Awkward and embarrassing situations happen all the time, and in fact, almost daily for me, my whole life. You know, like when a co-worker tells you that she accidentally pooped herself on the car ride to work (Man, I cannot EVER tell that story with a straight face, especially since it involves “sharting.” First of all, who does that…what are they eating…and why are they telling people?!). AWWWKWAAARD!
Or the time I was checking out at Kohl’s and buying “intimates,” and one of my former students (boy, they pop up everywhere) was the cashier; he definitely seized the chance to embarrass me in front of a line of customers by loudly announcing, “Your bra coupon worked, Mrs. B.” Soooo embarrassing.
Anyway, today’s main awkward event occurred at a local park we had never been to before…and probably won’t return to again, not to any fault of the actual park. My son is on Fall Break from preschool, so it made sense to let him have a chance to explore a new playground.
He was exuding excitement as he ran to the playground equipment, screaming, “Mommy! LOOK! It’s beautiful!”
Of course, I giggled because he’s just so stinking cute to me, and for him to say the equipment was beautiful made me smile. So I followed him around, making sure he didn’t get hurt because let’s be honest here, some of these playgrounds nowadays are more like death traps. I cringe at some of the metal structures, concrete contraptions and climbing mechanisms. Some of them look like preparation for American Ninja Warrior. Yet, I understand I’m a little uptight, too.
My boy asked me to help him across a bridge, saying he was scared. I held his hand and literally thought how cute it was that he needed me like this, and how one day he will be a teenager who wants nothing to do with me. So, I squeezed his little hand a little tighter and enjoyed the free time, the crisp Fall weather and the peace and quiet. I was happy there were not a ton of screaming kids running around.
The peace and quiet did not last long.
“Hey lady! You’re not allowed to be on the playground equipment!” a man walking up the sidewalk yelled at me, immediately followed by obnoxious laughter and a huge, gangly grin.
Although I’m not a huge fan of the word “lady” being used like that, even though it is a little better than “ma’am,” I did what I always do instinctively, which was quickly apologize. Seriously, either this man was drunk, high or crazy (or all three), and I didn’t have a quarter to give him (see my previous blog, “Quarter Gonna Make You a Millionaire”), and I didn’t want to engage.
He walked all the way up to us at the bridge as his two boys bolted past him onto the playground.
“HA! I’m just teasing you!” he said, chuckling again like he was the funniest person ever.
To me, he was definitely funny-looking in his tank top and shorts, seeing that it was 50 degrees, but I didn’t think he was necessarily funny in the comical sense.
I nodded and quipped something about how you just never know nowadays what the rules might be at places. He busted out laughing like he had just heard the best joke ever, then told me how he and his boys go there all the time and some other stuff that I really didn’t care to hear…he was Mr. Rambly Ramberton, and I was trapped.
Even though I kept playing with my wedding ring and mentioned how blessed I was, and how my husband made it possible for me to be a stay-at-home mom, this guy was all googly moogly. Fortunately, other kids and their parents were showing up, so the playground was getting more full. Safety in numbers!
Now, at this point, if it were up to me, I would have left because he truly made me uncomfortable. I think my palms were getting a little sweaty, and my throat felt a little scratchy, like I couldn’t swallow. I could feel his eyes gazing at us, and seriously wondered if he had someone locked up in his basement, and if I would be next.
But, I couldn’t leave. I was shackled to this playground for at least another hour by the death grip of a 3-year-old toddler whose eyes were just opened up to a brand new stomping ground.
I was in a precarious position; do I carry my toddler to the car and risk insane crying, whining, body flapping and convulsions, or do I stay here, and just try to play duck and dodge with this nut? I embraced my fate; I was stuck here for at least a little longer.
This stranger’s boys kept coming to play by my son, so it was super awkward because that meant this guy had an excuse to be by me.
He was talking to my son and his boys as they played by each other. He was laughing way too hard at things the boys were doing that weren’t even that funny. He was sporadically doing pull-ups from the playground bars and looking at me as he did them.
Oh my gosh, I panicked. This guy is just going to keep talking to me and being weird and laughing that awful laugh.
My arms were crossed while watching the boys, I was looking down at my phone as much as possible and trying to give all the signals to this crazy man that I was not interested in talking.
When one of his sons spouted out to me, “My daddy needs a woman in his life,” I about puked in my mouth a little bit, but I pretended I didn’t hear him and almost got on my knees to pray that Thomas the Train showed up in the parking lot so that my son would finally flee from this outrageous debacle of a playground trip.
The man then did something I never thought I would see a stranger do: He grabbed my toddler’s hands, examined them and asked my son directly, “Who cuts your nails?”
My son smiled, proudly pointed to me and bellowed, “MOMMY!”
“She does a really good job,” he said, looking at me like a hungry baby about to attack his mama’s boob.
UM…yes, that was a total wtf moment. I mean, I know crazy is sometimes a magnet for crazy, but c’mon! This guy was touching my son’s hands and commenting on his grooming.
This was the tipping point. I knew I had to get out of there because things could only go downhill. I kept telling my son to come down, that I had treats, that I had something to show him in the car, that I would never make him eat broccoli again…but he wouldn’t budge. He kept announcing, “But I’m playing, Mommy! Two more minutes!”
For the remaining time, I was able to escape this guy here and there. At one point he and his boys were sitting on a bench, just watching us. I so badly wanted to leave
My baby was finally winding down, and instead of gentle coaxing, I was now firmly telling him it was time to go. I would like to think it was working, but I was suddenly startled.
The stranger and one of his sons were standing right behind us, just staring, for who knows for how long.
The man swallowed and quietly said, “My son has something he wants to ask you.”
AWWWKWAAARD! I died.
The boy proceeded to ask me if we would like to join them for lunch. Again, I could feel my turkey wrap rising up from the depths of my stomach, and I fought really hard to maintain a straight face. The child was sweet, and it wasn’t his fault that his dad was like that, so I focused on being kind to him and keeping eye contact away from the dad.
I didn’t even have to say anything, luckily, because my adorable toddler screamed, “No lunch! I’m still playing!”
Atta boy! I thought, elated that my boy had my back…and didn’t even know it! He TOTALLY redeemed himself from the snitching incident last week (see blog #2: “The Snitch”).
I giddily said to the stranger’s son, “Thank you! I hope you guys have a great lunch!”
The dad looked dejected, and as though he might start gagging like Jim Carrey’s character Lloyd did in Dumb and Dumber when he found out his best friend was taking Mary, the woman he adored, on a date.
The dad looked pouty and stammered, “But, we are going to McAllister’s. It would be really nice if you two would join us.”
“You guys take care!” is all I could muster, even though the dad kept staring at me, waiting for me to come around, as though I had maybe not yet realized I said the wrong answer.
As he and his boys started to walk away, the man said he hoped to see us again soon at the park. Now THAT was the funniest thing he said all day.
What is one of the most awkward situations you have ever encountered? Feel free to share in the comments!