15 August 2014 by

26 & Counting... Small Talk Problems: WTF Did I Just Say?

26 & Counting... Awkward moments

Zoe Beaty is 26 & Counting... Awkward moments (76436)

It started out innocently enough: this week, I had to go for a manicure in anticipation of a Grazia photo-shoot. I’d like for the rest of this post to be as glamorous as that sentence, but unfortunately, as you will see, things never quite work out that way for me. (For instance, whilst many people working at fashion magazines get sent Kenzo and Chanel in the post, this week I received some toilet tissue. Yeah. That’s how I (loo) roll.)

I like having perfectly polished nails. There’s something very satisfying about that glean when you wiggle your hand and there’s a tiny, shiny disco at the end of each one. It’s just that I’m not very adept at doing it myself. And a visit to a nail bar - and this week was no exception - makes me into a socially awkward wreck.

The worst thing is I know it’s going to happen; the onslaught of small-talk torture. I’m the same at the hairdressers, where recently I got so stumped as to what to say to fill the time that I perilously started a conversation about washing detergent. Or the time I ended up at swanky club in London, freaked out when I saw Jude Law and immediately creeped him out by determinedly trying to initiate ‘eye-sex’ with him. Shortly afterwards, I got too excited when I spotted Vic Reeves, asked him for a lighter when I didn’t have a cigarette and then spilt my drink on his wife. Where there is expectation, or contrived conversations, I am awkward to the very hilt.

It’s no different when I get to the nail bar. Immediately, I start to panic. Even though it’s my job to have conversations with strangers, suddenly I have nothing to say and now I’ve become acutely aware that my hand is precariously wrapped around hers. Is this meant to happen? I’ve lost what she’s saying. All I can think about is whether she thinks I’m trying to hold her hand - does she? I subtly stretch and attempt a faux-yawn, spread-eagling my fingers so they’re hovering above her hand. For half a second, she pauses, acknowledging what I've done, and we simultaneously avoid eye contact. How did this go so wrong? Why are my hands sweating now? FFS, WHY ARE THE LIGHTS SO BRIGHT?

It doesn’t get much better. On my ring finger, she finds a fleck of Unidentified Black Fingernail Crap. As she reaches extravagantly for the wooden stick of shame to dispose of it, I know for certain that she has, in that split second, judged me and my entire grubby little existence.

The conversation takes its final plunge when, exasperated and desperate for something - anything - to say, I utter, ‘so… do you get through a lot of emery boards?’ ‘Yeah,’ she replies. I nod, a little too enthusiastically. She nods back. And we both know that, until that wonderful moment in which I can pay and leave the poor girl alone, there really are no more words to say.


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