Awkward Recognize Awkward
Just the other day I was perusing the Twitter feed of a pretty well-known supermodel. (It was for, um, journalistic purposes.) And on her Twitter feed this woman, this impossibly beautiful woman, was talking (repeatedly, at length) about how “awkward” she was.
I’ve seen this a lot. Lots of impossibly beautiful women do this. Too many times I’ve heard beautiful girls describe themselves as “awkward.”
And why do they do this? My theory is that this sort of humanizes them. If you’re an Impossibly Beautiful Woman, you pretty much spend your entire life put up on a pedestal. By telling everyone how “awkward” you are, it allows you to try and connect with the rest of us. You aren’t that different. You’re awkward, just like us.
But here’s the thing, Impossibly Beautiful Women of the World, you are not awkward just like us. You may have a slightly off-kilter sense of humor. You may have stumbled once or twice in social situations. But laughing too loud at the joke some investment banker made in the middle of the $400 meal he’s buying you does not make you awkward. Neither does stumbling one time on stage at the fashion show people are putting on to stare at you. You are not awkward. You are impossibly beautiful.
From the cloven-hooved, buck-toothed, lazy-eyed rest of us out here in the real world, let us tell you that we know awkward. And it is no small thing. Awkward is not laughing too loud when Chet the Investment Banker makes a joke. Awkward is real, and it is dark, and it is not something we joke about. It is not something we brag about. We don’t promote our “awkwardness” as you do, Impossibly Beautiful Women, because awkwardness is something we keep locked up, deep in our psyches, with all the other warts and mental scarring and wasted chances that fill up our not-quite-so-beautiful lives.
Awkwardness is standing in the corner of a party for an hour, looking for someone, anyone you know, alone, wildly and remarkably alone, an alone that you will never know, feeling like death, cast over, forgotten. Awkwardness is telling a girl you know that her hair looks different, and later finding out she is wearing a wig due to cancer. Awkwardness is telling the boy you love that you’ve always loved him, and you’re better for him than the girl he’s with now, and he staring at you, dead-eyed, before walking away. THAT is awkwardness, Impossibly Beautiful Women. It is not something to brag about. It is not something to giggle about with your girlfriends. Awkwardness is real, and you will never know it.
Here’s a test for you, people of the world, to tell if you have known awkwardness — watch the show Louie. It’s on FX. It’s pretty genius. It’s a comedy that’s not really that funny. What it is: awkward. Real awkwardness. Not cute awkwardness. Not adorable awkwardness. Real, dark, vicious, cutting awkwardness.
If you watch the show with an impossibly beautiful woman, I imagine they won’t get it. (Though if I have to hang out and watch this show with a supermodel to prove my theory, so be it. All in the name of science, of course.) They’ll think it’s funny, and weird. But they won’t get it. They won’t feel it.
A couple of my friends came up with a term for this feeling: the nerd chills. The nerd chills are when you’re watching something so awkward that you physically react to it. You clench up, close your eyes, scratch your temples, stare at the floor. You want to leave the room. You can experience nerd chills watching a movie (I had to leave the theater the first time I saw Meet the Parents) or watching a drunken best man give the world’s worst wedding speech. It’s visceral, this reaction.
And the thing is — you can’t have the nerd chills unless you know awkwardness first hand. Real awkwardness. It’s like the saying, “real recognize real.” Awkward recognize awkward.
I don’t know if supermodels, for how much they like to joke about their awkwardness, can ever really react like this. They might recognize something as awkward, but they won’t feel it. They won’t feel it in their stomachs.
For the not-quite-so-beautiful rest of us, however, we do feel it. In our hearts. When we see the chubby boy on stage singing off-key at the school talent show. When the guy goes on the Jumbotron to propose to his girlfriend and is rejected in front of 50,000 people. When our classmate throws up in the middle of his presentation to the lecture hall. We feel it. Deep within us. Because we’ve been there. And as the nerd chills course through us, and we stare at the floor and shake, it’s our bodies’ way of saying, “I feel your pain, friend. I know it well.” It brings us together. United in awkwardness. Together. As one.
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It started with a right swipe, a little green heart. Tinder of course.
Though I acknowledge and appreciate the differences in human experiences, and while your heartbreak is (and always will be) uniquely and completely your own, I must urge you to consider that I have been where you are.
With his hat cocked back, body tilted away from his cane, and right forefinger pointing directly at his audience, Joseph Ducreux commands the attention of those viewing his self-portrait.
I was born in 1990; he was born in 1973. I’m 23; he just turned 40.