The Life Romantic


am a Connoisseur

of Awkward Situations.

Yes, the capital letters are necessary. Only they can convey the severity of this issue. It is difficult to encapsulate in one small post the devious nature of the world that has consistently selected me to be the mark in a series of awkward happenstances. Yet it is fact at which even my nearest dearest can only marvel.

For example:

I was working as a receptionist at medical clinic that dealt only with work-related issues. Drug screens, work accidents, strange gasses emitted from unmarked canisters, etc. One day a man came into the office. He glanced furtively about the waiting room. It was empty. This did little to assuage his apparent unease. He came to the window and whispered.

“Pardon?” I said, in my I-cannot-hear-you-but-I-am-polite-and-smiling-anyway-receptionist-voice.

His peeped quickly at all the corners of the room, and then in leaned under my window to ask in hushed accents, “Do you test for STDs?”

My mouth fell open. My mind went blank. And my training as a receptionist kicked me in the rump as it stepped in to respond coolly with the normal, routine, commonplace question; “Would this be work-related?”

The man blinked. He took a step backwards. He met my eyes blankly, and pronounced in return, “Well, how should I know?”

It would have been awkward enough if only for my blunder. But the punchline of the story convinces me that I am not to solely blame. I might be naturally awkward in my own right, but the situations quickly extend beyond my clumsiness. It’s like the universe says “Oh yeah, think that was awkward? Watch this!” And then I lose. Because being engaged in one-up-man-ship with the universe is doomed to failure. Or at least doomed to the wonderment.

G.K. Chesterton wrote that the true  Romance in life is a sense of wonder and delight at the world. My experiences might be skimping on the delight portion, but they certainly increase my wonder.  Maybe the my purpose in life is to be the Awkwardness Magnet. Maybe my perilous encounters mean that some other poor person has fewer strange adventures in their own life. Either way, my life is sure to be full of odd things, Chestertonian marvels, and slightly humorous tales. And awkwardness.

I have found strange pairs of black lacey men’s underwear mixed into my laundry when I grab it from the community laundry room. While at work, I was accidentally forwarded to an ‘special’ line that simpered in sultry strains, “Are you looking for that special connection? Do you need a to fulfill your deepest needs? Well, . . . .” And only last week, my 70-year-old professor gave us a quite innocent in-class demonstration of a dog looking at porn.





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