5 Mundane Things Everyone Does (That Become Super Awkward)
Awkward is the new not-awkward, if pop culture and the internet are to be believed. And it is because pop culture and the internet are everything. For proof, Google "is everything" and discover just how everything is, in fact, everything. The rabbit hole is deep. But I'm digressing when I must progress and we're progressing towards the bizarre way we so frequently engage in needlessly awkward behavior. Yes, it's fine to have that horrible silence if someone walks in on you humping a corn cob, but some of this awkward behavior serves no purpose at all.
Slow Opening Chips
One of the greatest taboos in all the world is unwanted noise, by God. In polite society, nothing sets people off more than the scourge of a minor nuisance and no nuisance is more minor than a bag of chips. We counter this in the most serious and scientific way we can: by very slowly and meticulously opening every single bag.
I sent Neil DeGrasse Tyson a series of telegrams on this issue before I was informed telegrams don't exist anymore and all I was doing was writing obscene notes on the wall of a post office. But in theory, the knowledge I gained on this issue as a result was sound and it is this: The chip-noise to bag-opening speed equation makes as much sense as using a boot to funnel chili up your own ass. Bag physics has no appreciation for your delicate touch. This is best exemplified by the way every bag is still thunderclaps when you open it slowly.
I have never witnessed anyone slow open a chip bag with an expression that was anything less than deranged panic. Everyone in the room, including that person, can hear the sound and yet the lack of speed continues in the hopes that, perhaps by the time it's all over, it will have somehow developed futuristic chip-bag silencer technology.
I'd tell you to keep it in mind that the next time you need to pop a bag open, you should just Band-Aid that thing and rip into it. But if for some reason you absolutely need the delicious crunch of Ruffles at a funeral, you're going to find yourself daintily trying to ease the bag apart like Indiana Jones pondering swapping sand for tiny, golden creepy dudes. It is the only way we know how.
Leaning In To Eat
This is something that will never work out if you're aware of it. So for shits and giggles, just try to be observant next time you're eating something with a friend or jailer. For reasons that are probably 90 percent related to tacos, almost everyone will lean in to a handheld food and often a number of spooned foods as well. Forks too, maybe, I wouldn't know as I'm not allowed to use them. In general though, you'll notice that needless bend of the neck that most people seem to engage in when bringing something to their mouth, as though their poor hand had traveled far, through hardships unnumbered, to find its way to the food hole and couldn't cross the finish line without help.
The obvious reason for leaning in to food is the fear of spillage. You've Frankensteined together a mayo and ham roulade that is just dripping in brown butter sauce and sauerkraut, and you need to eat it by the literal handful. Record scratch: You're also wearing a tuxedo! You better lean forward to eat, just to be safe. But that's the dramatic lean in, possibly a full body lean in. Next time you see someone eating damn near anything, just watch for that almost imperceptible wobble that will in no way assist in limiting drips, especially if the food doesn't drip in the first place. Can't let those Skittles stain your trousers.
Holding Your Breath Near A Sleeping Person
Unless you're the Babadook, respecting that someone is sleeping is a pretty decent thing to do. Are you the Babadook? Stop reading my article, Babadook. I don't approve of how you live your life. Not the gay part, but the creepy, ceiling-crawling, murderous guy in a goofy hat part.
Come on, Baba. It's three in the morning. Couldn't you have dook-dook-dook'd it up a little earlier?
As part of being a good Samaritan, if you're near a friend or loved one who's asleep, you'll probably hold off on cymbal practice for a while. In fact, it's entirely likely that if you need to move past someone in their sleep, you're going to engage in the ancient art of holding your breath and creep-walking, which is kind of like the way burglars in old-timey cartoons use to walk. It's a dramatically stupid kind of tip-toeing designed to turn you from a clunky elephant into a stealthy cheetah. A stealthy cheetah that just happens to be shaped like the very human Brad, the clumsy marketing manager in sweatpants.
In the history of ever, not one person has been startled awake by the raucous breathing of another human in a state of wakeful, normal breathing. I'm not even sure what sort of Darth Vaderesque hijinks need to be happening all up in your maw to turn you into a sleep-shattering foghorn of a person, but it's likely you don't need to worry about it. None of this will stop you, though, from holding your breath, horror-movie style, under the assumption that it's going to keep your friend in the Land of Nod.
Rushing Across The Street
As a people, we've come to regard a car as a sacred vessel. It's like the Ark of the Covenant, to keep my now definitely planned theme of referencing Indiana Jones going. It contains and transports holy relics from place to place and must be revered and respected and also never gazed upon! If you find this description hard to relate to and think "Dude, I drive a '95 Corolla and the passenger seat fell out one day," then you need only to change your perspective. Which is to say you should stand at a corner and try to cross the street.
For unknowable reasons, the Corner Conundrum seems to affect half of all pedestrians. When car and pedestrian meet at a stop and the pedestrian has the right of way to cross, the pedestrian will very likely rush their ass right across that street as though the driver was on fire and there was a sweet, free hose waiting just over yonder. This chance increases slightly if the car is waiting on a right turn and/or it's a stop sign instead of a light that offers a fixed amount of time to cross. Because a person on foot is apparently duped into confusing cars with unicorns that are trying to escape the Red Bull before being driven back to the sea. You get that reference, right?
On foot, we become car toadies. "Sorry, Mr. El Camino. Let me rush and get you your coffee, Mr. El Camino." Goddamn. El Camino doesn't need you to rush around like a bootlick. El Camino's got all the time in the world, baby. Just look at it. It's a car with a flat bed! That sumbitch rushes nowhere!
Conversely, though the number seems lower, there are a good deal of drivers who are convinced that waiting for a slow person to cross a street is basically on par with having their genitals flayed and dipped in salt brine. The fact that you can travel from one city to another at your leisure, while sitting, and listening to music, in cool, crisp air conditioning, at a speed greater than any living thing on Earth can travel means fucking nothing. That old lady with her cane who has the AUDACITY and the titanium-carbide balls the size of musk melons to dare spend a solid two minutes crossing the street in front of you can so totally go fuck a goat right now.
The most interesting thing you'll ever talk about is yourself. To you, at least. To you, the movie you're starring in is some top-shelf Tarantino meets Spielberg meets Pixar shit set in the Star Wars and Marvel shared universes with a quick walk through a handful of gripping Netflix series. And sure, you may sit there and think "Fuck no, my life sucks on that previously mentioned old lady's titanium-carbide super balls," but you'll stop thinking that the moment a conversation sinks into a "my turn" situation.
Whether you're at work, with family and friends, or just chatting with your new cell mate, it's inevitable that one day, something is going to spark in you the irresistible urge to stop giving a shit about what everyone else is saying because the topic just turned to something you have a great story about. Maybe it's one of a million. Or maybe it's the only great story you've got. Or maybe it's not great at all, but Fred with the bad hair just mentioned how he has a raccoon in his yard and you have a story about that time a raccoon literally ate your foot. When that happens, when the stars align in such a way that you know you have the perfect thing to say to complement the current conversation, fuck the current conversation. It's done. It's your turn now.
The "my turn" phenomenon has two seriously awkward pot holes to navigate on opposite ends of a spectrum. The first is when you're in a new group of people and you're still feeling out the situation, maybe not sure if you fit in or even want to fit in. And then the topic hits. Someone says "I was actually raised in an underground bunker" and BAM! You used to skin hitchhikers in a bunker! So you eagerly insert yourself as the dominant force in the conversation, excited to tell your tale, and, knowing how super cool and fantastic it is, just as eager to end it to appreciative applause and adulation for the masses as they laugh and discuss maybe copying your haircut. And if that happens, you just won. But if your story goes over as well as chili farts in the carpool to work, you'll basically end up feeling like you willingly stood in front of a crowd and tried to twist your own genitals off with some old pliers.
On the flip side is when you're with people you're super comfortable with and have known forever, and Mom starts in about her gout and you bust out the story about how, when you were a kid, you thought gout meant goat so you punched out a goat at a petting zoo. That's a great story, except for the fact that goats are awesome and you're an asshole. But also Mom was there, and she heard you bring this up about 20 times in the last ten years, and so did everyone else in the room.
Through no fault of your own, unless you make a habit of drinking Dos Equis like all the time, you're not that interesting. No one is. So you probably only have a handful of killer goat-punching stories. And by the time you've gotten to know anyone for a decent number of years, not only do they know your goat-punching story, they know it well enough to tell it on your behalf. So when you forget you've told it 30 times, they would need to assemble a team of top bounty hunters and archaeologists to track down a shit to give about hearing it again.
The important thing to remember about "my turn" talking versus regular talking, and you may not see it in yourself but I guarantee you've seen other people do it, is that it's not for the benefit of the other people. It so clearly never is. It's for the benefit of the person talking. They want to sound cool or relevant or informed in some way and they do this at the expense of really being a partner in a conversation. That's why you forget when you've told the same person the same story over and over again. You're just so stoked to have something to say, you don't even realize you already said it. And that's probably OK, as we all do it. Just don't be surprised if no one celebrates your goat-punching ass afterwards.
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For more check out 5 Terrible Situations for the Socially Awkward Man and 5 Situations That Are Secretly Terrifying for Awkward People.
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