Oct 062010
Authors: Shane Rohleder

I can still see their faces. The corners of their mouths curved into frowns at first, then rising into smiles as outright laughter ensued.

We were heading up Interstate-70 to ski the Mary Jane side of Winter Park. Earlier that morning, we stopped at McDonald’s because I wanted to buy an orange juice. Just an orange juice; anything else from McDonald’s makes me feel like I’ve purposely eaten poison.

My friend returned with a Sausage McMuffin for the driver, one orange juice for me, and a hashbrown patty for him and sat in the backseat for distribution.

“Alright, Ryan here’s your Mc-barfin, and Shane here’s your orange juice,” he said.

“Thanks dude,” I said taking a drink and sighing a refreshed -sounding sigh while looking out the window.

Then I said, “It’s like gifts from behind.”

I realize what I’ve done the moment I’ve done it, and at first I just keep staring out the window because I can feel both my friends staring at me, waiting for an explanation. There simply wasn’t one.

Awkward moments can be markers in our lives. We’ve all heard about the kid who lost his pants during the fifth grade honor roll, or the girl who falls off the stage because she attempted to wear six inch heals with her graduation gown.

There are many definitions of awkward, according to Dictionary.com, including: lacking skill or dexterity, clumsy, embarrassing or inconvenient; caused by lack of social grace.

Related searches to the word awkward are: awkward turtle, awkward question, awkward silence, first kiss teenager, and the question, “How do I stop being so socially awkward?”

This question bothers me. Awkward moments are necessary in my opinion. They are paragons of ourselves at our most vulnerable moments. Shining examples of what we once were, and what we can be again … and again … and again.

A great deal of comedy banks on awkwardness. Zach Galifianakis is the comedic genius working in the conceptual frame of “the awkward moment” today. In the movie, “The Hangover,” a prime example of this is his “wolf speech.” It’s tough to beat a speech like this in terms of awkwardness.

This weekend I had a “wolf speech” moment. I was trying to explain to two friends, who happen to be women, the idea of “packing somebody’s dip.” By this, of course, I mean packing a can of chewing tobacco.

I don’t chew tobacco, but I have the ability to pack a mean dip. My forefinger is like a door hinge; its own separate entity from the rest of my hand, making it a packing machine.

Of course I didn’t explain any of this to them before I said, “In high school, all the football players had me pack their dips for them.”

Dictionary.com would describe this as an “awkward moment” followed by an “awkward silence.” I think other related searches to the word awkward should be “red face,” “sudden hot flash” and “sweating uncontrollably.”

In the heat of an awkward moment, there is no reason to fight it. I’ve come to this conclusion after years of dealing with them. Years of saying the wrong thing, jumping off the wrong jump, wearing the wrong costume and unfortunate biological, or what Yoga instructors call “natural” instances.

Since it happens to me so often, I’ve developed a formula, a simple step-by-step process really, to dealing with an awkward moment.

Step one: let the “awkward silence” happen. By no means are you to say the first word after you’ve obviously already got yourself into such a puked up fur-ball of a mess.

Step two: do not feel the need to, nor try to defend anything you said that created the “awkward silence.” This will make you look very defensive, sinister and socially inept.

Finally: all jokes that come afterward are to be shrugged off, and if you can contribute to them in any way, do so. This will help the situation disappear quickly because it can’t be considered awkward if you own it.
Hope this helps.

Shane Rohleder is a senior communication studies major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to news@collegian.com.

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