doing yoga a few years ago. I mean, I couldn’t even touch my toes as a child. I would get to my knees and then have to stop.
It turns out my jeans weren’t very flexible either. They split up the inseam from my knee all the way up to the seaming at the crotch. You know what seam I’m talking about. That weird little nub that makes you look like you have an erection even when you are a girl.
I stood up and brushed myself off, not that you can really brush mud off. Which, by the way, I was also covered in.
The flap of my pants was hanging down and my underpants were horrifyingly exposed to everyone. To this day I’m glad I was wearing underpants at all. But they were an awful, neon yellow.
As fate would have it, so was my necklace that day. It was something I had made myself (I am still quite the jewelry maker these days) and the center bead looked exactly like a lemon drop.
I swear I don’t normally match my underwear to my jewelry. Really. But for some reason, on this fateful day, I was.
I didn’t have any spare clothes. My ride was away running errands and not returning for several hours. And there was nothing I could use to stitch up my torn pants.
At first I tried duct tape, but my pants were soaked from the puddle. Duct tape is amazing, but it won’t stick to soaking wet denim.
Then I tried staples. Which was tricky at best. Have you ever tried to staple your jeans, at the crotch, while you were still in them? Risky stuff. And in a way, kind of exhilarating. Or maybe I was just feeling high from my extreme, intense, soul crushing embarrassment.
Of course, my co-workers were having a great time. They even offered to help me.
One of the contractors that was out at the job site eventually gave me a few safety pins. I swear they must have called each other to come out. I think all our outside contractors were working that day. Even the sexy married guy whose advances I had so righteously rebuffed only a few days earlier.
The safety pin helped me contain whatever sense of shame I had left. Almost none by that point.
It was too late for me, though. For the rest of the few months I worked there my co-workers had all nicknamed me ‘amarillo.’