Sunday, April 15, 2012

Awkwardness 101

Once, while staying for an extended period on the 20th floor of a high-rise building, I rode the elevator with a middle-aged man who seemed to be particularly intimidated by my presence. As I stepped in to the enclosed space, he smiled nervously and then, for the entire length of our ride, spoke non-stop. He shared his entire medical history, complete with symptoms, diagnoses and treatments, all before we reached the ground floor. Now, I doubt very highly that this dude expected to receive medical advice from me. I wasn't wearing a white coat and stethescope, was I? But I understood his impulse of going off at the mouth like a house on fire: he was nervous. Had he not stepped off the elevator and run away like a little girl being chased by the Big Bad Wolf I would have yelled out, I know why you're doing this, bro, but fear me not! I, too, am a member of the verbal diarrhea-when--nervous set! But I didn't get the chance because I was too busy trying to figure out whether the gout he'd been diagnosed with was contagious. (FYI. Contagious. Nope. Painful and gross? Definitely.)

For the most part, being socially awkward is a stigma. The media stereotype depicts it as someone who lacks self-confidence, reads a lot of manga, lives in a basement and takes yearly trips to Comic Con. But is being awkward necessarily a bad thing? According to today's media, I would say absolutely not. In fact, awkward comedies are this past decade's fundamental source of humor. Think of the title characters in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin", "Zoolander"... basically any character on The Office.

While we've all found ourselves in horrifying social situations in which something occurs unexpectedly, I have always personally felt the feelings that result from not being able to recover from the awkwardness that ensues can have their benefits. Lucky for you, I have spent a good portion of my life staring moments like those square in the eye, and know that, in my soul of souls, this is what makes me who I am and - Goddammit!- I'm good with it.

Here are a few choice examples of awkward moments that I played out personally. Some effed me up for days afterwards. Several have made me want to quit the earth immediately afterwards experiencing them. And, sadly, a few may be familiar to you. If so? Welcome to the tribe!
  • My daughter corrected me recently whilst helping with her math homework. She is in the 3rd grade.
  • After a hearing a great track in a film we were watching, I spontaneously predicted that the song was "gonna be huge". My husband turned to me and revealed that the song I was hearing was Goodbye Stranger by Supertramp.
  • I fell up the stairs at Massey Hall after a concert. I had drunk water all night.
  • I laughed at a joke about oral sex while watching a film with my 65 year old mother.
  • I realized too late that I had been imitating the accent of an English friend. Poorly. Yes, she was in the room with me at the time.
  • I frequently have to hold up the index and thumb of both of my hands in order to determine right and left.
  • I had a conversation with a woman at a barbeque who was breastfeeding her 6 year old.
  • I sat on a friends leather couch during a heat wave and then had to explain that I wasn't farting every time I moved.
  • I referred to a woman who I have worked out with for going on 4 years now, "Erin" when her name was actually "Emily. 
  • I referred to a hockey player as an "Arse Wipe" to someone who was wearing his signed jersey.
  • In order to get out of sidewalk conversation with someone I didn't want to talk to in the first damned place, I concocted a story about meeting a friend. I ran into them 5 minutes later in the butcher shop.
  • The hygienist asked me a question while I her hand was in my mouth. I drooled on it by way of reply.
  • My daughter asked me once why I always whispered for people to "Slow the puck down!" while we were driving. I told her it was playoff season and I was thinking about hockey.
  • I checked myself out in the window of a parked car only to realize that there was someone inside.
I could go on for days here. I'm gonna stop now.


  1. On the bright side, you didn't have the conversation with the 6 year old, because that would really be awkward!

    "Oh come on Cody...The X-box is still on and we agreed best 2 out of 3!....Oh, er...uhh...I'll let you get back to er....nevermind. He's, um...very good at Halo you know..Just showing me how to beat that level..I'll, uhhh..let you two get back to ...I'll be on the couch....over there...on the couch."