Friday, February 25, 2011

Going Off the Rails

I got to ride on one of those new-fangled C-Train cars today. In case you haven't experienced one yet, they feature two rows of seating that face the centre of the train, and lots of standing room. The arrangement allows for increased passenger-carrying capacity, which I can't argue with, as well as increased passenger awkwardness capacity, which I can.

Have I ever mentioned that I suffer from a certain degree of social awkwardness? Much like a functional alcoholic I've become adept at working around the affliction, so some people who know me are bound not to believe me, but I swear it's true. Gauged against the full possible spectrum of social awkwardness it's not too bad a case, but it does tend to result in (you guessed it!) awkward social situations on a regular basis. The matter is further compounded by my incredibly sensitive internal awkwardness alarm: at the slightest sign of social awkwardness the alarm goes haywire; adrenalin is released; fear and befuddlement further hamper my judgment; socially awkward acts are committed; additional adrenalin is released; and affected parties are sucked into an Embarrassment Vortex that can only be healed by vodka. Or the witness protection program.

One of the hallmarks of a social awkwardness problem is an impaired ability to extricate oneself from awkward social situations. Take today on the train, for instance: I entered the train with about seven million other people and jostled for a plum position, of which - on the new-fangled trains - there aren't many.

You know, during my entire pregnancy, no one ever offered me a seat on the C-Train. Today, for reasons not fully understood, the gentleman who beat me by a millisecond to the same plum position we were both gunning for - won it fair and square! - offered me the seat. The last seat on the C-Train. He stopped just short of claiming his prize, looked kindly in my eyes, and gestured toward the seat. Then we both looked toward the seat. And realized it was being overflowed by largish persons on either side and was effectively only one-third of a seat, and that there was no way in hell my also largish person was going to actually fit in the one-third seat.

Being the magnanimous person that he was, the fellow recognized that by retracting his offer for me to take the seat he would be implying that I was a lard ass who couldn't fit in the seat, so he continued to offer me the seat, while I - recognizing that by declining his offer of the seat would be conceding that I am in fact a lard ass who couldn't fit in the seat - in an adrenalin-induced haze of confusion continued to move incrementally toward the seat. The largish persons on either side of the one-third seat became aware of my intention to actually attempt to sit, and I tried not to notice the rising alarm in their eyes as I turned my rear end toward the one-third seat and began backing in. Praise the lord that I didn't start beeping.

But I did shoulder check.

Cinderella's slipper must have felt much the same way - when faced with her wicked stepsisters' grotesque feet - as those two unfortunate souls did, being completely powerless to stop the relentless descent of my bottom toward them. The difference being that largish persons tend to be squishier than feet or glass footwear, so squeeze in I did. SQUEEZE in. A completely-touching-from-shoulder-to-ankle kind of squeeze. And then we all sat there, decidedly not talking and not looking at each other and silently pretending not to notice that we were all doing wildly inappropriate amounts of touching.

Just when I thought the awkwardness had reached its zenith, I realized that, in enacting a straight-ahead-stare approach to coping with the outrageous awkwardness, the only item available in my field of view was seat-offering man's crotch. So I turned my focus toward also not-noticing his package whilst clearly staring directly at it, and that's when the true absurdity of the situation hit me:

For the love of gawd why didn't I just say  "no, thank you"? And did I actually shoulder check? I choked down a giggle. And why the hell can't this guy just do a quarter turn and get his junk out of my face? I started to shake from the strain of controlling my rising hysteria. No, don't think funny things. Don't think funny things. I think I'll play corners at the next turn. Ohmygawd that's funny stop that! Tears began rolling down my face. Deep breath. No funny things. Only serious things. What if I ripped a huge fart and pretended not to notice? A strangled squeak of laughter escaped my lips.

The largish persons actually stood up - both of them, one right after the other - and stood for the rest of the train ride.

Embarrassment Vortex accomplished. Commence vodka.

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