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How to spot an awkward first date

August 4, 2010

I was born with the innate ability of either taking part in, or witnessing from afar the most awkward occurrences in life.

I’m really not kidding. Its like, if there is something awkward happening within a 5 mile radius of me, I am either taking part in it, or watching it from a distance, feeling just as, if not more awkward than the participants. The public domain is my kryptonite. When I get into the real world, there is just no end to the awkward adventures on which I can find myself.

For example, the moment I enter a restaurant to eat with family, friends, friends of family, family friends of friends or any combination of that, I immediately start scanning for the tables that have couples on INCREDIBLY awkward and unfortunate first dates. The finding of the awkwardness is not as easy as it sounds though. I make it SOUND easy because I am a seasoned pro. What might at first glance look like an old married couple sometimes turns out to be two older people who were very unlucky or unsuccessful in love, hoping that the person they’re with tonight will be the ONE, when both really know that they’ll be another disappointment to each other, and that false hope in each other creates a steaming, burning awkwardness the likes of which have never been seen by anyone but myself. And I don’t really even want to see it. I just have to. I have no choice.

And this is how you spot ‘em. First of all, they’re sitting like they’re in the electric chair, and they’re reading the menu like it’s Jesus’ personal diary. They’re on either side of the table, and no, they’re not talking. It’s what we, in the awkward-spotting business like to call, “the awkward silence.” And that, my friend, is probably worse for me than it is for them. Because, you know, here I am: I’m out to dinner, trying to enjoy my meal, and there they are, in the throes of this awkward silence. I mean, what am I supposed to do, ignore it? Jesus Christ, that kind of silence is deafening!

And what’s worse is that they will look at everything BUT each other. Their eyes jet from wall to wall to menu to wall to the patrons at the table next to them to the wall. Never has the wallpaper at P.F. Chang’s been more fascinating. And yes, they suffer. Sometimes, depending on the light in the room, like, whether they’re at a Magginao’s or a CPK, you can see the sweat beads forming at their upper lip, or, if you’re reeeally lucky, you can even see the initial stages of what are sure to be some massive pit stains on the dude.

If you start to notice pit stains on the girl — then you’re in a stage 5 awkward catastrophe, so you better just get the hell out of that restaurant as fast as you can and don’t look back. I don’t care how good your fusili with marinara and meatballs might have been. Shit like that can be so awkward that you may never make a full recovery.

And at this, as I’m watching the sweat pour down these people’s faces, this is the point at which I can no longer enjoy my dinner because all I’m doing is trying to silently coach them through this traumatic event.

Then, glory hallelujah! The waiter arrives! Those two awkward bastards cling to that waiter like he’s Zac Efron at a High School Musical premiere. The woman usually does all the talking, and the man usually sits there, in a deep trance, staring at the waiter wide-eyed in a desperate, silent plea for him to describe the specials in more detail than he ever has in his life.

Then comes the inevitable moment we’ve all been dreading since the waiter arrived: the waiter leaves. The awkward silence returns, and now I’m the one sweating — from exhaustion. This really takes a huge emotional toll on me, to watch these two pathetic love birds try to ignite flames with a wet match.

When the food comes, the most awkward part of the evening arrives on a silver platter. This is the moment when the guy tries to feed the girl … something so cruelly awkward that I spit on the grave of the person who thought it up. THE FOOD NEVER FITS! IT JUST LEADS TO CHOKING AND GAGGING, and eventually the Heimlich, which is so unattractive and awkward that I shudder to think about it.

Anyway, in spite of all the odds, the idiot guy always attempts to feed his date as though she is a member of some primitive South African tribe who got lost on the way to the watering hole. The food parcel is always far too large to fit in her mouth, and there is no way for her to ingest the food without looking like the guy in this painting:

But, without fail, the guy is never smart enough to remove the food when the girl makes uncomfortable noises, and he just remains in position like a dumbass until she chokes down the chunks with a forced smile on her face. But I know what she is really thinking.

This is right about the point when they finally notice that I’ve been watching them the whole time, and it’s like their eyes shoot an awkward nuke at my table. But you know what? I’m not going to back down. Yeah, they know I’m watching — and I proceed to keep on watching, because hey, it’s been such an awkward catastrophe so far, why veer off my course of total-awkward-destruction?

I do the whole glance-away whenever they return my gaze, but I know I’m not fooling anyone. And frankly, I don’t care. They ruined my dinner, so I’m going to ruin their’s. They proceed to get the bill as soon as possible, and then they are out of my life forever, and I can begin to salvage whatever is left of my own evening.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Gus hastalis permalink
    August 5, 2010 1:45 am

    Laughed right out loud at the waiter sequence! I would love to know what particularly awful bit of snooping inspired this piece! Great blog!

  2. August 5, 2010 1:46 pm

    First dates are inevitable and inescapable if you want to play the game. Movies are easier first dates than dinner. Dinner is a command performance.

  3. January 25, 2012 12:21 pm

    This is so funny! Love the silent plea with the waiter to stay. Great post!

  4. August 7, 2012 10:33 pm

    Not sure how I came across this blog post, but it cracked me up. Like you, I love to watch people on awkward first dates. I recently witnessed one where the guy (in an oversized Affliction shirt) managed to spill his 22 oz. beer all over his date. She was soaked.

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