OK, guys. Don’t hate me. I know that some of you (don’t worry, April, I’m not naming names. April.) aren’t going to be too thrilled that I’m taking a detour from telling the improbable story of the public servant who was actually looking to serve the public.

But as it turns out, trying to tell an actual story – when you’re hell-bent on doing it justice at least – takes time. And as you know, time is a rare and fleeting commodity around these parts.

So, while I promise to get back to it, I hope you’ll forgive me if I distract you with a fun little story in the meantime.

Ooh, look, something shiny ..



awk·ward (ôkwrd) adj.

1. Not graceful; ungainly.

2. a. Not dexterous; clumsy.

b. Clumsily or unskillfully performed: The opera was marred by an awkward aria.

3. a. Difficult to handle or manage: an awkward bundle to carry.

b. Difficult to effect; uncomfortable: an awkward pose.

4. a. Marked by or causing embarrassment or discomfort: an awkward remark; an awkward silence.

b. Requiring great tact, ingenuity, skill, and discretion: An awkward situation arose during the peace talks.

A new friend is coming over for dinner. Laurel is a client; someone who I’ve just recently begun getting to know. As we firm up the details, it hits me that she doesn’t know that Brooke has autism. It feels odd. By our very nature, there aren’t many people in our lives these days who don’t know.

I say, “There are a couple of things that I need to tell you before you come to the house.”

I pause, not entirely sure how to proceed. This is usually a far more organic conversation, but I can’t really figure out how else to go about it.

“My youngest daughter, Brooke has autism. So there are some things in our house that may seem a little – well, different.”

Laurel is younger than we are. She doesn’t have kids. I have no idea how this might go.

She responds by asking thoughtful and respectful questions – “Are there specific things that are hard for her? That she likes? Are there specific colors that she likes or doesn’t like? Sounds?”

We talk a little bit. I tell her that my girl has trouble with novel conversation. That she may start reciting scripts at the table. That she may talk about Godspell. A lot. That she is funny. And sweet. And smart. And really damn cute. And that sometimes she does and says things that appear to come out of left field.

Laurel is officially unruffled. She all but shrugs and then asks if she can bring dessert. I liked her before this conversation; I’m pretty sure I love her now.

I try to tell her how much her reaction (or lack of one) means to me. I begin to well up. Not OK at work. We move on. No, she can’t bring dessert, but thanks for asking.

“Oh, and um, there’s one last thing,” I tell her.

“We, um, well, oy. We do a team cheer before dinner.”

I tell her that she’s still welcome to back out – no harm no foul. She chuckles. If nothing else, she’s now coming just to see this.

I tell her how it came about. I explain that every night before dinner, our family has held hands, bowed our heads and said, “Thank you for the food we are about to receive and the precious gift of each other.”

I explain that about a year ago, Brooke apparently decided that our simple grace was not enough. One night she insisted that we all put our hands into the middle of the table and chant, “Go! Go! Go! Go! Goooooolden Explorers!” Yes, Dora fans will undoubtedly recognize it as the cheer for Dora’s soccer team, but hey, it is what it is and what it is is important to our girl, so we went (and still go) along for the ride.

Dinner with Laurel was delightful. Brooke showed her how to do the cheer and she joined in with gusto. Katie talked her ear off. Laurel told us stories of her adventures traveling around the world. She loved Luau’s cooking. It was quickly obvious that the dinner would be the first of many.

The following week, we planned to do it again. This time Laurel’s boyfriend would join us. We chatted beforehand. “Jess,” she said, “Sam doesn’t spend much time around kids. I just wanted to let you know. I mean, it could be a little .. well .. awkward.”

I laughed so hard the water I was drinking stopped just short of coming out my nose. Nice image, huh? You’re welcome.

“Um, Laurel?” I said. “We do a friggin team cheer before dinner. I think we’ve beat you to awkward.”

She laughed and agreed, “Point taken.”

As it turned out, Sam was just as laid back, generous, easy-going, warm and funny as Laurel. And despite a whole lot of opportunity, there was not a single moment in the entire evening that felt remotely awkward. Instead, there was laughter and warmth and the beginning of a very real friendship.

Nothing like getting your awkward on together to make things not awkward at all.

30 thoughts on “awkward

  1. Awkward just doesn’t happen around you. Anyone who has the privilege of knowing you would never feel the least bit odd or awkward because your personality just fills the room with sunlight, it just does…
    Love you,

  2. I can so relate to the team cheer…..we hold hands at dinner and sing “We are Family…Mommy, Daddy, Tommy, Jeffrey and Ali!!” What more needs to be said!!!

    • omg, i LOVE that!!!! reason #483 that i love sharing this kind of stuff – no matter how outrageously unique you think you are, someone says, “me too!”

  3. LOL! Totally busted! I always log on at work and go to you first as I greet my work day. As I type this I am still lying in bed and I logged on before lifting my head from my pillow! So yes, I own it – I have no patience for your cliff-hanging stories!! But to prove I am capable of growth this time I will not contact you privately for a sneak peek at the rest of the story (well, um, provided this is the last detour!!). Hee hee XO

    • lol .. no promises, my love. particularly because YOU are the one who recently delivered the velvet gloved bch-slap telling me not to feel pressure to write nor answer every e-mail. *insert evil laugh here*

  4. Laurel sounds like a keeper! It’s amazing how the people that accept our kids and our lives become quick fixtures in our hearts, isn’t it?

  5. I hate to admit this… I almost don’t want to post it here… I am now officially jealous of Laurel and Sam! And I’m still hanging on the edge of my seat waiting for “the rest of the story (about the public servant looking to serve the public).”

  6. Not only are some parties ‘autism-friendly’, but we occasionally bump into a few souls that are, too. It’s a wonderful blessing when we get to spend time with them…

  7. I like shiny things 🙂 That was a cute story. Friends are so very important. I’m glad you were able to find someone so willing to accept what passes for “normal” in our homes.

    Now, shiny things DO distract me, but only briefly >:{ Ok, ok, j/k
    Do what you have to do, we’ll be here waiting.. LOL

  8. the odds of meeting, not just one good person, but two…astronomical. it’s a beautiful thing that happened there, so glad it worked out that way. it’s always a relief when people get it, are cool about it, can go with the flow. decidedly non-awkward.

  9. Great story. I always feel that people that “connect” with my son are truly special–and in a way he helps us weed out the truly good people with whom we want to socialize with.

  10. We have a cheer, too. We hold each other’s hands and say blessing. Then we all say “Shake shake woo (something or somebody)” On the shakes, we raise our hands, but don’t let go of our neighbor’s hand. On the woo, we let go and all have our hands in the air. I normally say “Shake shake woo — Uncle Matt.” My nephew prefers “Shake shake woo Daddy and Wii.” Good stuff. Some people do it even if the kids aren’t there.

  11. Wonderful story! Also, just enjoyed reading your piece about your friend the public servant. Your blog is like a really great book that you can not put down…..can’t wait to see what happens with the “public servant” thank you for sharing your journey…

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