At the majority of social events I attend or even at ones I host, I'm usually the root cause of at least one awkward moment.
Here are seven social situations to illustrate my point. Maybe you'll see yourself in some of these examples? I can't be the only one. Please tell me I'm not the only one.
1. I call people by the wrong name. You do it too, right? How is it so difficult to remember somebody's name? It's one word, for crying out loud. I called my neighbour by the wrong name for several years until I finally clued in that I was off by a few letters. Another neighbour told me her name and I instantly forget it and spent a year trying to coax her toddler into telling me his mummy's name. He just kept saying, "Mummy is mummy." Thanks for nothing, toddler. Thank god they moved.
2. I hug people who clearly don't enjoy being hugged. It's not that I'm a lover of the hug. I don't care either way. Unless you're super sweaty in which case I do care and I'd prefer not to hug you. I suspect I go in for the hug simply to get it over with. I was at an event recently solo. Finally I saw a familiar face (well, it was her red curly hair that tipped me off) I went over and inflicted a great big warm uninvited hug on her. When I pulled back and we were face to face, I realized this was a redheaded total stranger. She was friendly and said, "It's nice to see you....pause.... well, I'm just going to go fill up my drink." Why does this happen to me and so often?
3. Ninety-seven per cent of the time I botch the kiss on the cheek salutation—is it one cheek, both cheeks, on the lips? Where exactly are we kissing each other? Once I accidentally kissed a woman's neck when we went in for a hug goodbye. Anyway you slice it, that's just awkward and creepy. And the worst part—it's happened with the same person on two separate occasions. So now she thinks I'm a vampire or totally into her.
4. I have conversations with people who aren't even talking to me. They're either talking to somebody behind me or they're on their Bluetooth. This usually takes a few moments to figure out but in the meantime, I smile and/or wave and chatter on like a complete tool.
5. I have a hard time placing people out of context. I'll see you at a party and know I know you, but can't for the life of me remember how we know each other. Are you at the same gymnastics centre as my daughter? Did we meet at that community BBQ last summer? Do you work at my dentist's office? Did our avatars cross paths on Social Media? We'll chat like long lost friends but all the while I'm scrambling to figure it out. Eventually I'll say something completely unrelated to this person because they're not who I finally decided they were. And the awkward streak continues...
6. If I think you've finished your sentence, I'll jump in. And cut you off. I'm sorry. Conversations are like a dance and sometimes my timing is way off. Other times I'm listening to you, I really am, but then I'm distracted by something (it could be a thought or maybe something catches my eye from the distance). So I tune out for a tiny second. When I redirect my attention back to you and the very interesting thing you're saying, I'm screwed. You ask, "Right? You're smiling. Clearly you agree." Dear god. What did I agree to?? This is when I fake a leg cramp or excuse myself to find the bathroom.
7. And let us not forget the compulsion to fill lulls in a conversation. I do it all the time and people who know me well have come to expect it. Recently I hosted an adult birthday party. We were all tired and uncharacteristically subdued. As we sat sipping our drinks, empty silences replacing animated chatter. I looked at the clock and realized I should probably bring out the surprise birthday cake my friend had made. I leaned into her amid one of the lulls and said in a loud breathy whisper, "I have candles." She turned her head slowly toward me and blinked a few times. "Okaaaaay... um. And why is this a secret?" She wasn't thinking birthday cake in that moment. She thought I was randomly letting her know that I owned candles for no particular reason other than to fill the silence. As we do.
"BIRTHDAY candles...for the cake," I told her. Oh man, the look on her face when she understood...hahahaha! I'm sure this is a "you had to be there moment" but we laughed so hard. Tears down your face hard. Sometimes awkward is awful, but occasionally it's the best thing ever.
Don't leave me hanging. What awkward social guffaws will you own up to? Please share because otherwise...awkward...