I will tell you when you’re awkward

Face it: You’re awkward, I’m awkward, this is awkward.

I have this habit of making awkward situations more awkward by announcing “This is awkward,” in the middle of said situation. Sometimes I say it loud, sometimes softly, either way it’s not cool. Even perfectly fine situations I tend to wreck that way.

The learning lesson for all of this socially disastrous behavior happened at my birthday party. My suddenly ex-boyfriend had just left the country and I was feeling shit about life and I threw myself a birthday party because, well, it was my birthday. My friends were nice enough to come (they really are good people) and they even came bearing gifts, which honestly I would be too absent minded to do if the situation was reversed. And real gifts, too, not just the obligatory boozy gift you bring whenever you’re invited over to a friend’s house. I got good loot.

So, I was sitting in my lovely living room, with my lovely friends, but for obvious (and sober) reasons was not in a party mood. I was in a judging mood. As soon as there was a lull in the conversation I said, “This is awkward.”

Immediately, the socially competent friend to the left of me said, “It’s only awkward when you say it.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

Now, I hold in the phrase whenever it comes to mind. Stepping off the sidewalk to pass a cripple person who’s moving too slowly? Nope, nothing awkward about that situation. Doing a commando walk of shame because you just couldn’t find the underwear you flung off the night before? Totally not an awkward situation.

But, whenever I’m in a situation where someone says “This is awkward,” I always feel compelled to report back to the socially competent friend, “You know what, and then they said, ‘this is awkward,’ but I didn’t say anything, even though it was, I didn’t because you’re not supposed to.”

It’s like I’m so proud of myself, I’m waiting for a cookie.

Doesn’t really matter, though. I’ve been branded as the girl who proclaims This Is Awkward like she’s got awkward Tourette’s. It even came up during a recent discussion of retirement job options. I announced I wanted to be a radio DJ. Once again, the socially competent friend was quick with her reply. “What are you going to call it? ‘This is Awkward with ZsaZsa Balza.’”

She had the whole program mapped out. I could interview people on air and at random points in the conversation announce “This is awkward,” or there could be a discussion about the awkward things I do, verbal and nonverbal. Presumably, my helpful friends would serve as sidekicks for this segment making sure I didn’t leave out any details. One example I could use, she told me, was how I don’t like hugging people and when I’m forced to do it, I hug with Tyrannosaurus rex arms (picture it, it’s not that difficult).

Apparently this is the burden I will carry with me though life: making people feel just that much more uncomfortable than before I opened my mouth (or leaned in for a hug). You’re welcome, America.

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