Tag Archives: awkward

Relax: easier said than done

27 Apr

Image Source: http://gifsoup.com/view/1228906/cat-massage.html#prettyPhoto

It’s been a stressful week. By Tuesday evening, I’d already clocked 30 hours of work… and if you count Sunday, which is theoretically a day off, the tally was closer to 36 hours.

By the time Thursday afternoon rolled around, I was spent. On a whim, I picked up the phone and called to see if my massage place had any cancellations that evening – they did. So an hour later I found myself stripping down for a massage.

Normally I get massages on the weekend, walking the five miles to the studio in yoga clothes. Thursday, however, my routine was totally thrown off since I was coming straight from work.

When my masseur – a big, burly guy named Errol who contagiously giggled like a girl – left the room so I could change, I panicked. My outfit was COMPLICATED to remove, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to strip down before he came back to knock.

For starters, I was wearing a collared button down shirt with half-pearl buttons, which are slippery and tough to work back through the holes. Knowing I was up against the clock only made me fumble more. Then came my socks. In and of themselves, they weren’t that tricky. But I’ve started wearing fluorescent orange compression sleeves over them (don’t ask) which are a feat to remove.

I felt like I was in a race. I tried to reassure myself, knowing he’d knock to make sure I was ready before re-entering the room. But I’ve always found that exchange to be a bit like a conversation with an adult from Peanuts: I hear the knock and a muffled question, and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say, “OK” or nothing. Whatever I choose, they seem to come in regardless, so I decided the knocking wasn’t much of an insurance policy.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m actually not modest and wouldn’t actually care if someone walked in on me naked. But it’s awkward. Like when I was at the gynecologist a few weeks back and the nurse whipped in the room to see if I’d been given a gown – only to find me already bare-assed in the middle of the room, stepping out of my underwear.

“Oh geez!” she said, clearly startled. “I’m so sorry!”

See what I mean? She was going to see me naked only a few minutes later, so it wasn’t my nudity that bothered her – it was that I wasn’t where she expected me to be. It was as awkward as if she’d walked in and found me crouching on top of a filing cabinet. So that’s what was going through my head as I changed for my massage. Must. Get. Under. The. Sheet.

Fortunately, I made it. But in the process, I forgot to run my fingers between my toes. I always do that to make sure there’s no random sock lint, because I think if I were a masseuse, I’d puke if I had to rub someone’s feet and I encountered toe jam. Before I could remedy the situation, Errol reappeared. Crap. Whatever.

Errol was awesome, and I’m not just saying that because he complimented me on having well-developed lats. Which, now that I think of it, might actually NOT have been a compliment.

In any case, we’d established a chatty rapport, so when he got to my feet I said, “Hey, I’m sorry – I totally forgot to check for lint.”

He had only my right leg and foot exposed at that point, and he responded, “Please. Your feet are in great shape. You should see some of the dogs I have to walk. I just close my eyes and jump right in.”

“Careful,” I cautioned, “You haven’t seen the left one yet.” And because this is how my brain works, I continued, “How awesome would it be if it was all snarled and I was missing toenails? You’d feel horrible.”

Apparently, Errol didn’t share my sense of humor, because he was pretty quiet after that. Lesson learned: Never relax so much that you think strangers will appreciate your warped mind. It will just make them sit in silent judgment. Which – if you’re getting a massage – actually turns out to be OK.

Or maybe he’d seen this clip and thought he was on a hidden camera:

Duck, duck. Honk, honk.

19 Mar

Image Source: http://media.heavy.com/media/2011/01/boob1.jpg

In January I attended a training seminar on effective confrontations to evaluate its content for my company.

The highlight of the two-day workshop  occurred when one of my tablemates was sharing a story with the entire group – gesturing somewhat wildly with her hands – and another tablemate stood up to get a glass of water.

In itself, that’s not that remarkable. But the way it played out, the woman talking ended one of her big gestures with her hand somehow (accidentally) cupping the other woman’s breast.

The best part is that they were so stunned at how everything had worked out, they both just froze and stared at the hand on the breast.

I was thinking, “All right! Finally – a real life situation that requires confronting! I wonder how she’ll handle it?”

The woman who was standing to get water, who was funny and reminded me of Melissa McCarthy’s character in Bridesmaids said, “Hey there. Not what I was standing up to get!”

And the other woman  said, “Now this is suddenly very awkward.”

Everyone else cracked up.

And that’s when I confirmed something I’d long suspected: Humor is a great way to defuse an awkward situation.

So the next time someone at work is under-performing and it requires a confrontation, I’m going to remember to just grab him or her inappropriately in public. Because then I’ll be able to say, “Wow, this is sure awkward,” and then, when we’re both laughing I’ll say, “Now, seriously, I really need to talk to you about X.”

And they’ll be like, “What a relief. I’m glad it’s just a performance issue.”

DISCLAIMER: I do not suggest anyone actually practice the technique I’m proposing here. And in case any HR representatives are reading my blog: Don’t worry, I know that this is not the appropriate way to handle a performance issue. I know it’s a lot more effective to simply send a heated email to the person with a performance plan attached.

AMENDED DISCLAIMER: OK. Apparently sending a performance plan via email without a discussion is NOT the best way to handle a situation effectively. I wish someone had told me that in 2001, when I once made an entire office line up by a fax machine in alphabetical order so I could fax over their performance plans to them “discreetly.”

FINAL DISCLAIMER: Apparently this training sucked because I’m now “under investigation” for my “management practices.” I’d like a refund, please. 

FOR-REAL DISCLAIMER: Now you know why I won’t accept your friend requests on Facebook, HR.

Image Source: Dilbert.com

It’s only once a year so they can forget who I am.

20 Aug

Last week I had my annual visit with the OB/GYN. I challenge any woman to convince me that this is NOT an awkward visit. I don’t care how comfortable you are naked, or how unfazed you are by a virtual stranger massaging your breasts, there’s really no way to portray it as anything other than awkward.

Especially if you have my knack for enhancing awkward situations.

First off, there was the waiting room.  I sat, along with nearly two dozen other women, silently updating my paperwork, eyes darting around trying to guess if anyone else was there for something other than an annual physical. Anyone trying to get pregnant? Anyone trying NOT to get pregnant? Anyone worried about positive test results they’d just received?

I was noodling through the possibilities when – to my embarrassment – a robotic voice loudly announced from my pocket, “Time: 28 minutes.”

I’ve been using “MapMyFitness” to track my walks using the GPS on my phone. The latest version has a computerized voice that will NOT be silenced (or even adjusted using the volume buttons). As she started barking from my pocket, everyone looked around, trying to figure out where the mechanical gym teacher was.

Unfortunately, I knew where she was, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop her from completing the rest of her long data sequence, including my total mileage. So I did the next best thing: I fished out the phone and sat on it. It was the best I could do to muffle it, but even so, you could clearly hear her announce my pace.

Instead of hanging my head and furiously working on my paperwork, I looked challengingly around the room, deciding to own it. Anyone looking in my direction to figure out why my ass was seemingly announcing mileage was met by a nod that I hope silently conveyed, “Yeah, that’s right. I walked here.”

Mirror, mirror, on the wall…

Even so, I was relieved when they called my name and I was guided to a room. It was cheerfully set up – nice hardwood floors, cloth gown on the table, stirrups at the ready, mirror, … WAIT. Um. Seriously? A wall-mounted mirror at the end of the table?

“How often do people point out that that is a very unfortunate place for a mirror?” I asked the nurse. She looked up, surprised, as if she’d never noticed the mirror before. Turns out? I was the first person to say anything. INTERESTING.

Part of me wanted to walk over and lift it away from the wall to make sure it wasn’t a two-way mirror, like the kind marketers hide behind when observing a focus group. I was too lazy to do it though, so instead I found myself staring at it during the exam, making subtle hand-gestures – thumbs-up, peace, hang loose – in case I had an audience.

I would’ve worried that the doctor might see me and think I was odd, but this is the same man whose running commentary while giving a breast exam is, “Great. Good. Perfect. Beautiful. Good. Beautiful.” So I don’t think I really need to defend my potentially creepy behavior to him.

Fortunately, it was all over in under ten minutes, so I didn’t have another opportunity to make it more awkward. Well, other than making an “in-and-out” quip about the speed of the visit. Which – say what you will – really isn’t assisted by gesturing at the speculum when you deliver it. Just… don’t.

That awkward moment when…

7 Jun

Sometime in the past year it has become popular to share a status update that begins with, “That awkward moment when…” and then recount something horribly embarrassing. Apparently it’s become so pervasive that my brain now does real-time narration of situations to let me know it’s been an awkward moment.

Or perhaps I’m just lucky enough to always find myself in awkward situations, and I now have a catch-phrase for it. In any case, without further ado, here’s my list from just THIS WEEK:

That awkward moment when your male boss walks out of the women’s room. And you realize the bathroom is actually mislabeled and you’ve been peeing in the men’s room for three months.

[Smack your head moment: So THAT’S why the toilet seat is always up!]

That awkward moment when everyone is trying to pinpoint where the “patchouli” smell is coming from and after proclaiming that you HATE patchouli because it reminds you of stoners who don’t shower, someone produces your new vial of perfume and says, “FOUND IT!” 

Perhaps I should start smoking weed. 

That awkward moment when you’re surrounded by a 55 Scottish bagpipers and you realize you’re a) the only woman, b) the only American accent, and c) likely the only person wearing underwear in the room. 

Well, I’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to be a minority. 

That awkward moment when someone identifies the odd smell on the elevator as BODY ODOR right as you call it out as BASIL.

Kind of makes people wonder a) what you eat for dinner and b) what your armpits smell like. Perhaps this explains my attraction to the nasty patchouli perfume? 

That awkward moment when the gap in the stall door is wide enough for you to see someone sitting on the toilet – and you realize they are praying.

True story. Happened to me in Logan Airport. Fortunately, my flight had just landed. Otherwise, I would’ve thought some jihadist was in there making her peace before getting ready to take out my plane. And I would’ve had to kick her stall in. But since I’d landed safely, I figured, “Probably just a nun pooping.”


Yes, another fart post. There goes *that* resolution.

16 Jan

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My entire life, I’ve been told I “seem wiser than my age” or “have an old soul” or “am mature beyond my years.”

Boy, that “Playdoh with Plato” class my parents enrolled me in as a preschooler was money well spent. Actually, no, there isn’t really a class named that.

But as a kid I often did enjoy conversing with my parents’ adult friends more than kids my own age. When I first started working, I was given responsibility that aligned to someone 10+ years my senior because everyone assumed I was older. That trend continued for years.

So it’s somewhat ironic, then, that I function like a twelve year old when it comes to fart humor. I was reminded of this yesterday at yoga, when the girl next to me was clearly not having a good workout. When we started the ab portion of the class and began doing crunches, she squeaked out an audible fart. I would’ve been able to rise above it, were it not for one thing: her reaction.

Instead of continuing with her workout in a way that could’ve cast doubt as to who the culprit really was, she immediately collapsed onto her back and lay as still as a corpse while the rest of us continued hammering out crunches. It was the equivalent of seeing a football official throw a flag on a play, directing everyone’s attention to the field to spot the problem.

This gave me the giggles. I might have worked past them, had two other things not happened.

First, she did it again, the next time we did sit-ups. (Have you learned NOTHING?!) I’m thinking we need another version of the the, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…” adage to help this poor girl learn from her mistakes.

And second, later in the workout, when we shifted from down-dog to plank (a very routine move) she collapsed. She hit the floor with an audible thud/moan combo. Half the class stopped and turned around, thinking they would see teeth scattered around on her mat.

I know, this really isn’t funny. And it’s mean of me to laugh at someone else’s embarrassment. I really do try to be a better person, to rise above it. But if it’s any excuse, I think things like this tickle me so much not because I’m enjoying her misfortune, but rather because I’m relieved it’s not me. Because another day, in another class, it has been very well could be.