Tuesday, June 30, 2009

public interactions

Unexpectedly running into people in public is inherently awkward. There are a few reasons for this.

First, if you're seeing the individual from a distance, you're often unsure of the individual's identity. It could very well be your friend from high school, or it could be a random dude walking down the street. You have a choice to make--either break the social law of no staring at people, or keep your eyes to yourself and hope they do the same. There are few more awkward events than walking by a friend of yours, and keeping your head down to avoid staring, while they pick you right out of the crowd. Awkward.

Second, there are no clear social norms dictating how you interact in public. What if you haven't seen this individual for some time? What if you're busy and can't stop? What if you're on a random Sunday walk and you happen upon him while he's loading his car? You can't very well just say, "see you later", because, in all likelihood, you won't. Do you stop and chat? Just ignore him or her1?

I think the solution to both cases is obvious. Keep your head down and ignore everybody. Take large strides.
Look at the ground. Wear a sombrero. Put on a trench coat. These are precautions you can take to every encountering awkwardness.

However, these precautions are difficult to take indoors, because: a) only strange people wear sunglasses indoors2, b) only really strange people wear trench coats indoors, and c) only mariachi band members wear sombreros in general.

Which is why, if you're ever tempted to go to a movie by yourself, you may want to try some face-altering disguises. Not heeding my own advice, I recently went to a movie by myself. The loyal reader will recall my trepidation at such a step, but I was determined to fulfill my goal.

Upon entering the movieplex, I decided I needed to use the restroom beforehand. As luck should have it, I happened to run into my good friend Mr. Woolley. Don't get me wrong, I love Mr. Woolley like a brother. There's just something about being caught in that situation. His first words were, "Chris! How are you doing? What movie are you going to see? Are you here by yourself?"

This was even more disheartening. Not only did I run into someone I knew when going to a movie by myself, but he immediately picked up that I was there alone. I hang my head in shame.

To make an awkward story short, Mr. Woolley was at the movie with his male in-laws, as his wife was at a baby shower. So I sat with the family. One of them was close to us in age, and I could see the disdain in his eyes as he realized I had come alone3. These are the awkward moments I live for.

In summary, it's best to keep your head down and that sombrero well positioned. You'll look dumb, for sure, but nobody will ever be sure enough to know who you are.

1. Matt Horton, I feel horrendously guilty, because I'm 80% sure I saw you a few weeks back, but I didn't stop because of my unsureness, combined with my busyness. Many apologies. I do hope you and your wife are well. And if it wasn't you, well, I feel ridiculously less guilty now.
2. However, should you encounter someone wearing sunglasses indoors or at night, DO NOT MOCK THEM. Under any circumstances. Otherwise, you'll end up like me, when I publicly made fun of that dude for wearing sunglasses in the dark, after which he loudly informed me that his eyes were sensitive to light, and he could go blind if he took them off. Not my proudest moment4.
3. More embarrassing: the movie was Star Trek. Nothing wrong with that, but I imagine going to that particular movie alone doesn't bode well for your reputation. Of course, it could've been worse. It could have been a chick flick.
4. If I recall, however, he did wear a trench coat, so I could have gone after him on that angle.


Jess said...

Who would have guessed that the same young man could cause me to burst into pure laughter twice in one day? Amazing that the post topped the ultimate email! If you know him send him my way. Hehe

MommaMcCarthy said...

Way to footnote your footnote... Two thumbs up!