I’d like to tell you an awkward love story. It started 20 years ago and defied all kinds of relationship don’ts — friends first, working together and long distance, not to mention a good degree of social ineptitude on the part of the guy, who happens to be me.
One thing you have to know about me, in case you didn’t already, is that I’m an awkward individual. Don’t feel bad; I’m not looking for pity or reassurance. I’ve long since learned to accept my awkwardness. There’s been a long succession of people willing to point it out to me.
It starts with my looks. I’m not saying I’m ugly, but I look…odd. I’m 6’4″ but my waist is probably about five and a half feet tall. I remember once in high school, when I got up to write something on the board, a girl in my class laughed and said, “Danny’s body is, like, three-quarters leg!” I eventually got over it, but for a long time I wasn’t willing to stand in front of a crowd — it was almost as traumatizing as the time in sixth grade when two girls followed me as I walked the halls before morning bell, staring at me and snickering until one of them finally informed me, “You walk like you have a corn cob stuck up your ass!” (I didn’t.)
For a long time after that, I refused to walk if I thought anyone was watching. Running is still out of the question, as I’ve made my own observation on that. I’ve seen myself run on video and it ain’t pretty. I think it’s because my right leg is rotated outward from its proper natural axis by about 25 or 30 degrees, so that even my feet are awkward.
Not to mention the slouch. What little torso I have is so canted that there’s a good bit of horizontal real estate behind my head. J-Lo has her shelf butt; I have my shelf back. Combine this with my lack of chin and I’m eager to avoid having anyone see my profile. Too bad one shoulder is noticeably lower than the other, making it equally inadvisable for me to let myself be seen from the front. Essentially, my body is like a cubist painting. It’s awkward.
Then there’s the awkward way in which I carry myself. I’m capable of conversing with people; I’ve even been known to entertain a guest or two at a party. But the ability shifts without warning. I run out of steam and/or things to talk about and a big, awkward lull descends, during which the people who had until only recently been genuinely interested in what I had to say, suddenly begin to stare at me as if they suspect I keep a Tupperware container full of severed fingers in my freezer. That’s ridiculous — everyone knows Rubbermaid keeps a better seal in extreme cold.
Sometimes I’ll still have plenty to say, but manage to go awkward anyway. This happened at work recently, when I tried to compliment a woman — never a good idea in the workplace. I meant well, but it came out all wrong. She laughed and said, “I could tell as you were saying it that you were wishing you weren’t.”
She could tell? Wow — that’s a pretty palpable level of awkwardness, probably much like the level I’m approaching in this blog entry. Chances are, you’re already feeling uncomfortable just reading this; that’s good. Nowadays, I thrive on being awkward.
Not so during my dating days. The awkward was there; the thrive, not so much. Which brings me to the point of this blog entry.
Twenty years ago this night, there was a date that never should have happened (and maybe didn’t, according to one interpretation), that started a relationship that never should have lasted (but did, according to unanimous interpretation). I’m going to tell you about it, but I need sleep first.
I’ve had this planned for a few days now. I could have even pre-written some of it. But I didn’t. I waited until the last possible moment, and now I’m too tired to write. So I’m putting you off and hanging a big “To be continued” sign on this page.
I’m sorry; is that awkward?