How to Make Everyone Around You Really Awkward

I often make fun of people mercilessly, and any psychology major can tell you this invariably means that, in my own head, I actually constantly psychoanalyze my own self and replay my interactions with people in my head to the point of obsession.
Case in point, my Friday evening.
Justin and I were preparing to meet my friend Casey and his soon-to-be new roommate Allegra. I had met her before when I was in college, but neither of us really remembered the occasion, and as Casey informed each of us that we had similar senses of humor, I was prepared for a fun evening.
Justin mentioned that he didn’t have any cash on him, and with banks closed and without a major credit card or an ability to slip him mine and forge my name, I worried that he wouldn’t make a chivalrous impression to my two friends if I had to pay for us both.
I, of course, didn’t MIND, but I want to stress that my original intent was to prevent Justin from looking bad. I could also point out that Justin likely didn’t care either way, but the point is I was trying to do something nice.
Now, often when I go out with Kameron and her fiance Sean, Sean will pay for all three of us, and I constantly protest, but he waves me off with his hand.
When my parents take their adult friends out, there is always a huge brawl over the check, with my mom (she’s really buff) emerging victorious and treating her friends to dinner with the promise that they can pay next time.
As a matter of fact, when I used to work at Eat ‘n Park, ladies would pull me aside and slip me their credit cards so that their friends would be treated and the damage would already be done before they had a chance to protest.
I say that to say this.
I was playing on my laptop when I realized that I had to either pay for me and Justin or stop at a supermarket so Justin could buy a stick of gum and get cash back. Being both lazy AND in the middle of a critical instance in Fable that wouldn’t save my progress if I quit early, I opted for paying for us both.
But how to save face for Justin? I recalled the teachings of Kameron and Sean and my parents and realized that the nice thing to do would be to pay for Casey and Allegra. After all, I had done it before for Melissa, and she paid me back the next time. Sure, Melissa and I treated each other at buffets and sandwich joints and I was taking my new friends to a swanky sushi restaurant, but what harm could it do?
I would look like a generous friend AND maybe even come off as an actual adult, as my parents always did.
Casey arrived before Allegra and started to head back to the door to get his wallet that he’d left in the car. I took this chance to tell him my plan, and the look on his face would have been the same if I had told him we were also dining with Charles Manson and would he wear this Sharon Tate costume?
Okay, that metaphor was a bit of a stretch, but he did look ready to head for the hills.
He protested about five or six times, but I insisted and I ended up winning, the way I was taught to.
When Allegra came, we sort of went through the same thing again, but I insisted that we’d just do the old Round Robin the next few times we went out.
Right, guys? I mean, it’s not like we’re all going to hate each other after tonight!
Ha ha! Ha… Ha.
The night passed pleasantly. We ate, we laughed, we made fun of everyone. It was delightful. I was feeling pretty happy that I now had two new friends to hang out with in this insanely populated but still lonely city.
The check came, and everyone looked awkward again, but I happily paid and promised to eat with them again soon.
Casey insisted that he then take us all out for coffee and ice cream RIGHT THEN and that it wouldn’t even count towards his night out.
I felt a little weird about that, but I thought it would make HIM feel less weird, so I let him do it.
We laughed into the night and then finally hugged each other and made our way home. Then I entered into my own personal hell and shame spiral.
Casey and Allegra really looked uncomfortable with me paying.
Did I look like I was flaunting some sort of wealth?
I’m NOT rich, and I certainly didn’t really need that expense, but I’d always rather have a fun night out with my friends than a new DVD or video game.
Okay, a new DVD. But still. The point stands.
Did I look like I was showing off?
OR, oh no! Did I accidentally impose on THEM some extravagant dinner that THEY can’t afford either?!
I looked to Justin to calm my woes, and he reminded me that I didn’t have to do it, but it was nice of me anyway and to quit worrying. Ha!
I called my dad the next day, knowing he would understand since he himself plays this little “I’ll pay for everyone to be nice, even though I don’t want to, it’s just what you DO” game.
He basically told me that I was a lunatic and at 25 I couldn’t afford to do things like that and they can’t either, and he only pays for people who have initiated the whole pay-for-someone-else cycle and WHY COULDN’T IT HAVE ENDED WITH ME, THE NEW GENERATION, THE GENERATION OF HOPE?!?
So, yeah, that’s basically been my weekend.
Worrying, feeling ashamed, feeling guilty, and for what again?
All because I thought I was doing something nice.
The amusing epilogue happened last night when while eating out at Chili’s with Melissa and Traci.
No sooner than I had announced loudly that not only would I be paying only for my own portion of food, but I would give them each a few cents for the fries I stole from them, I got a call from Allegra.
She got my number from Casey just so she could apologize for eating so much sushi AND ordering a drink, and I must think that she’s a terrible person and SHE’S been worrying all weekend, as well.
So I have successfully ruined 4 people’s lives.
I told her that the next time we saw each other, we could all sit down wearing
old-timey green accountant’s visors, and I would whip out the check and we could divide it exactly into fourths so that balance could be restored in the universe.
And I really think that’s the only way.
That’ll teach me to do something nice that I learned to do from my parents, even though I really never understood the point of it myself.
And that, IRS, is why I’m not doing my taxes this year.

Comments are closed.