Awkward Moments Part One
There come awkward, terse moments in one’s life where no protocol is established for moving forward. You are left to figure out in the very midst of confusion, discomfort and/or bewilderment what the deuce you are supposed to do. So, for instance:
• My younger sister agreed to be set up on a date with a guy in college. After engaging in alarming dinner time conversation revealing himself to be obsessed with werewolves (calling Dwight Schrute), he sees the dessert course of fruit and cheese appear on the table. Seeing a hunk of brie alongside the grapes and other cheese, he reaches for the brie bypassing the little cheese knife, picks up the whole thing and begins munching the wedge with his hands like a chunk of pie. He doesn’t put the cheese down until he has finished it up until the very white edge. Werewolves, strike one. Aggressive and uncouth brie consumption, strikes two and three.
• While attending lunch at an online fundraising conference, I was seated between a girl texting her boyfriend and a man with a very different kind of nonprofit cause. He mumbled at first when explaining it and I thought he said he aimed to stop drug wars, and so I replied, “Must be very easy to raise money for that cause. I mean who isn’t against fighting drugs?” He stammered as he further explained the organization in which he was the CEO and lone employee and it became quite clear that he wasn’t for preventing drug usage, but for eliminating all barriers in the way of taking, buying and circulating drugs between borders, neighborhoods and book clubs. Now I realize most nonprofits lean liberal, but this was ridiculous. He gave me his card and that was the last bit of networking I got in with the drug lord.
• Years ago in my old apartment complex near the Provo Cemetery, there was a vagabond who resembled Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest that wandered South State Street. He would often hassle residents leaving the building asking for soda money at the Maverick. Five minutes later, he’d always return with a pack of Marlboros instead. One afternoon I parked on the street and saw Jack approaching from fifty yards away. Thinking I could make it to the mailbox in time to grab the mail and run to my apartment without getting harassed, I fumbled getting the mail key and freaked when a man’s shadow descended upon me. Having learned in a women’s safety class that my voice is the best first weapon in an attack, I turned around and screamed in a squeal that could wake the dead, “AAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!”
The man then kind of screamed back with a, “Whoa,” but it wasn’t Jack. It was my new neighbor and Sunday School teacher, an unassuming fellow who was just waiting to get his mail behind me. Since my scream had registered so loudly on the noise scale, I had trouble taking my talking voice down to normal and kind of half-shouted while pointing to Jack who was only about 10 yards away on the sidewalk, “Oh sorry! I thought you were that homeless guy right there.” Jack grimaced at me and continued on his pilgrimage to Maverick.
The common thread between these unrelated scenarios is walking away in a stunned silence. I mean, really what can you say after moments like this.