We’ve all been there: there are so many awkward situations we face that it is impossible for us to think on our feet in all of them. We’re bound to slip up. We better come up with some cheat-sheets cataloging the prototypes of various awkward situations and the ways we can parachute out of them salvaging a smidgen of dignity. Of course, if you’re getting life lessons from a blogger of questionable social judgment and ethics, chances are that dignity isn’t a priority for you. There! I have insulted the minuscule readership I have. But wait, you’re still reading? What are you made of? Huhhh…lemme go on then. Looks like nothing will budge you. Okay. Here’s a list of some of the awkward situations I (or friends of mine) have faced, and dealt with to satisfaction. Now I know some of you out there have never had a faux pas, or know the perfect things to say in every situation, but the rest of us are fun! Sounds like something to think about on those lonely Saturday nights with a Haagen Dazs and an insufferable Meg Ryan movie. But now that you’re here, read on…
The baby situation:
You meet a friend and his wife, and they’re proudly displaying their certificate of lack of contraception. You want to pretend like you care, but sometimes you aren’t sure if it is a boy or a girl. You can’t really risk it and ask, “What’s his name?” and then find out that it is gonna grow up and sit on the toilet instead of standing up in front of it. (what? Am I the only one who’s faced this problem? Anyway read on…)
Solution: Gently touch the kid’s cheek, look deep into the kid’s eyes, and ask in a clear intelligible voice, “What’s your name?” Remember meatheads, the parents need to hear this question. It has to be done fast too, cause you need to give some gender-appropriate compliments to the parents for their awesome skill in genetic transmission. Once the parents hear this question, everything is taken care of, and they think you’re super cute for asking in a creative way.
Alternatives: Ask a very probing question related to the topic like, “Do they name children after grandparents in your culture?” Usually the parents answer the question and provide the child’s name as an example of their family’s naming policy.
Side effects: Parents are hyper amazed if their child even spits up in the right direction, and blithely unaware of the effect of such descriptions of happy-go-lucky bachelors like me (especially after a heavy meal), so if you feel like you’re gonna hit the ground from boredom-syncope, hope you wore clean underwear.
Feminazi faux pas
This one is mainly for guys and cool ladies. We’ve all been in the situation where we have used old male-only pronouns or designations. I am usually guilty of using he for someone I don’t know or using the term chairman instead of chairperson, only to be reprimanded by a feminazi for being an MCP (Male Chauvinist Pig). Funny how these women never complain when they get arbitrary preferential treatment. There are no atheists in foxholes and no feminists in sinking ships! But I digress. Let me say that I respect all women who do well, just like I respect men who do well. Fine, now that we’ve got all the disclaimers out of the way, how do you get out of the situation where you said chairman or some other male designation or pronoun in front of a feminazi?
The solution: Usually these women are very similar to MCPs in that they enjoy unfounded praise of their sex. Quickly list out all the negative qualities in the designation and comment with a lot of head-shaking that no women would stoop this low for money or power. They eat it all up! Of course, the smarter the feminazi, the better this line needs to be. Some of them are wicked smart, so unless you’re really smooth, you might want to avoid the feminazis altogether. (Which, in itself, is a great idea.)
Alternative: Nope! Can’t think of anything new except variants of the original solution, which itself is thin to begin with. I guess this one is all on the acting and less on the script!
Side effects: Either the feminazi is unconvinced and makes a mental note to really mess you up (Good luck getting a date ever again!), or she believes you and marks you down as a convert and walks away feeling ultra-superior to the male race!
This actually happened to a very good friend of mine. (If you’re reading this, kadhitari phone kar saalya, NY ye aani MOHAA khel aamchyashi!) Here’s the story: This friend of mine, S, was walking with a senior in his college, and a girl passed by giving them a surreptitious smile. S immediately said, “Kya raapchik maal hai baap!” The senior politely told him that he had married that girl in a quiet ceremony a couple of days ago, and no one knows yet. (I never got the whole story on that, but that is irrelevant now.) S usually thinks on his feet, but even he had no solution for this one. He avoided the happy couple for a few weeks, but the damage was done.
Solution: Really? Is there any? The best I could come up with was to find another girl in the vicinity and then say, “Abbe woh nahi, udhar dekh!“, but still, it has to be executed really well.
Alternative: Quickly find a pic of some movie actress on your cell phone or something, and pretend to be looking at it, as though your dumbass dialogue was a soliloquy. Minimum chance of working, but who knows.
Side effects: The usual crap: when a buddy shows you his girl’s pic, and asks you, “Kaisi lagi?”, each guy is forced to turn into a wordsmith of Gulzaresque proportions. You need to describe the girl’s beauty to register that you’re impressed by his conquest, but it has to be in a completely untesticular way. Either way, you rarely come off a winner. Also, if you tried the solution mentioned above, and the decoy girl ahem…had a lot of character in her face…you will get banished from the future girl-discussion groups on account of low taste, (Trust me, it happens!) or even worse, you’re used as a bare-minimum filter, arre woh ladki to usko bhi achhi nahi lagi!
But what am I doing here? Surely it is a lost cause to list every possible awkward situation created by our own imbecility, and then pretend to provide a viable solution to them! I think Microsoft spoiled us with the Ctrl-Alt-Del option that allows to safely eject from our own messes. My life is riddled with such moments every day, and I offend people as a bodily function (mostly unintentionally)! Bill Maher calls political correctness ‘the elevation of sensitivity over truth’, but if we all ever want to have a bunch of people around us when we die, we need to comply!