Life in Awkward, Part I

This fall, I spent the term in Scotland. It was amazing and transformative and I learned so much about myself and the world….but nobody cares. More importantly, one night, I got myself into an unusual, awkward situation. And by “got myself into,” I mean, “mostly— if not entirely—caused it.” It started with a concert.

At first, I wasn’t going to go. I liked Passion Pit. I had their most popular songs. But I didn’t have their entire discography or spend an extended amount of time googling them. In short, I wasn’t a True Fan, so I didn’t want to take a ticket away from someone who was.

My friends pointed out that this was a stupid reason not to go to a concert. I’m glad they did, because it was awesome (except a bit terrifying at times, who knew a crowd could aggressively mosh-pit to Moth’s Wings?)

During the concert, I happened to notice the sweater the synth player was wearing. When it was over, I happened to notice him walking past us, heading upstairs. (The venue involved a stage area downstairs and a bar area upstairs.)

“Umm…are you sure?” my friends said, when I pointed this out. How many people are walking around wearing reindeer sweaters? (Actually, more than you’d think, as this is Scotland.) But, yes, I was sure.

As a brief sidenote, I am not the type of person who meets famous people. These things don’t happen to me. I am more the type of person who gets a jelly doughnut that turns out not to have any jelly in it. (That has happened). Except, the events that followed are probably why these things don’t happen to me.

After briefly debating with a friend whether talking to Reindeer Guy was a good idea or a bad one, I went for it. Opportunities like this don’t pop up often. Also, my brother is a musician. Half his friends are musicians. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that, shockingly, musicians really like talking about their music. He might even appreciate it. So I went over to him, and he seemed surprised but happy to be recognized. See, he did appreciate it! I was basically doing a good deed here! Practically doing him a favor!  He introduced himself, and we talked for a while about music, Scotland, Dartmouth, and pub suggestions (he asked for a few).

At one point I distinctly remember telling him about when Ke$ha came to Dartmouth, and thinking to myself, why the fuck am I talking to the synth player of Passion Pit about this?

a) Of all the things to possibly talk to him about—what is wrong with me? This is why I should not be allowed to talk to people. I should walk around with tape over my mouth, always.

b) I don’t think this is what my brother would have in mind by ‘musicians love talking about their music.’

Anyway, I’m not sure this guy is famous, exactly; I have never met anyone who has gone “Passion Pit? You mean, the band that Xander The Synth Player is in?!?!” So the fact that I recognized this obscure band member possibly made it seem like I was a diehard fan. Especially because I didn’t stop and explain that it was only because of reindeer.

At any rate, it was an exciting thing to have happened. I was slightly awkward, but not outlandishly. I mean, yeah, I got flustered and babbled on about fucking Ke$sha, but it’s not as if I came across as a stalker or anything…now that would be awkward…

After we parted ways with him, we went to a pub, half-joking, what if Passion Pit came in. We’d just called it a night and begun walking home when we decided, on a whim, to duck into one last pub. We stayed there for a bit before deciding to really call it a night. In the doorway, we passed a group of scruffy, sweater-wearing guys who looked familiar… No fucking way… “Uh, guys, that was the band,” I said. “Are you sure?” my friends said. As they had just been on stage in front of us, yep, I was sure. Also, yes, 89% of Scottish guys are scruffy and sweater-wearing, but this was definitely Passion Pit. Reindeers don’t lie.

Obviously we did a 180 and went back inside. It was not time to leave yet. Please.

They were a band we’d just seen in concert, that a large portion of the world listens to, and now they were casually standing in front of us. When would this ever happen again? One of my friends was too awestruck to move, and the other was too normal of a person to consider approaching them. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. So I went up to the lead singer. “Excuse me, sorry to bother you, but we just saw your concert…Good job! And now you’re here…and we are too…I had some sort of point in mind when I opened my mouth and started saying things, didn’t I?”

But even though this was all just a crazy coincidence, even though I am not a diehard fan, I do not stalk them, and do not have a shrine dedicated to them, all of the signs were not pointing in my favor:

1) I had been the one to recognize the obscure member (just because of the reindeer! But they didn’t know that, and so, for all they knew, I recognized him from his picture on my shrine to them).

2) We appeared to follow the band inside (but we were there first! But again, they didn’t know that).

3) Also, this particular pub was not one of the places I’d told the synth player about when he asked me for pub recommendations. So, this coincidental re-meeting, at a random place I hadn’t even mentioned to him, did not look good…or seem very coincidental….

4) I was the one who approached them—only because I was the one who cared the least. Not that I don’t like them, but I liked them the least of my friends and was therefore okay with being the embarrassing one. But I couldn’t exactly explain, “Oh, I’m not stalking you, in fact, I like you the least!”

So, all of these things looked highly questionable, and did not help my “really, not stalking you!” case. And, since they’ve become well-known, I’m sure they’ve had to deal with real stalkers before.

The lead singer took a picture with us, but he didn’t stick around and chat after (although maybe that was for the best, so that I didn’t have another chance to get flustered and blab on about idiotic things…sorry if anyone reading this is a diehard Ke$sha fan). He also didn’t introduce himself to us like the synth player had. You’re lucky the lead singer is usually the most famous, Michael, otherwise I wouldn’t know your name.

Also, a detail that haunts me: the pub was pretty empty, so there wasn’t anyone in the immediate vicinity to take the picture…so the bass player took it. He offered to, but still— the bass players of the world always get shafted for the lead singers, and we did nothing to contribute to fixing this. Bass Player (according to Google his name is Jeff) didn’t linger to talk either. But both Jeff and Michael were perfectly nice, so maybe Xander is just a chattier person than they are. The world may never know such mysteries.

Speaking of Xander The Synth Player, I later ran into him again, and he was clearly weirded out to see me again….within an hour or two of our first meeting… which I really, really don’t blame him for.

Nobody ever sounds believable when they say, “this isn’t what it looks like, I promise!” or “this is all just a big coincidence!” I don’t think I’d believe me.

Or, “look, Xander, I don’t even know if you spell your name with a X or a Z, I need to Google both you and Jeff! And, for all I know, his name is spelled with a silent D! Wouldn’t any real, self-respecting stalker know the correct spelling of your names?”

I don’t remember if I ended up saying any of this to Xander— I think my mind blacked that conversation out, out of sheer awkwardness. I’m sure whatever I did say sounded much better in my head. He grabbed his beer and ran away shortly after, which I do not blame him for. The scruffy, sweater-wearing bartender was kind enough not to laugh at us.

I’ve never had to explain to anyone before that, contrary to how things appear, I am not actually stalking them. That was a new conversation.

Eventually we called it a night for real, after the accidental weird encounters and the nervous glances (from them) and the sidelong glances (from us) that tried to be subtle but most likely weren’t, at all. Outside, there was a group of people lingering around the sidewalk. “Oh God, tell me that’s not Passion Pit,” my friend said. Luckily it wasn’t. I’m not sure if it’s sad or absurd that the night had progressed in such a way that we were relieved to not run into the band again.

And this is why I am not the sort of person who meets famous people. So, what did that experience teach me about solutions to awkward situations?

1)   Don’t try to explain yourself. It makes it worse. Just go with it.

2)    “I went to a concert and everything was normal” wouldn’t be much of a story. So when all else fails, awkwardness makes life more interesting. As Socrates once said, the non-awkward life is not worth living.

Finally, apologies are always good. I would like to conclude with an open letter to the gentlemen of Passion Pit:

Dear Michael, I’m sorry for asking you for a picture when you were tired after your set. Dear Bass Player, I’m sorry for having to Google you to know that your name is Jeff. And I’m sorry for implying that bass players are not as photo-worthy as lead singers. Dear Xander, I’m sorry for accidentally stalking you the most, and I hope you weren’t too alarmed to enjoy your beer. Also I would like to know where you buy your sweaters. Dear Other Two Members, I’m sorry for not interacting with you enough to learn your names or  include you in the story, but really, consider yourselves lucky.

One last thing: Xander and Jeff, has anyone ever told you to consider name changes to Zander and Djeff? No? Give it some thought.

Best Wishes,

Lauren (your not #1 fan, really)