Originally posted 2015-01-28 05:36:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
“If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.” – Martin Blank, Grosse Pointe Blank.
Every now and then, one of us does something that merits a little self call-out.
Bob owned up with Drunk Guy, and so now it’s my turn with The Awkward Moment. Now you already know by now (or should) that I’m not shy about my past. I’m also the first one to tell you to always be yourself at all times.
Sometimes…well…that doesn’t always work out so great.
Because 4th of July weekends for me have always been full of fireworks…and not always up in the sky…
4th of July Weekend, 2011
My wife and kids and I had been in our new house for about two months. The stamped concrete patio was in. Boxes were pretty much unpacked. We’d met some of our new immediate neighbors…not all, but a few. The sod had just been installed that week, and we had a nice, lush green field of grass.
We didn’t really have plans for the 4th, choosing instead to have a few friends over during that long weekend (the 4th was a Monday that year) to scope out the new place, fire up the grill, and hang out.
Now look, I’m a decent guy, and I like fireworks, and I really think everyone should be allowed to have a great time…within reason. Once your “fun” starts interfering with my life, well, then we’re probably going to have a few words.
I didn’t say anything on Friday the 1st when the fireworks were going off until one in the morning in the sub behind us. And not just little ones…no, these people had the big kahunas that lit up the night sky with a percussive sound that sent our dogs into absolute fits of fright-induced hysterical barking mania, and kept our (then) one year old son and three year old daughter up the entire night. Even when I wandered out in the back yard the next morning and found scorched areas on that nice new sod we’d just blown a decent chunk of cash to have put in…still…I bit my tongue.
I didn’t say anything on Saturday the second when the entire process was repeated. The same neighbors in the same sub behind us. The same chain of fireworks, explosions, and chaos until after one in the morning. The same freak outs from the kids and dogs.
The same lack of sleep that night as a result.
But still…I didn’t want to be That Guy – the new guy in the neighborhood that comes in and plays the spoiler and wants to ruin everyone’s fun.
And so I still didn’t say anything on Sunday the 3rd when the saga played out yet again.
And then…then came Monday the 4th.
Three nights without sleep.
Three days of cranky, tired as all hell kids because they couldn’t sleep.
A wife on the edge of sanity from lack of sleep.
I probably could successfully plead temporary insanity for what happened.
As we approached midnight on Monday, July 4th…and I had to wake up the next morning on Tuesday, July 5th to head back to work…my patience, my tolerance, my willingness to live and let live was gone.
And so, at about 11:30pm, as my sanity eroded and the explosions thundered on yet again…I pretty much snapped.
I stormed out the sliding glass door on the back of the house, and started making my way across the back yard to the other subdivision. As I started walking across our yard, getting nearly hit by an errant firework was truly the last straw.
So yes, by the time I made my way around the house of the lady who lives directly behind us…and turned left and walked up the sidewalk to her neighbor’s house that was the source of the Afghanistan level air raid going on at the moment…I was no longer really in control of my emotions.
And so there might well have been a profanity-laced tirade that came out of my mouth. There mayhave been mentions of calling the police. I could have even suggested some anatomically uncomfortable locations for the fireworks that I still saw lying around the driveway…both before and after igniting them. It’s even possible that there were some veiled threats and hints of violence and ways of revenge that could never in a million years be traced back to me if I heard so much as a sparkler for the rest of the night.
I’m not saying I was proud of how I acted…and it certainly isn’t something that I reflected fondly upon after the fact…but at least they stopped. And we all settled down and drifted off to sleep without the sounds of the Iraq/Kuwait border as the backdrop.
4th of July Weekend, 2013
Now in our home for the past two years, things have settled into a routine. We’ve made some great friends in the neighborhood. We share landscaping plans and costs with the lady directly behind us. Our kids have made friends in the area.
It’s your typical suburban life, basically.
And so, on Thursday the 4th, as we all hopped on our bikes for a little ride around the neighborhood, it was of little surprise to run into people we know from the next street over. We stopped, chatted briefly, and our friends invited us to come over that night to hang out with some other friends of theirs, light off some fireworks, have a few drinks, and chat.
Of course we said yes, and so we finished off our ride, got back home, showered, changed, kept the kids from driving us nuts with impatience, and then walked over to their house to get things started.
Except it wasn’t at their house.
Uh-huh. You totally see where this is going, don’t you?
Yup. It was at the house across the street from them…the one where I’d had my meltdown two years earlier.
The word “awkward” doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt right then.
As the homeowner walked down the driveway to greet us, yeah, he immediately recognized me. Thankfully we’d both already been drinking, because I think it made the ensuing situation a lot easier for us all to deal with.
His eyes got wide, and then got really narrow as he said “Hey! You’re the guy…a couple of years ago…that…”
“Yep,” I said, “totally me. Totally lost my mind that night man…sorry. I didn’t handle it well AT ALL. Always meant to come over and chat with you about it, never did because it was always going to be awkward and I always found something else to do instead of come over…”
Thankfully, he laughed, handed me a beer, and said “Ah, don’t worry about it. You were kind of right. We were going a bit over the top…we just like to have fun, and didn’t really think anyone would mind…”
And so the night went on. There were beers. There was laughter. There was some good natured back and forth mocking.
It ended a hell of a lot better than it could have. I could have continued to avoid it. He could’ve (justifiably) laid into me. I could have been a hyper-defensive jerk holding a grudge.
At the end of the day, we’re probably never going to be best friends or anything, but at least the awkward moment is out of the way and as we periodically saw each other over the rest of the long weekend, there were cordial waves and head nods. The situation is in the past, and neither one of us has that chip still sitting on our shoulder weighing us down.
Lesson learned – have the awkward conversation. Get it out of your system and be done with it.
So when you run into that former co-worker that made your life hell at one of our events…
…or that former boss that you couldn’t stand shows up and you want to choke the life out of them…
…or even in your personal life, and you run into an ex at a party…
…remember this story.
Don’t try to pretend nothing happened. Don’t keep avoiding the situation. Refuse to let it have any power over you. Own it. Admit where you went wrong and hope the other party does the same.
Especially if there’s beer. Not that I’m espousing the virtues of full blown alcoholism…but let’s be honest, a drink or two does tend to lower the inhibitions a bit and make you more likely to have a candid, above-board conversation with someone about an uncomfortable situation that you might otherwise continue to avoid. But hey, if you’ve got the fortitude to tackle that situation without a drop in your system, more power to you.
What’s the worst thing that can possibly happen? The other party still insists on being a jerkwad, and you can now completely write them off.
Best case scenario? You’ve got a new occasional drinking buddy, and a familiar (and now friendly) face when you run into each other at future gatherings.
That’s all for this time…go read something else: http://www.itinthed.com/read/