Monday, May 5, 2008

Social Retard 101

Social dwarfism is a condition that affects over 3 billion people a year. In fact, every .0087 millisecond someone- somewhere- is suffering the painfully debilitating effects of mind numbing humiliation that occurs from incidents such as: running into a person whose name you can't remember, asking a very un-pregnant woman when her due date is, or wearing long denim jean shorts to freshman cheerleader tryouts in high school. Incidents that leave you with the all familiar and ever dreaded "Handshake/Hug" feeling (You reach out for a handshake and the other person reaches in for a hug resulting in a messy and uncomfortable tangle of pats and squeezes that make both of you wish for momentary death).

I've decided to share a few of my stories of what we'll call, for political-correctness sake, my own "Social set-backs". As the current world champion holder for the world's most embarrassing social hindrances (Social retardation and I go waaayyyy back), I feel anything I can share may be of help to any other unfortunate dwarfs like myself.

Earlier existence:

Situation #1: Wearing long denim shorts to freshman cheer tryouts

They weren't just denim, and long. They were white too. I must have missed the memo that advised more elastic material for my toe touches and double nines. Oh yeah, I also missed the memo that big, blonde bangs curled in one giant matted hooplike ring and hightop white Sketchers went out of style in the late eighties...come to think of it they never were in style. Consequently, the judges must have missed the memo that advised ME to actually become a member of the squad.

Solution: After one painful year of much observing, adapting, and evolving into a somewhat acceptable form of a 14/15 year-old girl with braces, Try out again. This time with a ribbon and more suitable shorts. And guess what?:
One! We are the Miners! Two!...a little bit louder!....Three!...I still can't hear you...We...are...number....ONE!
Transition from awkward denim girl to obnoxious cheerleader complete.

Situation #2: Homeschooling roots resulting in inadequate understanding of school government parameters.

Running for student government, my speech entailed promises such as "Equal rights for women's and men's sporting events", "Longer lunch periods", "No school on Friday". It wasn't until my opponent mentioned that none of these mentioned technicalities would actually be under my jurisdiction that I realized if I had planned on winning I should have stuck to pep rallies and hallway decor.

Solution: Hide under a chair until elections pass. Stay there another three years. Never homeschool.

Later existence:

Situation #3: Run-in with the Ex.

Ex: "Hey, how are you doing?"

Me: "Great. Better than great. I,um, have been doing lots of things. Like tan. I'm really tan. Boys still like me. Yeah, um, which is why I'm seeing lots of boys. So many boys I don't even remember all of their names. Like Tyler. I mean, sorry, you're Tyler. I meant Trevor. I'm great. Really, reeaaally great.

Keep tanning. Eventually Ex who you are still in love with will notice your tan and ask you to marry him. Make babies. Little girl babies.

Later Later existence:

Situation #4: Being mistaken for your sister.

Person who thinks I am the 15 pounds lighter, much prettier and trendier version of myself (also known as my sister Sarah): "Hey there!"

Me: "Hi!"

Person: "Congratulations on winning Homecoming Queen!"

Me: "Ohhhhh, actually, I lost. I didn't mind that I didn't win, really, I was just flattered to be nominated, it was a lot of fun. Funny you mention it after all these years... I mean, come to think of it I did have a LOT of school spirit. And it was ME who wrote that funny skit that now has become tradition every year at the Freshman Welcome rally, and I did donate quite a bit of time to the homecoming week festivities to make sure our float was the absolute best. But ya know, who cares really?

Person: "Oh wait! Oh my gosh! I'm sorry....I thought you were Sarah!!!"

Later, at a mall or some public place, from a distance, someone waves at you. You've never met them before, you are sure you don't recognize them. Silly people, they must think you are your sister....

Me: "Hiii! I noticed you waved from over in the food court. I'm actually not Sarah, which is who I assume you thought you were waving at. I didn't want you to think she was being rude and not coming over to say hello, because it isn't actually her- it's me! Her sister! Funny huh? Anyways, I'll see ya later!"

People waving: "Oh, um, we weren't waving at you."

Solution: Dye your hair a different color. Get over the thrill and validation of "I've still got it" hotness you receive anytime someone mistook you for her anyways. Separate identities are best.

Situation #5: Telephoning the wrong Karen.

Karen: "Hello?"

Me: "Karen!!!! Oh my gosh Hiiii, it's Rachel. I just wanted to say I am so sorry I missed our appointment the other day I know you were waiting for me and I accidentally fell asleep because I had been taking care of sick kids all week and tyler got home early for work and so I had a quick chance to take a nap and he woke me up and told me that you wanted to see me for an appointment but I was so groggy I didn't realize what he was saying so I told him to tell whoever it was on the phone that I wasn't available not realizing that it was you and we had schedule the appointment to go together to see Polly on Friday I was so embarrassed when I realized I had missed out all together!

Karen: "Ummm, are you sure you needed to talk to Karen Wright?"

Me (horribly awkward want to shoot myself pause): "I am sooooo sorry. I was looking for Karen Nance."

Solution: Avoid bumping into Karen Wright for the rest of your life. And Karen Nance for that matter. No use in bringing up socially painful memories while you're at it.

I am only one person. But together, we can change the world and lessen the pain for other socially challenged individuals by bringing our situations to light and discussing them without shame....

Do share...have you ever done anything you've been embarrassed by? Please don't create another socially embarrassing situation for me by not giving ANY comments! I'd love to hear!


MOM said...

Oh Rachel...didn't you realize that your condition is hereditary? You got it from your mother! It starts to morph into our personality somewhere in the early teens and still lurks there into later years (like 47 years old)...I first recall that blood running cold scenario when I was 16as a hostess at a truck stop - yes, that alone could qualify as a "socially retarded" event, but that wasn't it. As I seated two "truckers" at their table I noticed the unmistakable stench of B.O. My mind was so focused on this unbearable smell that as I handed them their menus I proceeded to ask the customary "Can I get you both some water and two cups of B.O.?" I didn't even wait for their reply...I bolted and hid in the back until they were gone. Just to show you that this social dwarfism knows no age limit let me fill you in on a recent incident one I have found myself in numerous times...I have a tendency to think that everyone is in on my sense of humor or my conversation. I was at a high school play this past weekend and during intermission went to the restroom. I was the lucky one whom had made it to the restroom quickly but when I came out of the stall there was a long line of women waiting and chatting with one another as they waited...As I washed my hands and preceeded to leave the restroom I verbally engaged all the ladies in my observation "I bet the men don't enjoy each other's company like us women do in a restroom"...dead silence, no smiles, no giggles, nothing.
See...I somehow have in my head that my fellow human beings on the planet are part of my social circle and are just waiting for me to say something clever. Wrong.
But don't feel sorry for me - I think I'm clever.

Joan Koplin said...

Oh Rae! Every one of these situations is SO YOU! haha. LOVED reading every one of for embarrassing/gross moments: try singing at a fireside with your sister (Nikki) and feeling blood drip down your legs (yes, past your knee length skirt)while the entire stake presidency among others are behind you. You're thinking "DO I just stop singing and run out of the chapel or do I keep singing?!?!!?!?"
I kept singing and ran out afterward. Not fun.
ps...your comments are my FAVORITE! I mean that in all sincerity. You leave the best comments on my blog and I love you for it...especially when you say (in so many words) that I am the Banana Republic poster child. Thank you, thank you, Rachel!

Amy said...

Amy: Oh my gosh let me think...I know I have lots of socially awkward moments...

Shinae: Are you kidding??? You DEFINITELY have LOTS to choose from.

I think Jamie and I could start a whole website dedicated to this subject because we think EVERYTHING we do is awkward...I'll send you the link when it's done.

jenniferoharra said...

Rachel you are too funny! I seriously don't remember your white jean shorts at cheerleading tryouts and trust me I've had some serious fashion blunders! How about the time in middle school when I wore ripped jean shorts with strawberries on the butt with high heeled wedges and a white shirt TUCKED IN!! WHO LET ME OUT OF THE HOUSE LIKE THAT?!?! Now I know why I was such a dork!

I've had so many awkward situations too but one that sticks out was when this stupid teller at my bank asked me if I was pregnant. When I looked at her in disgust and said NO, everyone turned to look! She tried to say I was glowing but we all know what she thought! I now go to a different bank!
Thanks for sharing your funny stories!!

Laina said...

RAE! I have been seriously slacking in the comment department! Considering I am the Queen of Socially Awkward situations I thought I should contribute to your list.

By the way, I had heard the ever famous jean shorts story, however, I did not know they were white too! Love it. I only wish there was a video of it like the sumo wrestling. ;)

Okay where to start...

Age 4: Announcing to a table of my parents' business partners that my mom has to take medicine so she can poop. (Sorry mom)

Age 9: Shooting at the wrong hoop in a basketball game. I missed; which was relieving to everyone else but was further embarrassing for me (it was a lay up).

Fast forward a few years:

Age 23: Confidently introducing Jamie to a girl at church as the WRONG name. If completely blowing her name wasn't enough - I told her she looked like the other woman that's why I got confused (naturally). Bad move. She is in her 20s other woman - 40s.

As you can see, I am the picture of social dwarfism.

Anonymous said...

Oh for the love…where to begin with this. Seeing as how I lack the charm and charisma that you and Laina possess I not only have the joy of being seen as a social retard but also as a mean witch whose name actually starts with a B. (that one was for Mallory)
How about most recently when I joked around with a friend about never playing on the basketball team when in fact he actually DOES NOT REALLY play. Boys don’t think that’s funny. Or when a co-worker told me he was a Libra and I replied, “Me too! That totally explains why you’re awkward!” Note: This is not someone my age. He is probably in his late 30’s, married and has 2 children. He is an Account Director…meaning he makes his living off of talking to people… A LOT. I basically told him he sucked at his job – to his face!!

And last but certainly not least – when you’re Mom lied about loving Maid in Manhattan to Renee Prior and I proclaimed to the whole table that she was lying and in fact had hated the movie. Can we say awkward silence. All together now.

Lains – your comments made me miss you!!! Can’t wait to see you in a few weeks!!

Rae's Corner said...

Mom- I can't lie. I've been aware that this condition is hereditary as I've watched you throughout my life. Let's just say that when you called our funky, old, beat up Jeep Wagoneer with faux wood paneling "The Woody"- and someone once pulled me aside and asked me if you were aware of the connotations surrounding this particular title- I knew what they meant. But I'm not sure you did. Lol. It's also why I love you and you're the first person I run to in any sticky situation, or ANY situation for that matter.

Joanie- I totally have told that story before, only I couldn't remember who it was!! I would just say, "I heard of this girl who was once singing.....yada yada yada." Oh my gosh! So funny. I'll still omit your name in future horror story sharing.

Amy- I'm still waiting!

Jen (Can I call you that? I feel like I always have)- your story about your shorts and shirt had me rolling. Soooo funny. Honestly, someone needs to lock middle schoolers up until they reach around 17 or so. And what a dumb teller. Seriously. But don't worry...I once got a compliment (or so he said it was...) when a guy told me I was totally "thick". What?!!!!!!! I guess it is some ghetto, from-the-hood way of saying you're hot? Only he was Native American. Yeah, I wasn't aware of that either. Stupid.

Laina- I miss you!!! And once again, totally rolling over your comments. The funniest part is that you DIDN'T make the shot on the wrong hoop. I sooooo relate! And I'm sure nobody was covering you, so that can't be to blame. I'm not trying to pour salt in an open wound, I just LOVE IT. It is so you and so me!

Shinae- Why hello there! Is this your first visit? ;)
Don't worry about the itch to the B factor. It is actually a good thing that people can't quite figure you out right away, makes em feel a little intimidated. Its better than oozing constant over enthusiasm and friendliness to the point of nausea (me).

Love you!


Oh my goodness, I guess I'm a little late on the commenting but Amy and Nae can tell you I am the QUEEN of awkwardness!!!!

I must say "that was SO awkward" in my head at least 5 times a day! seriously. I find it sometimes best to just acknowledge it and say, "well this is awkward."

There are too many moments for me to count, but thank you so much for posting this blog!! I think EVERYONE can relate :)

Rae's Corner said...


I completely agree. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just say it out loud: "This is awkward." In fact, now that you mention it, I've totally heard you say that before!
Other times it is better to turn and run.