On Friday afternoon, I suffered from intense humiliation whilst standing on a platform in Town Hall station.
I very rarely catch the train, but when I do so, I am frequently humiliated. Firstly because I can never work out which buttons to press on that little machine that gives you your ticket, and end up trying to stick $5 notes into a machine that only takes coins. And secondly, because I inevitably become disoriented and sit myself in the backwards-facing seats, and am too embarrassed to admit it wasn't by choice, so am forced to stay backwards for the duration of my journey, which actually makes me feel quite ill.
However, this was a different kind of humiliation.
I was on the platform to catch my return train to Bondi Junction, after meeting the writer Lisa Heidke for lunch in the city. (Did that sound impressive and sophisticated? I hope so. And she certainly was.)
I was on the phone to a friend, idly casting my eyes over the crowd. And suddenly, a woman materialised before my eyes. (Okay, so she didn't actually materialise - that would imply some kind of teleportation powers that I suspect she doesn't actually have at this point in time. But it sounded better than 'appeared'.)
It was TheNDM, blogger extraordinaire, walking down the station steps. Or at least, I was absolutely certain it was her.
TheNDM is a woman shrouded in mystery. Her real name and appearance is a secret fiercely guarded, possibly by a team of machete wielding Special Forces agents. She only shared her identity with me recently, and I felt as grateful as if I had been told a really weird name and shown some very funny photographs. Which, actually, I had.
So when I saw her descend the stairs of the station, I was quite wild with excitement.
I smiled at her, my absolute, widest, most expressive "Oh my god it's YOU!" smile, all the while trying to manage my telephone conversation and not fall onto the train tracks. And TheNDM - or was it TheNDM??? - looked at me as if I was a demented crack addict, and backed slowly away.
I flushed, a deep, throbbing crimson rising up my chest and over my cheeks (or so I assume, I didn't actually pull out a mirror and check). I buried myself in my phone, hoping desperately that TheNotNDM would think I'd been grinning maniacally at the person I was conversing with on the phone (as one does, despite the fact that they can't actually see you), and scurried onto the train.
I burned with embarrassment all the way back to Bondi Junction, and continued to do so as I walked back to my car, but then completely forgot about the entire episode when I got distracted by a nice pink lipstick whilst walking past a chemist. Such is the fleeting nature of shame.
Back at home an hour later, I opened my Twitter account. There was a tweet from TheNDM.
I am convinced I was just standing on the same train platform as @kerrisackville it read.
IT WAS HER! TheNDM! I was VINDICATED! But then... why did she diss me?
Well, turns out she recognised me, but then immediately second-guessed herself, and looked away in confusion. So the golden opportunity to meet was lost forever.
Except that it wasn't. We met the next morning for breakfast and bonded over eggs and coffee. And now we have a wonderful love story to share with our children and grandchildren. (Separate children and grandchildren. It's not like we're going to get married or anything! It didn't go that well.)
So the moral of the story is: If you see someone you think you recognise on a crowded train platform, SAY HELLO. At best, it will be the start of a beautiful friendship.
And at worst, the shame will pass when you look at a nice pink lipstick. Or buy it, as the case may be (*coughs*).