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…When Your Personal Space Disappears

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We Americans value our rights. You know, it’s all those inherited entitlements we so dearly treasure. We can organize rallies in protest of laws or print exposés about the politicians we love to hate, and our government will protect us. We can say almost whatever we want or worship any god we choose, because the “Long Arm Of The Law” keeps us covered. But, (and there’s always a but) our most prized entitlement has no protection.

I’m a Walmart fiend. Doesn’t matter what time of day it is, doesn’t matter how much money I don’t have: I’m always at Walmart. Aside from the fact that they only open 6 of the 87 checkout lanes available, I always end up in line with a Personal Space Violator. And y’all know what I’m talking about… it’s the person who thinks you’re trying to advance the line every time you inch closer to the conveyor belt. The worst part? In your efforts to defend your space, you end up becoming a P.S.V. yourself! Don’t even try to explain your actions, because once you’ve intruded, there’s no excuse to justify the infraction. Now everybody’s pissed off and uncomfortable (a dangerous combination in Walmart), trying to regain a reasonable amount of breathing room. The P.S.V. won’t limit infractions to the grocery store, either. You can find these criminals all in your sangria at the bar, looking in your back pocket in the parking deck, or even picking your boogers on the train. You don’t have to identify yourselves, but I know some of y’all are habitual P.S.V.’s! Fret not; help is on the way!

Pictured below is the Personal Space Diagram, followed by a brief explanation of each category:

1.) Social – reserved for waiting in line (i.e. – grocery store, bathroom, fast food restaurants); 2.) Personal – acceptable in large groups, or in places where personal space is limited (i.e. – public transportation, bars, clubs, sporting events; 3.) Intimate – only appropriate with individuals you would kiss, hug, or tell secrets (no examples necessary)

There’s obviously some flexibility within each category, because we don’t all have the same aversions to strangers (or creepers we’ve come to love). However, this guide works well when you need to figure out if someone’s all in your grill. On the flip side, you can use this to stay out of other people’s space. The most important thing here is everyone’s comfort level. It takes time to learn people, so a few initial violations are ok. But if you continuously ignore someone’s personal space, you’ll turn into the weirdo nobody wants to be around. And I don’t want to see that happen to anyone!

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…When Your Stomach Bubbles During the First Date

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The Scene.

You and your special someone uncomfortably exchange ridiculous small talk and juvenile glances of adoration, while trying to ignore the obnoxious drunk in your peripheral and the demonic toddler peeking over your cramped, but cozy corner booth. While struggling to enjoy dinner, you make sincere attempts at keeping the conversation alive with vain laughter and equal exchanges of pointless information. You know nothing about the person in front of you, and although you’ve made valiant efforts to prove otherwise, there’s something more important plaguing your thoughts. The more you fight it, the worse it gets. Was it the cheese dip you shared with your bestie at lunch? Maybe it was the super-sized milkshake from your favorite fast food joint? Whatever you choose to blame, you cannot deny what’s happening. You have to go #2, and you have to go really badly! I’m not talking about one of those “in-and-out” sessions, where you can quickly take care of business and get back to your date. No, friends. I mean that moment when you’re still at the table, leaning to the side, trying to ease one out; but you know there’s something ominous behind it. If you even breathe wrong, you’re risking disaster. Not to mention, there’s no way to save face. What are you gonna do?

Different personalities will feel compelled to handle this comedic, but serious situation from several perspectives. Some of you are brazen enough to keep it real and tell your date you need to use the bathroom. You all have my respect. Others will cunningly put together an escape plan, including some terrible “my dog ate my homework” excuse and an easy evacuation route. Then there’s the group who will selflessly and bravely sit through the pain. You guys are absolutely crazy! Not only will your face and body language communicate your discomfort, but your digestive system will ruin your life after the next few meals. I would encourage the last idea ONLY if you drove separate cars, because you’ll need lots of alone time after dinner.

Personally, some weird combination of groups one and two best serves my purpose. Not only am I prudent enough to reserve discussions about my bowel movements for close friends, but I’m also frank enough to honestly express my feelings. Depending on the overall success of the date, how you handle this moment can either turn your date on (creepy) or earn you a spot on the reject list. As an aside, I’m anticipating a first date this weekend, and I bet he’s reading this post! (I’m probably not as prudent as I’d like to believe). At any rate, the real issue at hand concerns what you believe is most important. If impressing a stranger who probably has 3 or 4 dates lined up over the weekend suits you well, pray for mercy and wait until you get home. However, if self-expression and healthy bodily functions are your priority, grab your cellphone, excuse yourself for a few minutes, find the last stall, and give it all you’ve got!

*Disclaimer: this is in no way a fool-proof guide to navigating this situation, but if it works, you can thank me later!

…When You’re Getting Started

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How often do you find yourself in situations you want to escape? Think about it… whether haphazardly or intentional (though I hope no one would purposefully create awkward situations for him/herself), we’ve ALL encountered a moment in which hanging upside from our toenails would bring more pleasure than the embarrassing discomfort of “that awkward moment”. I used to think that as I got older, I’d conquer all things embarrassing. I’m sad to say, my friends, that it’s become worse than I ever imagined. Adding insult to injury, these moments know no limits; they respect no boundaries, and they cross all color, gender, religious, and socio-economic lines. No one is exempt.

So far, I hope you’ve found comfort in knowing that you’re not the only person who’s encountered someone or something that’s left you feeling like the biggest idiot in the history of idiots, because you are not alone. I’m inviting you to explore life’s ability to strip us of all dignity & self-respect through the unfortunately normal occurrences of “that awkward moment”. I intend to share my experiences as honestly & vulnerably as possible, in hopes of helping you cope with the bounty of shame hidden in the recesses of your Facebook and Twitter posts. We’ll explore a variety of topics: love, education, family, friends, and anything else that provides the perfect awkward moment for us to share. Please read “That Awkward Moment” in front of the title of a post, because that will help you know exactly what we’re going to discuss. If at any point your grief becomes too great, don’t tell me. There’s nothing I can do to help (I’m kidding). Please, feel free to respectfully leave your innermost feelings in the comment section, and let’s unite in order to figure out what to do with all these awkward moments.

Happy Reading! 😀