Allow me to clarify, I am in no way qualified to give advice on this subject matter. I am in fact the repeatest of offenders. We’ve probably half met eyes before, forgotten each other’s names, reached for the same salad tongs at the same time. I am also in no way trying to make light of a very serious issue. Social Awkwardness is diagnosable, but for those of you without a doctor’s note, I attempt to bring clarity here and maybe a glimpse of direction out of your current situation.
My mom once stood tucked away in a corner at some austere benefit trying, successfully, not to be noticed in a crowd of benefactors she really couldn’t hold conversation with. This was before the iPhone, before the classic phone-check was a classic. She leaned back slightly to avoid getting bumped and her hair caught fire on a stray candle. Moral of the story: Being awkward is genetic and it can and will set you on fire.
How was your break? We battled Bio together every day for a whole term and that’s all I can really think to ask you in Foco. Further, at what point is it appropriate to ask your name? No, let’s just mutual friends each other until I know your Facebook profile better than I know your face.
Yeah it was so great seeing you. Only 5 minutes later can we both get in line behind each other at Collis. To resume or not to resume that already empty conversation . . . I’ll let you weigh your dumplings in peace.
This is my friend from Middlebury. No, please none of this hand-shake business—can we just get rid of it or hold off until we’re old? I propose a chest bump or, fine, a hug. Always go in for the hug. And plan ahead. Are you a high hugger? A low hugger? A high-low hugger? These details are important, just ask my cousin Will. Every. Christmas. Eve.
The return home. I will say, for the most part, I do this to myself. Why must I always insist on going to the grocery store? Everyone knows, the damage is regularly done near the produce. That mom of the girl I was never really friends with when she transferred to another middle school but I’m pretty sure she goes to Auburn now—she’s waiting on aisle 3. And I will be sure to bump carts with my least favorite high school Latin teacher who will force me to pretend to be super involved in Dartmouth’s Classics Society. I will just stay home.
Can we laugh about it yet? Ode to the nice boy on my floor (and the unisex bathroom). When you walked in on me examining blackheads in that androgynous get-up for awkward situations only, it was too late. I was leaned all the way over the sink, right up to the mirror really getting into it, hands at the ready. We apologized and laughed; I cried, but only on the inside. I decided not to mention it on our next encounter. Darn you, faulty bathroom locks. Can we really not laugh about it yet?
In the middle of the green, crossing the street, holding the door open. I pledge to be assertive. I pledge to stride through that intersection (secretly praying that you don’t). And when I hit you, the curb, oncoming traffic, or the backside of a swinging door, I will not be sorry.
Whatever I do, I pledge not to pretend like I am checking my blitz. I will not even actually check my blitz. We know what you’re doing and where to find you, Fake-phone-answerers and Impromptu-texters everywhere. Rest assured, the one Prof you have not responded to on blitz about that re-take is actually in front of you in the flesh and he wants answers.
I know you know that we know that we both know—so let’s pretend we don’t. This is awkward. I am going to have to ask for my roommate’s sweater back. I know you didn’t mean to spill on it, lose it and then find it again, and then forget it in your room for the past month and I’m pretty sure we haven’t talked since that erm-night (I blame myself really). But since we’re both on the same page and if you really want us to move on then you’ll help me get her sweater back from that night when I left it in your room. Let’s play pretend or just, play dumb.
You and I, we are not like those socially inept kids in the movies. I do not pride myself with thick-rimmed glasses or pocket protectors. I can eat alone and pretend like it was the plan all along. But while I’m stuck with it for the rest of eternity, I will strive to make my awkward funny. Like Kristen Wiig’s hands, or Steve Carell’s stare, people will like me only when I’m awkward. Kumbaya to this life, in awkward.