I have decided that time is not going to help me even though my mother promised me it would. It’s not ‘just a phase’ like my father decreed when I was a young teen. I am destined to be socially awkward for the rest of my life. Social awkwardness is the cross that I carry and in The South, that’s a mighty big curse to have hanging around your neck.
I can never think of just the right thing to say to someone in public. I get tongue tied and stutter over my words like a female version of Forrest Gump. Especially if the person I’m speaking to happens to be important. You know, like Matt’s boss or my kid’s Principal or the stockboy at the ABC store. I don’t understand this curse. I can rip someone a new one just fine if they incite my ire for any reason yet a simple coherent conversation eludes me.
In the past week alone I have had the following socially awkward exchanges with different people. In public. Warning: it’s not pretty, people.
1) The checkout girl at the grocery store asked me if I was paying with debit or credit. I blurted out ‘Cash. I only have cash. But don’t worry, I didn’t roll around naked in it.’ WHAT? Who says that? Then I giggled manically until the security guard starting giving me the side eye. In my haste to escape from the awkward consequence of my lack of social graces, I forgot my wallet and had to slink back into the store 5 minutes later.
2) While waiting in line at the library a lady bumped into me from behind. I took a quick glance back and noticed her large belly. She apologized and made a funny comment about not being able to harness the power of the belly. I mistook that to mean she was pregnant so I congratulated her on the child about to spring forth from her loins. She got all huffy and informed me that she was not pregnant. She stomped off without her books. I wonder if it was something I said. In my defense, she was rubbing her belly and hoisting it upwards just like a pregnant chick does and she did make a joke about the power of the belly. Clearly she should choose her words more carefully.
3) We went to a reception for a piece of artwork that Maia did in school. It was a huge reception and she was the only child in her entire school chosen to have her artwork shown. In other words, a very big honor! She got to meet the director of art for the entire school district and was presented a special award and everything. The art director introduced herself to us and complimented us on having such an amazing artist in the family. Before I could stop myself I verbally vomited all over her, saying ‘I sure am glad I let her eat all that paste when she was little. Guess it paid off now, huh?’ I could hear Matt snort behind me and my sister was trying to hold back the giggles. The art director did not even crack a smile but she did leave skid marks in her haste to get away.
4) During a particularly bad thunderstorm I happened to be at Target. The power went out after a lightening strike and the automatic doors were temporarily stuck closed so nobody could leave. A large group of us were huddled in the front of the store waiting for the emergency power to kick in and open the doors. All of a sudden a huge bolt of lightening struck a tree right outside the front door and the tree crashed down right outside the door. The lady on one side of me screamed at the top of her lungs and started babbling about how we could have been walking right underneath it. I jumped in with ‘I guess that’s God’s way of telling me I’ve been naughty and I should go to church.‘ I glanced to my other side and came face to face with a priest. In Target. Message received, God.
5) We went out to eat with my sister and her fiance this past week. After dinner, her fiance ordered a coffee with creamer. The waitress informed him that they were out of creamer at the moment but she could bring him some milk instead. I blurted out ‘That’s ok, my sister is breastfeeding. I’m sure she won’t mind leaning over and squirting some milk into his coffee.’ Sigh. I should not be allowed out of the house. Ever.
I am much better behind the screen of a computer. I can type and delete as needed to make myself seem a little less….well, awkward. It’s a curse I tell you. Feel sorry for my children.
I sure hope it skips a generation.