How To: Out-Awkward Your Way Out of Every Encounter You Have with Hometown Acquaintances

author-pic at Syracuse University  

We’ve all been there. You’re walking around the local grocery store in sweatpants you’ve been wearing for three days and a rat’s nest on your head, and you bump into someone you really, really did not want to see. But have no fear, awkward-small-talk fearing lads and lasses, for The Black Sheep has a guide to get you through all those less than ideal moments.

5.) The old crush:
You both are reaching for the same ripe pineapple at the exact same moment when suddenly you make eye contact. Both hands retract. To avoid awkwardness with this old heart-throb, instantly begin talking about how it takes almost three entire years for a pineapple to be fully mature. Follow through by saying that a pineapple is neither an apple nor a pine; it is a berry. Back it up by cracking a joke how three years ago you two were not “berry mature” enough to be “a thing.” Leave without the pineapple.

4.) The ex-lover:
This one you actually managed to have “a thing” with. The “thing” you had managed to only be the extent of uncomfortable hand holding in between classes getting your braces stuck to the other’s. You kissed four times. You stumble across the ex-lover in the dairy aisle. You have to think quickly! Inform them that the average lifespan of a dairy cow is five years in the troublesome dairy industry, and how you wish your troublesome relationship would have lasted that long. Crisis averted.

3.) The gym teacher:
Crap, a wrong turn into the hotdog section. Oh no. You do not have time to make small talk about how you used to play badminton in class and how “good your form looked.” Another comment about your nice-fitting yoga pants and you have a lawsuit on your hands, but you do not have time to delve into the law today. Talk about how hot dogs are a great space snack, raved about by astronauts. Follow up by asking if he would ever entertain the idea of taking a few years off from being a gym teacher and testing out space. Walk away without any packaged, phallic meats.

2.) The ex-best friend:
This should be a doozy. You find this bothersome gal scoping out the avocado table. No need to make small talk about “how amazing going through sorority recruitment was to find her forever sisters” or “how being blackout drunk is something she never wishes to do again.” Instead, talk about how unripe avocados have a very, very hard exterior. Follow through by expressing how sorry you are for her never getting ripened out of her stone-cold bitch exterior. Flash a smile and walk away, avo-less.

1.) The crazy uncle:
Whether it be an uncle, aunt, second cousin twice removed, everyone has at least one in their family. The last time you saw them was Thanksgiving of 2011 where they drunkenly threw a glass of expensive merlot at your grandma’s dog. Without any irony, you happen upon the crazy uncle in the liquor aisle. Although you have not seen him in nearly six years, he throws you into a headlock as if you two are Sunday afternoon football-watching buddies. Once you regain a regular breathing pattern, let the crazy uncle know that the names of wines generally indicate where the wine was from. Conclude the visit by saying that if he were a wine, his wine name would be “Away From Me.”

Every crisis was easily avoided with all of these foolproof topics. Although you are walking out of the supermarket without anything you had set in there to buy, at least you walked away unscathed from every scary encounter with your hometown past.

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