Maybe 10 years ago I read Shirley by Charlotte Bronte, a general Victorian love story, most of the details of which I've long since forgotten but the quote above has never left me. One of the main characters, Caroline, is recalling an embarrassing story:
"It was my doing, and one of those silly deeds it distresses the heart and sets the face on fire to think of: one of those small but sharp recollections that return, lacerating your self-respect like tiny penknives, and forcing from your lips, as you sit alone, sudden, insane-sounding interjections."
In summary, why is it that embarassment is the most potent of emotions?
Recollections of guilt, fear, happiness, all fade in time but not shame. I often recall moments of embarrassment from last week or 25 years ago and the feeling of shame that comes with it is as strong as the first time round. I too end up screaming in a small way and covering my face with my hands to control the heat brought on by the sudden shame.