Friday, June 17, 2011
It's a good thing embarrassment isn't actually fatal
Do you ever have awkward conversations in your head to see if there is some non-creepy, less-awkward way to say what you’re thinking? I do all the time, mostly with the conclusion that nothing that comes out of my mouth (or fingers) is ever going to sound the way it does in my head, because the rest of the world operates under a completely different set of rules of logic than my brain does. Also, on a side note, it’s very difficult to disguise the fact that you are actually talking to yourself when all your co-workers decide they’ve got better things to do on a Friday afternoon than sit in their cubes being a cover-up for your inane mutterings. Totally rude.
Alright, so, this awkward conversation thing… I can’t offer you an actual example from real life because I’m contractually bound by the UCA (Universal Convention of Awkwardness) to only publish a certain percentage of my awkward for free as a learning tool to the general public as an example of what not to do. It’s true. Contractually, I have to keep the vast majority of my awkward antics for personal use or live performance. One more reason why it’s better to know me in real life… but you don’t know that there’s a list of why it’s better to be my real-life friend than my internet friend because I haven’t gotten around to publishing that post yet… yeah...
See, I’m coming dangerously close to exceeding my daily quota already, so I’m going to manufacture a COMPLETELY FICTIONAL and RANDOM example…and I had a great one when I was thinking all this up in the car and now it completely escapes me.
So, while I wait for that thought to come back to me, I’m going to blather* on about my personal highlights reel, which is what I affectionately and sarcastically call the mental playback of every stupid, selfish, awkward, bad decision I’ve ever made that likes to taunt me and replay the whole catalogue every time something new is added to the (already extensive) file. Again, I’m prevented from sharing actual excerpts from said highlights reel, but if you ever saw that movie The Final Cut then these are the kinds of things you really hope are edited out of the movie montage they play at your funeral. For example, times when you accidentally or on purpose asked a non-pregnant lady her due date or gender of her upcoming child? Yeah, that would be on the reel, as would any time you may have accidentally grabbed a friend in an inappropriate place on accident because you thought it was her shoulder, and then through a complex series of brain-to-hand malfunctions, rather than removing your hand immediately and with great swiftness spewed forth a string of apologies, maybe you instead sort of… squeezed… to test the theory that maybe, possibly, it really was her shoulder and everything was fine… and then a very long and wholly inappropriate time had elapsed and meanwhile your friend was just paralyzed with shock about being suddenly and inexplicably groped at BIBLE STUDY of all places… that’s just an example of something that MIGHT be on one of these reels… not an actual example of anyone that we know. It must have been some other legume not known to me or my associates. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Right! Awkward conversations that one might have in their heads… I can’t remember what I was going to say about that, but I think we’ve covered enough examples of awkward behavior to sufficiently surpass my daily quota, so I’m going to have to really be judicious with my awkward the next few days to even things out. Be warned! Extra awkwardness in real life situations is mandatory! Seriously, I just wrote more than 600 words of a post in which I had forgotten my primary example because I couldn’t remember what I was thinking when I was driving. That’s the truth, and I should totally use the voice-recorder function on my phone for such things, but I really hate the sound of my own voice outside of my own head** so I avoid listening to recordings of myself, which is why I never made it as a DJ even though I really loved my job at the radio station. Also, using the voice recorder while driving would require me to navigate buttons on my phone in an almost-texting-like capacity, which I’m pretty much against, since I have enough trouble being paranoid about people killing me while operating a motor vehicle to add something like “operating a smartphone while driving” to my list of concerns.
OH! I remembered! As my friend Shannon would say, "Kiss your brain!" (She teaches kindergarten, and one time had to tell an over-enthusiastic student, "I said 'kiss your brain' not 'make out with your brain'."
Anyway, my example was the un-friending/un-following thing. Why the heck is that so fraught with guilt? I don't really care too much when the person is a celebrity, because, honestly? Nathan Fillion doesn't give two figs about whether or not I follow him. His followers are still in the millions or something, so, you know, whatever. When I want to see what he's up to, I know where to find him, but for the time being, my Twitter feed was getting a little too full of stuff I wasn't really reading, so I pared down the list and Mr. Fillion is none the wiser, so there.
But this is a HYPOTHETICAL awkward conversation, not my actual inner-monologue, because, as previously discussed, the UCA people! So, when you're going down your list and trying to get rid of stuff that isn't really relevant to your interests anymore, there is a ridiculous amount of guilt and baggage over clicking "unfollow" or whatever that translates to on Facebook & Google Reader and stuff. And like I said, famous people don't care... or they might care, but someone somewhere is probably following/friending/subscribing right that very minute too, so they're likely not to notice. And some people feel like celebrities, but really are just mostly normal people who have been doing this for longer than you, or random people you found clicking through sites on the internet and seemed like they were a kindred spirit at the time, only now, they're not so much kindred as still interesting but not enough to really stay reading all the time, and then you prepare the "it's not you, it's me" speech in your head in case they ever get around to asking you why you stopped following, which you know is never going to happen, because they have lives and probably are totally cool and secure in the knowledge that people change and grow apart, and it's not them, it's you, and all that, because, really, if they were all uptight & paranoid about whether you, a random Internet person, liked them, they probably wouldn't be all awesome and stuff which, of course, they are, because that’s why you started reading in the first place, and even though things are different now and you’re not really on the same page, it’s not a reflection of your like of them as a human, just a state of the world in which we find ourselves. Then, you’d realize that the only reason for thinking all this is because you think that it matters, because maybe it would matter to you, because your worldview obviously has a place where you matter, where as their world view doesn’t, so it’s sort of totally self-absorbed to think that they even care, because what kind of narcissistic jerk are you for thinking that a random Internet person matters to them… so you try to phrase your whole defense of not-following in such a way that says that you realize that you don’t even matter that much, which comes across as self-deprecating and needy instead and all this because you just wanted to de-clutter the stuff in your inbox! Seriously!! Why?!?!
But that’s just an example, not at all founded in real life experiences of this Bean. A fictional example. Again, because of contractual obligations to the UCA. Which is totally a real thing and not an organization I just made up. After a while, the word "awkward" just stops looking like a real word and instead becomes a collection of letters awkwardly arranged, and is there a word for when that happen? I'm stopping this now before this gets any more out of hand...
*Blather! What a great word. Also, there’s this thing called “The Blathering” that’s happening in Austin this fall, and I’m trying to decide if I’m going to go, because I never would have heard about it if it weren’t for Temerity Jane’s twitter, and looking at it, it sounds really awesome, and the very nearness is a huge incentive, but… you know… it says everyone is invited, but I don’t know anyone else who’s going, and not that I have a problem talking to strangers (I have a semi-amusing anecdote about that, but I don’t know how to footnote a footnote… these are the struggles of my life!), but I would hate to feel like I was crashing a party, but can you really “crash” something that has an open invite? But I get the feeling that lots of these bloggers already know one another, and this isn’t the first Blathering that has happened, and the only blogger that I read who is going is TJ and I think she’s fabulous and hilarious, but I’m pretty sure that in person I might do something that would add to the highlights reel, like try to hug someone I know to be a non-hugger, because that is what happens to me when I meet new people. I seem to have a countdown timer built in that says I must embarrass myself within X amount of time, which is fine, because, whatever, not every person in the world was meant to get along with every other person, and this is getting dangerously close to one of those conversations that I can’t share, because the UCA has some STRICT punishments, people! I know, I’m an occasional chairperson for several committees.
**My father will tell you that I’ve always loved the sound of my own voice, which is pretty much the only explanation for why I talk so freaking much…even in an office devoid of co-workers… as previously mentioned