Well, the world did not end in 2012. But, I can assure you that there were a number of times this year that I personally wish it had. Below, in no particular order, are ten of the most awkward interactions I've had with people in and around the City of Brotherly Love in 2012.
1. Spreading the love for vegan arugula tacos
During the Old 97's show in October, I learned that the vegan arugula tacos at Union Transfer are REALLY good. And this is coming from a carnivore who's not even a huge fan of tacos. I was blown away. When I made my way back to the balcony to find my friends, I was determined to share the joyous news. Not wanting to disturb the people around me during the opening act, I started "concert-whispering" to my one buddy about the tacos. At first he didn't seem impressed. So I kept at it- I really started in on him about how he needed to try the tacos. I'm selling these tacos hard at this point. As I'm wrapping up my spiel, he turns to me. This is the point when I realize that this is not my friend. It's just a guy who kind of looks like him. So now I can officially scratch "profess your love for vegan arugula tacos to a stranger in a cowboy shirt on a dark balcony" off my bucket list. Done and done.
2. The time I should have just gotten an iced tea
Instead, I decided to go into that Wawa and purchase a bottle of Gatorade. (Just the standard yellow-green flavor, because I'm not made of money, people.) For it being 1am, Wawa was hopping. There were five people behind me in line by the time I got to the register. At this point, the very personable (and very loud) cashier explained how she LOVES drinking Gatorade when she's sick and dehydrated. But she didn't understand how they get "electric lights" in there. Then she asks me (because, hey, I'm a smart-lookin' guy) if I know how they get electric lights in Gatorade. I didn't have the heart to tell her. "I'm sorry- I don't know," was all I could say. She seemed disappointed with my answer. The people in line all looked disappointed too, for a different reason.
3. Every single night when I come home
I have to parallel park my car, right in front of a bunch of my teenage neighbors. Do you people know the pressure of attempting to slip a Honda Civic into a tight space, in the dark, when a half-dozen 14-year-olds are yelling, "DAMN, SON- HE BUMPED IT!!!" I can no longer feel humiliation.
4. The great Redbox experiment of 2012
If you've never used a Redbox before, choosing to do so in the front of a crowded Acme is not the time nor the place. Because a long line will form behind you rather quickly. And these are not patient people. They are lugging grocery bags. They are tired. They want a movie. And they certainly do NOT want to take the time teach you how to properly return your girlfriend's copy of Magic Mike.
5. Walk-ins welcome
I tried a new barber when I moved neighborhoods in August. He's not exactly a "new" barber, though, as he is in his 80's, and has been cutting hair in that same shop for decades. I walked in one afternoon to find that he was there alone.
"Hello. Are you open?"
"Sure—I was just sitting down to have lunch!"
"Oh, I can come back a little later."
"No, please—come on in!"
So I sat down, ready to get little off the sides. Instead, the two of us sat there, in complete silence, for 25 minutes, as he proceeded to eat his ham sandwich, Fig Newtons and pieces of a pear. He then made his way to my chair, and over the next 58 minutes, he gave me the greatest $14 haircut I have ever received. And don't ask—I'm not telling you where this barber shop is. It's MY find.
6. Springsteen never wrote about this
Only two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, I was in Atlantic City for a friend's wedding. For November, the weather was beautiful, and I decided to go for a run on the boardwalk. I was nervous at what kind of damage I'd see, and that this Atlantic City would be nothing like what I remember from years past. Instead, I found that the boardwalk was in amazing shape, and many shops were open. But as I was running, a married couple with thick Philly accents were attempting to ride a tandem bicycle, fairly unsuccessfully. Their slow progress meant that they stayed right on pace with me as I was running. So from the Taj Mahal down to the Tropicana, I ran along side this couple riding the bicycle built for two, who angrily SCREAMED at each other the entire time. Yep. This was the Atlantic City I remember.
7. The time I was just like Bradley Cooper
I went out to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute to see The Silver Linings Playbook with my lady friend. It was a nice night out. A few minutes into the movie, a young couple walked into the theater, and sat down directly in front of us. Then, they decided to start carrying on a nice, loud conversation. This is one of my pet peeves, because I'm a rational human being who just paid $10 to NOT hear them talk. Not wanting to put up with this nonsense any longer, I leaned in and began to whisper-yell at these two—I'm not going to SAY "Villanova students", because I'm not sure, but you get the picture—until they were properly put in their place. I did not necessarily threaten them, but let's say I didn't promise them ice cream cones either. I was angry, annoyed, and a little harsh, but I got my message across. Leaning back in my seat, my heart rate slowly decreasing, I sat back, and enjoyed the next scene of the movie, where it becomes apparent that Bradley Cooper's character was institutionalized for his anger issues.
8. Two dollars!
You step onto the SEPTA 9 bus at 5th & Walnut. It starts to pull away, and you realize you only have a single one-dollar bill, and no tokens. You freeze. You need to make a decision- do you jump off? Beg someone for a dollar? Try to make change? Or do you just slip that empty Skittles wrapper from your coat pocket into the machine, because SEPTA bus bill acceptors will take any piece of paper you slide into it?
9. Half-marathon, whole big thing
The morning of the Philly Marathon, I took the train into the city to see some friends in the race. There was a middle aged couple who were standing on the platform, for some reason, on either side of me, smoking cigarettes. And I should add that they were both wearing their FINEST Eagles' jerseys. The following is their heated discussion, which they shouted across me:
MAN: This race is a pain in the a**, closing all the roads, not I can't take the bus to my meeting!
LADY: Well, at least it's for a good cause!
(Which it ISN'T necessarily for a good cause. But to this lady, if you're running, it MUST be for charity.)
MAN: Well, I can think of a lot BETTER causes!
LADY: Oh yeah??? What's worse than CANCER???
(Because it's apparently a cancer race.)
MAN: Well, first of all, I'd like to see those babies get outta retardation!!!
(Because, as we all know, "retardation" is just like "jury duty", and you can just "get out of it".)
Sometimes, Sunday mornings just have to start this way.
10. Real awkward, in real time:
As I sit here in the public library, recounting my most awkward interactions in 2012, there has been an elderly Pakistani gentleman staring at me for the past 20 minutes. We've locked eyes a couple of times, and he's not backing down. I think he wants the DVD copy of the movie Shane that I have sitting here on the table. I think that's what he's staring at. But I already took it off the shelf. I'm not giving it up. This gentleman can stare all he wants. He's had since 1953 to watch it. I don't care- I'm watching Shane tonight. And I'm NOT going back to that Redbox at the Acme.
Chip Chantry is a Philadelphia-based comedian. You can (and should) follow him on Twitter - @ChipChantry. He's a regular at Helium Comedy Club, where he'll be performing with Bob Marley from January 30th-February 2nd. His album, Across from the Adonis, is available on iTunes.