Also known as: That Time I Did That Thing And I Was Excruciatingly Awkward
Sooooo many stories come to mind…
Some of my favorites occurred while I was living in Chicago.
These stories require some set up (I apologize in advance)
I was living in Chicago for a summer for an unpaid internship and working at a pizza shop 12 hours a week for minimum wage (because that’s all they would give me), subletting a room in someones condo whom I met on craigslist.
This isn’t the stupid part yet. I swear. The craigslist roommate/live in landlady thing actually worked out. She owned her own cookie company and had two awesome dogs. (Apparently, those are my requirements.)
I really didn’t know many people in Chicago except for a friend of a friend, I’ll call him E for now (E is now my boyfriend of two years, which is an entirely different, complicated story).
E and I would hang out (when he remembered I lived in Chicago, which was when I would text him to ask if I could come hang out because I was bored.) Generally, I would come over to eat (or shower during the agonizing two weeks that the gas was shut off and I was living with cold showers and no way to cook-again another story for another day.) Occasionally, E and I would meet up and play an open mic somewhere. We did hang out quite a bit, but it was pretty sporadic during the beginning of the summer. As I said, E often forgot I lived in the same city as him.
During the early bit of my time in Chicago I realized I could not sit around in my bedroom and mope because I am not enough of a hermit to tolerate myself alone that often. So began the adventures of trying to find an open mic night to play. The bigger battle was forging past my anxiety and pretty extreme awkwardness in any new situation.
Fortunately, my determination (and alcohol tolerance) are stronger than my social inadequacies.
On one of my epic adventures, I set out to play an open mic I had tried to play (and failed) several times before. This time I meant business. I was actually of legal drinking age and there was no way they could kick me out before I got to play. And I actually knew how to get there this time. So those prior obstacles were out of the way.
On the bus, I noticed a boy-type person relatively my age and made a bet with myself that he was going to the same bar I was. I thought I won the bet when we got off at the same stop. Then I was sure I had lost when we walked in opposite directions. Then realized I had won after all when I got inside the bar and he was already there sitting at a table.
Now this bar was Irish-themed, and had the amazing incentive of free food during their open mic night. The catch being you had to buy something. I settled on a $5 pitcher of relatively good beer (cheap for Chicago.) Yes. I bought a pitcher of beer. For myself.
To paint the picture imagine a 5’2″ girl, looking awkward, all by herself, with a huge pitcher of beer and no one to share it with.
Yeah. Giggle. It’s OK. I do all the time. It get’s sillier. Starting now…
Bus Boy was sitting at a table alone, equally awkward looking, with his own pitcher of beer! Alas, I thought I will ask to sit with him because, surely, two awkward strangers drinking beer will be much less awkward if one invites herself to drink with the male counterpart!! Great idea, right!?! No! Wrong! Very bad idea!
Basically it went like this:
Me (holding a pitcher of beer and pint glass): Can I sit here, with you, at this table…
Bus Boy (we’ll call him BB from here on out): OK
Me (After placing my precious cargo on the table): Hi, I’m Kristy.
BB: Hi I’m K***
15 minutes of silence
Me (In my head): OK this whole socially awkward thing is a killer and this was obviously an awful idea but I’m here, and he’s here, and I already bought this beer, and we are ignoring each other and paying an exorbitant amount of attention to our respective adult beverages. (Mind you, I didn’t have the internet on my phone at the time. Or apps. How did I ever live without Words With Friends, Mine Sweeper, and You Tube?) How the hell am I supposed to cope with this situation. Oh I know! Let me play the ever so popular, “let’s see who can drink their pitcher faster” game but not tell my opponent we are competing.
I swear I was half a glass ahead of him, but there was a 15 minute time-period when I was on stage playing music, so BB caught up with me (Curses!)
So then I was playing the even more popular and ill-advised “let’s catch up” game. I returned to my seat and we continued to ignore each other, except now we were also shoveling free corned beef hash into our faces along with our beer.
Finally he got up to get more delicious free food and spoke to me. He said “hey, don’t drink my beer.” and walked away…Now, I could take him seriously or take this as a joke and make a joke back. Considering I had about half a pitcher left (as did he), and I was feeling less edgy (due to drinking half a pitcher in a brief time span) I decided to joke. He came back to the table and the conversation resumed:
Me: How big of an alcoholic do you think I am?
BB: Well, you do have an entire pitcher to yourself…
Me (head tilted and quizzical expression): uhhh…so do you…
After that it was easier. We broke the ice. It took some alcohol and pseudo-judgmental banter but we did it! I later discovered that he majored in clarinet performance in college (as did my best friend at the time) and he graduated with the guy who ran another open mic I went to on Mondays (the current day was Sunday). We unofficially agreed to meet up the next night at that open mic night (where I realized our ease of conversation was more due to the alcohol than anything resembling a comfort level between us). We never saw each other again after that Monday but I did witness him playing the clarinet with his nose…so it was worth it.
Oh, and I totally won the “who can finish their beer faster” game.
What can I say? I’m oddly competitive at games only I know I’m playing.