No, I Don’t Want to Make Out with You (and Other Social Faux-Pas)

Whenever I’m at some sort of gathering of my peers, I usually have my Awkward Sensors on. It’s not always intentional, but I’m generally able to sniff out those who are just as uncomfortable as I am. And then we sit next to each other in eye-contactless silence and a new friendship blossoms.

But sometimes there is that person who clearly wants to be included, but other people are avoiding them because they’re hard to talk to or maybe a bit unpleasant. And I inevitably end up talking to that person because my empathy kicks in (I’m fairly certain I’ve been that person before) and because sometimes I prefer a little genuine unpleasantness to forced conversations about nothing.

But sometimes that comes back to take a big ol’ bite out of my behind. Because sometimes that person reads your talking to them as you wanting to hop on for a ride.

Perhaps I’m a bit naïve but I’ve never understood why talking to someone of the opposite sex when there is alcohol involved means you are randy and ready for their sweet, sweet love. That sounds like a case where I would avoid talking to that person at all costs.

So, I was at this party and wasn’t really having that great of a time, but I had promised myself I would stay for at least an hour, because this was one of several parties I had been to thus far that summer and had never lasted very long at any of them. Frankly, many people there had no idea who I was. I was hired two weeks into this summer theatre festival to do admin work and not only was everyone else on a different schedule, but I also have this habit of never introducing myself to anyone ever, in the hopes that makes them less likely to remember what it’s like to watch me eat.

Anyway, there was this guy there who I had spoken to a few times. He was a bit of a narcissist who made people feel uneasy, but he wasn’t the worst person I’d ever met in my life. We all have our flaws, and he was clearly looking for someone to hang out with, so I thought I’d go over and chat. We talked about things I like to talk about (books, mostly), and repeatedly, people would walk behind them so they could shake their head at me and make a “What are you doing?” face, and I would roll my eyes. I was getting texts from someone else I knew at the party saying, “Are you INTO him?” And no, I wasn’t. I was honestly just trying to be nice, so that when I meet St. Peter at the pearly gates, our encounter would be less awkward.

It was getting late and I wanted to leave. He asked if I would like to take a walk. We were all living on a college campus and I was planning on walking back to the dorm I was living in, so I said sure. Little did I know this was some sort of secret code for a booty call request. Now if a guy asks me if I want to take a walk, I just slap him in the face and run.

We got about a few feet from the party before he pulled me into him and said, “I’d like to kiss you, may I?”

“Uhhhh, no, thank you,” I responded.

He frowned and furrowed his brow, but he let go of me and we kept walking.

He fell in step behind me and I thought maybe, since everything was super duper uncomfortable now, he was just letting me go ahead and ending it there. For that, I would have been grateful. However…

Suddenly, there was a pair of hands on my shoulders. His thumbs were digging hard into my spine and I thought…this is it. He must know some pressure point in the spine that will knock me unconscious and then he will smooch me to death and bury my body. This is how I die.

Then he moved his thumbs outward toward my arms in a light, stroking motion.

He was massaging me. While we were walking. A mobile massage.

Well, this was a first.

“What are you—?”

“Shhhhhh,” he said, running his fingers up my neck and to my ear lobes, “don’t ruin it.”

I opened my mouth to say something anyway, but then there were two fingers in my ears. In my ears. Moving in a circular motion, rubbing my hearing holes. All I could think was, walk faster, Jillian, but it’s very hard to walk faster when someone else’s fingers are in your ears.

We were only a few feet away from the dorm at this point. My keys were in my hand and I was ready to get the fuck out of there. As we reached the door to my room and his fingers came out of my ears, I felt a beautiful Hallelujah envelop me in a warm hug.

“Well, goodnight.”

“Mind if I come in?” He asked, keeping about two whole inches of space between us.

“I’m really tired.”

“Just for a minute.” He pushed himself into the room. I made a point to leave the door wide open. Now, I’ll admit, I was a bit scared.

He pulled me into him and tried to place his mouth on my mouth. I tucked my lips so far into my mouth that they hopefully wouldn’t be back until it was time to announce it’s spring. He was biting at them, trying to get at them, chewing on my chin like a corn cob.

I pushed him away. “I’m cold,” I said abruptly, moving to the heater on the opposite side of the room.

“You know what keeps people warm? Blankets.” He started making his way over to the bed. I took him by the shoulders and pushed him toward the door. But he looked a little turned on by this. So I did the only thing I could think to do.

“You know what else keeps people warm? Calisthenics.” And I broke out into a set of jumping jacks.

It is the first and only time I have heard of anyone using jumping jacks to get out of awkward making out. Patent pending.

He frowned and furrowed again. “I get it. You’re not in the mood.”

Gee, ya think?

He finally left after that. I shut the door, locked it, and sat on my bed for awhile, pondering every moment of my life that had led to a somewhat-acquaintance giving me an ear massage.

The next morning, more texts came in. “Did you guys hook up?” “He said you hooked up.” Ugh.

As ridiculous as this night was and as good an anecdote as this has become, I consider myself extremely lucky and learned a lot from the experience: don’t leave a party with a dude you barely know, don’t assume people are into the conversations they are having or the people they are having them with, if you’re walking with someone carrying obvious tension in their shoulders, maybe you should try backing off instead of on, and cardio, man. Cardio saves mouths.

 

P-A-R-T-WHYYYY?!?!

I do not like going to parties.

I’m not necessarily talking about parties where all of my friends will be present because, even though I will inevitably be awkward and say something offensive and spend the rest of the night in the corner chewing on my own foot, they are used to it and they are also used to my dancing. Thus a good time can be had by all.

I’m talking about every other kind of party.

Like a work party or a “networking” event. These are terrible because I will have to wear my least favorite combination: hosiery and heels. And I go there with the full-on intention of making valuable professional connections, and I really just end up being the lurker. Ya know, the person who stands on the outskirts of the event, pretending to answer very important emails? That’s me. The person who walks crookedly because their hosiery is bunching and because people are not meant to be pretend to be taller by jamming a rod into their heel. That can’t be good for you. Some sympathetic soul will come up to me and ask me questions about myself. I will answer speedily and thus slur my speech and they will think I am drunk even though I’m too nervous to drink. And then I’ll ask them questions while staring at them with unblinking eyes because the words “eye contact is important” are pulling my lids open from inside my brain. And after about 45 minutes, I will Irish goodbye on out of there, and frantically search for the nearest appropriate place to remove my shoes and pantyhose, connect to the internet, and pour the largest glass of wine known to mankind. Parties like these really make me long for the days when your only career options were farmer, merchant, teacher, doctor, and lawyer (and for women…teacher…until you were married. And there was no Seamless on the prairie. I suppose everything has its pros and cons).

Or the kind of party where everyone is sort of a casual acquaintance. These are the parties I always end up being early to. Even if I make a point to leave 15 minutes late to avoid earliness, I will still be the first one to arrive. I will make unpleasant small talk and help put out chip bowls. Then I will sit and swing my legs back and forth with my lips in my mouth, like a toddler waiting for their mommy to come pick them up. I wish my mom would come to parties with me. She’d probably talk to me, at any rate. That’s the main issue with acquaintance-only parties. Once the guests start to pile in, I have to scout the room for the least-threatening group to follow around and cling to for the rest of the night (and by the rest of the night, I mean about 45 minutes, before I Irish goodbye on out of there as well). The trick is that, once they inevitably excuse themselves from our conversation, I go and find the bathroom. Hopefully, there is a line. I wait there, go in, and check out my phone for a bit, counting the minutes until we are entering poop territory, then leave the bathroom, and find the least-threatening group again. The cycle continues.

It is very important not to be the lurker at these kinds of parties, because a booty-sniper in a button-down shirt will sniff out your vulnerability, and he will find the aloofness of your booty alluring and will welcome the challenge.

The kind of party where you know the host really well and everyone else is a casual acquaintance isn’t so bad. Then you can assume the position of chip-bowl filler all night. I love having a task. I will be ON TOP of that shit. No empty chip bowls on my watch! When you know the host, you can tack on as the unofficial co-host and just keep everything in line for the night, which is my comfort zone. Things in lines. Unless I’m in a line for food or services. That’s nerve-wracking. Also, if you know the host, it’s not weird to mix drinks for people. Believe it or not, I was a bartender for awhile (being the awkward bartender will certainly produce a post someday). And while I was terrible with customers (seriously, the stories are coming), I was awesome at mixing drinks, because mixing drinks is very formulaic and concrete stuff is what I’m good at. I have made many-a-friends for the night by being able to make a good margarita. So the lesson here is, if you’re uncomfortable socially, buy a bartender manual and study up. Everyone likes the margarita engineer.

Of course, if you are the co-host, you kind of have to stay until the end of the night, which makes it really hard to Irish goodbye. Does anyone else get a really weird high from Irish goodbye-ing? I don’t know what it is. I guess because I’m too nervous to do drugs or steal stuff, I have to be rude in order to get a fix.

I unintentionally worked in an Irish theme for St. Patrick’s Day! Funny how sometimes our art surprises us.

The 12 Awkwards of Christmas

The first thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The second thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The third thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The fourth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The fifth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The sixth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The seventh thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Pushy salespeople,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

STOP SHAKING YOUR CUP AND TELLING ME YOUR KIDS ARE STARVING!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The eighth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Scary inflatable snowmen,

Pushy salespeople,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Unfurls chart on how to avoid getting trampled in Rock plaza (chart is blank),

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The ninth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

The smells make me hungry,

Scary inflatable snowmen,

Pushy salespeople,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

Maybe I’ll get them 7 backup gifts just incase.

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The tenth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

People being cheerful,

The smells make me hungry,

It looks like a rapist in my peripherals!

Pushy salespeople,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The eleventh thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Work holiday parties,

People being cheerful,

Seriously, how many things can smell like gingerbread?

Scary inflatable snowmen,

Pushy salespeople,

“…thank you.”

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The twelfth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Political correctness,

If I drink, they’ll judge me,

People being cheerful,

The smells make me hungry,

Scary inflatable snowmen,

I came to buy underwear and now I spent 12,000 dollars,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

FA-LA-LA OVER THERE, PLEASE!

Manhattan getting crowded,

Who am I kidding? I broke everything.

 

Wishing you and yours the merriest of Christmases/happiest of Hanukkahs/ the kindest of Kwanzas/a magical Merlinpeen/Festivus for the rest of us! I will continue to stay home and shop online and pray it all arrives on time (because not having a gift to present is an awkward category in and of itself).

 

Awkward Giving: What I Have to be Thankful For

  1. Smart phones, so that when I arrive somewhere entirely too early, I have something to stare intently at…and thus I will never appear lonely.
  2. Texting, so that I may stare at and study the words I have carefully constructed for at least 10 minutes before pressing Send, and can avoid the horror that is improvised telephone conversation.
  3. People who screen their calls, thank you. You are too kind to let me leave the message I have scripted and rehearsed 7 times before dialing.
  4. Technology in general, for making everything less personal.
  5. Caution: Wet Floor signs, so that when I do slip, I know I’m slipping on something normal people slip on.
  6. All the air I haven’t tripped over, thank you. Don’t let the bully air get you down.
  7. Blinds and darkness, so that no one will ever have to see me dance.
  8. Alcohol, so that on some glorious evenings, I feel like I can dance. And I am not ashamed.
  9. New York for being the kind of city where talking to strangers is frowned upon.
  10. Tide-to-Go, OxyClean, and all other stain removal products, thank you. You have saved me countless dollars on several new wardrobes.
  11. Dogs for just chilling instead of judging.
  12. Artists and scientists, so that I always have a group to bask in social awkwardness with.
  13. Trivia, so that I always have a fun, weird, and random conversation tidbit to blindly hurl into the uncomfortable silence.
  14. Fictional characters for being the easiest friends to make.
  15. Fandoms for giving us ways to make new friends.
  16. Words for giving me something to hide behind.
  17. Pants, so that I may take them off after a long day.
  18. Blankets for keeping me warm through the insomnia.
  19. Warning labels, peeping toms, and general ne’er-do-wells, so that when I lie awake at night, I can panic about whether or not my counter cleaner accidentally touched my food or whether or not there is someone outside my window instead of tumbling into an existential crisis.
  20. Online ordering and delivery for limiting the amount of people who truly know how much I can eat and for keeping all conversations regarding such to a minimum.
  21. Dessert.
  22. Self check-out, so no one need ask why I need so much hummus.
  23. Anything one can fidget or futz with in their hands.
  24. Vacuums for easy cleanup after something gets knocked over.
  25. Open space where I can pace.
  26. All of my ex-boyfriends, lovers, and flings, for providing me with some enormously entertaining anecdotes.
  27. Family, who have to love me despite my cluelessness, and friends, who for some reason choose to.
  28. You. You’re awesome. Way to go, you!

Wishing you and yours the happiest of Thanksgivings. Eat, drink, be merry, be wild, be daring, be curious, ask questions, hug someone (or pat them on the shoulder with a kind, yet forced smile), and for the love of God, have your Tide-to-Go pen handy!

 

My Top 25 Most Awkward Things

Well this is me, getting quite candid with all of you. I probably shouldn’t label these as “most” when they are in fact 25 of many. I raise these points to your attention in the hopes that I am not alone. Please tell me I’m not alone. Anyone? Hello?

  1. I talk to myself. A lot. I pretty much don’t know how to let a thought weave in and out of my head without mouthing it. Sometimes I’m just repeating past conversations. Sometimes I am creating dialogue for potential future conversations. Sometimes I am going over a strategy to get the heck out of a conversation. I am only aware of my doing it roughly 60% of the time. Sometimes I become aware while I’m mid-act but then I feel weird abruptly stopping, because passersby have come to expect it of me and I don’t want to disappoint them. I’m trying to get in the habit of always having a book in front of me so it just looks like I’m reading to myself.
  2. To follow on that, if I am making a conscious decision to not talk to myself, I will still be unable to prevent my face from expressing every thought I am having. Sometimes this means seemingly laughing at nothing, sometimes it means I look really disgusted for no reason, sometimes it means people cowering away from me because they think I’m mad at them, but in reality I’m just thinking about work.
  3. When I get nervous or don’t know what to say, I smell my hair.
  4. I also play with my hair, which means I panic if I don’t have a hair-tie. I put my hair up in a messy bun, only to take it down, and then put it back up again over the span of 2.5 minutes. I have no control over my hair, however, and cannot pull off the messy bun no matter how hard I try. It always just ends up looking like a turd is coming out of my head.
  5. If I think of something really embarrassing from my past, I start to moan until the thought leaves my head. Sometimes if the thought is too strong, I say a random word like, “ANTELOPE!” in the hopes that the antelope will chase the thought away.
  6. I also moan when I eat, but that’s just because I really love food.
  7. If I am eating with my hands, I have to break the food up into small bites. Unless it is circular (i.e. a cheeseburger). Then I must eat downward from right to left until it is halved, turn it and eat it until it is a triangle, bite it down into a smile shape, and finish the smile shape in exactly 4 bites.
  8. Yesterday for lunch, I decided to pack a container full of plain Brussels sprouts. This isn’t because I am on some sort of diet or am trying to be healthy in general. I just really love Brussels sprouts.
  9. If I hear music, I have to dance. Or lip-sync with feeling. All depends on the tune. I still don’t know if I am human…or a dancer.
  10. When I am talking to someone new and I don’t know what to say, I laugh. This isn’t so terrible until someone tells you they had to declare bankruptcy.
  11. I don’t like the feeling of sitting for long periods without something in my lap. I think it’s a vulnerability thing. Accordingly I always feel better if I have a pillow or a bag with me. Teachers used to ask me if I was going somewhere because I always had my bag in my lap. Also I’m pretty sure it’s why I have back problems.
  12. I’m very bad at sounding casual. When I try, my voice cracks. So I try to keep out of the conversation until something I can genuinely discuss comes up. A lot of people think I don’t like them or I’m stuck-up. I just, in general, really, really, really don’t know what to say, and would prefer to not say anything.
  13. My office door is known to shock people when they touch it. I hate that feeling on my hands, so I always open the door with my elbow.
  14. I’m very afraid of eels. I really hate snakes but man, are eels just terrifying. They’re the snakes of the water! (Well, besides water snakes). That makes them doubly sinister. I have nightmares about eel attacks frequently.
  15. If I’m watching one of my favorite movies or TV shows or reading one of my favorite books and I know a character is about to experience something hurtful or embarrassing, I have to fast forward, flip ahead, turn it off, leave the room, etc. because I feel their feelings…and then I start to moan.
  16. On top of the aforementioned food enjoyment moans, I am a loud and messy eater. I always end up wearing some of my meal. I try to chew quietly but it doesn’t work. People grab headsets when they see me going for an ice cream cone.
  17. One time, my friend threw an apple at me and I caught it. We celebrated for weeks.
  18. I make really obscure references to things that no one would ever possibly get. Like I’ll say, “No, thank you,” in a way similar to the way John Travolta said, “No, thank you,” in one movie one time. I secretly always hope someone will get it. Even a little. It was especially a problem when I was younger and watching TV shows that were on in the 70s and 80s. How could you not know Blair Warner’s eyes had green and gold flecks and that Susan Dey had an eating disorder?! I was raised by that shit.
  19. I was a theatre major, and once had to do a mock professional audition as part of my college curriculum. They told me the audition itself was fine, but then spent 20 minutes trying to teach me how to walk into an audition. Apparently you’re supposed to do it in a straight line and not look like a waddling duck.
  20. I am always cold and thus usually have a large coat on. Even when I’m at home. Not a hoodie. A coat. I really like coats.
  21. I ordered a tea in Starbucks the other day. It was very busy and the cashier clearly forgot to pour it. Instead of asking about the progress of the tea I had paid for and had every legal right to, I left and went to Gregory’s Coffee.
  22. I am a master of the Irish goodbye.
  23. If I am at a house party, I immediately try to find an animal to befriend. Animals rarely expect a casual conversation.
  24. I don’t hear well, especially when people mumble, so I often have to ask people to repeat themselves more loudly several times after they’ve said something they clearly didn’t want other people to hear.
  25. It is very safe to say I never know what I’m doing.

Come come now, awkward-teers. Share with me your awkward ways! Let us bask in our awkward glory! But quietly…alone, in our own space.