Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I have moved!

You can find my new home at - which, if I do say so myself, is freaking awesome.

Monday, December 25, 2006

"Are you saying things to me?"

I'm typing this post from my old bedroom on Christmas Eve. There is an awkward thing that I will get to later on, but first there are two things I want to mention about how my blog is going these days.

Sometimes I wonder if I can keep this up for much longer. I mean, I have to run out of things to talk about, right? Then I remember these two facts:

  1. I have a list of old awkward things I want to get to someday, but it keeps getting longer as I think of a thing to write about more than once a week.

  2. I'm running a backlog of current awkwardness, too. I have 3 or 4 (actually, probably half a dozen) stories from the past week alone that I will have to mete out over the month of January, unless something else good comes along. We can play it by ear, you and I.

And, hell, if worst comes to worst and I start dating someone and have nothing new to write about on Mondays, I am still toying with the idea of serializing that feature-length Awkward Adventure I've alluded to a few times. I mean, my friends sure know that I never get tired of telling that story.

Wait. Who am I kidding? If I start dating someone, this will become a daily blog. Anyhow, here's your Monday awkwardness, because, baby, you know I treat you right.


Imagine that there are seven friends sitting around playing a board game. We're all chatting happily, enjoying the good company, awash in the good feelings you get spending time with good friends during the holiday season. There's a contented, excited buzz of conversation floating about the room. Everyone is having a noisy good time.

Now imagine that, all at once, everyone finishes what they're saying and there is a lull of silence.

Well, there's a lull of silence for everyone but me. (Imagine that.) I had turned to the girl sitting next to me to look into her eyes and say, over-loud in the sudden conversational vacuum:

"Are you saying things to me?"

Friday, December 22, 2006

5 Awkward Things You Don't Know About Me

I've been tagged. And, frankly, it's about time I let you behind the curtain a little bit.

Also, don't be surprised if you notice that a Christmas Miracle has happened to this website the next time you stop by. We're turning it up to 11 over here at Awkward Things, just in time for the new year.

Okay. On to the five things!

  1. I've had the songs "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire" (made famous by Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights in 1941) and "Chances Are" (the first #1 hit for Johnny Mathis) intermittently stuck in my head since around 1997, when the Clover Hill High School show choir performed them together as a medley ballad in their competition show. I was in the band that accompanied them at competitions, but, since they did this part of the show a capella, I didn't have to play and could just listen.

    From my perspective at the back of the stage, all of the gorgeous choir girls singing the song were backlit by the auditorium lighting, so that all I could clearly see was the back of their heads framed in a white glow, with little glints of loose hairs sparkling against darkness. Naturally, I was hopelessly in love with each and every one of them. No wonder I sing those songs to myself in my head all the time, almost 10 years later.

  2. When I solved a tough homework problem in college, I would get up in its face and trash talk it. Here's something I might say: "What? You think you can come in here and fool me with that little-girl time-independant Hamiltonian? Listen, bitch, I was strapped with partial differential equations when your punk-ass was still getting spanked by your momma for stealing cookies." Like, out loud. I'm not making that up.

  3. When I'm by myself, and, say, driving or maybe even walking along, and I see extra-cute little kids, I say "Oh my goodness!" in a super dopey voice. I generally don't say it when I'm with people. Sometimes I can't help saying it when people are around, and in that case, I just try to modulate my voice so it sounds more like a real adult. I sure hope no one ever catches me saying that in my normal way, though.

  4. My nickname in the college ultimate frisbee scene was "Prefontaine." As in, Steve Prefontaine: the runner who ran faster than you, just to piss you off. That guy was a badass, and, you know, maybe, so am I.

  5. Four years ago, in the middle of a mild Midwestern mid-July, I went to a fancy wine store and bought a reasonably expensive bottle of champagne. I did not put it on ice, but instead wrapped it in some towels to keep it somewhat cool. I put it, along with some wine glasses that were totally inappropriate for champagne, a fact that I didn't know when I was 21, in a duffel bag.

    The next morning, I packed some clothes and CDs in another duffel and, bags in hand, walked the half-mile or so from my apartment to the Cedar Avenue light-rail station in Cleveland Heights. I got on a train to the airport. At the airport, I rented a car, which I drove to Onekama, Michigan.

    I went on this crazy goose-caper because I was in love with a girl.

    But what with one thing or another, which phrase, by the way, is a placeholder for, literally, an entire feature-length romantic comedy, I never drank the champagne with that girl. I kept the bottle for a few years in my closet in Cleveland, but it just never worked out that a romantic opportunity to chill it and drink it with her materialized.

    But that's okay. And, anyway, lots of people know that story. Here's the thing people don't know: over the course of the past four years, "I'm keeping that bottle to drink with her" somehow morphed into "I'm keeping that bottle to drink with someone who loves me back." It's a symbol, like the mountain in Brokeback Mountain, except that I'm hoping a girl is involved. I won't open it until I'm good and ready, but you can bet that, no matter how much damage time and temperature have done to it, if and when it gets popped open someday, it's going to taste pretty good to me.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"Where does my nose go?"

"Do you mind genuinely kissing each other on stage? Because we could do fake stage kisses if you want, but it just wouldn't be the same."

It's the early summer of 1998. My junior year of high school was just about over. I had just found out that I had won the male lead in the fall musical. The drama teacher had gathered me together with Female Lead to have a discussion about what that means.

Apparently, that means kissing.

After some glances back and forth, we told the director that, well, sure. Kissing is fine. Whatever, I mean, you know. It's not like it's that big of a deal.


No big deal at all. I mean, I was 17. I had kissed lots of girls before then - there was the one time in pre-school when I got in trouble for kissing a girl a couple of times, and then my first real kiss when I was 15. That's, like, 3 times total. So I was practically an expert.

Plus, I mean, it's not like I daydreamed endlessly about Female Lead since, say, the sixth grade, because of how much I liked her. Good thing there wasn't that.

Like I said: no big deal at all.


"Justin!" The drama teacher was seated out in the back of the auditorium. She could be loud when she wanted to be.

"Yeah?" We were in rehearsal, several months later. I had just finished delivering what I felt to be a key monologue for establishing my character's behavioral trajectory and for creating, in the audience's mind, a more tightly-drawn tension through my character's delayed maturation process to the final Independence he shows from societal definitions of both family and profession, which, ultimately, allows him to pursue the family and profession that he truly loves. I think my exact line was, "I am a man!" delivered to Female Lead.

"I want you to kiss her right now."

"Okay." I made a note of it in my script, then continued with my lines.



"I meant, right now. As in, you need to kiss her now."

"Wait, for real?" I say. There is a pause. Some chorus girls giggle. Guys shift awkwardly. "I mean, right now?" I turn to look at her. Then I look back at the drama teacher. "Are you sure?"


Okay. I can do this.

I looked back at Female Lead, who looked up at me. I ignored the stage lights, all fifty other cast members who were extras in the scene, and the assorted stage crew looking on from auditorium seats. I tried to think like my character, who had been dating Female Lead's character for eight years, but was only now discovering who he truly was and how much he truly loved her. I stepped closer. I bent my head down towards hers slowly, then slower still.

I hesitated.

Then I stepped away, turned to the drama teacher, and shouted:

"Where does my nose go?"

Monday, December 18, 2006

"Let me think about it."

About a week and a half ago, I was at a bar with a friend. He's married, and, lucky for you, I'm not.

A girl sits down with us who my friend knows and who I don't. She is definitely pretty, but she seems really distracted. I wonder to myself: what is she distracted about? She looks over at my friend and asks the worst question ever.

"Do you think I'm good looking?"

Yikes. I think the only way to deal with this situation is to induce vomiting and call a doctor. My friend takes the safe route and punts, citing his marriage to a wife.

But not me. I'm dumb.

"Oh! I'll tell you. Hang on, let me think about it."

Awkward silence. I'm actually thinking about the question. I'm serious, there are gears turning in my head. They are stupid, idiotic gears, but they're turning away.

"If you have to think about it so long, the answer must not be good."

What? Oh, no. She's misunderstood me.

"No, I'm trying to think about how good looking my friend would think you are. Personally, I think you're beautifully gorgeous. So, what do you do?"