The Life of Bon: We've got a problem

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

We've got a problem

What?  Me?  Socially awkward?  Why, Never!

I came to a sudden realization yesterday and I’ll tell you what, it was not a realization I ever wanted to have.

I am socially awkward.

It happened at Wal-mart, as do most important revelations in my life. What better place for a little personal inspiration than while wedged between overripe produce and overweight women?

I was moseying along, enjoying myself as I did my grocery shopping.

Scratch that sentence.

I was rushing along, hating every second of my grocery shopping and trying to get it over as quickly as possible.

Yes, that is more like it.

You know how I do grocery shopping, don't you?  Like a rabbit on crack cocaine. Grocery list in hand, stack of coupons, price matched items listed, and go go go! If I do the shopping in under an hour, I reward myself with a candy bar at the check out stand and an episode of reality TV.

I was frantically trying to find the pineapple juice when I about darn near ran smack into an old friend, Helen.  Helen and I were close friends at one point in our lives, sharing boyfriend woes and sluffing classes together.  A normal person would have been happy to casually run into an old friend at the store.

Which does not explain why instead of saying, “Oh, hi! So great to see you!" I did a 360, bolted right away from that friend of mine and hid in the nearby aisle.

I know what you're thinking.  This is getting weird.  Why wouldn't she want to talk to an old friend?   Let me just tell you that no one agrees with you more than myself.  It is weird. And I have no explanation for my erratic behavior. It’s just that sometimes I see people I used to know years ago and I don’t want to talk to them. I’d rather finish my shopping race, go home, and relax. I don’t feel like chit chatting, asking questions about people I never see, and pretending to be interested.  Sometimes all I want more than anything else in the world is to go home and sit on the couch.

I hid behind a display of green beans. Had she seen me? Was I safe? Should I just say hi? My breathing was heavy and irregular. A sweat droplet trickled down my forehead.

After several minutes of stalling and deliberating, I formed a plan of action. I’d go to the opposite side of the store and work backward, thus avoiding shopping next to her.


Somehow she was everywhere I was. I hurried down to the milk aisle and Helen was there.  I went back up to the chips and Helen followed close behind.  Everytime I saw her I looked the other way, or acted insanely interested in the yogurt label. Let me tell you, I studied that grocery list I have never studied anything before. I knew the risks involved here.  Eye contact would be fatal.

I watched Helen from the corner of my eye as she slowly made her way toward the register.  About dang time that girl left me in peace.  I was rid of her and now I could finally choose my tortilla shells in peace.

And then out of nowhere, like a thief in the night, there she was, strolling down the tortilla aisle!  The nerve of the girl!  I mean, come on, how many times can you reasonably pretend to not see someone?  I enthusiastically checked my phone.  My eyes stayed down.  No looking up, Bonnie.  We did not come this far just to waste it in the fourth quarter!

Is this getting to be a bit much?  I'm sorry.  I'll try to tone it down a bit, but I can make no guarantees.

I could feel Helen's gaze on me. I knew she recognized me, and I knew she was staring me down. But like a child in trouble, I refused to look back.

After what seemed like decades of her cold hard stare down, she walked on. Without a word.

It wasn’t until I was in my car driving home that I realized how strange the whole encounter (more like non-encounter) was, and more than anything I was struck by how strange my own behavior was. Who sees someone they know and runs like a bat out of hell? Wouldn’t it have been much easier to just say, “Oh, hi Helen. So good to see you again. You have a kid now? Wow, that’s great. I didn’t know you were living in Provo…” and save myself the stressful runaway fugitive game?

In that moment it dawned on me.

There is something wrong with me.

I am socially awkward.

Instead of handling that situation like a socially adept person, I LITERALLY ran away.  And this isn’t the first time this has happened either. I frequently avoid conversations with people even when I know them well. Once several years ago I was at the mall with friends when I saw my brother.  I immediately bolted into the nearby store.  My friend wanted to know what the freak was my problem. When I told her I was avoiding my brother she asked, “Do you not get along with your brother?”

“No, we get along fine.”

“Are you mad at him?”

“No, not at all.”

“Are you not supposed to be here?”

“What?  Who cares if I’m at the mall?  I'm an adult.”

“Exactly. You’re an adult. So why are you hiding from your own brother?”


Finally I replied weakly, “Sometimes I just don’t want to see people, that’s all.”

That was all I could answer.

And that was all I could answer yesterday, stuck in Wal-mart, grocery list in hand, running helplessly from one of my good childhood friends.

Will you please just tell me that I'm not that weird and you do it all the time too?

It'd make me feel a lot better.