The Shame of a Failed TED Talk

02.11.13 2:14 PM ET

Patricia Pearson describes it.

The audience was silent as a crypt. My legs began shaking. I developed a surreal split-consciousness, where I was aware that my mouth was somehow going ahead with the memorized talk, while my brain ran its own commentary: “Holy fucking Christ, I’ve never been so embarrassed, it is actually possible that I’m going to fall over due to the ongoing instability of my legs.” Needless to say, the prospect was distracting. (Later, I would be reminded of an elementary school talent show we went to, when one of my daughter’s six-year-old classmates performed a bit of ballet, peed her pants, and then cried out in wonder, “Oh my God! I can’t believe I’m peeing my pants on stage!”)