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Humor: My Superpower is to Make Any Situation (Even More) Awkward

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Humor: I Make things awkward

by Diane Dean-Epps

I have a superpower that’s not so much super as it is powerful. What is it? I can make any situation awkward. No mean feat, let me tell you.

You know how people often trot out the phrase, “Oh, that just comes so naturally to you?” Yeah, well, that’s not always a good thing because making things awkward is something I do with zero effort.

Sometimes these awkward occurrences take the form of very short, uncomfortable interludes, and sometimes the awkwardness just goes on and on, in possession of incredible situational hang time. At least it feels that way.

Like just this morning when I was getting gas. It seems like a fairly innocuous task, doesn’t it? You tell me.

As I was milling around waiting for gas to glug into my tank I heard one of my favorite songs blasting out of a pretty decent-sounding speaker. Whenever I hear most any song I’m fond of—and I know at least one word that resides in the lyrics somewhere—I’m apt to sing out my version of that sucker. Social filter be damned. As it turns out I actually knew about 7 words for this tune, so I started belting out my rendition of Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love.”

Just as my tank burbled up to the fill line I was really bringing it home with my vocals when I turned around to replace the gas pump nozzle and locked eyes with a guy-of-a-certain-age who seemed to be enjoying the floor show. A lot. Uh-oh. Time stood still as it seems to do when I’m fully engaged in the Awkward Situation Launch Sequence. That’s when I also realized the song was emanating from his car.

(This is an excellent time to circle back around with a quick recap: I’m singing, “Come and Get Your Love” with gusto directly to a person I’ve never met.)

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I had many thoughts swirling about with potential quips. None of them were going to salvage this weird—seemingly flirty—little invitation. My brain went into overdrive which meant all I could think to do was to kind of saucily throw the nozzle onto the hook, as I then threw myself into my car, throwing it into drive, and fleeing the scene.

The funny thing about my Make Any Situation (More) Awkward Superpower is I forget I have it; until something happens. There’s no pattern to the wretched timing. It just happens when it happens. That means I’m forever lulled into a false sense of security that I won’t have one of these embarrassment-inducing episodes until the siren song that is my own behavioral responses sets me up. Again.

It was only last Wednesday when I had my most recent AWKWARD SITUATION. What was I doing when it occurred? Oh, you know, something known as being socially risky. I was trying to leave the yoga studio.

I had just enjoyed a vigorous breathing session that found me drafting off my feel-good endorphins when I wandered over to the cubbyholes where I retrieved my shoes and keys. Now I just needed to grab my mat, and then I’d head home to my sensible dinner consisting of anything I can find in the refrigerator and eat while I’m standing in front of it.

I noticed two women were chatting away on the bench where I had temporarily left my mat. Just grab and go. What could go wrong? Well, let me tell you what can go wrong.

I pardoned myself, reaching behind them to retrieve my mat quickly, hoping not to break their conversational flow. So far so good. Except I forgot I left my water bottle on my mat, and so it fell over, and then it flowed. And baby did it flow. All over one of the women in particular who, it’s safe to say, most definitely was unceremoniously sucked into my AWKWARD SITUATION vortex. She’s probably still cleaning water out of her ears.

I apologized profusely as the water seemed to continually bubble up as though my drink receptacle had tapped into a natural spring. Jumpin’ Jack Flash! How many gallons did that bottle hold anyway? Two paper towel rolls, 25 apologies, and 3 floor wipe-downs later I was headed out the door. My “mop up on aisle two” had turned into a spectator sport so, truth be told, I slunk out the door.

I did end up laughing about it later, as I always do, once my face resumed its natural mottled hue instead of the flaming hot red version it adopts especially for these situations.

Ah, well, we can’t choose our gifts, can we? Luckily my sense of humor is another gift that sustains me, in addition to knowing how unlikely it would be to have another AWKWARD SITUATION arise so soon after the last two.

That’s why I feel pretty comfy sitting here in one my favorite cafes, tapping out this little humor piece. Until the hostess seats a couple on a two-person bench in the waiting area I’m now noticing is directly across from me. And they’re fighting. And I’m now looking right at them eyeball to eyeball. And the fighting stops when they notice me looking right at them. And I can’t look away. Crap on a stick. Why can’t I look away?

That’s when my phone rings. Oh, sweet Mother Mary, thank you.  I saucily answer, acting as though I don’t have an awkward bone in my body.

It’s the yoga studio. Evidently I forgot my water bottle.

Diane’s “sit-down standup” style of writing is featured in a plethora of columns and humor books, including Just Because I’m Not Effin’ Famous, Doesn’t Mean I’m Not Effin’ FunnyMaternal Meanderings, and I’ll Always Be There For You…Unless I’m Somewhere Else?! Other publishing credits include numerous essays, articles, and pieces that have appeared in Little Old Lady Comedy, NPR’s This I Believe, a few thousand social media posts, California CPA magazine, Bigger Law Firm magazine, the Erma Bombeck University of Dayton blog, and The Union where she has been a columnist for 20 years. At work on her latest book, Bangs ‘N’ Botox: My Ageing Journey Near, Through, and Out of Denial, Botox, Fillers & Human Preservatives, you can subscribe to Diane’s chock-full-of-funny blog here.