Unless you work at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, your daily routine probably isn’t a series of witty conversations and smooth seductions. Every one of us has waved back at someone who wasn’t initially waving to us, begun to tell a story only to realize nobody was listening, or pantomimed texting in order to avoid a stop-in-chat with a high school acquaintance on the street.
People love to call out an Awkward Moment; either by placing one hand over the other and twiddling their thumbs, or responding to your fumbled joke with an “awk-waaard!” Highlighting the Awkward Moment has even become fashionable in Hollywood, with everymen like Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg making a fortune off selling extra-long pauses and forced conversation. Awkward Moments are the new Regular Moments.
As someone who has no less than 15 ungraceful social interactions a day, I’m calling an end to this bullshit. Let’s de-stigmatize the Awkward Moment! Life is only awkward if you make it so. If we didn’t put such an emphasis on the ‘right’ way to behave, awkward moments wouldn’t seem so damned awkward! Why should there be such a palpable pressure to follow the ‘correct’ dance steps of daily life? I say we celebrate the unanswered text message and the snorted laugh rather than condemn them.
The following happen to me on a weekly basis and I’m a humbler man for it:
5. The Door Hold Gallop
A good deed gone terribly wrong. I’m approximately 20 feet away from a door. A good Samaritan decides to hold it open for me. A surge of panic rushes through my veins, because I know what comes next. BY THE UNFLINCHING LAWS OF ETIQUETTE, I AM COMMANDED TO DO THAT LITTLE AUTISTIC GALLOP TO THE DOOR. What started so innocently as a gesture of goodwill has forced me into an unsightly 10-yard dash. I’m often left sweaty and out of breath. This is America! I’m only supposed to exercise when absolutely necessary! Call me petty! Ever have to do the Door Hold Gallop with 3 textbooks and a Jamba Juice in tow? F*ckin’ mortifying. No more held doors!…Gracias. Yeah, I just made a “Next Friday” joke.
4. The Double Acknowledgment Face
You see a fellow co-worker or student in a hallway. As you pass each other, you exchange pleasantries. “Hey” “How’s it goin’?” Harmless enough. UNTIL YOU SEE THEM AGAIN. Typically you’ll be given the dreaded Double Acknowledgement Face. It’s this half-smile that’s a cross between the face you make when taking a big shit and when trying to avoid a dog licking you in the mouth. Eyebrows raised, lips curled: f*cking ridiculous. Every time I get shot one these I die a little inside. What kind of plastic society do we live in where it’s frowned upon to simply walk by someone? Next time it happens I’m just gonna sack-tap the dude and resume daily activities.
3. The Long Distance Spot
Sometimes this is a precursor to the Double Acknowledgment Face. You’re making your way to the library or down the street when you notice a figure off in the distance. Your eyes begin to transmit information to your temporal lobe; you’ve spotted someone you know. And she’s spotted you. For the next painful minute or so, you both are locked in a death stare until you’ve reached a reasonable distance to say hello. It’s debilitating. Why do we do this? Why must I pretend to look at my phone to break the tension? I know her eyes are piercing into my soul. I just want to get it over with the second I see her; just scream from thirty yards away, “HEY KAREN, HOW ARE YOU? KAREN? CAN YOU HEAR ME? KAREN! IT’S EVAN FROM SOCIOLOGY!” Besides, this charade eventually grows tired and you begin taking alternate routes to class in order to avoid the situation altogether.
2. The Conversational Mismatch
We’re trained to engage in regimented small talk. Occasionally, someone will think outside the box. This automatically causes a glitch in the Matrix.
Me: Hey, we gotta get that report in by three.
Coworker: Good and you?
What the f*ck? Have our conversations become so routine that anything even remotely unique just gets ignored? Don’t get it twisted, I fall victim to the Conversational Mismatch myself.
Movie Clerk: (rips my ticket) theatre 12 on your left, enjoy your show.
Me: You too.
Movie Clerk: ???
No, there will be no show enjoying for him. He has to stand out here like an asshole while people like me can’t even give pay enough attention to answer him a properly corresponding sentence. As a matter of fact, he makes $7.50 an hour so he can’t even afford to enjoy the show on his day off. Great, now I’m depressed…
1. The High Five
Why can’t we go back to the 1920’s? Slick suits, cheap prostitutes and only one type of hand related greeting. The amount of awkward moments experienced since the High Five overtook the Handshake is innumerable. There’s just way too much variety. Is it gonna be the Frat Boy Uptop? The Basketball Player High Five Into Chest Bump? The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff Pshh? What about the Fist Bump? Ever give someone a high five and end up cupping their clenched fist? Probably the single worst feeling in the human experience, and I’ve had a colonoscopy.
Well, that about wraps it up. Got any other classic awkward moments? Leave ‘em in the comments section!