Monday, August 31, 2009

Witz Pickz: Benching Awkward

It's taken many years and a lot of hard work, but I am proud to say that I can now bench my own weight in awkward. Conveniently, the gym provides plenty of opportunities to work my awkward out.

If you go to a gym, chances are your gym has mirrors all over the place. In any other location, these mirrors would serve to protect against things like rape or murder, but in the gym, the mirrors serve the opposite function and allow everyone to secretly stare at each other. Even if you don't want to, there are very few places to rest your eyes without ending up making eye contact with somebody. With everyone staring at each other most of the time, whether they want to or not, there is a very high chance for someone to see you staring at them, and that's where the awkward comes in.

There are two main ways to recover from being caught staring at someone, whether it was intentional or not. The first way is what a lot of people do-- simply blink and look at the person like you're seeing them for the first time. The intent is to look like you were just spacing out, AKA the "Oops, was I staring at you?" face, but in reality, everyone knows that's the "Shit, you caught me being creepy!" face.

The other recovery method is a little more involved, but tends to work-- while simultaneously making you appear creepier. When someone catches you staring at them in the mirror, in order to make it look less odd, turn and stare for too long at ANOTHER person nearby and then ANOTHER person after that. Both genders if possible. This way, the person is no longer worried that you are staring at THEM, simply freaked out by the fact that you are the type of person that stares at EVERYONE. Problem solved.

I go to the gym a lot though (it's no big deal), so I've started getting creative with it. One thing I like to do, which can also be used while walking late at night, is whisper, "I'm not coming for YOU!" when a girl sees me looking at her on a nearby machine. I whisper because I obviously don't want to startle her and make her scared and by letting her know she's not my target, all of her fears are alleviated.

It's about being direct. People fear the unknown, so I just try and make the unknown known. Occasionally, I'll just say, "You are the hot girl at the gym!" That way, they know why people are looking at them, but it also implies, "Outside of the gym, in a regular diverse social population, your stock would drop dramatically, but in this confined athletic environment, where motivation is key and testosterone runs high-- you are the one that is hot." That way they understand the situation, but also potentially develop eating disorders that might just help them reach their goals which have them working so hard at the gym in the first place. I'm not saying I'm a hero, but there has to be a medal or ribbon lying around somewhere.

If You're the Hot Person At the Gym You Can Stare As Much As You Want,

(Photo courtesy of Nitro. To contact him, email

P.S. So, two more bits of awkward as I left the gym recently. First, I was in Safeway and was standing next to a middle-aged woman in the bread aisle. We were both taking way too long, and made eye-contact, so I decided a good thing to say was, "There has to be one Whole Wheat bread on sale this week, right?" because if you buy bread, you know that there's ALWAYS one type of bread on sale, it just varies week to week. This woman gave me a look that said, "Not only do I have no idea what you're talking about, but I'd really feel safer if you didn't shop here anymore." Serves me right for trying to bond over bread purchases. So I just whispered, "I'm not coming for YOU!" and walked away.

Today, as I was leaving the parking lot, the truck in front of me had a bumper sticker that said, "Nobody Is Born A Bigot," which only struck me as odd because it seemed vague as to where this guy stood on the issue. Did it mean, "Nobody is born a bigot...we can all get along," or did it mean, "Nobody is born a bigot...I had to work hard to be the racist anti-semite that I am today."?? Couldn't he have just gotten a "Mean People Suck," bumper sticker?

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