Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of being a nerd is the social awkwardness and tendency toward humiliation that often comes with it. This is, of course, a stereotype but one which for me, as you know, has always been true. Cases in point: I've yet to meet a flight of stairs that didn't want to teach me a lesson about gravity. If there's a way to mangle somebody's name or engage in a sweaty palmed handshake with a superior, I'm your girl. There's at least a 90 percent chance that whatever food I eat also will end up somewhere on my person. There are the guffaws that turn into snorts so spectacular I'm lucky my teeth don't end up in my sinus cavities, and then there are the times I just flat out accidentally drool. In short, if there's a way for me to look stupid, I'm gonna grab it with both hands...and then probably fall down.
So why bring this up? Because in the past, whenever I made an ass of myself, I assumed it was just something I'd grow out of. I've assumed that for well-on 20 years now, and yesterday, I finally realized the terrible truth: age does not cure a propensity for humiliation. If anything, age just makes the falling down and drooling sadder.
Yesterday, I spent an hour and a half in an important business meeting, one which I'd been preparing for over the course of several days. I had my papers in order, my outfit selected. I made sure all zippers were zipped and that my clodhoppers were covered in slip-proof shoes. Despite my best preparations, I discovered after the meeting had ended that I'd been sitting there the entire time with a dried flap of make-up hanging off my upper lip. You remember when the Nazis melted in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," and their flesh just kind of slid off their faces? Yeah, like that, only worse because IT HAPPENED TO ME. And there wasn't any context. Face melting needs context.
Anyway, I'm sure I'm exaggerating and it wasn't that bad, but sweet fancy Moses, I sat through a whole meeting with that damn thing waggling there on my face like a big flappy dolphin tail. Someone's probably writing a folk song about it right now.
I should be used to this sort of thing by now, but as I said, I'd always hoped that age would rectify these issues. Normal women, no doubt, would have checked their faces before getting out of the car. Me? No, I was preoccupied listening to a song about cricket and thinking about a McGriddle when I stepped out of the car, feeling foolishly confident because I'd managed to accessorize. And then hubris bit my ass!
So, I write this simply to warn others out there. Don't ever be lulled into a sense of complacency, thinking you've conquered that tendency toward misaligning your blouse buttons and showing boob at a funeral. Time heals no nerdy wounds, self-inflicted or otherwise. We're on our own with our social clumsiness. We must be vigilent! Only we can prevent shame...and forest fires...but mostly shame.