When You’re More Awkward than COVID-19

by Jett

Watching people dance in the street to keep a safe distance from each other is so uncomfortable. There’s lots of passive-aggressive head shaking and muttering from neighbors and runners. It’s like a depressing suburban-themed computer game that I have no interest in playing. I have to walk my dog, Jojo, but it’s hard to maintain the 6ft distance when the streets are full.

One time I bumped into a man who looked very annoyed, because I was finding it hard to move out of his way. He stepped left, I stepped left. He stepped right, I stepped right. He thought I was toying with him in the middle of a pandemic. It reminded me of another situation I was in years ago–which will be my testimony to the fact that I really am just painfully awkward. I’m not trying to be a dick, and I especially don’t want anyone to die from COVID-19 because I can’t move out of the way.

Years ago, when I lived in Oakland, I was walking home late at night with a friend, when I suddenly heard gunshots. A guy was on foot, shooting at a house just a few blocks over. As we continued to walk, the same man who’d been shooting at the house happened to run around the corner we were on, only to run straight into me. Instantly I said to myself, “Don’t be awkward, please, just for once in your life. Move to one side and let the man past you.”

Of course, I didn’t just move to one side. That would be too easy. We began doing the dreaded dance. Every time I tried to predict his move my intuition was completely wrong. After a while, it looked like I was taunting him. I could hear metal jingling in his pocket as our bodies moved together. Suddenly he stopped and I stopped, and we looked into each other’s eyes. He kissed me. No. He didn’t. He looked into my eyes as if to say, “Little girl, move or get shot.”

Then I heard a friend yelling at me from across the street. She said, “What the fuck are you doing?!” But still, this man and I remained locked in each other’s eyes, and he was getting increasingly angry. I’m not a psychotherapist or anything to that effect, but I’m pretty sure he was angry because I was in his way, and I wouldn’t get out of his way. “I’m sorry,” I mumbled, as I shrugged my shoulders, trying not to look apathetic.

I heard my friend yell again, “Seriously what the fuck?” So I took a big jump to the side like I was avoiding cracks in the pavement. The guy shook his head, took a deep breath, and kept running into the night. “WOW.” I laughed, watching him off, “how fucking awkward was that?” My friend looked visibly annoyed.

And there’s my proof. Even if I know someone has the capacity to shoot me in the face, I’m not promising I’ll be able to perform on command. We can only try our best.

Leave a Reply