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How to Turn a Socially Awkward Moment Into a Socially Awkward Hour

“That sweater is . . . huge!” exclaimed Bill, his arms opening up wide over his head as if he was getting ready to catch a (I’m trying to think of something “huge” that would be falling from above; not a basketball, not a beach ball, not a watermelon. . .  a blimp, yes that’s it, an out of control blimp spiraling towards earth) blimp.

Now Bill is a perfectly nice guy and I’m sure as he gave me the once over (I was looking like a large, aging Velma from Scooby-Do), he was probably just trying to think of something nice to say other than, “Your bloody eye is hideous!” Which is probably why he was looking up and had his arms outstretched; a simple maneuver to avoid eye contact.

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My big comfy couch sweater, was the perfect camouflage for my big bloody eye.
My outfit looked exactly like this except white sweater, gray skirt, black boots, and red eye.
Guess where I got the photo? Anniruddha!

I don’t think Bill was prepared for my incredibly awkward response, “Thank you, it’s the largest thing I own!” (this memory will come in handy when I am trying to stick to my New Year’s resolution).

And so began another awkward evening. Tony and I are socially inept. We agreed the best thing to do was to sit next to each other, speak only when spoken to, and when in doubt just ask about the other person who you are dreadfully uncomfortable talking to (I think this commonality between us is what has kept us together for nearly 30 years – that and the fact that we both worry incessantly about everything). We practiced our question asking technique:

Tony: How have you been?

Me: Fine, how have you been?

Tony: How are your kids?

Me: Great, how are your kids?

Tony: Great, have you traveled anywhere lately?

Me: No, how about you?

Tony: No. So what do you think about the “War on Christmas?”

Me: How about those Occupy Wall Streeters?

Unfortunately, our well thought out plan was completely foiled by the place cards! Place cards are a socially inept person’s nightmare, second only to free flowing alcohol. In fact, I think place cards are un-American. Just ask any radio talk show host or Ron Paul – no intervening on the natural order of things including who one sits next to at one’s sister-in-law’s 60th birthday party.

I just looked it up, and indeed place cards are un-American. According to Anniruddha, they are French!

Nonetheless, I was luckily seated (after I moved the place cards) between Ralphie and a fun, un-socially awkward woman who changed the subject every time I brought up something controversial (we ended up having a nice conversation in spite of me). This also gave me an opportunity to talk to Ralphie about his grades. As far as Ralphie was concerned even a discussion on his study habits is better than sitting next to an old person he doesn’t know.

The best part of the night for me came when Tony gave a short, loving speech about my sister-in-law.  Ralphie, who will be 19 in a couple of weeks, looked at me during my husband’s happy birthday discourse and said quietly, “I love Dad.”

My sister-in-law reads my blog and I want her know it was a beautiful evening, our entire family appreciates her hard work, and we love her very much. We apologize for our awkwardness!

Happy Birthday!

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And Merry Christmas!