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Dax Phelan
Director , Producer , Screenwriter
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MY MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT (AKA "THE NOBU STORY")

I don’t know about you guys, but, when I’m getting to know people, one of my favorite things to do is to swap “most embarrassing” moments. 

Why? 

Well, there are multiple reasons really.  One, these moments are often great for a laugh at someone else’s expense.  Two, the way someone tells the story of such a moment, not to mention the specifics of the moment itself, often reveals a lot about their character.  Three, if you’re like me, then the sheer process of telling the story and getting it out there in the open can be therapeutic.  And, four, when you’re finished swapping these moments with people, a certain trust has been established.  You have each shared something very personal, with the understanding that neither of you will share it with others.  It’s your secret, so to speak.  (And, should the two of you ever get into a fight or if one of you decides to extort money from the other one, then these moments make great fucking ammo.) 

So, when it recently came to my attention that a good friend of mine – let’s call her “Mrs. X” – was feeling extremely embarrassed about an incident that happened a few nights ago, I pounced.  She was initially reluctant to tell me, but, one Dos Equis later, she gave it up.  And I have to say, Mrs. X wasn’t exaggerating.  Her moment was truly painful and cringe-worthy.  In fact, in many respects, it’s as good as, if not better than, my most embarrassing moment.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t time for me to reciprocate by sharing mine last night, so I thought I’d write a blog about it today.  Mrs. X, this one’s for you…

It all started one Saturday afternoon back in the Fall of 2002.  I was living with my then-girlfriend in Santa Monica and was working as the Creative Executive at Mace Neufeld Productions over on the Sony lot.  On this particular weekend, my girlfriend told me that she had some very good friends – a husband and wife – in town and suggested that we take them out to dinner.  “Where do you want to go?” I asked.  She suggested Nobu, a famous sushi restaurant in Malibu, which is co-owned by Robert De Niro.  I suppose it’s a great place “to be and to be seen,” if you’re into that sort of thing.  Personally, I couldn’t care less.  Prior to that, I’d been to Matsuhisa, Nobu’s sister restaurant (or would it be “brother” restaurant?) in West Hollywood, on multiple occasions and knew the cuisine was world-class.  And my girlfriend and I adored sushi.  Therefore, I looked forward to Nobu, which was just down the road. 

So, my girlfriend called the restaurant, in order to make a reservation.  Well, unfortunately, as is often the case with some of L.A.’s finer restaurants, the phone wasn’t answered by an actual person.  Rather, there was a recorded message that instructed those wanting to make a reservation to leave their name, the number of people in their party, the time they would like their reservation for, and their phone number after the beep.  So, my girlfriend said something like, “Phelan.  Party of four.  For 7 o’clock this evening,” and left our phone number.  The fact that we left our request on the voicemail, however, did not guarantee us a reservation.  That’s not how it works.  How it works is: if the restaurant decides to grant your reservation request, then they will call you back and confirm.  If they decide not to grant your reservation request, then they won’t call you back at all.  So, basically, you have to wait.  If you’re a big name, they call.  If you’re not, well… it’s anybody’s guess.  

Anyway, after several hours passed and we still hadn’t heard anything, I decided to call and make a reservation under my girlfriend’s name, in the hope that we’d somehow be increasing our odds of getting a table.  And guess what?  A couple hours later, the restaurant called back and offered us a table.  There was just one problem.  They could only seat us at 6 o’clock, which was way, way too early.  I mean, seriously, who wants to go out to dinner on a Saturday night at 6 o’clock?  This is when I should have graciously accepted the reservation.  What did I do?  I did something else.  In my infinite wisdom, I decided to get “creative.”  

At that point, one of my co-workers at MNP was a guy by the name of Ryan Patterson.  Like me, Ryan had started off as an intern at the company and, as he worked his way up the ladder over the next couple years, we became good friends.  One of the interesting things about Ryan is that, although his aunt and uncle are well known in the business, he never once relied upon or took advantage of nepotism in order to further his career.  He literally started at the bottom and earned everything he ever got, and I always admired him for that.  I’m not sure that I would have been able to resist such a temptation, especially if my uncle was Michael Lembeck, an actor-turned-director who worked on such TV shows as “Friends” and such films as “The Santa Clause 2,” like Ryan’s was.  Anyway, one time Ryan told me that his aunt and uncle, who lived in Malibu, frequented many of the local restaurants and could always get a reservation, regardless of what night it was or how crowded.  Furthermore, another good friend of mine, who I won’t name and who descends from Hollywood royalty, once told me that, whenever he tried to make reservations at certain restaurants for himself and his girlfriend and couldn’t, he would simply use his dad’s name – and it always worked like a charm.  He would get a great table, no questions asked.  So, I called Nobu and left a new, altogether different message and it sounded something like this: “Michael Lembeck.  Party of four.  For 7 o’clock this evening.”  Then, being sneaky, I left the number to a different phone.  

Mere moments later, that phone rang and someone said, “This is so-and-so from Nobu.”  

“Yes?” I replied, trying to sound as I imagined the real Michael Lembeck sounded like.  

“We have the Lembeck party down for 7 o’clock,” she said.  

My stomach did a somersault.  It worked!  

“OK, thank you,” I said, trying to sound casual, and hung up.  

That evening, our friends picked us up and we drove up the coast to Malibu together.  We arrived at Nobu right on time and found a crowd of people standing in the little foyer area, waiting to be seated like a bunch of plebeians.  My girlfriend stepped up to the hostess, whispered something like, “Four for Lembeck,” and, while the plebs looked on with envious eyes, we were led straight to our table.  It was a thing of beauty.  No, scratch that.  It was… magic.  

We ordered food.  We ordered drinks.  We celebrated my brilliance.

Then, about twenty minutes later, after we were good and comfortable, the hostess came back over to our table with a casually-dressed man in tow.  

“Is this the Lembeck party?” She asked.  

“Yes,” my girlfriend said.  

Then, the casually dressed man stepped forward and said, “I’m a huge fan.  Which one of you is Michael Lembeck?”  

The eyes of my co-conspirators all turned and focused on me, as if to say, “You got us into this mess.  You better fucking get us out of it, you daft prick.”  

This is probably when I should have yelled “Fire!” and run screaming from the building.  But what did I do?  I tried to talk myself out of it.  

“I’m not actually Michael Lembeck,” I confessed.  “I’m his nephew,” I then said, trying to exchange one lie for another.

“Oh, really?”  The guy said.  “What side of the family?”  

I was speechless.  Questions raced through my mind.  What side of the family?  How could this guy possibly know the family?  Who the hell is he?  

Then, the man said, “The reason I ask is because I’m Michael Lembeck and I’ve never seen you before in my life.”  

Then, he smiled, leaned in close, and said, “You’re so busted.”  

My co-conspirators were mortified.  I wanted to die.  

I apologized to Mr. Lembeck.  I told him that I’d never done anything like this before in my life, which was true, I might add.  Then, I explained to him that I was a good friend of Ryan’s, that I tried to get a reservation for 7 o’clock, that I couldn’t get one, and that I stupidly thought I’d use his name to get a table.  

Mr. Lembeck told me that, when he called to make a reservation for himself and his wife at 7 o’clock earlier that day, he was surprised to discover that someone with his name already had one.  That seemed a bit suspicious, so he accepted the only other time that they had available – 6 o’clock – and waited to see who was going to show up.  

I walked right into his sting operation, like the novice criminal that I was.  

I asked him if I could at least buy him and his wife a drink by way of apology, but he declined and said he had to return to his dinner.  

I apologized again, we shook hands, and he left.  

Needless to say, I could barely touch my food.  None of us could.  We all felt absolutely terrible.  But I’m sure that I felt the worst because I knew that I had dragged my friend, Ryan, into the whole mess.  I shouldn’t have mentioned his name, but I did.  And, now, I had to call him.  I wanted him to hear it from me first.  However, I figured that I’d wait until I got home to do it.  

A little while later, Mr. Lembeck returned to our table, with his wife in tow this time, as they were getting ready to leave.  He smiled and said, “Hey, I’m sorry to bother you guys again, but I just wanted to take a moment to introduce my wife to her nephew.”  

It was actually very funny, though it would be years before I’d be able to laugh about it.  The thing is, because Ryan and I were friends, I had actually met his aunt before on a couple of occasions.  I doubt she was thrilled to see me on this one, though.  Still, her sense of humor remained intact, as was evident when she suggested, “Next time, use Spielberg’s name and you’ll get a better table.”  

The next morning, when I finally reached Ryan on the phone, I confessed to my crimes, apologized for dragging him into it, and told him that, if he never wanted to speak to me again, I would totally understand.  

Ryan was understandably shocked and insinuated that I might be mentally retarded, but, I’m pleased to say, we’re friends to this day.  

Believe it or not, it took years for the “sting” of this incident to go away.  If it’s not the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, then it’s probably tied for first place.  Interestingly, the one thing that sticks with me the most is how cool Mr. Lembeck was about the entire incident.  I only hope that, if I ever find myself in his position, I handle myself with such grace, poise, and humor.  The guy’s got class.  

In fact, Ryan recently informed me that even now, whenever he and his wife make dinner plans with his aunt and uncle, Mr. Lembeck often jokes, “Why don’t you call your friend and see if he can make a reservation for us.”  

And even I have to laugh. 

-Dax

P.S. If anybody else has a "most embarrassing" moment they'd like to share, feel free to post it in the comment section.  I'd love to hear them...

almost 12 years ago 0 likes  25 comments  0 shares
Photo 23083
That's an awesome story.
almost 12 years ago
Photo 23271
so cluts. That's pretty neat though. I think if I used my real name in anything I'd even reject myself. wait, that doesn't make sense.
almost 12 years ago
Photo 33405
Ouch... but a great story to tell the kids. haha What were the chances of the real guy making reservations on the same night, huh? You should've bought a lottery ticket.
almost 12 years ago
Photo 32989
haha, that make me chuckle! :) I can't really think of an embarrassing moment to share...I make it a point to try and keep myself out of those messes :P i'll post back if I can think of anything though.
almost 12 years ago
Photo 36337
I have way too many embarrasing moments, all of which I blogged on my first day!! I think you are right and they are a great way of putting people at ease too. I would of wanted a black hole to open up and swallow me if I had been in you position. Mr Lembeck sounds a cool guy. Great story, i'm glad you can laugh about it now. For me my most embarrasing moment was Walking the entire length of International Drive in Orlando with my right butt cheek on show and unknowingly having somehow picked up coins on it.....At least if it had of been notes, it would of been worth the 20 odd car horn beeps.
almost 12 years ago
Bleupluie 89 sono
Dax, shake it off ya...we're all human...tho i've never done anything like that, but u just planted an idea for me...puhahaha...as long as i'm stuck in hometown, i don't think i'll have problems making reservations, just don't use my name, i think the reservations will have a hard time spelling my name...
almost 12 years ago
45862083 0af2fd4d5d
oh dude, that hurts to even read it!
almost 12 years ago
Photo 18001
L C
great story! I wouldn't have left the restaurant...all you guys had the guts and class to stay LOL that's like a Seinfeld / Friends episode LOL Awesome story to share :)
almost 12 years ago
Stephen 93 stephen
Haha ... that's an awesome story... Hey -- just for the hell of it, let's book a reservation at Nobu in HK using the name "Michael Lembeck" and see if it gets us a spot... I doubt he'd be THERE ... or WOULD HE?
almost 12 years ago
Photo 1831
wow, that must have sucked at the time. I wouldn't know how to get myself out of that. =p
almost 12 years ago
Photo 23902
That's pretty hilarious. I couldn't believe it when it turned out to be Mr. Lembeck. Well told!
almost 12 years ago
Fb img 1493569407689
Oh Dax thanks for sharing, that's a funny story!! Um, I'll have to think about that and get back to you..most embarrassing story, well there's been a lot! A short one is, a friend of mine was introducing me to a buddy of his, who happened to be the school hottie at the time..I introduced myself as Carmella after which school hottie was reminded of the candy bar Caramello (sp?)...he proceeded to talk for FIVE minutes about how much he liked eating them...then he slyly turned to me, made eye contact and asked if he could call me Caramello....I was motified! After I was like did he just imply..................? Horny stoners suck!
almost 12 years ago
Default avatar
LOL. That was funny!
almost 12 years ago
Photo 32914
hey lembeck, i can't even come close to this one so i'm not even going to try.
almost 12 years ago
Photo 34078
That's quite mortifying but good that you can laugh about it now and Mr. Lembeck was pretty cool. Maybe you should try a celebrity who you actually bear a resemblance to next time :P Don't have anything that can top that. I just saved a friend from leaving the ladies room with her skirt tucked into her underwear the other week though. We nobodies go to Next Door Nobu in NYC where a reservation is not required. I love the food there and it's funny how they make you eat it in a certain order.
almost 12 years ago
Photo 31984
G H
Ooo... I'm speechless, I'm not sure what to say... I would dig a hole and hide... None of my personal stories will beat this one...
almost 12 years ago
Jasontobin 82 jasontobin
Classic!!
almost 12 years ago
Jasontobin 82 jasontobin
Now tell them the other embarrassing story. Come on.. you know the one!
almost 12 years ago
Photo 16256
Haha. So smooth. I have no embarrassing tales to tell. How can that be? I live under a rock most of the time I guess. ;D
almost 12 years ago
Photo 23337
Thanks for sharing this story...It's absolutely great!
almost 12 years ago
Photo 16256
I don't see anybody sharing their embarrassing stories. I would be embarrassed to share mine. haha. Would having loud, passionate sex during which time a roommate comes home and hears everything be embarrasking? I believe it would be classified as such. haha.
almost 12 years ago
Photo 23175
Awesome story! On a sidenote, I usually book tables under my own name, but then often get a response that there are no tables available until the next week. Apparently, my name has the opposite effect of Lembeck. Not sure how this would be useful to anyone, though.
almost 12 years ago
Photo 4957
most embarassing?... too many to count ;P but I did manage to throw a bowling ball down the lane when the frame setter was still down... causing my entire table to laugh while the ball decided to roll back towards me after smacking into the frame.
almost 12 years ago
Photo 29080
O God. there are so many, although none involve famous people. I used to get paralyzed with fear when I had to speak in front of the class when I was a kid. No idea why I was so self conscious, who the hell among my classmates gave a tinkers damn what I said or did. Anyway, we were assigned to give a speech on a topic of our choice. I hemmed & hawed till the last minute then chose horses as my topic for some unknown reason because I knew f*ck nothing about horses. I stumbled, bumbled, and hyperventilated thru a pathetic speech that sounded something like...uh...horses....they come in different colors & sizes..and,uh...they have four legs and a tail.. and oh, yeah, they have four hooves, too. It seemed that few minute speech would never end & we had to do it from memory, extemporaneously or some such sh*t. Who knows in the 6th grade, I just learned the word when we got the assignment for Chrissakes. The finishing touch was at the end when I was supposed to ask if there were any questions. Some kind soul tossed me a gimme & asked what kind of horses pulled the Budweiser wagon and I just.couldn't.remember. In my mind the jolly song was playing, the wagon was rolling along, the horses with the hairy hooves were plugging away, but the synapse where the name Clydesdale was stored simply refused to fire. I slunk back to my seat ready to die of sheer embarrassment. I looked out the window & considered jumping but we were on the first floor & the windows were the jalousied type anyway. To this day every couple of years my alleged best friend will ask 'So what kind of horses pull those Budweiser wagons, anyway?' The best thing about embarrassing moments is how most of them turn into hilarious memories if enough years go by. Say, 250 in some cases, but in most cases much less. Funny topic for sure. Your story was beyond classic.
over 11 years ago
Photo 31055
I'm a bit late to comment on this but I was waiting for your reaction when I suggested how we could get cupcakes from that tiny shop in Beverly Hills and avoid 2 hours line :-) At least an assistant of someone important that we're 80% sure don't like cupcakes lower the chance of being caught eh....hilarious!!!
over 10 years ago

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\"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.\" -Henry David Thoreau \"The harder I work, the luckie

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Languages Spoken
english
Location (City, Country)
Los Angeles, United States
Gender
male
Member Since
June 22, 2007

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