Awkward Things I Say To Girls


It’s kind of weird that there is foreshadowing and allegory in this chapter, even though this is just what actually happened that day

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Part 2, Chapter 9

On (Tuesday) July 9, 2002, I woke up to an unconscionably blue sky pouring into the little Michigan lake cabin. Hot Copy Editor was brushing brown hairs from each other and squinting asymmetrically at me. “It’s about time you woke up. I’m not going to row myself around the lake.”

“I would have been up earlier, but you kept me up with all that excruciating conversation last night at the beach.”

Her mother walked in when we were ~80% finished with bowls of Cheerios (“Do you like Cheerios?” HCE asks. “I eat Cheerios every day for breakfast!” I exclaim.) and ~18% finished with the spread-out puzzle on the table in front of the window overlooking the lake, continuing to chatter like extremely sarcastic little children. “What are you planning for the day?” the mother asks.

“We need to go to the beach and look for Petoskey stones,” chirps Hot Copy Editor. “And then, Justin, do you want to go to Arcadia? It’s a cute little town right on the beach with little gift shops and ice cream shops. It’ll be fun.”

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I exist!

Friday, April 27th, 2007

I apologize for my unannounced and entirely too-long vacation from writing about awkward things I used to, currently am, or intend to say to girls. Here are some examples of what definitely are not reasons why I haven’t been posting on my blog:

  1. I have become polished and suave.
  2. I ran out of old stories that could be written about. That’s it. The website has all my awkward stories.
  3. I started another blog.
  4. The Hot Copy Editor story is done. Nothing else happened.

In order: yeah right, as if, I don’t cheat, and we’re just getting started. So don’t worry. I feel rejuvenated and refreshed, blog-wise. Life-wise is a different story, but, then again, if everyone went around happy and unstressed all the time, who would be left to create and use the Internet?

One or two contextual points that I want to just get out of the way, here:

  • Those of you who ever previously noticed the sidebar to the right may pick up on the sudden glaring omission in the Cast of Characters. I don’t really want to talk about it. I’m still processing and moving on and mourning a little.
  • The Hot Copy Editor story was getting a little intense for me to write, I think. I’m glad I took a step back. But I’m totally ready for another shot.
  • Thank you for clamoring for my return. I know I have appeared to have been turning a cold, callous ear on the cries of my adoring fans, but I thought about each and every one of you the entire time I was spending long hours working on real, actual work (or, let’s be honest, having fun and wasting time) instead of writing awkward memoirs.

So, buckle up. I’ve got a whole backlog of awkwardness, all kinds of (entirely non-personal and in no way to connected to any particular relationship, necessarily) dating thoughts, and it’s a long way from a Lake Michigan beach in 2002 to an apartment not far from a highway in Northeast Ohio in 2005. I’ve got some writing to do.

The only part I didn’t remember clearly was the phase of the moon, which I looked up online

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

Part 2, Chapter 8

“Whoop!” she whooped as I knocked on the screen door leading into the little kitchen. In a blur of arms and brown hair and jeans, there she was in front of me opening the door, being casually stunning. “You came!”

“I know! I’m sorry I’m late. Here is some banana bread I made. There are walnuts in there.”

“Thank you!” She took it and put it somewhere, beckoning me into the cabin. “My parents are out taking a walk. Come take a tour!”

Cabin was a pretty good name for the interior. For all the prettiness outside, inside was a cozy mixture of wood paneling and huge windows. It was a perfect summer vacation home. We walked through the foyer-slash-kitchen-slash-mud-room into the living room, which was dominated by a massive window showing Portage Lake. To the left of the window was a little partitioned off area (there was a curtain rod with a swept-aside curtain acting as a divider) with just enough space for a bed, some suitcases, and a bedside table overflowing with books.

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Have you done anything this ridiculous to spend time with someone you weren’t dating?

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Part 2: Michigan
Chapter 7

At about 7:30 on the morning of July 8, 2002, I leave my Cleveland apartment with a backpack and two duffel bags, and walk the 6 blocks to the nearest light rail station. I am headed to Michigan to see Hot Copy Editor.

“Are you serious? You’ll actually come to see me at the cabin in Michigan?”

I was chatting online with her in mid-June.

“Of course,” I typed back. You’ll notice that we are using proper punctuation and capitalization, despite the fact that the IM style guide was written by blind kindergartners, who also happen to be drunk. This is because we are both massive snobs when it comes to proper usage of the written English language. “I can’t pass up such a great opportunity.”

“Hooray! You can row me around on the lagoon!”

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4 Tips for Being Awkward Like Me

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

It’s exciting that so many new people seem to be reading Awkward Things these days. If you are reading this, then you aren’t like one of those people who only come to learn why geeks make good lovers and, like guys who have something early to do tomorrow and, like, need to get going so they can get some sleep, scuttle away without so much as the approximation of a cuddle. Thanks for staying around to hold me.

See, right there. That was a little awkward, right? That’s pretty much how I roll on a regular basis. But if I wasn’t so awkward, I wouldn’t be able to have this awesome website, now, would I? Nope.

So, to help you learn to be awkward like me, I’ve created these four helpful tips:

  1. Lose any ability to tell how awkward you are being. Feel awkward about asking for the electronica section in a music store, but not awkward at all about telling a girl that you need more of her in your lifestyle. If you have literally no ability to predict in advance how awkward a situation is, you’ll be way more likely to have a ton of awkward conversations.

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Always trust the internet, is the moral here

Monday, March 19th, 2007

Part 1, Chapter 6

I’m sitting at my desk in the basement physics lab where I worked for the summer, not working on a stripline coil because, seriously, there’s no way that spiral of foil and epoxy and fairy dust actually will impede with the impedance it is supposed to be impeding with. My research advisor believes in magic, is what I’m saying. So, either I’ll fix it this afternoon, or maybe the low-temperature gnomes will come fix the damned thing during lunch. I have more important things to worry about. Like telling my problems to the internet.

Did you think this website was the first time that happened? Look, maybe I keep telling my problems to the internet because it always works.

“I just can’t stand being away from her,” I was typing. “I don’t know what to do.”

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“Have you seen that episode of Seinfeld before?”

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

I used to believe in love at first sight. I can remember three specific girls who made me feel like I was getting hit by a train the first time I saw them. I thought I knew it was love because every time I saw them it felt like getting hit by a train again. It even felt like I got hit by a train all of the times all three of them rejected me, too.

When you think about it that way, it makes you wonder if love is supposed to feel like a train wreck at all.

Either way, that’s why I don’t believe in love at first sight anymore. Maybe people who can trust their instincts can have it, but I went 7-24 against the spread in college bowl games this year. I watched the Howard Dean scream as it happened and thought, gee, that guy sure sounds like he has the energy to get this thing back on track. I heard the Spice Girls for the first time on my first trip to London in high school, and was immediately struck by the inferiority of the British taste in music, because Americans would never listen to something as ridiculous as the Spice Girls. It’s not that my first impression is wrong, more that it is spectacularly disastrous.

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I decided to replace the part of this chapter where I get sadly drunk with a “time passes” dash. You’re welcome.

Monday, March 12th, 2007

Part 1, Chapter 5

Hot Copy Editor had a boyfriend. I was crushed. My blood turned freezing, the way it felt in high school when I realized I had forgotten to take my saxophone off the roof of my car before I drove to school.

She wasn’t proactive about it, either, something I took into my subsequent obsessive analysis. I was the architect of the line of conversation. It was, naturally, common knowledge around the newspaper office that I had a girlfriend, but I hadn’t been mentioning it in e-mails, just, you know, because when you’re conversing electronically with one girl who has captured your interest, your own girlfriend just somehow seems to slip your mind. Not necessarily in a malicious way, just, you know, in a forgetful, oops sort of way.

I decided to bring it up in a “what about you?” sense, as a way to suss out Hot Copy Editor’s singleness (singularity?). I wouldn’t say I consciously could identify exactly why it was that I cared. I just knew that it was information that I definitely wanted to have.

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Getting Out of the Friend Zone: The Easy Way

Friday, March 9th, 2007

Popular mythology would have you believe that the “Friend Zone” is an inescapable Sarlacc Pit of tantalizing doom. The Friend Zone is scary. A guy can innocently befriend a girl1, could realize after the expiration of the new-acquaintence validation period that he wants to date her, but could then find that, due to his delay, he is locked into a thousand years of being digested by friendship, shopping, and talking about her boyfriend.

This trap used to be particularly easy for me to fall into because I was scared to ask girls out, yet I love being their best friends. I do like talking about emotions, after all. After much trial and error, I figured out how to prevent it, how to identify it, and how to deal with it once it’s taken root. So, as promised, in my attempt to provide something of value to my heterosexual male readers, all six of you, I would like to present my tried-and-true steps for getting out of the Friend Zone.

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My first kiss ever wasn’t nearly as awkward as you might think

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

The awful DJ was playing mid-90s pop songs, the sort that we all have been trying to forget for ten years. I don’t know what his deal was. It wasn’t like I hadn’t helpfully given him my Temple of the Dog and Live CDs (labelled with my name so they wouldn’t get mixed up with anyone else’s Live or Temple of the Dog CDs). If there’s one thing a dance party in 1996 needed, it was a healthy dose of alternative rock.

It was late evening, December 31, 1996 in London, England, and I was impatiently looking around a New Years Eve themed London hotel ballroom for my at-the-time favorite girl in the world. We were there on a high school marching band trip, which intelligently incorporated opportunity for inter-genderal socialization for the same reason that you have a fuse on circuits in your house. The girl was only the cutest and most ticklish blonde flute player in the universe (I think it is okay to admit that tickling was a key component of my game back when I was 15), but despite a heavy amount of apocalyptically inept flirting, she wasn’t my girlfriend yet.

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