I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
April 5, 2016
When I was younger, I believed one benefit of growing older would be that I’d suffer fewer and fewer instances of ‘that awkward moment’ with others. With each year that passed, I was sure my ability to hold my tongue would increase and my brain-to-mouth filter would grow stronger.
Unfortunately, that has not been the case.
I’m just not able to fake… anything. On the occasions that I can manage to keep from saying what’s on my mind, it doesn’t matter, I’m told– because the truth is written all over my face. Consequently, I’ve had no choice but to live my life very, very honestly, which has had some major benefits (this blog being one of them- Y’all love someone who doesn’t hold back– as long as it’s not someone you know!) and some major drawbacks (Friends/acquaintances I’ve inadvertently offended? Let’s just say I can name a few.)
It also means I’m completely incapable of small talk. Small talk is like a second language for me– one that I haven’t studied since high school. This reality has resulted in many ridiculously awkward situations, a couple of which I thought I’d share with you today. Why? I’m not sure, except that I believe there are others out there like me who suffer in silence– and I want you to know, my awkward friends: YOU’RE NOT ALONE.
Recently, I took the kids to the pediatrician’s office for their annual check-ups. The nurse called their names and, as we made our way to the door leading to the examination rooms, a man came out with his kids. Seeing me, he stopped short.
“Hi!” he said.
“Oh! Hi!” I said back. It took me a split second to recognize him since he’d had grown a hipster beard since I’d last seen him, but under all that facial hair was undeniably one of the guys who’d been in my couple’s small group at church a few years ago.
“Oh my gosh! How are you?” I asked him.
“I’m fine,” he smiled. Then he paused for a moment. “Do you remember me?” he asked.
“Of course I remember you!” I laughed. He didn’t look convinced. And so I said what ONLY I would say in that situation:
“Do you remember me?”
Smart, right? Don’t you wish you could come up with these kinds of clever responses when making conversation with others? Don’t hate.
“Well… yeah,” he said.
“See ya later!” I said, my go-to conversation-ender in situations like these. “It was great to see you again!”
The kids and I continued on into the hallway and my 11-year-old looked up at me as the door closed behind us.
“That was awkward,” she said.
“Learn from my mistakes,” I muttered.
My husband and I were talking about this particular awkward moment last night when I remembered an even greater (or, um, worse?) awkward moment that I never wrote about because it would have been… too awkward. I mean, I have to live in this town, people.
By now, though, enough time has passed that the awkwardness has mellowed somewhat, rather like a fine wine- one made from grapes of shame.
Back when my husband and I were co-workers and (secretly) dating, THIS happened:
“I’m sad that today was Donald’s* last day,” I said over drinks one night after work. “I liked working with him.”
“You know he’s a swinger, right?” Dennis replied casually.
“Donald?!” I sputtered. “Donald Patterson?”
“How do you know?” I demanded.
“Everyone knows,” he chuckled.
“I talked to Donald almost every single day and I did not know!” I protested. “How did I not know? Why wouldn’t he tell me?”
“It’s not the kind of thing you talk about at the copy machine,” my husband replied drily.
It was difficult for me to process this news about Donald. I had always thought swingers went out of fashion decades ago, along with key parties and love-ins. And if swingers were still around, they were readily identifiable. They wore polyester jumpsuits and had lots of chest hair. They said “Groovy” a lot.
But Donald looked… normal. He acted normal. HOW COULD THIS BE?
My world changed that day.
Anyway, Donald left for a new job, Dennis and I continued dating and, about six months later, we got engaged. We had done a pretty good job of keeping our relationship under wraps and so the news that we were planning to get married made a bit of a splash in Nashville. This was old Nashville, remember. In today’s Nashville, two reporters getting engaged would most definitely not be news, not unless they were also former reality stars who’d both gotten gender reassignments. In 2002, though, not one but two newspapers interviewed us about our engagement, and in no time flat, everyone in town knew we were getting hitched.
Shortly after our engagement, I was shopping alone at the mall when I heard my name.
“Lindsay! How are you?”
I turned. It was Donald. Donald the Swinger. I panicked.
“Hi, Donald,” I stammered, trying to act normal. But what is normal to a swinger, I wondered? WHAT IS NORMAL TO DONALD, WHO IS ALSO A SWINGER? My armpits grew damp.
“Gosh, it’s been a while since I’ve seen you,” he smiled. “How are things at work?”
“Oh, things are fine!” I said all too brightly. “Just fine! Everything’s fine!” The whole time, a tiny voice inside me was shrieking, He’s a swinger! I can’t believe THIS MAN I KNOW WHO IS STANDING RIGHT BEFORE ME is a SWINGER!
“I heard you and Dennis are engaged,” he said.
“Engaged?!” I said nervously. (SWINGER! Act normal! SWINGER!) “Dennis and me? Oh, no,” I laughed unconvincingly.
“Really?” he said, confused. “Are you sure? Because I read it in the paper. In two papers, actually.”
“Nope!” I said. “We are definitely not engaged!” We both stood there for a moment in silence. “Well, it was great seeing you, Donald!” I said. “Just great!”
“You, too,” Donald said quietly. I gave a little wave and zipped off. As soon as I rounded a corner, I frantically dialed up Dennis on my cell phone.
“Dennis? There’s a problem,” I said when Dennis answered the phone.
“What?” he asked.
“I just ran into DONALD THE SWINGER at the mall. And he asked if we were engaged. And I told him we weren’t!“
“What?!” Dennis said. “Why would you say that?!”
“I got scared, okay?” I said. “I thought he was trying to recruit!“
“Lindsay!” Dennis said.
“I know!” I whispered. “It was ridiculous. I panicked! Why did you have to tell me Donald was a swinger?!”
I’m certain Dennis was wondering the very same thing.
I hope these stories help you, friends, either to feel better when you have similarly awkward moments, or to feel incredibly smug about the fact that you’ve never been anywhere near as awkward as I.
*Obviously, certain names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent-as-they-seem.
Header image via sarebear/Flickr Creative Commons