How to be Awkward

Since the last time we met, dear reader, I have fought a fire, cleaned barf with barf, and more. I’m not sure what to think of myself at this point.

My whole life I have succeeded in making simple tasks either awkward or challenging. Learning to tie my shoes was a nightmare, I thought I’d never figure out subtraction, and I still am not sure what to do with my arms/hands/upper body 30% of the time. Naturally, I found myself struggling again at my colleague’s house one night during dinner. As the only male present, I was asked to open a bottle of wine. Simple enough right? Not for Kevin. I kind of knew as soon as they handed me the bottle that I had a good chance of messing this up. With my emasculation imminent, I took the corkscrew and plunged it into the cork. After twisting it all the way in, I took the two handles and began to push down to draw out the cork. Snap. There goes the left handle. Okay, maybe I can salvage this situation. I’ll just grab the nubbin that is left and continue on. Snap. Shit, there goes the right one. Now the hostess is scrambling to find another wine opener, while my face is redder than the wine. She came back with a different one, which I was able to open the wine with after a few more awkward minutes of struggle.

The sunset from our camp building

There is so much to observe here too. My normal rule is that I watch what other people are doing and try to respond to things like they do. I didn’t realize how many social norms exist until suddenly the rules for every occasion were switched from American to Armenian. So I was staring out the window at our camp building on the final day of our weeklong workshop. The view alone is normally enough to entertain me, but at this moment there were also some small fires burning through the overgrown grass. That type of burning is pretty common here, so I thought nothing of it. Then the giant bush thing next to the grass caught fire. As the flames soared skyward and released a thick cloud of white smoke, I just kept watching and wondered if it was normal. A couple of other nearby Armenians seemed mesmerized, but not overly concerned. As the fire grew, one of my Armenian colleagues saw it and frantically started running around. I took that as my clue that it wasn’t normal for large things to burn along with the grass. But I have to say I was a bit surprised at how I was content just to watch the flames engulf the tree/bush. I jumped in to help the scrambling Armenian quell the fire. I started running down the hill to throw buckets of water on the bush. It was definitely a surreal moment to be fighting a fire, even if it wasn’t life threatening or that dangerous.

To cap off the random observations, I must share the embarrassing tale of a crazy night. Last night I got a phone call at 8:30 from my counterpart’s husband. He was with Morten, Morten’s host brother (and our colleague at the Y), and the Polish girls at a restaurant. After only understanding the word “restaurant”, he handed the phone to Morten. They wanted me to join and Morten thought they might have called a taxi for me, but he wasn’t sure. So I moved from my room to the family room in case a car appeared. Sure enough we heard a honk. After explaining to my taxi-driving host father that the taxi was for me, I hopped in. When I arrived at the restaurant, the vodka had been flowing for a while. We had a dance party in between vodka toasts and food. As I lost count of the vodka, we moved into a nearby room that had some other Armenians who are friends with Morten’s host brother. They wanted us to drink more, more, more. The next thing I knew it was 2:30 a.m. and I was in a taxi heading back home. I got home only to find the door locked, so I had to call the dad and ask him to let me in. Oops. Then I crashed into bed. I awoke in the morning to discover that I had somehow thrown up all over the floor next to the bed. I was shocked because I have never done anything like that before. Then I realized I had to clean it up. But then I was kind of happy because I hadn’t ralfed on the bed, and I also miraculously missed my cell phone, which was sitting unscathed on the floor next to the mess. I cleaned it up as best I could and went to work. This afternoon I realized that I used Barf to clean up my barf. Despite the shame/embarrassment of sharing this tale, I figured it was so odd that I had to share it. Hopefully I learned my lesson and it won’t happen again!

Love the Barf family

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2 Responses to “How to be Awkward”

  1. Ben Oberg Says:

    This is easily one of the most awesome things I have EVER read! ohhhhh Peace Corps

  2. icenugget Says:

    Awesome, or unfortunate…my room has a funny smell now…

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