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18. Pimples

After rolling out of bed in the morning, you head to the bathroom to brush your teeth. You look in the mirror and there it is . . a pimple.

These seem to always come when you least need them; right before you get your picture taken, when you’re meeting a potential client for lunch or heading to an interview.

“Alright,” you might say, “these things are perfectly natural and they happen to people all the time.”

And yes, they do. But what happens when you see somebody with a huge pimple on their nose? You look at it. Admit it, you can’t help it. It is just the way our minds work; we see something that stands out in a person’s face and we’re automatically drawn to it.

The issue here, however, is how awkward this situation really is when the pimple is observed by someone else. You noticed the other person’s pimple, and they noticed that you looked at it. Darn it! You made it too obvious. When a person is speaking to you, and especially if he or she is being extra self-conscious for the day, they tend to follow your eyes in conversations in order to make eye contact. If you get distracted by that big red dot on their face, they will notice. And now you know that they noticed that you noticed. Don’t worry, even if you didn’t look at it, they would assume that you’re actually avoiding it just to be nice. Children won’t avoid it though, they’ll tell you the truth; so if they’re present prepare for some fun.You just can’t win here.

Good news! This situation doesn’t go very far. You will probably not discuss the pimple anyway, but be prepared if you have to. I’ve encountered a scenario where a girl asked me: “Does it look that bad?”

“No, I can barely see it.”

I could “barely see it” but from far. The thing was huge. She knew it. I knew it. Awkward.

#17 The Sidewalk Dance

I’ve seen this happen, but I never realized that it was awkward until it happened to me.

I had just gotten out of a meeting and was quite stressed out because I found out that one of my programs for student residents at my university dorm halls had to be postponed due to some paperwork problem. I left my coordinator’s office and went outside for a walk. Usually, I look up at the trees and say hello to people while I walk around, but not that time; my mind was elsewhere.

So while looking down at my blue Vans shoes cross the cracks on the sidewalk every other step, I encountered a pair of small black Converse shoes. I looked up and smiled nervously, a pretty girl had crossed my path, literally –and almost crashed into me. Almost immediately, I moved over to the left. But so did she. I shuffled over to the right. But again, so did she. This is where things got serious, no more messing around. I moved to the left and stayed there. . . at the same time that she did. Then I solved the problem by figuring out a cool trick: instead of moving in the other direction, I moved to the left again. Magic! It worked! At the time, I didn’t really stop to think of a solution, it came mostly by mistake. Oh well, great things are usually discovered by accident.

“There we go,” she said, “that was awkward.”

I replied, “It was fun, thanks for the dance.”

Of course, the encounter lasted no more than 5 seconds, but it seemed to take forever.The thing is, this –the Sidewalk Dance– kept happening with other people, up to the point where I believed that I was the cause of the problem; that I was doing something to trigger this. Though I still haven’t discovered exactly what I was doing, it was pretty awesome to begin getting used to awkward moments like these and finding the fun in them instead of making the situations worse for myself.

The laugh that the girl and I got from that Sidewalk Dance reminded me to smile again, and it changed my mood for the better even after having a rough start to my day. Awkward moments are awesome.

#16 Silence after group laughter

I really like it when I’m with a group of random people and we get the chance to get a good laugh. I would like it even more if the laughter didn’t stop because of the silence involved afterwards.

It has definitely happened to you before. You’re at a a social gathering, perhaps at a quiet restaurant having dinner. Suddenly someone might tell you a good joke. Say.. a knock-knock joke.

Next thing you know, another person adds on to the jokes and laughter keeps increasing. Suddenly you have people looking at your table wishing they were having as much fun as you. But unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Someone might tell a joke that is just not funny, or perhaps nobody decides to follow up the hilarious knock-knock joke. Darn it. Why isn’t anybody saying anything? Oh no.

Now you all experience this: (insert text here)

That is right: silence.

This is the part where you awkwardly pick up your glass of water and take a sip. You look around, and take another sip. Maybe you’ll go to the bathroom and look at yourself in the mirror, or you might just wait for someone else to say something. Awkward.

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