Those Awkward Social Gaffes


Awkward social situations. We all have them. Just ask this queen of embarrassing incidents.

Earlier this week I tried to add “married” to my profile and the message spread that I got married that day. Ack! People I didn’t even know sent congratulations, and those we DO know wondered what happened to the man I married 44 years ago.

After blushing through a number of dumb situations, I realized a little humor can draw attention away from awkward moments. Here are some incidents which happened to someone I know very well.

You’re in the grocery store, bending over to retrieve something that dropped on the floor. You inadvertently bump posteriors with the shopper behind you who is facing the opposite way. Do you hurry away and pretend it didn’t happen, or apologize profusely while they glower at you? Actually a little humor helps in a situation like this. Just smile and say, “Wow, I can still touch my toes; how about you?” as you hurry down the aisle.

You’re walking down the street when you suddenly stumble off a curb you didn’t see. Your head snaps back. You point to the sky and say, “Look! Isn’t that a bald eagle?”

Some occasions require a little more tact. Suppose your first grader tells her teacher she looks like Madame Medusa from her story book. The teacher relates that information to you. You quickly smile and say, “Heh, heh, she has quite the imagination, doesn’t she? Has she told you she thinks I look like a Sesame Street character?”

I think I discovered a response when a child sits in front of me in church and persists in twisting around and staring at me while picking her nose. Once, while we were visiting a church, a little girl actually did this as the parents ignored her rude behavior. I kept motioning for the little girl to turn back around, but she ignored my polite gestures. Finally, I said in a stage whisper loud enough for the mother to hear, “Turn around Honey.” Instant relief.

There are times when a little directness overcomes embarrassing moments. For instance, if you are over 40 years old and don’t want to broadcast your age—and your nosy neighbor says to you in front of a crowd of people “How old are you anyway?” you could say, “I’ll tell you my age if you tell me your weight.”

One of my favorite tactics for nosy questions comes courtesy of an old friend of my youth. When asked a personal question which was none of anyone’s business, he would smile and say in a charming manner, “Isn’t that a personal question?”

Our human nature provides plenty of occasions for overcoming mortification. Given my past record, I anticipate a few more. So, if you have any suggestions, please comment below.

Image by Anita S. at Pixabay