“I’m really surprised nobody’s told you that before,” my date says, looking legitimately confused. “Like, you’re really awkward. Like really awkward.”
I’d heard it before. But in a different form. “Weird,” usually. “Creepy,” once. And typically while I’m tap dancing or singing to myself or doing something equally as annoyingly whimsical and adorable. Well, adorable for the first two weeks of any relationship, friendship or otherwise, with me, anyway, before all these attributes turn on me.
This dinner conversation was backfiring on me as it was. I was telling a story I thought was funny about a time when my skirt flipped up and I walked through Target with my underwear on display as I ate popcorn. When I argue that this is at least amusing, my dinner companion says to me, “Oh, like, it’s funny because you’re awkward?”
And I’m like, no. Funny because I’m funny?
He says, “You eat popcorn while walking around Target. That’s awkward.”
“Target popcorn is delicious and you know it,” I shoot back.
“That’s not the point,” he wipes his mouth with a napkin, “The point is, that’s awkward. I can’t believe seriously. Seriously? No one has said this to you before?”
“They have, but in a different way,” I say, without giving too much away; like how calling a girl ‘creepy’ is one step above ‘boring’ in terms of things you should never say to pretty girls.
“Are you upset? Don’t be upset,” now he looks upset. “It’s cute. I guess. Like a television show character or something. You just seem like you’d be on a TV show.”
I’m not upset, just aggravated. I’m constantly seen as a cartoon character.
“I’m not upset,” I say, unsure how to explain I was just kind of in my headspace, trying to figure out how to turn this conversation into an essay eventually without it sounding like Local White Girl Complains About Date, but I knew this was a sand trap I would be stuck in my entire life.
To be fair, I know I’m awkward. This isn’t some new discovery. I’ve met myself and I have a habit of speaking my mind and shuffle-stepping through freezer aisles. That leads to a few horribly uncomfortable moments, one of which occurred recently at my childhood home.
I was walking through my parents’ kitchen to say goodbye to my dad, who was eating his lunch standing up at the counter, rebelling against his marital status and eating bachelor style. As I stroll, my purse, stylish, but too small to hold all my paraphernalia, pops open and out slides a square, green birth control case across the tile, landing directly in front of my father’s feet.
My entire sex life flashed before my eyes. My father bends down to grasp the object.
No, don’t! I want to say, but find myself too embarrassed to say anything.
So, I say, “Uh,” instead.
“What’s this?” he asks, grasping the small box with the hand not holding an everything bagel. He takes a bite, and securing the bagel between his teeth, opens the case. I stand horrified, or horribly adorable, maybe, as he squints, no doubt trying to read the tiny abbreviated days of the week lining the pill container. It’s like my life is now some Judd Apatow project. Like he’s just testing me to see just how good my emotional pratfalls are. In this version, Paul Rudd is playing my dad.
“Oh…” my dad says, finally realizing what it contains. He silently hands it back to me as I kiss him goodbye. “Be careful,” he says to me as I walk out of the kitchen.
“I always am,” I say, as I snap my birth control case shut to emphasize my point.
You might say, hey, that’s just an embarrassing thing that happened to you, that story doesn’t make you look awkward.
No, what makes me awkward is that I told everybody I met that story because I thought it was so funny.
I told my mom, brand new coworkers, you guys right now, every date I went on that month and the current date I was on that night with the guy who thought I was awkward. I guess now I can see why. Okay. So, in retrospect, I kind of understand why he might think I’m more awkward than funny.
My dinner companion sits chewing his Mediterranean food quietly after I tell him about the episode with my dad. “I think that solidifies my awkward point,” he tells me and I decide that I am not going to call this dinner a date anymore because the guy was annoying me. I also don’t want to get all girlie and wonder why he said this instead of that and all the great analyzing and pulling apart that comes in handy when you’re studying Kafka and less so when you’re texting a dude after a date.
He continues, “Like, you’re awkward, but it’s like, endearing.”
Until it gets annoying. Like I said, I know how these things roll. I don’t have big enough boobs to fully support my personality. The Awkwardness to Boobs ratio is not impressive enough to keep most men interested.
I can see him thinking for a moment, but then his eyebrows rise as he has remembered something else, “Oh, you know what?” his voice goes up an octave as he gets a little excited about his new thought, “You also talk a lot.”
Okay. That one I agree with.