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It wanders, lonely, through the world, calling out to anyone who will listen. It seeks fresh blood, and stalks its prey with all the concern of a crocodile. No one is too young, too old, too busy or too unacquainted to avoid its terrible wailing.
“Listen!” it screams. “Listen, I beg you! I want to tell you a sordid, terrible tale of woe, and my cold grasp will fasten you firmly where you stand, a rigid pillar of terror! Woe, woe is me!”
And woe is you, too, for you are caught in its unrelenting tentacles, forced to heed and head-nod as it blows ill winds in your face. And you will try to run, of course, but there is no escaping its attentions. No crevice or cranny is too deep or too isolated to be free of its acrid, bellowing, sorry tales.
Beware! Beware the Awkwardler!
“But what is this foul demon?” you ask. “This Awkwardler, you call it? Where is it? Who is it? What can I do to avoid it?”
That’s the thing — you can’t. The Awkwardler is everywhere, spewing forth self-sorry sagas of sadistic sadness.
The Awkwardler is your neighbor, who stops you at the mailbox and forces your ears into an accounting of a recent business merger, or possibly a dreary trip to get his tires rotated.
The Awkwardler is your classmate, who spends a half hour after every English 2010 course complaining to you about strict gun control laws, fluoride in the water, “too much texting and not enough communicating,” or “the media.”
The Awkwardler is your aunt, who pulls you close at a family gathering and walks you through her recent rectal surgery, stitch by unholy stitch.
It knows no boundaries. And if it did, it would walk over them, like so many dried-up worm carcasses. A sense of privacy? What’s that? It doesn’t have one, so why should you?
“Hey, buddy!” it yells across a crowded hall. “You sure took a long time in the bathroom!”
“I noticed you’re buying regular ibuprofen,” it says to you in line, peering into your grocery cart. “Would you mind having an hour-long discussion about the benefits of buying local, ancient Chinese healing herbs at the front of the store while you balance heavy sacks of groceries in your arms? I also noticed those sacks are plastic.”
“I only had a chance to run four miles this morning,” it says to you, leaning over your cubicle wall, as you gulp down a fast-food burrito between work calls. “Yeah, I’m really dogging it. But, you know, I’m really going to re-commit this weekend, and only eat wheat grass and tofu popsicles. Man, do you even know what’s in the meat in that thing you’re eating?”
The Awkwardler assumes you agree. The Awkwardler does not recognize dismissive body language. The Awkwardler has an hour to kill, and wants to know if you want to go to Denny’s with it.
The Awkwardler names its children fake French names, and then expects you to say how cute they sound. It wants to recruit you to help it sell smelly candles. It still thinks Chuck Norris jokes are funny. It not only openly discusses diarrhea, but refers to it as “the ol’ poopin’ disease.”
The Awkwardler has an extremely dysfunctional family (because they are all other Awkwardlers, most likely), and wants to tell you all about the last family reunion, using a photo album as thick as a phone book. It also wants to complain to you about its co-workers, church associates, bank tellers, brothers-in-law and bosses, all of whom are so lame.
The Awkwardler is just now discovering Homestarrunner.com and the Monty Python movies, and it really wants you to hear all about them. It posts every photo of itself giving birth (to a future Awkwardler). It leaves cryptic Facebook posts, like “So sick of boys today . . .” or “Sighhhhhh.” And if you don’t write it back to ask why it sounds so sad, heaven help you, because it has your phone number.
The Awkwardler is reading this column and thinking, “That sounds just like my sister.”
The Awkwardler stalks among us. It has no regard for time, propriety or discrete bodily functions.
Beware the Awkardler. Beware!