Last semester, I wrote a column about the awkwardness of passing people on campus that you’re not sure you know well enough to say “hey” to or not. But when I went home for winter break, I discovered an even more awkward situation: what do you do when you see an old high school friend?
Imagine this scenario: you’re back in your hometown, walking around the mall when you notice that kid that you used to sit next to in government class about to walk past you. Do you stop and ask how he’s been? Do you just say “hey” and keep walking? Or do you simply ignore his presence altogether?
What makes this situation even more awkward is if you’ve added this kid as your “friend” on Facebook. So even if you haven’t seen or talked to him in two or three years, you probably know what school he goes to, how many drunk pictures he has posted, or even his last break-up. But when you see him in person, do you even say “hey?”
It seems like every time I go back to my hometown, I have at least a few of these awkward moments. It becomes inevitable the farther from home you move in both distance and time. Even if it’s someone you used to talk to all the time, if you haven’t kept up with them then you don’t really have anything to talk about anymore.
I had the queen of all awkward moments over winter break. I was running errands with my family when I ran into a girl I knew from high school in the bathroom. This was extremely awkward for two reasons: 1) I hadn’t talked to this girl in at least two years and 2) it was in a bathroom. I mean, come on, I think being in a public restroom is the ultimate set-up for all awkward situations.
But back to the story, I had played soccer with this girl for six years or so, but we had never really been close friends and I hadn’t seen or talked to her since graduation. What are you supposed to say in a situation like that? “How’s your life been for the past two years?” And so we just stood there awkwardly in the bathroom looking at each other with nothing to say. It was quite awkward, indeed.
I suppose there is no end to awkward situations. They follow you no matter where you go, even to your hometown and sometimes even to the bathroom. Perhaps in these situations it’s good to say “hey” to people and catch up on old times, or perhaps the best solution is to simply try to ignore that they’re even there.
So as you pass the kid in your old government class with an extreme sense of awkwardness, the question remains: to “hey” or not to “hey?”
Kendra Moll is a sophomore majoring in psychology. She is fears awkward moments in the bathroom and can be reached at email@example.com