- Introducing someone as your husband or wife. It’s like saying, ‘Here is someone I often have sex with’. Or if not often, then at least now and then. Introducing someone as your boyfriend or girlfriend is even worse. And describing someone as your lover is the gold standard of embarrassment. Fortunately, no one says that, at least not in South Africa.
- When someone tells you they are ‘trying to have a baby’. I don’t know where to look. I have a friend who likes to reply, ‘Don’t let me get in your way’.
- Walking past a group of teenagers. Well, that’s more humiliating than embarrassing.
- People posing for photographs intended for social media, i.e. just
about every photograph nowadays. It was one thing taking a happy snap for the family album that’s opened on rare occasions – it is quite another being a mini-broadcaster with an audience of at least 300. Viewers of pictures taken for social media know immediately how you want to be perceived: sexy, ironic with great breasts, blissfully bonded. (I’ve been watching people photograph themselves endlessly on Camp Bay beach over the past few days.)
- Buying a particularly big packet of toilet paper because it’s on special. I know, everybody goes to the bathroom. But there’s something about walking through a shopping centre with a huge and unwieldy rectangular package of Twinsavers that makes people think all you do is sit on the toilet.
- Being in a tour group. I don’t actually know whether this is embarrassing, but I have a sense it is when I see these big groups of chattering tourists with a tour leader in the front holding up a sign.