One of the fundamental aspects of a healthy mentality is the ability to let things go. I'm sure most therapists will tell you that dwelling on past misgivings will only lead to a downward spiral of further shame, anxiety and despair.
So, through an act of therapeutic purging, here's a list of all the tiny awkward moments I've been dwelling on for the past year.
1. The KFC incident: First off, let me say that I've grown to dread potlucks. It stems from my inability to cook and a simultaneous need to be liked. (I also have a paranoid theory about foodie friends using potlucks to assert their dominance over you, but I'd need a manifesto-style word count to get really into it).
I was invited to a friend's birthday, which also happened to be a potluck. I thought it'd be cool and crowd-pleasing to bring a bucket of KFC. The trouble was, when I got to the drive-up speaker, I realized I had never ordered a bucket of KFC in my life. I stared at the wall of options. Did I want crispy? Original recipe? How many b-b-b-breasts did I want?
I fumbled my way through the order, and when the employee asked if I wanted honey sauce, I was so flustered, I looked to my wife. "Do. You. Like. Honey?" my wife said, repeating the employee's question, obviously frustrated. I nodded. "Then tell it to her!"
People at the potluck dug the chicken, though. Ryan's popularity: 1; Ryan's pride/sense of adulthood/ability to handle normal human interaction: 0.
2. Tattoo guy inside Trader Joe's: My wife and I share a least favorite chore—grocery shopping. I'm sure if we gave in to our much baser instincts, we'd gladly eat chocolate chips and flour than amass sustaining, nutritious food. Our mutual distaste for shopping gives all our trips to the grocery store a cute little edge.
We woke up early for the specific purpose to be in and out of the Mission Valley Trader Joe's before it got crazy. Right when we entered, this dude noticed the bee/honeycomb tattoo on the inside of my bicep.
"Oh my God, dude, that's like the coolest tattoo I've ever seen." Of course I was flattered, but his admiration quickly intensified. "I have to take a picture of it... Gotta show my homeboys..." I posed, but could feel my wife's despair. This short trip was quickly becoming a prolonged ego-stroke.
Actually, this was a pretty dope moment for me, and more awkward for my wife, who rightly predicted that I would bring it up all the time.
3. The Bear vs. Shark conversation: I was with a group a friends, and someone brought up their hatred of panda bears. She wondered how anyone could like a panda when better animals like sharks exist. This spiraled into a running gag of a panda battling a shark, a theoretical scenario that everyone loved, which became more intricately embellished throughout the night. Right as everyone's enthusiasm was about to hit fever pitch, I righteously stated, "Bear vs. Shark was actually a really great post-punk band from the early 2000s." Killed the party dead.
4. The Mission food congratulator: I'm a fast eater. It's not something I'm super proud of, and I'm sure it's hell on my metabolism, but for some reason I go into a ravenous fugue state when food is put in front of me, and I don't regain full consciousness until it's all gone.
One of the bussers at The Mission in North Park noticed how fast and efficiently I cleaned my plate. "Good job, buddy!" he said and gave me a thumbs-up. Oh, by the way: I'm 31 years old.
5. Trying to get a ride-along with the San Diego Police Department: "Oh, are you planning on writing about this? I'm going to have to call you back."
They never called me back.
6. Trying to navigate the Arc-Light Cinema: It Follows was my favorite movie that came out this year, and I was so excited to see it that I figured why not see it in style? I bought tickets to ArcLight in La Jolla based on everyone's love of the hoity-toity movie chain.
We sat down. Shortly afterward, this rich, old white couple came up to us and said, "I think you're in our seats." I double-checked: we were sitting in the right seats. Me, my wife and the old couple went to the lobby to settle it. Turned out I had bought tickets for the next day. You should've seen the looks on those old folks' faces when they found out they were right. It was like the world finally got off their lawn. Our friends (who were sitting in the theater) told us that the couple told their friends they "had won" when they returned to their seats.
It cost $10 extra to change the tickets, so the total for two people to see a movie came out to something like $50. Boy, did that stick in my craw.
7. Brian/Ryan: This isn't so much a singular moment as it is a thousand tiny nightmares throughout the year that kept me from enjoying places where I had to give my name to order. Yes, I get that I'm not the most articulate speaker—years of noncommittal responses have rendered my speaking voice akin to the din of a moderately populated room—but I take offense that "Brian" is the obvious go-to for misheard names that rhyme.
8. Minute Rice fiasco: Yeah, I fucked up Minute rice. It was weird.
Ryan is the author of Horror Business. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @theryanbradford