Awkward: Causing difficulty; hard to do or deal with, deliberately unreasonable or uncooperative, causing or feeling uneasy embarrassment or inconvenience, not smooth or graceful, uncomfortable. A Late Middle English word in the sense of ‘the wrong way round, upside down.’ There used to be a word awk, based on an Old Norse afugr, that meant ‘turned the wrong way round’. The meaning ‘clumsy or ungainly’ developed in the 16th century, followed by other meanings such as ‘embarrassing’, or ‘difficult to deal with’.
What do you do as a man when you grow up awkward? That emasculated feeling follows you through the adult years of your life. We tend to put our best foot forward on social media.
In my own life I can honestly say I do not shy away from rejoicing in weaknesses. If I learn to laugh through them, there’s no real reason to feel ashamed of it in the first place.
A few years ago, I took a girl out on a hot summer’s day to the Adelaide Zoo in South Australia. This girl was amazingly stunning; beautiful inside and out. We went around and looked at all of the animal enclosures, but they were either asleep or inside their huts because of the heat. We saw a few baby pandas out sun bathing, but that was it.
We ended up leaving and going to lunch at a seaside restaurant. As the waiter came over and delivered our drinks I got two things: a glass of wine and a latte since I was now worn out. As she looked beautifully across the table at me, I went to pick up the steaming hot glass as casually and smooth as possible. However, I accidentally tipped it all over the white linen cloth. It flowed in a straight stream right onto her. Our lunch date finished soon afterward.
Recently I’ve been living in the United Kingdom. I went out on a date with a “nice Christian girl” and something similar happened over a candlelit dinner in a nice restaurant. I accidentally tipped red wine all over her. Her white dress was ruined. We decided to see other people. Well, actually she said that, and I agreed to the terms and conditions.
One time in Sydney, I stayed in a hotel only to be woken up by a lady who lost her key and quoted to the concierge her room number to get a spare key made up. Instead of making up a swipe key for her boyfriend’s room, her key was for my room, and she walked in and tucked herself in behind me.
“Evening, honey!” she whispered.
I was unable to move an inch, tongue-tied. Perhaps God finally answered my single man prayers.
“Um, I am not your honey, but I could be?” I stammered out.
With that she screamed, and then I screamed. It was harder to say who was embarrassed more. She then apologized profusely and slowly backed out of my room.
The very next morning I went down for breakfast and the nightshift concierge offered me complimentary breakfast because of his error.
Another time I was sitting on the outside of the ferry in Sydney going across to Manly Beach to check out the surf. We were taking off by the Sydney Opera House, and a massive swell from the harbor caused water to come gushing in over the side and drenching us all. Long story short, this lady started screaming. All of us wet and soaked through began to look at her, but only I could see why. The poor lady had a fish stuck down the front of her top that had managed to jump into the ferry with the water. With one swift action, I reached down and grabbed the fish from her front, and threw it back in the ocean.
She was embarrassed. I was mortified at what I had just done. But, at the end of the trip, she reached across to thank me.
These are a few of the crisis points with women and life in general that I can laugh at. I bring them up because as men we tend to edit our lives without laughing at the awkward moments. We post pictures to make everything seem perfect. We put on a false front to make everyone think that we have always been cool.
We are afraid that someone might find out who we truly are: awkward, clumsy, inept, embarrassed, graceless, gawky, uncoordinated, problematic, and somehow complex. Yet what is so bad about that? Some of the greatest leaders in history have been these things as well. Some of the funniest men have been just that. Some of the most genuine guys in society are equally awkward. They don’t need to edit their past to impress anyone. They embrace it and learn to laugh with it.
We all like to remember the good times. Yet, some of us in some small way have edited our lives to not talk about our weaknesses with women, our careers, our lives, and our past.
I would like to conclude with one more moment that I like to laugh at. It involves a time when I was asked to speak at a church in North Sydney. I have always enjoyed speaking. When I got up to the platform, I looked across at the 200 people.
I read about Ruth when she met Boaz. As I began something strange was happening. People were all looking at me with smirks and smiles. As I mentioned the part of Ruth laying down at the feet of Boaz in order to win his heart, I mistakenly thought that they were entranced by how good my message was.
“Ruth let it all hang out in the face of God, and before Naomi and Boaz regarding her life, her past, and her desire for a husband,” I proudly stated.
With that, everyone in the building burst out laughing in a loud crescendo. I did not register and still thought I had done an excellent job communicating the message clearly. Once the service was finished I walked toward the door to shake people’s hands as they went next door for coffee.
“Josh, we know that Ruth let it all hang out,” a sweet lady whispered. “But, next time you speak, make sure your zipper on your trousers is up. We could see your superman underwear underneath.”
Embarrassed? Well yes I was! Did I laugh? Yes I did! Did it help that I laughed along with it instead of hiding it? Most definitely! Did I get asked back to speak again? Several times!
The moral of the story is: stop editing your life to forget the awkward times. Boast in your weaknesses, and embrace your inner man that laughs through those moments that you like to keep hidden.