Or how to embarrass yourself in under five minutes.

So, I was was in Thailand recently. And while I was there, among the many wonderful, curious, or just downright silly things I bought, was a phone cover. This wasn’t just a whim purchase though. I actually needed one because I had managed to put my old one down on the electric stove ring while it was on at home, and it now had a huge melted section at the back. Why did I do put it on the stove, you ask? Well, as one of my best friends likes to say fondly, “You may have a PhD, but you’re kind of a ditz, you know.” I know.

Anyway, this new iPhone cover was ridiculous and I loved it. It was hard clear plastic and  in the back panel was this blue liquid  that sloshed around like it was the ocean. And floating in it were these two rubber ducks. It was the ducks that sold me on this small piece of cheap ridiculousness. Not because they were cute, but because even though my friend and I decided they were supposed to be dressed as a lifesaver (with the little red and white striped cap) and a pirate duck, they just kind of looked like two ageing gay male stereotypes dressed to go to the discotheque.  Needless to say, I had to have it. And it has graced my phone ever since.

Anyway, last week, I went to see a very well-known journalist speak about her new book about the roots of a famous terrorist act. As you can imagine, it was a sedate affair. My friends and I got there and we were seated right in back of the hall on a stinking hot night. As we were waiting for it to start, one of my friends noticed my phone cover. And while I was waxing ridiculous with my gay seventies man theory, I was playing with the corner of the phone cover. Suddenly, something cracked (that’s what you get for a 10o baht souvenir, I guess) and this blue oily substance started slowly leaking out all over my hand.

That, too, of course, was the moment the lights went down and the interview started. Everyone’s clapping the entrance of this famous journalist and I’m frantically wiping blue oil off my hands with some napkins I find in the bottom of my bag and  desperately trying to rescue my newish iPhone from the leaky cover cover. I’m totally convinced it’s sitting there, drowning slowly in this gross, blue oil stuff that smells like a weird, toxic combination of peppermint and chemical. But you know what? The freaking cover will not come off. Will. Not. Come. Off.

I’m silently yanking and wrestling and doing everything I can besides thwacking my expensive (because I am a slave to Apple) against something hard to liberate it from it’s gay-duck-haven-turned-Poseidon. I’m sitting at the end of my row of friends, and luckily there’s no one beside me, but I can tell I’m bugging the woman two seats away from me with my silent histrionics. My distractions aren’t helped by the fact that this journalist is softly spoken and we’re right at the back. So, reluctantly, but like a, respectful audience member, I give up. I put the phone on the seat next to me, surrendering it to it’s fate and try instead to focus on the talk instead of the slow, oily drowning of my phone.

Now, one thing you should know about me is that I have my phone perpetually on silent. For several reasons, but the main one being I hate talking on the phone (a lot) so I’d rather not know if anyone is ringing. This also means I never have to worry about switching off my phone during films or shows. But of course, what I don’t know at this moment is that my little oil wrestling session with the phone must have knocked the silencer on my phone. Because right as said journalist has launched into her recount of Stalin’s expulsion of the Chechens in 1944, a phone starts ringing loudly into the darkness

And  because of the fact I eternally have my phone on silent, I don’t actually know what my ringtone sounds like. This means  it takes a few seconds for my thought process to spin from “Which f#$%^&* idiot didn’t turn their phone off?” to “Holy f#$%&!!” When I do finally clue in, I dive for my phone (it’s my sister calling. It’s always my sister calling. It’s like she has a homing beacon for the worst possible times to call. Seriously) and switch it off. Then red faced, I thrust the phone back down onto the chair next to me, and try and act like nothing happened.

But… because my life is like that, and because I threw it back on the chair in such a whirlwind of embarrassment, I didn’t put it down properly, and it slowly slides from the chair and lands with a resounding smack onto the wooden hall floor.

And that’s it. I’m dead from embarrassment. My face turns what I am sure is previously unmatched shade of purple as shuffle and tut quietly nearby. I turn it off and spend the rest of the interview staring straight ahead, not moving, and barely breathing. And later, when the light go up, and a couple of people turn around to see who that idiot sitting behind them was, I look as innocent as possible, and hide my phone on a pile of napkins.

And the miracle? My phone survived.