Small talk and social awkwardness

I was shopping at the mall the other day and saw someone I went to grade school with. We weren’t exactly friends but we weren’t enemies (unless, hypothetically, you were the type of person to hold onto bitterness about a another person telling you all the kids were saying you were a slut behind your back because you didn’t wear a bra in 3rd grade.) But, who holds onto grudges for 20 years? Not me, no way!

So I saw her walk in store where I was. She looks great! Dammit! I duck behind a clothes rack wishing I’d have worn my best wedges. The entire time we were in the same store, I avoided her glance. We were on separate sides of the store.

Eventually I didn’t see her and figured I was in the clear, I stepped up to the checkout to pay. I glance around one last time to make sure I didn’t miss a jewelry sale or something.

HOLY HELL! She’s right behind me. Did she see me? She’s acting like she didn’t. So this is what we’re doing, then. We’re acting like we don’t know one another. This is fine. I’m cool with this. I don’t know you, I don’t know you. Shit! I turned around again. Good, she purposely looked away.

I paid and flew past her to the exit thinking I dodged a bullet on that one. Would it have been the worst thing if I’d said hi? Or if she said hi? No, probably not. But for some reason, my first instinct was to hide.

This is no isolated incident. I happens ALL THE TIME. I avoid people I know when they are outside of the setting to which they belong. And if I don’t avoid them, I get all nervous and say dumb things.

For example, I ran into to my old volleyball coach last night and because she was smiling right at me, I decided to be a grown-up and say hello.

Me: Hey, how are you?
Her: Great! We’re in camp right now.
Me: I’m not.
Her: *Silence*
Me: I mean. [pointing at Riley] I’ve got my own camp right here!
Her: Yeaaaahh. Ok, see ya.

What the hell was that?! I’ve got my own camp? What does that even mean?

I panicked. I kept thinking. Don’t go all TMI on her. And then I literally cannot think of anything to say. Maybe I need to work on some small talk conversation topics but until then, I’ll stick to hiding behind clothes racks.
socially awkward penguin

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