Vignettes of discomfort

I experience my life as a string of time-connecting uncomfortable moments. It’s true – relationships come and go, pets die, my weight fluctuates, but the one true companion who stays by my side is the foible, the mishap, the uncomfortable situation. For your pleasure, I have compiled some of my favorites; they are not listed in most to least excruciating:

Southern [dis]comfort

I flew to Tennessee with my (at-the-time) partner to meet her family. We were having a jolly ol’ time for about three or four days when we all loaded into her mama’s Jeep to go cross-country skiing in the Blue Ridge Mountains. On the way back to Knoxville, Mama, who was driving, took an exit from the freeway where none existed, and the Jeep spun out of control. I, in the back, was tossed around like a weasel in a sack. Finally, we did a complete three-sixty before screeching to a stop.

Okay, here’s the uncomfortable moment: Everyone was serious and all, “Oh my gosh, is every one all right?” I, on the other hand, shouted, “Holy shit, we almost just died; that was fucking awesome!” I followed this with a bout of extended uncontrollable laughter. Everyone sat there and looked at me like I was a total idiot — understandable.

The situation got more uncomfortable as my partner accused her mother of sneaking a joint in the ladies room before getting behind the wheel, and Mama reciprocating by calling my partner (her daughter) a little whore. The rest of the drive home was extremely quiet. Let the good times roll!

The longest second: a story of accidental racism

I was working at a popular San Francisco Creperie as the floor manager. This particular Sunday brunch was busier than most, and I was helping the weight staff by running food and drinks to their tables.

An order for orange juice was called from the bar to be delivered to a table outside. I grabbed the juice, hurried out the door. I turned to the table with the assigned number and extended the glass forward, offering it to the customer: “OJ?” I hastily inquired. (Meaning, “Is this the beverage you ordered sir?”)

Everything would have been great, except for the fact that the customer was a middle-aged African American gentleman sharing a table with a blond-haired white woman. The period of time that our eyes met and we shared the discomfort of an accidental racially charged moment seemed to last as long as the real OJ’s low-speed Blazer chase. Thankfully, the gentleman gracefully accepted the beverage, thus cutting the space between my extended hand and his. I went back to work, but was rattled for the rest of the day. Hopefully, no one would order the Mark Fuhrman French toast or the Judge Ito omelet.

Parental sex talk: a situation created for discomfort

I was about eleven or twelve, and my father and I had just hopped onto a chair lift in Vermont. We brought the safety bar down, and right as it clicked into place, he turned to me and said, “You know, Scott, everyone masturbates.” As I was caught completely off guard, and not knowing what else to say, I blurted, “Okay,” and sat there barely breathing for the entire ride to the top of the mountain; neither of us said another word.

Fucking hell, it was excruciating! Though I loved my father dearly, and usually treasured our time together, I avoided him for the rest of the day. How did he know that I had set off on a journey of self-exploration only months earlier? My head was spinning. Was it the really long showers I was taking at his house that tipped him off? One thing I was damn sure of – I wasn’t going to bring up the subject to find out.

What not to say to Dustin Hoffman

My now life-partner and I had been dating for about a year when she got a call from a friend offering VIP admission to a surprise Neil Young concert at the Warfield in San Francisco. She accepted, and when we arrived, we were shown to a table in a roped-off area. About five minutes into the show, a big ruckus erupted as Dustin Hoffman was escorted to our table. There I was sitting directly across from some of my favorite characters: Benjamin Braddock, Ratso Rizzo, The Marathon Man, and yes, Tootsie too. I had to say something, right?

We made eye contact and I leaned over to him and said: “People have told me that I look like a young version of you and, actually, I take it as a compliment.” He gave me a weird smile-nod combo, and sort of rolled his eyes. I mean, what the hell is he supposed to say? “Yeah, but you’re a fucking idiot.”

I felt like a JERK. I sat there for the rest of the show thinking about how much of an ass I am. I mean, who the fuck says that kind of shit? Um, that would be me, the idiot.

Life goes on…

16 responses to “Vignettes of discomfort”

  1. bryan says:

    are you sure your dad didn’t say, “you know, literacy, everyone masturbates …”?

    re: saying stupid things to famous people. i learned long ago that my only successful strategy in such situations is to say absolutely nothing about someone’s work or celebrity status. in fact, i try not to acknowledge at all that i even know who they are. actual conversations ensue!

    when did i finally feel the need to shut my gob in these situations? when i met david kilgour, former singer for the clean, after a show once. it started off fine — i told him how much the song “anything could happen” has meant to me over the years. but then it went crazy. i thanked him for influencing stephen malkmus. that is quite possibly the stupidest thing i’ve ever said to anyone. i turned and fled.

  2. Scotteracy H. Godfight says:

    Oh well, I guess I’m not such a great nom de plumer. Problem is that I didn’t post this myself so I don’t have access to change it. I guess it doesn’t matter…I mean everyone does masturbate. Right?

  3. Mark says:

    While thinking of Dustin Hoffman drinking OJ? Hell yeah!

    Great start to my day, thanks for the stories.

  4. trixie says:

    i think you should have a word with your editor about that oversight…

  5. that would be the west coast editor …

    when i saw it this morning i thought about changing something but wasn’t sure — was the mistake in posting it under LHD? or in overlooking the name/slip in the post itself?

  6. Dave says:

    Damn you, Mark, now I won’t be able to avoid thinking about Dustin Hoffman and OJ while I’m masturbating. This will undoubtedly cause problems.

  7. Scotteracy says:

    Trix and Bry: no big. I really wanted to Literacy it to avoid any would-be-Google-stalking- exes whose mama’s have called them little whores.

    As for whose fault it is, I’ll take the fall. I love my editor and we’re all just so gosh darn busy out here on the W. Coast. What with signing petitions to keep Paris out of jail and all.

  8. Jeremy Zitter says:

    oops! that’s my bad. and that’s the second time i’ve outed someone accidentally. (anyway, we could always still change it and then delete all the comments…)

  9. James says:

    Regarding approaching celebrities, i.e. famous peoples – Bryan almost had it.

    When I’m in LA, I shop at a Gelson’s Market on Hyperion (the site of the old Disney Studios), and lots of famous peoples are often seen there.

    One day while I was buying some ginger ale, I looked down the aisle and saw Will Sasso (from MAD TV, which my brother loves) walknig towards me.

    I walked striaght to him and stuck out my hand. “Hi Will. How’s your mom?”

    He shook my hand and smiled. “She’s fine, man. Thanks for asking.”

    Then we chatted about Jones Soda for a minute before he apologized for not remembering my name, and asked how I knew his mom.

    “I don’t,” I replied, “but I thought that would be a better approach than “Hey!! Will Sasso!! I love your work!!”

    He thought that was pretty funny. Now everytime I see him there, he comes over and asks how my mom is. I tell him she’s doing fine.

  10. Demosthenes says:

    Being in high school, life is full of awkward moments. One of the worst was at lunch one day, when this cute girl got up to go to the bathroom, and invited her friends to go with her. I have always thought this was a strange, so decided to try and make a witty comment. “Do you need help?” I asked, meaning. are you asking your friends to come and help you. She thought I was offering assistance. I was dumbstruck when I finally realized why she gave me that look like I was some weird pervert. ugh.

  11. Marleyfan says:

    Literacy, I loved this. I’ve had a number of work-related bad days in a row, and you’ve got me smiling. Thank you, I needed that!!!!!

  12. Onan says:

    Wait, you mean, it’s not just me?

  13. spilled seed says:

    dear onan,

    i hate to break it to you, but the definition of “masturbation” is “it’s just you.”



  14. Scotteracy H. Godfight says:

    Marley – the one thing that we here in Whatsitland hold as a constant is that you will be a ray of positive light each and every day. On behalf of all of us, we hope things turn around. Keep a stiff upper lip Tiger.

  15. JZ says:

    I decided, a few years ago, to try to embrace awkward, uncomfortable situations. I’m not sure I’ve really been able to do that, though I do end up appreciating many of these moments, in retrospect of course… like that one time I forgot to edit Scott’s name out of an anonymous post…

  16. Miller says:

    I think awkwardnes is sexy. There’s something about the vulnerability and honesty in an awkward moment that is very appealing. Like an uncomfortable silence on a first date; I love those moments. Oh, if only the rest of the world shared my opinion–I (and you, too, LHD) would be irresistable, and Dustin Hoffman would be putty in your hands.