Apparently, there is an Awkward Moments Day (March 18), and in true, incredibly awkward person fashion I missed it and will insist on celebrating late anyway. One of my favorite websites posted a listicle featuring “19 things only truly awkward people understand”. I laughed out loud at the relatable-ness but felt I needed to add a few (some more SE Asia specific) moments of my own.
Yes, these have all happened to me.
Moments Awkward People Living in Cambodia Will Understand
Always being sweaty. As an awkward individual, I’d hazard a guess that I break into nervous sweats more than the average person. Interact with a cute boy? Sweaty palms. Making a phone call to someone you don’t know? More sweat. The thing is, Cambodia is rather hot so not only do you get nerve-related sweats but also you’re just constantly sweaty anyway. Can they see how much my face is sweating? If I stand up now will they be able to tell I have butt-sweat stains? Yes. Yes, they can.
Queen waving. This is my specialty. I strongly dislike hugs or being touched in general so throwing someone a casual queen-wave has become my signature greeting/leaving move. Once I was recounting a not-so-great date to my friend and she asked, “You didn’t queen wave, did you?” I guess it’s becoming a problem.
Night buses. Aside from the obvious danger, night buses are a hotbed for disasters. One company provides single “beds”, ideal for women traveling solo, but for those of us riding budget-class we’re most likely going to end up next to a stranger and 90% of the time said stranger is a middle-aged man eating snacks trying to chat with you about the book you’re reading. Even if you weren’t essentially sleeping next to this person, this would already be an awkward situation. But now you’re in a reclined position, wrapped in a blanket, trying to squeeze as close to the window as possible, basically sharing pillow talk with a man you’ve never met before. Not ideal.
Flip flops. I spend a lot of time standing at work and have developed this habit of slipping one shoe off while I rest one foot flamingo-style against the opposite leg. This works great until I have to get out of the way or have to move to take a new arrival’s order, in which case I fumble to get my shoe back on, tripping over myself as I do so. Always. I bought a pair of knock-off Doc Martens the other day so problem solved for the time being. Now I just clomp around like an over-confident horse.
Dating. Ever since I started working in an expat bar I can’t go anywhere without running into someone I know. A few weeks ago I was on a date and ran into a few of our regulars who preceded a line of questioning my dad would have been proud of. When I showed up for work the next day patrons I hadn’t even seen the night before were asking me how the date went. Even if you don’t run into people you know, dating in a small town doesn’t really work. Everyone is either here for 3 days or 6 months; basically a recipe for stunted emotional development.
Cheek kisses. Siem Reap is an expat haven. People from all over the world have chosen to hunker down here, bringing their own customs with them. Unfortunately, most of the foreign residents hail from European countries meaning the dreaded Faire la bise. I always, ALWAYS miscalculate. I’ve left people hanging after one and more horrifically, gone in for a second. Apparently, the numbers are regional. How am I supposed to know!? Can I just awkwardly queen-wave at you from a distance?