September 4, 2015


Caleb Ward is a senior majoring in Spanish at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. He likes to write and has taken several creative writing courses at his school. He has volunteered on a service learning trip to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah, California. Caleb has also taken a Spanish language intensive course in Salamanca, Spain.

7 Awkward Things

         Awkward things either come alone or relate to each other in serial horrors. A man talks so much about his girlfriend that he tells you about the Mickey Mouse tattoo on her butt; not her butt cheek but her entire butt. You see her next day in the pub with her boyfriend, and you can see the Mouse's wide eyed smile through her jeans and hear his high pitched cackle coming from inside her clothes. The pub, the gym, the beach, anywhere you go and see her, or her boyfriend, the Mouse will follow, and laugh and grin and stare at you, and this is awkward.
         Someone from an apartment building threw a hot dog wiener at me as I was walking alone at night. It grazed my hat and broke apart on the pavement. This was awkward. It's always awkward to be almost hit by something, and anything involving hot dog wieners is awkward. It grazed my hat and hit the pavement, and I just started running, because I didn't want to find out what other food they had, and that was awkward too.
         I told my classmates about it. They were all telling awkward stories, and I told them my awkward wiener story. I thought it'd blend in with the others, but it didn't. They remembered mine the most, and thought it was the most funny.
        They made jokes about wieners around me for months and acted out throwing stuff at me and dodging falling hot dogs. They made sure I never forgot that they'd never forget.
        Seeing some shaggy haired hippie eat shit on his skateboard, and get up, and think that no one saw that, but then hearing your laughter from the distance is awkward. It pretty much ends there. There is no perpetuation of the awkwardness, and one is able to pretty much leave that scene and not have to think about it or be haunted by it.
        Making a sober joke at a party full of humorless drunks is one long moment. No one understands the joke at first (the easy one about the Dalai Lama and the pizza shop). It's like an STD or rabies; it infects people and takes a while to germinate before it causes hysteria. A group of five is your audience, and you tell the joke, and they all laugh. But they all know when to laugh. And then the smartest one, or the least drunken one, who are never the same person, comes back to you in five minutes and he is laughing genuinely, saying he gets it now, and he'll have to use it sometime. An hour later, the second one comes back by to pay her respects, and she laughs hard too, even though it took an hour she still finds it funny. That’s where the flattery ends, and the awkward begins in earnest, because there are still three people who have been infected. The third comes up with a prospective mate on his arm, and another drink in his other hand, and he is at that stage of frenzied excitement that only the intoxicated can produce. The third, talking frantically, trying to impress whoever, maybe the person clinging onto his side, tells you the joke again, not realizing it was yours, and gets the details mixed up, and the punch line wrong. No one laughs.

        The fourth you find with something on his head and crude images in marker on his face, and he says that the joke was deeper than any scripture or sage that ever was, and he bubbles a little at the mouth and thanks you for your time. This is the worst it gets, though. The most awkward are the first four, because the fifth you never see again, and you assume that she either didn't get the joke at all, or got it and left, and didn't need or didn't want to go back and make sure you knew that she knew what was going on. The wisest or the stupidest of your audience from so many hours ago, she finally ends it with her welcomed absence. That is a long moment of awkwardness that once gone, stays gone. 
~Caleb Ward

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