Last night, I had a revelation brought on by an episode of The Big Bang Theory.
A tenured professor at the university died: Sheldon, Leonard, and Raj all apply for the position, sparking competition between them. At one point, Leonard tries to chat up a member of the rank and tenure committee while on a treadmill at the gym; the result is beyond awkward. I had to stop watching because I was so uncomfortable, even though it’s only TV. It’s a sitcom, everything will be fine in the end. Right? If only I could watch long enough to get there.
When I was little, I had the same reaction to the Paddington Bear books–poor Paddington doesn’t know the culture, so he gets into embarrassing situations. As a child, I found this tremendously upsetting. (My dad found my inability to cope with conflict upsetting, but that’s a different blog. “You wanted me to read this to you, now you want me to stop because you don’t like where the story is headed?”)
Anyway, in the past I thought my freak-out was based on sympathy for the characters involved. I feel bad for them. Last night I realized I’m actually freaking terrified that THAT’S ME.
I am Leonard Hofstadter digging myself a moat of social awkwardness and NO ONE IS STOPPING ME. Damn you people, letting me make an ass of myself. GAH.
I’m getting less awkward as I get older (or less concerned about my awkwardness, which probably amounts to the same thing), but last night was a reminder it’s clearly an ongoing concern.
If you see me being awkward in a way that has potential long-term repercussions, please promise that you’ll play Penny to my Leonard and bail me out. That’s all I ask. I’d do the same for you.