Thursday, August 14, 2008

Social Conundrums

For the most part, I like to think of myself as socially apt. Perhaps those that know me well would disagree, but it’s better for my self-esteem to not think about that. I do, however, admit that there are several social situations in which I have no idea how to appropriately respond. I decided I would throw a few of them out there, in case you too struggle with such conundrums. If anyone reading this has found a proper way to deal, please, do share.

Eating peaches and plums in public…
This dilemma may very well be mine alone. Plums, peaches, and other such related produce do not have cores. I have no idea what is socially acceptable regarding the manner in which you eat these. Do you eat down to the seed? Or do you eat as much as you would on an apple, even though you don’t have the hard, stringy core to tell you when to stop? I have no idea. For this reason, I make it a point to avoid eating such fruit in public places, lest I be judged by onlookers as I savagely nibble down to the seed.

Meeting someone on a long sidewalk…
I encountered this constantly on campus when I’d walk to class. I now encounter it daily in the halls at work. This is when you’re walking down a long sidewalk or narrow hallway, and you spot an acquaintance off in the distance. If you make eye contact, you’re then required to give a polite smile or wave. Once you do this, you then have several more seconds, bordering on minutes, before you’re within audible range to say hello or pass them. Do you have to maintain your cheesy smile and eye contact for the full length of the sidewalk? Is it rude to look away once you’ve given your obligatory nod? Both answers provide awkward results. My solution thus far has been to stare straight at my feet any time I enter a corridor or long walk way. (This causes people to often ask “what’s wrong?”)

When the dentist talks to you…

Perhaps this one is more a lesson in etiquette for the dentists themselves. You know when you go to get your hair cut and the hair dresser strikes up a conversation with you? This is ok. You know when you go to get your teeth cleaned and the dentist shoves a hand in your mouth and then strikes up a conversation with you? This is not ok. Are they really expecting you to answer? Maybe they're around it enough to understand your muffled and gurgly answers, like a second language or something. Or maybe they just think it's funny. Bill Cosby did a stand-up routine about this very situation. It was hilarious. I think the answer is to respond to the best of your ability, but fling as much spit as possible so they take cover and cease all conversation.

Returning a poorly aimed wave…

You know- when you're at the grocery store, or any other public place, and a stranger enthusiastically waves at you with a big friendly grin. You wave back, slightly caught off guard, slightly flattered, and slightly worried that this person knows you but you don't know them. Then you see from the corner of your eye that the person behind you is waving back with the same enthusiastic fervor. Realizing you've sheepishly returned a mis-aimed wave, is an apology required? Do you slink away pretending it didn't happen? Or do you proudly own your wave, telling yourself you're just a friendly, personable socialyte? I slink away.

Selecting Ripe Watermelons...
While writing this, I read a post from my cousin Amy regarding proper watermelon selection. It cracked me, and totally deserves a "Social Conundrum" catagory of it's own.

1 comment:

Angie said...

Deep thoughts, indeed.

Eating peaches in public... I've always been far more concerned about the peach juice dripping down my arm than how far to eat. I cannot eat those things without getting that juicy goodness everywhere. Does it stop me? No.

The long sidewalk... this IS a problem! I encounter this awkward situation all the time and it's a doozy. It reminds me of when you drive off at the same time with someone you know, in separate cars, and continue to see them at every light. You might wave at the first one, but then when you pass eachother back and forth in traffic, and continue to see each other at lights, what do you do? Pretend they're not there? What if they're looking at you and you're not noticing them... is that rude? Will they think you unfriendly? I usually fiddle with my radio or pretend to read some far-off sign, squinting my eyes for authenticity. But back to your question... maybe you could wear sunglasses, then they don't know if you're really looking at them. Then, at the last moment before you pass each other, you could suddenly "see" them to avoid the awkward time in between. Or something.

The dentist... I usually just grab his hand, yank it out of my mouth and answer his darn questions. It gets the point across, which is, "QUIT TALKING TO ME." Okay, no I don't do that. But I am curious about this: do you keep your eyes open or closed when you're laying there? I keep mine open, but always wonder if everyone else keeps them closed, and wonder if that's the case, if the dentist thinks I'm loony. I look at his glasses to see the reflection of my mouth, and then when I'm paranoid that he thinks I'm staring at him, I try to make constellations out of the dots in the ceiling tiles. I'm quirky like that.

The wave... own it, girl. Own it.

Watermelons... I send my sister to the store for them so I don't have to be caught in such an awkward situation.

And thus concludes the longest comment ever.