People number things like birthdays and anniversaries to remind them
just how long it's been since they could put their toes in their
mouth or look at a member of the opposite sex with something other
than mild interest.
Sometimes when you think back on those years,
what you remember are awkward situations. Why is it that these
embarrassing moments are the ones that stick with us the longest?
It's interesting to note, however, that none of us found it
awkward when someone saw us sucking on our toes (when we were
babies, that is). That's because, at that time in our lives, nothing
could embarrass us. We wore diapers and drooled into our strained
peas, for goodness' sakes! What could possibly embarrass us? It was
Then we grew into kids who told the kind of "jokes" that nobody
laughed at. That was awkward. We even included a potty word
guaranteed to provoke laughter, butů nothing. Most of us handled it
by crying or throwing a tantrum.
By the time we graduated from middle school, we'd had plenty of
awkward situations. The problem with middle school is that the other
kids had suddenly developed a memory. If you accidentally broke wind
after completing the long jump in gym, they never let you forget
about it. This was a situation where people laughed when you didn't
want them to.
In middle school, it seemed that there were so many awkward
situations that awkward became normal.
High school was also a minefield of awkward situations, but most
of us were learning how to avoid them. It was a matter of having
control over when people laughed at you and when they didn't.
However, it was not without its stereotypical social blunders.
Dating came with many rules. The No. 1 rule seemed to be that dating
was strictly for those without acne.
Then we became adults. Adulthood is one awkward situation after
another, especially if you choose to have children. Still, you can't
blame everything on your children. Adults do a fine job of getting
into awkward situations even without an ankle-biter around.
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Before you even get the hang of attending weddings for your
friends, you might walk into the wrong church, where a memorial
service was being held for a complete stranger. Hey, there was no
casket! How could we have known? Still, how do you make a graceful
exit after you've gone into a silent, tear-producing laughing fit?
Newly minted adults might try to keep up with Christmas and
birthday cards, because that's what adults do, right? If someone we
actually knew passed away, we understood that we should send a
sympathy card. But what if you sent a sympathy card to the husband
of someone who, as it turned out, was healthy as a horse (and, by
the way, still living)? That's awkward.
What if you hugged someone who didn't know about the three-second
rule? Is it rude to let go before the other person is done hugging?
Maybe, but it is definitely awkward.
Awkward is needing to go to the bathroom while having a root
It's a mom helping her teenager shop for an athletic cup.
And who knew that when someone says, "You have a good one," it's
a suggestion, not an observation. Yeah, that's awkward.
I think I may be allergic to being uncomfortable. Typically, I
turn red and start stuttering incoherently. But, ironically, as much
as I dislike feeling uncomfortable, if it weren't for awkward
situations, I wouldn't have had 700 things to write about.
[By LAURA SNYDER]
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated
columnist, author and speaker. You can reach her at
or visit www.lauraonlife.com
for more info.