If Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier wasn’t the most embarrassed person in the country last week, it’s hard to say who was.
While attending a Toronto Raptors event celebrating Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy on Dec. 5, Bernier was thrown a curve ball when a journalist asked him what awareness he had of the South African leader growing up. The hockey player then stated Mandela was “one of the most known athletes in the world,” who everyone knew for “being the type of person that he was off the ice and on the ice.”
Hockey players are known for giving pretty interesting interviews, but that one takes the cake.
Within 48 hours of being posted online, the video had over 70,000 hits.
As funny as the clip was, I felt genuine embarrassment for the poor guy. We’ve all been there. We’ve all had those moments where someone has been talking to us about a certain topic in such a manner that we feel we would look foolish if we admitted we had no clue what they were talking about.
I’ve faked my way through plenty of those conversations. Usually all it takes is words like ‘Yeah,’ ‘Right,’ ‘Sure,’ ‘Of course’ or, for the extra-oblivious moments, an over-emphasized ‘Well, exactly.’ But sometimes the I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about fake-out is more obvious than others.
I’m very glad the cameras weren’t rolling during some of the gems I’ve said or done over the years. In that sense, I feel bad for celebrities and politicians who are constantly under public scrutiny for even the smallest of whoopses. I wouldn’t have thick enough skin to handle photographic and video evidence of my blunders being shown online nowadays, not to mention the kinds of memes they lead to.
The “Star Wars Kid” was utterly humiliated when a classmate uploaded his video to the Internet, resulting in unimaginable ridicule. Rebecca Black transferred to a new school after she was bullied incessantly for her song ‘Friday,’ dubbed the “worst song ever.”
Sometimes it’s easy to laugh off those awkward moments, but other times they can haunt you for years.
I had one of those moments I had to laugh off in Grade 11 art class, where a key point in an assignment was somehow lost in translation. I thought we were simply supposed to do an abstract art piece. Apparently it was a little more complex than that.
The day of the presentation in front of the whole class, I showed my oil painting of a vampire wrapped in thorn-covered vines in a field of sunflowers.
Teacher: “That’s great. But how do you relate this to your own life?”
Me: (trying to keep composure while thinking of some deep, meaningful jabber to spew) “…Well, really, aren’t we all vampires wrapped in thorny vines with sunflowers growing around us at one point or another in our lives?”
I’m not sure if the dead silence that filled the room was a good or bad sign. I got an A, regardless.
In Bernier’s case, I don’t think anyone would have been overly offended if he admitted he didn’t know too much about Nelson Mandela. And even if admitting that is a little embarrassing, it’s definitely not as awkward as assuming he had a legendary slap shot.